This blog explores the history of Phoenix, Arizona and a little bit of Los Angeles and San Francisco, California

Finding Ichabod, the tree, in downtown 1920s Phoenix


When I read about the end of Ichabod in 1929, I was reminded how important little things are to a city, a community, and to people. Ichabod was just a tree. And it's hard for me to believe that so many people seem to miss these details, which are ultimately the most important things we have, like people, unique and one-of-a-kind.



If you don't know about Ichabod, it was a Eucalyptus tree that was next to the Heard Building in downtown Phoenix, along an alley called "Melinda's Alley", sometimes called "Adams Alley", sometimes "Our Alley". It's between Adams and Monroe on Central Avenue. Ichabod was a big old tree, and the people who worked in the Heard Building were the ones who named it. It was behind the old Occidental Boarding Rooms, which went back to Territorial Days. Whether the tree did or not, I have no idea, but I imagine that it did. It probably saw Arizona become a State in 1912. And in 1929, progress had moved on, and it had to go.

The Occidental Boarding House in 1922, Central Avenue between Adams and Monroe, where the Craig Building is nowadays. Ichabod is not visible, it was behind the building. The Occidental, and Ichabod, were torn down in 1929.

The Craig Building, which is still there, was built in 1929, and they needed the space. Cities always seem to need space, for buildings, for cars, and for everything but what really matters most to people - the details.

I know that a lot of people are saddened when they see progress go plowing through, knocking down everything that mattered to them, even small details like old trees. I guess that's just the way it is. Cities grow and they need the room.

I collect old photos of Phoenix, and I've been looking for Ichabod, and I found him today, in a photo from the McCulloch Photography Collection at ASU. That's him up at the top of this post, on the left, next to the Heard Building, which is still there. The alley is still there, too, but it's just an alley, a place for garbage cans, with no place for trees.

The Phoenix that I've lived in for many decades has precious few trees. And I've watched them get cut down to make room for more buildings, more lanes of traffic, that sort of thing. And I understand. But sometimes I think about Ichabod, and hope that the future of Phoenix will be different.


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