Exploring the history of Phoenix, Arizona and a little bit of Los Angeles and San Francisco, California.

Manistee Ranch, a hidden gem in Glendale, Arizona

I love going to places like the Manistee Ranch, which is just west of 51st Avenue south of Northern, in Glendale, Arizona. I call these places "hidden gems" because people can live right near them, and drive right past them, and never know about them.

I was at the Manistee Ranch yesterday, and I remembered how much I love finding places like this which are just a few feet away from the noise of traffic. I'm not kidding here, if you turned around from where I took this photo you would see traffic going by, probably about thirty feet away. In fact, while I was eating lunch there with one of my history adventuring friends, we were aware of the noise of traffic, and had to speak up to hear each other.

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I started finding places like this when I lived in Los Angeles, and it was always the same. I'd discover them, go and "depressurize" my stressed-out brain, and later tell people about them. And no one believed me. Everyone would just smile and back away from me, because they had driven past that area a million times, and there just couldn't be such a place.

Manistee Ranch in 1908

Manistee Ranch, like the Sahuaro Ranch, goes back to Territorial Times. If you're familiar with Sands Chevrolet of Glendale, you know the family that lived there for a very long time. Now it's an historic site, preserved for people to see. If you go there, wander over and look at the lateral that runs parallel to 51st Avenue. The water was supplied there from the Arizona Canal, which intersects at Cactus Road, about four miles north. That water supplied the Sahuaro Ranch, and also the new community of Glendale, going back over 100 years. When you stand there, imagine it the way it was back then, when you could see all of the way to the trees that lined the Arizona Canal, and to the White Tanks to the west, the Estrellas to the south, the McDowells to the east. Phoenix, to the southeast, was a forest of trees.

When I go to these places, I find a quiet place. I know that most people want to go inside, and get a guided tour, and talk to someone, and read plaques, and look at flyers. But I want to just be there. I will be friendly with people who walk up to me (reasonably so), but I'm not looking for conversation, or for someone to hand me a flyer. I'm there to soak it in. Being in these places lowers my blood-pressure, I know. And just thinking about it feels good, too.

Thanks for visiting Manistee Ranch with me.

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Walking to downtown Canoga Park on Christmas Day of 1986

I've been alone a lot on Christmas, and it's been my choice. In 1986 I decided to move back to Los Angeles and try again to get a real career started. This time I decided on the San Fernando Valley, and settled into a tiny apartment in Canoga Park. It's the, uh, less fashionable part of the west valley, adjacent to Woodland Hills, which is where I got the job the following year.

I grew up in Minneapolis, got my college degree in Arizona, and had been living in Santa Barbara for the past three years so the noise and crowding of Canoga Park was very hard for me to take. I remember being curious if the traffic ever let up, and I once got up at 3 a.m. just to check. Nope, just as much traffic as in the middle of the day. The noise and commotion, never, ever stopped. Except on Christmas Day, which I remember as something of a miracle.

I woke up on Christmas Day with nothing to do, and nowhere to go, so I decided to just walk. I love to walk, and always have, because it seems to clear my mind in a way that nothing else can do. I wasn't walking anywhere, I was just walking.

I left my apartment, which was on Saticoy, and walked down Mason to Sherman Way and then headed west. I'd never seen Canoga Park like that, there was no traffic. I felt like "the last man on earth". It was so quiet! I stumbled along, stopping to look at interesting stuff on the wayside, like random buildings, cracks in the sidewalk, whatever. I wasn't looking for anything, I was just looking, and walking.

Every business was closed. No one was driving by, no one was walking. It seemed like I had the whole world to myself, and I walked all of the way downtown, which is Owensmouth. I was out for a long time, so at least a 7-11 was open, because I probably drank a bottle of Coke and ate some chips for breakfast. I don't suppose that thirty years later it would be so quiet, but it was then, and I can still hear the quiet.

Merry Christmas!

Thank you to my patrons on Patreon who help support History Adventuring! If you like these blog posts, and would like to make suggestions for future ones, please go to patreon.com/PhoenixHistoryAdventuring where you can show your support for as little as $1 a month. Thank you!

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The weird and wonderful behavior of California people

I haven't lived in California since the '80s, but I visit often, and the there people really haven't changed.

My California is Los Angeles, by the way, so maybe what I've seen doesn't apply to the rest of California. California is a very big state, but whenever I see a California license plate here in Arizona, I always jump to the conclusion that they're from Los Angeles. And I'm OK with the weird behavior of Californians, which always follows a definite pattern.

Here are some typical California behaviors that I've come to recognize:

• They're rich. People in California scoff at any house that's under a quarter of a million as "a run-down shack". What they pay for everything just seems like another world, and they take it for granted. My California friends are rich, but most of them hate "rich people", which are the people who are richer than they are, you know, the ones who live up higher on the hill than they do.

• They eat weird stuff. Every Californian I've ever known loves to talk about some mysterious food that I've never heard about. It always seems to be only available at specific places that only certain people know about, and if you eat that food, it will have miraculous qualities. Of course, it costs a lot, and even something as simple as almonds will have most California people jumping up and down, and looking at you with a glittering eye as they explain. And don't get them started on the subject of coffee! "There's this one place, see, where you can get, like, the very best coffee beans, grown organically and free range, and then you grind them with this special machine... etc. etc."

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• They don't mind crowding. There may be places in California that aren't crowded with people, but I've never seen them. Even when they "get away" somewhere, the freeways are crowded. I like hanging out with California people for this reason, as they don't immediately panic if there are a couple of cars in the parking lot of the restaurant they're going to, or if they have to wait for a few minutes to get a table. Here in Arizona, most of the people I know go into a panic if there isn't a parking spot right up front of a restaurant - my Arizona friends say "Wow, there's no parking!" - even when I can see a couple dozen open spots. When people in California say "there's no parking", there's no parking, and you can't stop there.

• They go outside. I love sitting outside, especially at restaurants, but my Arizona friends just think I'm crazy. Even when the weather is absolutely gorgeous in Phoenix in the fall and winter, most Arizonans will sit inside. If I want to sit outside, I apologize, and I'm sure that many of them just know that I still have some weird California behavior left over, and they humor me.

I love living in Arizona, and I love visiting California. I feel very comfortable in both places, and I love both places. I moved to Arizona when I decided that I would never be able to afford a house, and I've tried to keep myself as Californian as I can - I've even landscaped my house to make it look more like California than Arizona.

Oh, and by the way, the one thing that you can always get in California and Arizona is great Mexican food! I just love living in the Sunset States!

Image at the top of this post: Calabasas, California. It's not really LA, but it's my California.

The year I spent Christmas in Hollywood

When I graduated from ASU, I wanted to move to "the big city" and see what I could do there. My degree is in Graphic Design, and I had a vague notion that I wanted to work for an Advertising Agency. I knew nothing about Los Angeles, but I did know that the Advertising Agencies are on Wilshire Boulevard (the equivalent of Madison Avenue in New York). So I headed out to LA in August (I didn't bother to wait for the graduation ceremonies, which are in December).

What I found out was how insanely expensive apartments were in Los Angeles. Of course, I'd done no research, I hadn't talked to anyone, I just drove out there. I had no job, no prospects, but I figured that things would just work out. I was young! I settled into an apartment complex on Argyle north of Hollywood Boulevard. It was a bizarre combination of old Hollywood glamor, and run-down places that were cheap enough for people like me to actually live in.

Hollywood in 1932. The Castle Argyle in the center of the photo, just south of the Argyle Apartments, which are on the other side of the street. The Hollywood Tower is at right. When I lived there, the sign didn't say Hollywoodland anymore, it just said Hollywood.

The Argyle Apartments had originally been built by movie director Cecil B. DeMille. Well, the nice part of the complex was! The part I lived in had been added on much later, and other than being connected to the rest of the complex, it had nothing in common with the original part. If you know the area, it's just a few doors down from the DeMille Manor, on Argyle just north of Franklin. You know, north of the Hollywood Tower, north of the Hollywood Freeway, east of Vine.

I spent the next four months looking for a job. I spent a lot of time sitting out in the courtyard, waiting for something to happen, and of course I met my neighbors. Not surprisingly, a lot of the people there worked in show biz, and that's when I learned that working for the movie studios, or TV studios, wasn't steady work. These people would do a job, get paid, and then hope for the next one. The people who managed their money did well, the ones who blew it all and then lived in poverty until their next job came in, didn't.

In December I did get a job, which was a few miles north, in Santa Barbara. It wasn't what I had expected, but I needed a job, and my plan was to move at the end of the month, which meant that I would spend Christmas there, and try to be cheerful and optimistic about the future.

Madolyn Smith in Urban Cowboy. Everyone remembers John Travolta, and Debra Winger, but no one seems to remember Madolyn. I remember you, Madolyn! Thanks for the autograph!

I was invited to a Hollywood Christmas party there at the apartment complex, and shyly attended. The other side of the complex had been built in the 1920s, and was gorgeous. The apartments were big, and for some reason I remember the beautiful tile. Everybody who was anybody was there, including me, the nobody from the crummy side of the apartments. Our big celebrity there was Madolyn Smith, who was "the other girl" in Urban Cowboy. She did a lot of work after that, but mostly TV, so if you've never heard of her, even if you've seen Urban Cowboy, I'm not surprised. I got her autograph that night, but I've never been able to impress anyone with it. I posted a picture of her on this post, along with some guy in a cowboy hat, whom I never met. His career did well!

Hollywood people are so nice. It's one of the best Christmases that I remember. But they did something that I didn't understand, hugging. And when I got ready to leave the party, I made an unpardonable mistake, I hesitated to hug Madolyn. She was wishing me well in my future success, and she wanted to hug me. She had a broken leg, and it was in a cast at the time, so it was difficult for her to walk, and she stood up for me. I shot a nervous glance over to her boyfriend, to be sure that it was OK, and in that instant I heard her say, "He doesn't want to hug me!" The room got quiet, and so I did my first Hollywood hug. Yeah, everybody in California hugs.

Welcome to Hollywood!

Spending Christmas in Arizona, and flaunting it to your friends back east

There are a lot of reasons why I love Arizona, and one of my favorite things to do is to flaunt the beautiful weather around Christmastime to my friends back east.

I moved away from the snow and cold of Minnesota when I was 19 (which was quite a while ago!) but I'm still thrilled by how gorgeous it is in Arizona in December. The first year I just kinda stood around and gaped. I still do that, but have another Christmas tradition, telling my friends back east how wonderful it is here. I used to send postcards to my friends, now I just post the weather, with a picture of a beautiful blue sky, on Facebook. If you're a friend of mine there, you saw me do it yesterday.

73 degrees on December 20th.

Yes, it gets awfully hot in the summer, which lasts pretty much all year in Phoenix, but from October to May it's the most beautiful weather in the world, especially if you like to golf. Blue skies, sunshine, and what I describe as "Chamber of Commerce weather". Phoenix usually gets a little little rain at the end of December, which I call "Christmas rains" - gentle and good for my garden (you can't play golf every day!).

I've lived here for a long time, and it's my greatest wish that I will always be able to live here. And I've talked to people who grew up and Phoenix, and of course they have no idea what I'm talking about. They take it all for granted, and I guess I understand. But I spent the first 19 years of my life cold and miserable, walking to school in the snow (yes, uphill both ways!), shoveling snow, and delivering newspapers in the snow. And make no mistake, Minnesota snow and cold isn't the pleasant stuff they get in Flagstaff. In Minneapolis, a blizzard wasn't ever enough to close my school. My brothers and I listened to the radio every morning to see if the school would ever be closed because of snow, and it never, ever was. As you can tell, I'm still bitter about that. Three feet of snow and 40 below zero! No problem! Walk to school! When I was old enough to drive, read a map, and had finished High School, I left Minneapolis for Phoenix.

As you can see from the photo at the top of this post in 1893, this is a time-honored tradition in Phoenix. So if you're in Phoenix during Christmastime, don't forget to get out there and appreciate how wonderful it is! And send a photo to your friends back east.

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The Phoenix Motor Company to Quebedeax Chevrolet to Ray Korte Rambler-Jeep 1939-1967

There's a faceless building in downtown Phoenix that I've always been curious about. It's on the southwest corner of Van Buren and 4th Avenue, and is completely covered over with stucco. I went past it a couple of weeks ago and I saw that some of the stucco had been peeled away to reveal the original bricks from the 1930s. I've been trying to figure out this faceless building for many years now, and I'll tell you what I know so far.

The Phoenix Motor Company in 1939, 4th Avenue and Van Buren, Phoenix, Arizona

Quebedeax Chevrolet in the 1950a, 4th Avenue and Van Buren, Phoenix, Arizona.

It was built in 1930 for the Dud R. Day Motor Company, and in 1939 became the Phoenix Motor Company. They stayed there until 1954, when it became Quebedeau Chevrolet. By the way, I'm learning how to pronounce that, in case anyone asks me to - it's KAY - BEE - DOE. They were there until 1959. By the way, Quebedeax moved up to 750 Grand Avenue (as of this writing, that building is also still there). In 1959, Ray Korte Rambler-Jeep moved into the 4th Avenue and Van Buren building (the image at the top of this post is from their ad in "Arizona Days and Ways" in 1962). Ray Korte didn't stay there long, as he moved to 23rd Avenue and Camelback Road in 1967, and the building became a storage facility for government vehicles.

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This is what I know so far. From what I can tell, the building has been in use until very recently, when the restoration started. I want to see what's under that stucco! I'll let you know what I find out!

Gallagher's burgers in Peoria, from 1986 to hopefully forever

I've been going over and getting a burger at Gallagher's, which is just west of 67th Avenue on Peoria Avenue, for like, forever. And it's one of those places that I hope will be there forever.

Since I'm interested in Phoenix history, I wish I could tell you more about Gallagher's. All I know is that when I moved into the house that I'm in, in 1993, it was there. So that's, like forever. I learned a few things about the place while I was there to today, and I'll share what I know, but it's not much.

First of all, it's a Sports Bar. I'm not a big sports fan, but apparently a lot of people are, and that's where they go to watch the Big Game. The place is divided in half, and the half I like is the restaurant half. They have nice big tables, and when I go there it's nice and quiet, with music from the '80s, and I can hold conversations with my friends. The other half is more lively, and there's not just a bar there, but (and this is what I just learned) it's part of Turf Paradise.

So you can watch the Big Game, and bet on the horses. And there are other things there that you can bet on, like Greyhounds, and stuff like that. I'm not a gambling man, so I don't know. My plan is actually go to the other part of Gallagher's someday and gamble a dollar. The manager there said that I could bet a dollar. I have a stack of four gold dollars that have been sitting on my desk next to my computer for years, so I'll put them in my pocket the next I go, and lose them. You can see why I'm not much of a gambler!

Gallagher's is one of those places that does the magic trick of looking small on the outside and being bigger inside. If you live in the Sahuaro Ranch neighborhood, you may have driven past it a million times without ever seeing it. I don't remember how I discovered it, I probably just wandered in one day. Most of the places I wander into are a disappointment, and I never go back, but I've been going back to Gallaher's for twenty years.

No, they're not paying me to say anything about them, and I'm not an investor there. But it's my favorite place in my neighborhood, and it's part of my community, and my world. So I invest in the place, by eating burgers, and having a beer sometimes. I try to get there as often as possible, and I always ask friends to take me there. My regular table is the one right at the entrance to your left, and if you see someone who can't seem to shut up about Phoenix history, that's me.

I love living in this neighborhood, and I hope that I will be here, like forever. I take my dog to the Sahuaro Ranch, I taught at the Community College, I workout at the Fitness Center there. I watched this neighborhood grow around me, and I'm well pleased. I care about the places here, and I show it with my investments - like ordering a cheeseburger, and a beer!

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The wonderful world of amateur history adventuring

I've been collecting old photos of Phoenix since 1992, when I first rescued some old photos from being thrown in the dumpster, when Valley National Bank started the process of becoming Bank One, and I was helping my department (which was the Graphics area) make room for all of the new stuff. And believe me, that place really needed to be cleaned out! It was mostly junk that nobody had ever thought to throw away. I asked my manager's permission to take the old photos, which were mostly publicity photos from the '60s and '70s. And I stored them safely in my garage.

Nothing much happened until the internet came around, in the late '90s, and I started scanning in the photos to use to practice making web pages. By 2001, I had created a couple of web pages about Phoenix, using those photos, just for fun, but mostly to practice this new thing that I had to teach, HTML. Over the years I updated the pages with CSS, and then when Google+ was introduced in 2011, I created a "business page" there and started sharing the photos that way (using social media is whole lot easier than updating a web page!).

And then something happened, and I started having way too much fun. People were enjoying the photos, and helping me with the captions. And I discovered more photos, and more, and more! And I got hooked on building up a gigantic collection of digital images, which must be over 10,000 or more by now. They're all carefully filed, and backed up, and more importantly, thrown out into the cyber world, where I hope they will never be lost, never thrown in the trash. They're all public domain, so anyone can have them, use them, share them. You don't need my permission, or anything. If you're nervous about using them for commercial purposes, check with a good copyright lawyer, not me.

I started using the term "history adventuring" to describe what I was doing. Mostly it was in cyberspace, but sometimes I would go out into the "Real World" and look at stuff, like the Sahuaro Ranch, or Pueblo Grande. I started having regular adventures with other amateur historians, who seemed to be as fascinated with old Phoenix as I was, some even more so. I even started writing in this blog which I called History Adventuring, mostly about going to these places in my imagination. That's why I have this blog. Sometimes I just wonder what it would have been like living in Phoenix in the 1940s, or being a Pima Indian and seeing the newcomers in the 1860s.

I'm not a historian. I'm not working at a museum, or working on my PhD for history so I can teach it somewhere, or writing a book, I'm just having fun. And I'm having a LOT of fun. I love learning new stuff, and then sharing it. I'm glad you're here, and I hope you are having as much fun as me, thinking about what it would have been like drinking whiskey with Jack Swilling, or watching the Professional Building being built in 1931.

All of this costs me nothing but my time, and I do most of it in between freelance Graphic Design jobs (sometimes I have a LOT of free time!). I write my blog here (which is free from Google) and I post the photos on Facebook (which is also free). I pay fifteen dollars a year for the domain name of this blog, and I just printed up some business card with HistoryAdventuring.com on them so I can give to people if they want to find me in cyberspace. I know that a lot of times people are wondering why I'm doing this, and when I say for fun, I can tell sometimes that they're still wondering?

By the way, when I go history adventuring, I always take a "selfie" - although it's different from typical selfies. I stand in front of what I've come to see and have someone take a photo of me - waaaay back there. The photo at the top of this post is of the trees on the canal at 7th Street and Northern. If you look carefully, I'm back there, walking back in time. If you look carefully at the photo in the header of this blog, I'm at the top of the stairs at Historic City Hall, in downtown Phoenix. I get a big kick out of this!

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How to save the places you love in Phoenix, Arizona, or anywhere

I love living in Glendale, which is a suburb of Phoenix, Arizona. I collect old photos of Phoenix, and I share them on the internet. And one of the most common things that I see is that people regret the loss of something, like their favorite restaurant, or the store that they used to go to. And then I see people wondering who to protest to, or whether they should "like" something, or forward a post. And sometimes, well, there's just nothing to be done. Times change, and things go away.

The Chuckbox in 1972, Tempe, Arizona

I think about the places that are precious to me, like the Chuckbox in Tempe, or Gallagher's here in Glendale (sadly, closed now). And I try do something - I go there as often as I can. I tell my friends to go there (and take me with them!). Because it's all about money.

Of course, just getting breakfast at my favorite place here in Glendale, which is Kiss the Cook by the way, won't be enough if someone wants to buy that block and put in something else. I know that, I get it. But most businesses around here aren't in any kind of danger like that. They're just in danger of dying from neglect.

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I'm an old Marketing guy, and I know that people vote for what they want with their money. If they want to watch the Super Bowl, they vote with a LOT of money. And that's how they show support for what's important to them. They invest in what they consider valuable.

I've lived in this neighborhood for over twenty years and I pride myself on supporting every local business (except the tattoo place, I can't bring myself to get a tattoo). And I hope that they'll be around the next time I want to go there. This isn't charity, this is investment in the places that I love, that make my community, my city, my world.

So, please put away the rants, and the blame that its all some big conspiracy, man. It's not. Mostly it's simple - people invest in their business, and stay there if they make money. I've known a lot of people like that, and no, you shouldn't buy their stuff if it's awful. But if it's great, then go ahead and invest. There's no guarantee that your investment will mean that that place will be there in the future, but it's the best thing you can do.

At the top of this post: 1924 ad for the Sing High Chop Suey House. It's still in business, in downtown Phoenix.

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Walking to the Tri-City Mall in Mesa

Walk with me. Let's go to the Tri-City Mall in Mesa. It's 1982 and we're starting from my little apartment in Tempe, on Wildermuth, near Price and Apache.

I know we're not supposed to do this, but let's walk along the railroad tracks. I don't really need to buy anything, I'm just walking. I like the road less travelled, and I walk along the railroad tracks all of the time, usually with my neighbor's dogs. I've never seen anyone, and even trains are rare. The tracks are absolutely straight, so I can see for miles in both directions, so I'm not worried about getting hit by a train. Yeah, I know it's against the law, but we're young!

There's an open field where the Light Industrial area will be in the 21st Century, so it's an easy walk to the tracks. The dogs are barking but they can't come along this time.

Looking south along the Tempe Canal on the border of Tempe and Mesa in the 1980s. This is the view from Apache Boulevard just east of Price toward the Silos. The area has changed a lot since the 1980s, but the silos are still there. You may have to go around to Broadway to see them.

The tracks run east and west, halfway between Apache and Broadway, and cross at the bridge over the canal. As we walk east, we go past a farm, where I've visited with the dogs many times. Across the canal bridge is still open fields, and there are bees, but don't worry, they stay close to their houses, and they won't bother you. I always stop and look at the silos.

When we get to the road (which is Dobson), we'll need to turn left, and leave the railroad tracks. There's a Denny's there (which is now a LoanMax) so we can stop in, sit at the counter, and eat something. Yeah, we forgot to eat anything before we left, and we've been walking, so now we're hungry. Can you lend me a couple of bucks?

We're now in Mesa (actually we were when we crossed the canal), so it's not Apache anymore, it's Main. Tri-City Mall is now kitty-corner across Main and Dobson, so we're almost there. There's nothing much I need, besides I'm a starving student without any money to spend, but I remember how much I enjoyed hanging around Southdale when I was in High School in Minneapolis, so let's just hang around. Maybe we'll see some girls, but of course we'll be too shy to talk to them!

This has been fun, but I'm ready to head back. I'm sure the dogs are wondering where I've been!

Image at the top of this post: Tri-City Mall in the 1960s, from a postcard. The third city was Scottsdale, which is just north, across the Salt River.

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The day I visited Bedford Falls, and had a Wonderful Life in the San Fernando Valley

I lived in the San Fernando Valley, which is part of Los Angeles, in my twenties. And it fascinated me to see how much of the magic of movies was created right there. I think that's when I became a "background watcher" of movies, and wanted to know exactly where something was filmed.

The exterior scenes of "A Wonderful Life" showing Bedford Falls (I assume you've seen the movie) were shot at the RKO Encino Ranch, located at what is now the Sepulveda Basin Recreation Area, which most people call Balboa Park, in Encino, California. You know, where the golf course is, and the lake.

Yes of course the snow was all fake, and from what I've read, it was shot in the summer, during a heat wave. You know, typical show biz stuff. I don't remember know how I learned all of this, way before the internet, but I did. I've been a big fan of the movie "It's a Wonderful Life" for a very long time, and apparently a lot of other people are, too.

So one day in 1987, I went there. It's at Balboa Boulevard between Burbank Boulevard and Victory Boulevard. No, I didn't go running through it like Jimmy Steward did, but I stood there. To the people around me, I'm sure all they saw was someone who was looking around, maybe trying to figure out where something was. But I was Jimmy Stewart in Bedford Falls, and it was a Wonderful Life.

George Bailey: [running through Bedford Falls] Merry Christmas, movie house! Merry Christmas, Emporium! Merry Christmas, you wonderful old Building and Loan!

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Why Mrs. Winchester was afraid of ghosts in San Jose, California

Great fortunes are made on guns, and the Winchester company has been one of the most successful. That's the Winchester '73 at the top of this post, for those of you who appreciate the very finest Winchester ever made. 1873.

The Winchester is the gun that won the West, and it sold well, because it was a magnificent weapon. We often think of "six-shooters" as the guns of the west, and there were plenty of them, but the Winchester repeating rifle was an absolute necessity. It was remarkably accurate, and it could mean the difference between living and starving to death for someone who was out hunting.

But, unfortunately, it was also used on people. Of course not as much as the stories that are told, but enough to really put the fear of ghosts in Mrs. Winchester. And if you've visited her house, in San Jose, you know what she did - she just kept adding on rooms to give the ghosts some place to go. I understand it's a good place to go ghost hunting to this day, and well worth a look if you happen to be in the neighborhood.

Speaking for myself, I wonder about Mrs. Winchester. She had all that money, but it didn't protect her from the ghosts of men who had died because of her husband's invention. Well, that's the way she saw it. And whether you're talking about a fortune built on guns, or whiskey, or anything, there's gonna be a reason to feel nervous about how that money came about.

The West of the Imagination, and the real west are two very different things, and I enjoy them both. I'm not one of those people who gets upset that John Ford insisted that Texas looked liked Monument Valley, or that there should be any numerical limit to the number of bullets that the good guy can shoot before reloading. There are times when I think about how difficult it was for people in "the old west", looking for clean water, food to feed their families, that kind of thing. And those were the people who populated the west mostly, and the things they shot with rifles were mostly skunks, and occasional bears. And Winchesters were excellent. They didn't blow up in people's faces, like some of the less well-made brands did. They didn't jam as often. They had a handle to bring another bullet up to fire in seconds. And since most people in the old west were as bad a shot as people are today, that saved lives if a grizzly bear was attacking.

I'm sorry that Mrs. Winchester felt the way she did. She spent a huge amount of her fortune building onto her house to accommodate the ghosts. It must have been good business for the local contractors! And nowadays it's just an interesting old house that people like to visit, and the ghosts they they imagine have nothing to do with the corpses that Mrs. Winchester imagined were rising up to haunt her.

Gay Denny's, 7th Street and Camelback Road, Phoenix, Arizona

I was getting a haircut yesterday, and in the course of casual conversation, the young woman (she's in her thirties, but everyone looks about twelve to me nowadays) who was cutting my hair mentioned that she grew up in Phoenix. I told her about my interest in Phoenix history, and found out that her parents had grown up in Phoenix, too. I've lived in Phoenix for a long time, and true born-and-raised in Phoenix people are still pretty rare. So we talked about Phoenix, and I could tell, yep, she knew Phoenix the way that only a local would know it.

When I mentioned that I had moved to Phoenix when I was nineteen, she asked me to exactly whereabouts. I hesitated, and then I asked a question that everyone who is a Phoenix local knows. Did she know where Gay Denny's is? Of course she did. And if you know, well, it doesn't mean you're gay, it just means you know Phoenix in the same way that people refer to Chicken Park in Glendale.

Now waitaminute, calm down here if you've never heard of this. This isn't homophobia. I support the gay community, and always have. The fact that I accidentally got an apartment in an area that is part of the "gayborhood" meant nothing to me. When I found out, by people telling me, I found it to be kinda funny. I lived over by Lopers, you know, not far from the Cheetah Club. If you know Phoenix, you know what I'm talking about.

Talking about Phoenix this way reminds me of how I learned my neighborhood in Minneapolis as a kid on a bike. We knew where things were, not the street names, or points on a compass. And while I'll never see 50 again, I'll always have the attitude of a kid, and the need to feel comfortable the way that a kid knows the back alleys and bike trails of their 'hood.

By the way, go ahead and Google "Gay Denny's Phoenix". I'll wait. I just did it, and sure enough the listing for the Denny's at 5002 N. 7th Street comes up on Google. I got the photo at the top of this post from that listing.

I didn't grow up in Phoenix, but it's my home. I went away for several years, to seek my fame and fortune in Los Angeles, and never found it. When I returned to Phoenix, it was a wonderful feeling, and I often describe it as "putting on an old jacket that just fits". I wasn't born and raised in Phoenix, but I consider myself a "born again local". I like it here.

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Why buildings become ugly

As a Graphic Designer, and frustrated architect, I understand why buildings become ugly. I understand that they all start out on a drawing board, with great expectations, and then things start to go wrong. It happens with all designs, but buildings are especially prone to this.

I spend a lot of time looking at buildings. And I look at them with the eyes of a designer. When I see a brand new building, I know that I'll be seeing it at its best for the last time. Because things happen.

No, it's not a conspiracy, man. No one stands around, laughing manically, and saying "wait until I ruin this design!" It's most often best intentions, and sometimes just human error, and of course, budget.

Ever since I was a kid, I've been fascinated by the little models of buildings. And I'm also fascinated by artist's renderings. These show the building as it appeared in the mind of the designer. Everything is bright and shiny clean, there is usually a lot of landscaping, and nicely-dressed people walking around. If there are cars, they are there to help show off the design.

Of course, a model, or a drawing, can have anything. There's no budget restraint on imagination! In the real world, where the building actually has to exist, it costs money. Real money. And the money that is dedicated to it has to be prioritized - the building has to not fall down, for example. And if the money runs out before the final details are added, well, that's how it goes.

And there's always something wrong with a building. When I visit buildings with my History Adventuring friends, I'm always looking for what's right. Many people will point out what's wrong. And then suddenly a LOT of things become visible. Maybe it was sloppy work when the building was originally built, maybe something sloppy was added on. As a designer, I tend to be one of those "unreasonable, egotistical people" who doesn't want to just have everyone be happy in a meeting. Designers fight for design, and we most often lose. There are many architects who won't go see a building that they have designed, it's just too sad.

Of course, architects make mistakes. They forget to design in enough storage, enough parking. And buildings have to adapt. My local Starbucks was designed without any storage space, so stuff is just piled up in the corner, in plain sight. And if you've ever gone somewhere where the cars just seem to be scattered all over the place, or people are pushing strollers behind cars that are backing up, the designers failed on that function of design, and that is that people (especially in Phoenix) use cars, and that they need to get their bodies from those cars into those buildings.

Up until very recently, Phoenix and Los Angeles were famous for their sloppy enforcement of any kind of building code. I call it the "good old boys network", where if someone knew someone, they could get just about anything approved. And substandard work was done on everything from buildings to freeways. As a designer, this kinda scares me, but I understand that everyone "just wants to get along", and "not make waves". But that's where it starts.

Another factor in making buildings ugly is that tastes change. In the middle of the 20th Century, old-fashioned brick was an embarrassment, and stucco was used to "clean up" the old look. You can see it all over Phoenix, and Los Angeles. I'm sure they meant well, but removing stucco from brick has now become a big business.

And that's why I say over and over "I'm sure they meant well". Sometimes I'll say, "They made a mistake". And that's because buildings are made, and used, by human beings, and we do the best we can. So the next time you walk up to an ugly building, you can say "They meant well", and be forgiving, but really, I'm hoping that someone will say "Hey, this could be a beautiful building!"

And beautiful buildings make for beautiful cities.

By the way, if you've been in downtown Phoenix in the past thirty years, and you don't recognize the photo at the top of this post, do a Google Street view of the southwest corner of 4th Avenue and Van Buren. I'm sure they meant well.

Thank you to my patrons on Patreon who help support History Adventuring! If you like these blog posts, and would like to make suggestions for future ones, please go to patreon.com/PhoenixHistoryAdventuring where you can show your support for as little as $1 a month. Thank you!

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The terrible truth about working in the entertainment industry in Los Angeles

In spite of claims to the contrary, there are only two places for "show biz" in the United States: New York City and Los Angeles. And everyone who has ever had a dream, or stars in their eyes, and has gone there has come up against some pretty harsh realities.

I don't know anything about New York City, and I only know about Los Angeles because of my friends there. I was never involved in the entertainment industry, or "Hollywood", even though I lived in Hollywood briefly.

Yes, for a tiny percent of "stars", it's wonderful. There's big money in the movies, and some people make a LOT of it. You see their names on celebrity magazines, they can pick and choose their projects, they have agents that negotiate for millions of dollars. And then there's the rest. And there's a lot of other people.

I met these people when I lived in Los Angeles. If they're lucky, they're the "guy who was in that thing", getting regular acting jobs in bit parts in movies and TV. The less lucky ones still find work, and it's not just actors, it's everyone who's required to create that magic that we see on the screen. And the industry is a business, and every effort is made to keep the costs down. And that means that there are a lot of people who are asked to work long and hard for very little money. And since it's an industry that works from project to project, many people don't know if they'll ever work again, and many have multiple jobs, like the waiter at that restaurant you just went to.

LA has a huge population, and the entertainment industry is seen as a glamor job, no matter what you do. It makes for great stories to tell about being involved with a major motion picture, or a big TV show. But the rest of the story is pretty horrible. There's no job security, and whatever protection that different guilds offer is all too often "worked around" because of the particular urgency of a project (which they all are).

When I lived in Los Angeles, a lot of the people I worked with had head shots, and paid Screen Actor's dues, and went on auditions. Every once in a while people would ask me if I was going on auditions, and I thought "hey, maybe they think I should be a movie star!" But no, it's just something that everyone does, like putting a nickel in a slot machine, and hoping for the best.

Because I know about this, I prefer to not hear stories about Hollywood. They're all told the same way - through great trials and tribulations, and working all night, something was produced. Well, everything is produced that way in Hollywood, and most of it is a failure, and all of it is brutally hard on the human beings that do it.

Thank you to my patrons on Patreon who help support History Adventuring! If you like these blog posts, and would like to make suggestions for future ones, please go to patreon.com/PhoenixHistoryAdventuring where you can show your support for as little as $1 a month. Thank you!

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A buried treasure in downtown Phoenix, Arizona

I worked in downtown Phoenix in the '90s, and have been interested in the historic buildings ever since. I would often walk around during my lunch breaks and wonder what the buildings looked like "back in the day". Most of what I saw looked pretty terrible, and I would squint my eyes and imagine.

I'm a Graphic Designer, and a frustrated architect (I couldn't do the math!) so I really enjoy looking at buildings. All types of buildings fascinate me, and like all designers I'm saddened to see what I know to be a beautiful design that has been buried. And it's most often done with the best intentions, to "modernize" a building, or to make the building more usable, or more attractive to tenants. I understand. But I could see that there were beautiful buildings there under all the stucco, and matchboard, and plastic. There were times when I wished that I could take a penknife to them and scratch away the ugliness, and reveal the beauty.

To my amazement, it's happening nowadays. Old buildings are being rediscovered, and their original beauty is being revealed. And I feel like saying, "There! I told you so!" to people who have seen me stop and walk up to some of the ugliest old buildings in Phoenix. If you've been in Phoenix in the last few years, you've seen many examples, and you know what I mean.

The Phoenix Motor Company in 1939, 4th Avenue and Van Buren, Phoenix, Arizona.

Nowadays I have my eyes on the Phoenix Motor Company Building, at 401 W. Van Buren. That's it in the 1940s there in the photo at the top of this post, but if you've driven past it for years and don't recognize it, I'm not surprised. It has been completely stuccoed over, and from the front has no features at all, as if someone just put plaster all over someone's face. I stopped and looked at the building this past weekend, and I saw something that really excited me - bricks being exposed! Look for a big featureless building with a dome, and that's the one. It's on the southwest corner of Van Buren and 4th Avenue.

There's a beautiful building under there! And hopefully the people who are restoring it will find the old photos, and be inspired.

Exposed bricks on the Phoenix Motor Company building in December of 2016. If you know what's underneath, it's very exciting!

Arizona vs. Midwestern Etiquette - or why you never "kill the taste" of beef, or beer

I've lived in Arizona, and California, all of my adult life, and I love it here. I grew up in Minnesota, and I left there because I hate snow and cold. Minneapolis is a beautiful city, and that's why I love trees, they just make me feel better. I will always remember the trees. And I will also remember the etiquette, which can sometimes make me twitch.

Today I enjoyed a delicious tamale. I had some fresh salsa in the fridge, and almost forgot to take it out, but I remembered just in time. I love fresh salsa! I also love having a lime in my beer. But I've never been able to bring myself to put barbecue sauce on a steak, or A-1, or catsup.

If you never lived in the midwest, you may not realize how incredibly rude it is to do something to "kill the taste" of a steak. And although tomato-based sauces can be delicious, they were used in the old west because meat tasted pretty bad, and something with some spices and tomatoes could help make it more palatable. That's also true of bad tasting beer, which was made to taste a little better by adding a lime. Of course, that was a long time ago! The steaks you get in Phoenix, or in California, as are as good, and tender, as anything you can get in Iowa (although I'd start a fight if I said that there!) so there's really no reason to kill the taste. The same with beer.

Even asking a restaurant for a bottle of steak sauce is an horrific insult in the midwest. Yes, places do serve it, because a lot of people like it, but for Old-Time midwesterners like me, seeing catsup poured on a beautiful Iowa sirloin is a crime. No, I won't say anything, that's why I'm writing it here. That's how etiquette works, it's a secret system that you can violate without knowing. Yes, a little salt and pepper is fine, but don't get carried away!

I'm sorry to have to break it to you this way, but the last time you put something spicy and tomato-based on a steak that was served to you, you might as well have said, "I can still see the marks where the jockey was hitting it!" and you probably won't be invited back. People are probably still saying "tut tut!" about you. How rude!

I've been stuck in between Midwestern etiquette and Western etiquette, and I often find that no matter what I do, I'm doing something wrong. I love Mexican food, and I can eat very spicy salsa, and that makes people back in Minnesota that I should be wearing a sombrero, and playing in a Mariachi band, and when I hang with my Hispanic friends I feel as if I should be chewing a piece of hay and saying, "Ya shure". Either way, I eat what I like. If someone doesn't invite me back, then I don't want to hang with them, anyway.

What they're doing on the empty lot on Central across from Steele Indian School park - Agave Farms

As long as I can remember, Phoenix has had a LOT of empty lots. All over the place, and often in places that have made me wonder "why hasn't anything ever been built there?" Of course no one knows. (Update - Some people do know! See comment below! Thanks, JR!) So when I see some activity in a lot that's been empty for a long time, it gets my attention!

If you're like me, you've been driving past the empty lot on the west side of Central north of Glenrosa, which is the light just north of Indian School Road, for a LONG time. The Central Avenue entrance to Steel Indian School Park is right across from it. You know, the big empty lot with about a million little yellow posts in front of it. Yeah, that's the one.

Today, after doing some History Adventuring downtown, I stopped at Lux on Central Avenue for a decaf. I parked on Turney, and in an idle moment I wandered over to see what I could see because there was now a permanent fence where there had once been that empty lot, and flowers. Lots of flowers! I walked all of the way along Central to Glenrosa, trying to figure it out, and even now I'm not really sure what's going on there - but I'll tell you what I know.

It's called Agave Farms. And the business manager, who gave me his card (and I can't seem to find it just now) told me that they had been there for about a year. Today is December 10th, 2016, so obviously I haven't been paying attention. I bought two petunia plants and he showed me around, a little (I have a bad ankle so I can't wander too far!).

It's a big place, and from what I could see they have a lot of plants, including roses, trees, and veggies (there were a bunch of pumpkins out front). He told me that they offered classes on plants, and cooking, and in addition to helping the community, they were indeed a commercial business, and the land is privately owned. They're really just starting out, and my suggestion that he put up some signs was met with a sad smile about whether the city would let them do it or not. And the more I thought about it, the more I thought that a bunch of glitzy signs would just spoil the sincere feel of the place.

And it really does have a nice feeling. I like visiting places that sell plants, and nowadays mostly they're big corporations, and I'd kinda like to support something more, well, sincere.

If you visit, and are wondering what the shape on the ground is (in the photo), it's an agave in a heart. Right now they're still planting, so maybe by the time you get there it will be more filled in. It seems just right.

Thank you to my patrons on Patreon who help support History Adventuring! If you like these blog posts, and would like to make suggestions for future ones, please go to patreon.com/PhoenixHistoryAdventuring where you can show your support for as little as $1 a month. Thank you!

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The freedom of living in a terrible apartment in Canoga Park in the 1980s

My main goal in life has always been freedom. I wanted to get away from home as soon as I could, which I did at 18, and I've done all that I could to be independent since. And it included living in some terrible apartments, like the one I had in Canoga Park in the 1980s.

Nowadays, living in my suburban Phoenix house, it's hard for people to imagine that I ever lived in these horrible places. They turn up their noses at the neighborhoods where I was in my twenties, and wonder what I was doing there. And it was all about freedom.

I didn't want roommates, I've never been married. I wanted to be able to do what I wanted, when I wanted, to answer to no one. While I was going to college I lived alone in a little tiny converted garage, which I made pretty cozy, in a neighborhood that to this day is not exactly something to brag about. Everyone else I knew was living in better places, in better neighborhoods, but they weren't doing it alone. Living alone is expensive.

I still have bad dreams about how horrible my apartment in Canoga Park was. And although I'm standing in the kitchen in the photo, I very rarely ate there. I tried my best to clean up the place, but it was filthy. Cockroaches had taken over the complex, and even though I arranged to have the place sprayed regularly, and kept plenty of cans of roach spray around, I learned that so many of my neighbors were living in such filth that there was really no hope of my not living with roaches. They were everywhere, even crawling on the bed with me sometimes (the roaches, not my neighbors). So I wasn't really alone!

I had just gotten a good-paying corporate job in Woodland Hills, and my plan was to get out my apartment in Canoga Park as soon as possible, maybe move to Thousand Oaks, or Agoura. But the department where I worked was eliminated in 1989, and I was suddenly out of a job. I looked around me and decided that California wasn't going to work for me, so I moved back to Phoenix. I was fortunate enough to get a good corporate job there, and in my mid-thirties I bought the house where I still am today.

Freedom and independence have always been vitally important to me. Now, as I drift into the second half of what I figure with be over 100 years of life, I think about how hard I've fought for my freedom, and I will continue to do so.

What the children of today will think of Phoenix in twenty years

When I first started learning about old Phoenix, I discovered that there had always been "good old days". And those were the days that former kids remembered when they became adults. Good old days happen every twenty to thirty years, and have been doing so since the first time an adult looked back on their childhood.

Recently one of my PhDs (Phoenix History Detectives) wondered if people would look back to now in twenty or thirty years as "the good old days". And of course I believe they will. Twenty years from now children will look back fondly at a time when everything was a simpler, when families really cared about each other, when children really knew how to play.

And now that I know that, I'm OK with people always criticizing right now, and pining away for the good old days. But it does make me wonder what Phoenix will be like in twenty years.

As someone who's lived in Phoenix for many decades, the first thing I think of will be things that I just can't seem to get used to, but will seem like they will have been there "forever", like the Light Rail. In twenty years the Light Rail will be so comprehensive that it will be a trivia question to ask if it actually went all of the way to Glendale (which it doesn't yet!). It will go to the Hassayampa, and the Harqualla Vallies. As a Marketing guy, I imagine that there will probably be new names for those areas, maybe stuff that's easier to spell, or pronounce. Who says "Salt River Valley" anymore? It will irritate the Old-Timers, who are children now, and will have memories of the original names! Darned progress!

As someone who is anxious to see self-driving cars and high-speed rail to California, only the Old-Timers will remember their parents having to drive across I-10 for hours and hours, or stand in line at the airport. It will be laughable to the young people, and nostalgic to the Old-Timers. And by the way, I call anyone who remembers twenty to thirty years ago in Phoenix an "Old-Timer"!

I am an optimistic person, and I believe that Phoenix will be a cleaner and safer place to live in twenty years from now. The air will be bluer, and there will be more trees. There will be more places for people to walk, and more accommodations for the elderly and the disabled. It will be an amazing place, and I know that because I know that there are people working on all of that right now. But the Old-Timers will look back fondly, because that's what the good old days are all about.

Image at the top of this post: The eucalyptus trees along the Arizona Canal in 2016, 7th Street and Northern, Phoenix, Arizona. In the good old days.

Thank you to my patrons on Patreon who help support History Adventuring! If you like these blog posts, and would like to make suggestions for future ones, please go to patreon.com/PhoenixHistoryAdventuring where you can show your support for as little as $1 a month. Thank you!

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Christmas without snow, Phoenix, Arizona

I hate snow and cold. That's the main reason that I left Minneapolis as quickly as I could. At 19 I packed up all of my earthly belongings (which were a cheap set of golf clubs, my tennis racquet, a drawing board, and maybe some other stuff) and headed west. I had spent too many winters in Minnesota, delivering newspapers and walking to school in the snow. I had a map, I had a driver's license, I had a car (well, an MG Midget), and all that mattered was to go where there wasn't any more snow and cold. I drove to Phoenix, Arizona.

I arrived in August, and even though my car, and my apartment, didn't have air conditioning, I really didn't mind. And I was anxious to see what winter would be like without snow. I was one of those typical midwestern people who was out by the pool when the locals were smart enough to be inside.

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But when Christmastime came, it hurt. I dreamed of a white Christmas. It all just felt so wrong. I remember making the mistake of guessing that the Arizona town of Snowflake would have a lot of snow, so I drove up there. No, it's not called that because of snow, it's called that because it was founded by two guys, named "Snow" and "Flake". Go Google it, I'm not kidding. I haven't trusted place names since then.

I did find Flagstaff, which has beautiful snow. And I promptly got my little sports car stuck in the snow there, and was glad to get out of it. And I learned that I could always drive up 17 whenever I felt the need for cold, and cooler weather. A good lesson!

The last time I saw Minnesota snow, 1982.

I made the mistake of visiting Minnesota one Christmas, and there was a record blizzard, and bitter cold. It seemed better to dream of it in Arizona than to actually go there, so I've never been back there in the winter. No thank you.

Even after all these years, Christmas without snow seems very strange. I listen to Christmas music, and I look at photos. Then I walk outside, where right now it's 54 degrees, and I shiver. I like it here, and nothing could possibly make me go back to the snow and cold, not even for a visit. I dream of a white Christmas, but I do it from Phoenix.

Image at the top of this post: Looking south at the Papago Buttes from Wonderview Road on Camelback Mountain in 1978, Phoenix, Arizona. Being in Phoenix amazed me then, and it still does.

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How to see my Arizona, and California

I've lived in Arizona and California all of my adult life. And I just love looking at these places. It doesn't matter how many times I've seen the Pacific Coast Highway, or the Estrella Mountains, I want to see them again, and again.

But it's only been in recent years that I've realized that what I'm seeing is very different from what most people see. Yeah, I'm weird. If you would like to be a little bit weird, or your think that you may already be, come along with me, and let's see stuff.

Let's go see Arizona. If you live in Phoenix, you may be saying, "Great! Let's go to the Grand Canyon!" And yes, the Grand Canyon is great, but my first thought is "what about right here?" and the most common response is "there's nothing to see here!" I used to hear that in Los Angeles, too. There was so much for me to see in Los Angeles, and there's so much to see in Phoenix that I can get very excited about it. If you agree, yeah, you're weird, too.

Usually people want to go to a destination. The most common thing I see is people who want to go to a big building where they can watch other people play a game. And since I've never had the slightest interest in doing that, most people consider me pretty weird. Sitting inside of a stadium watching other people play a game isn't what I would consider fun. I've often said that if I had a son who was playing in the SuperBowl, I'd be a good dad and go watch, but that would be about it.

Another thing that's common is the desire for people to go to a museum. Now, don't get me wrong, I love museums, but it's something I'd like to do on a rainy day. And it's usually sunny in Phoenix and LA!

Then there's the "gift shop" people. I've often been to fascinating places, like Frank Lloyd Wright's Taliesin West, only to find that I'm being encouraged to go to the gift shop. A lot of time people want to show me the rack of postcards, or a book about the place. I tend to apologize quietly, and go wander off to actually see the place. Many times people have seen me as rude, but gift shops don't interest me, and if I wanted to look at a photo, or read a book, I'd be home. I want to see the real thing.

I've gotten to see some incredible places in my life, and I'm hoping to see a lot more. Recently I rode the Phoenix Sky Train at Sky Harbor, just for the experience, just to ride the train high above the city I love. I went with a friend of mine who is also a middle-aged guy going on 13, and he did a video while I grinned so much that my face hurt afterwards.

I understand why people don't see things. They can't look away from what they have been taught is important. And maybe that's what happens to grownups. They learn how to always be looking for practical things, like stop lights. I like looking at mountains. Maybe you should drive.

Image at the top of this post: The Estrella Mountains from downtown Phoenix, Arizona.

Thank you to my patrons on Patreon who help support History Adventuring! If you like these blog posts, and would like to make suggestions for future ones, please go to patreon.com/PhoenixHistoryAdventuring where you can show your support for as little as $1 a month. Thank you!

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What Phoenix History Detectives (PhDs) are

I just love collecting old photos of Phoenix. If you know me, you know that it's something more than just collecting, it borders on an obsession. Like most middle-aged guys, I love adding to my collection, which at last count is something like about 10,000 images, all of which I give away all of the time on the internet. I don't have any originals, and I don't collect paper. I scan, optimize in Photoshop, and save the file with as accurate a file name as I can. A typical file name would be "Washington_1st_Ave_looking_west_1901.jpg. And I do that because I personally don't like photos labelled "back in the day" or with no location. I want to know as precisely as possible when and where. I want to step into the photos in my imagination. And my collection has given me a kind of "Google Street View" that travels in time. I'm not just collecting photos, I'm time-traveling back to old Phoenix. I'm walking around the old dusty streets of territorial Phoenix, I'm watching buildings under construction in the 1930s, I'm getting new tires for my '57 Chevy in the 1960s. I'm not writing a book, or looking to become rich on this stuff, I'm having fun.

This is a LOT of fun, and a lot of work. Anyone who is working on their collection (of anything!) knows what I'm talking about. I can never get enough. And I love showing off the collection. And I've been showing off the collection for many years now. Because, well, collections are meant to be shown off. And on the internet I can not only show off the collection, I can share it. If you want something, you're welcome to it. Everything I post is public domain. Take it, share it, make a T-shirt from it, make a poster. Just keep these images alive, please. Yes, I'm doing this for the love of it, and the way that it enriches my life. Yep, I'm crazy. I've been doing this for years.

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And then something remarkable happened. My team started showing up. Even though there were the constant silly comments that are typical of the internet, every once in a while someone would appear whose expertise was amazing. People who would help identify places that they knew about in Phoenix. And I listened, and thanked them. Some people wrote comments, some people contacted me directly. I started calling them my Phoenix History Detectives (PhDs). Some of my PhDs write back and forth to me every day, some I've met IRL (in real life) and some I have no idea what they look like as some have a blank avatar and a nonsense avatar name.

You know who you are. I don't mention these people, because, well, I guess some people just don't like having their name mentioned on the internet. These people are just about as crazy about Phoenix history as I am. Some support me through my Patreon page, some support me directly, by celebrating my birthday with me, sometimes several times a year, at Parsons. People who have allowed me to thank them publicly are +Bob Cox , and +Carole Lowe Beath . If you're a PhD, and would like to be thanked here, please say so in the comments, and I'll do it gladly. Speaking for myself, I've never been shy about throwing around my name in public. I've done Graphic Design as BradHallArt.com since the beginning of the internet, and for many, many years before that, here in Phoenix. I've done SEO (Search Engine Optimization) for my clients to enhance their Google Index, which means exposure, but I also understand that many people prefer privacy, and I respect that.

In the last five years I've seen some amazing stuff. I remember the exact moment when I saw the treasures that had been unearthed at the Osborn School. And it makes me sad to think that things like that are being thrown in the trash by people who see no eBay value, or don't know what to do with them. I've let people know that I'd be delighted to see these treasures, to scan the images, to research them with my PhDs, and to share them in the cyber-world where they will never be lost, never be stolen, never fade away, and never be locked up and forgotten.

I have an awesome team. Thank you, PhDs!

Image at the top of this post: Looking south from the Westward Ho at downtown Phoenix in the 1930s. This was one of the first of the Phoenix images that I rescued from being thrown in the dumpster, back in 1992 when Valley National Bank had been purchased by Bank One, and the Marketing Department where I worked at the time was cleaning up. I asked my manager if I could have these images, which were just of no use anymore.

Back to the future - downtown Phoenix plan from 1985

Walk with me. Let's go back to 1985 and walk around a plan for the future of downtown Phoenix.

I'm gonna wander around Phoenix, and find things that I remember from working at Bank One Center (now Chase Tower) in the 1990s, and see what I recognize, and how this vision of the future of Phoenix is different, and the same, as today.

I'll be looking at the original here at my desk, and I've uploaded a high-res version here http://bradhallart.com/images/Downtown_Phoenix_plan_1985.pdf if you want to look at it more closely. Let's go.

Oddly enough, this plan has south at the top, and I'm gonna start with the place I know best, Central and Monroe, labelled here as Valley Bank Center. It's just about in the center, slightly right. They drew it to look like a couple of salt-and-pepper shakers, I have no idea why. Anyway, just south of that is a building that's unlabelled, and which is now the Hilton Garden Inn (don't confuse that with the building that's labelled Hilton, that's the old Adams Hotel, nowadays called the Renaissance - you know, the one that kinda looks like a cheese grater).

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South of that, on Adams, you can see that there was a plan for a building called Square One. I wonder what that was about? And then there's City Place, which looked like it was going to be mostly parking with a big shiny tower. That's Block 23, which is still a parking lot as of this writing, and which is right across from the basketball arena, which I guess they hadn't thought about back then.

OK, let's go across the street to the Luhrs Building, which is on Jefferson and Central. It's not labelled on the plan, but it's there. And so is the Luhrs Tower, which is labelled. If you've used the Light Rail on Jefferson, you've gone past those buildings, which are from the 1920s. Glad they didn't plan to tear them down! The Maricopa County Complex is also still there, by the way.

Now let's cross Jefferson to where CityScape is nowadays. That's where Patriots Park was. I remember Patriot's Park in the '90s - it never really worked all that well. Across 1st Avenue is Historic City Hall, and I'm glad that they had no plans to tear that down!

I remember when the One Renaissance Square building was built, in the 90s. So it looks like something from this plan made it! It's the building with the statue of the naked man, on the northwest corner of Central and Washington. By the way, the Municipal Building (Calvin C. Goode) and the First Interstate Building (now Wells Fargo) are still there, too.

The Arizona Bank building is now US Bank. Now let's jump over to the Hyatt, which is the building with the circular restaurant on the top that goes around and around. I went there once, and it is kinda cool to see the view slowly turning around. But it's too expensive for me!

It's amazing nowadays to see how small Symphony Hall looks when I go downtown. Back in the '90s, it was very visible, and there was a huge open space just north of it, just like on this plan. I guess they hadn't figured on expanding the Convention Center, which just dwarfs Symphony Hall now.

OK, let's jump on over to the Arizona Center. This is what really caught my eye! I used to spend a lot of time there, usually at the food court. I know that I went to Hooters, but I never went to a movie there. And a lot of the people that I worked with at the bank did some shopping there, for things like clothes. I really don't remember any of the stores. The Arizona Center is between Fillmore and Van Buren and 3rd Street and 5th Street. Looks like they planned on a lot of tall buildings, mostly set at rakish angles! I understand that there are big plans nowadays, can't wait to see what they do!

Looks like they completely missed that ASU would take over downtown Phoenix. Who could have imagined? The block across from the Arizona Center, that says "Superblock Mixed-Used Project looks like they hadn't planned much. The Heritage Hotel (I never heard it called that!) was the Ramada Inn, where the ASU School of Law building is now. And then across from that (I'm going west now) is a block of more rakishly-angled tall buildings, of which only the Post Office building (now used by ASU) I recognize. North of that is the Westward Ho.

This has been fun, but my feet are getting sore, so I'm gonna stop for now. Thanks for walking with me! If you see some cool stuff that I missed, please leave a comment.