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.
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 many 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, or the Chuckbox. 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.
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Posted by Brad Hall