Exploring the history of Phoenix, Arizona, just for fun. Advertising-free, supported by my patrons on Patreon. Thank you!

Preserving the history of Phoenix with family photos


I like old photos of Phoenix, and many of them have people in them. My interest started with identifying the buildings (I always wanted to be an architect, but I couldn't do the math), and then I started noticing the people. And it occurred me that these were real people, in real places, in real time. Like the people you see walking around on Google Street View.

Yesterday I had the privilege of looking at some of the most fantastic family photos that I've ever seen of historic Phoenix, the Hanny family, in the 1890s. It all centers around Vic Hanny, who started the clothing store in Territorial Phoenix, and whose name is on the restaurant on 1st Street and Adams, which used to be a clothing store. I have a boxful of photos sitting next to me right now, and I'm scanning as I write this.

I love looking at photos like this, and I respect privacy, because some people don't want any of their family photos to be ever put on the internet. I won't argue with people, but I will ask their permission to share them on my Phoenix Historical Images page. I know that there are a lot of people like me out there who get a huge kick out of seeing places like Hole in the Rock (which is where the guys are there in the photo at the top of this post) back "in the day". I also appreciate that there are a lot of people who would never allow me to share anything, for reasons as varied as thinking that if someone saw a picture of their great-grandfather on the internet, they could steal their identity, or a thousand other reasons that they might have heard somewhere. Or maybe they think that museum would pay a lot of money for something, or that their old family photos have a value on eBay. But these images are priceless, and they really have no monetary value, and museums really don't want to store and display more stuff. So, unfortunately, a lot of precious stuff is lost all of the time, thrown into dumpsters after a house is sold.

I'm not selling anything, I'm not creating a museum, I just like to scan stuff in and share it. And I like the thought that once something is out on the internet, it can never be lost, never be thrown in a dumpster, never locked up out of public view. I just like the thought of that. Please share.

Image at the top of this post: Vic Hanny and friends at Hole in the Rock in the 1890s, Papago Park, Phoenix, Arizona. Vic is at the far right. From the Hanny Family Collection.

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A fascination with what people call things in Phoenix


Ever since I was a kid, I've had a fascination with the names of things. Yeah, I know a rose by any other name would smell as sweet, but I like learning names. And also like learning what people call things, which can be different from their "official" names. I'll see if I can explain.

I noticed it recently when a friend of mine from California visited. On the freeway, as I gave directions, I used the term "HOV Lane". I could tell he knew what I meant, but I also sensed a bit of hesitation. That made me wonder what people call it in California? The Diamond Lane? The Car Pool Lane?  Something else? Do people in Arizona call it something else? Am I just weird? And really, I have no preference other than good communication, so I like to know what people call stuff.

Of course, some people point me to a textbook, or Google, or something like that. And there I can find out the "official names" but I can rarely find out what people call stuff. It's something that I just listen for in casual conversation.

I live in Glendale, and I refuse to call the football stadium "the University of Phoenix Stadium". I just call it the Cardinals stadium. I suppose on a map that could get confusing, but it's what I call it. And there are a lot of names for the freeways that I use, such as the Red Mountain Freeway, or the Agua Fria Freeway, and more names that I don't recall, but I just call the freeways by their numbers, like the 101, or the 10.

So I listen to people. When I lived in California, if someone said that you belonged in Camarillo, I knew that it meant the same as in Phoenix when someone says you belong at 24th and Van Buren. It meant the the State Mental Hospital. If someone in Glendale says they'll see you at Chicken Park, it's the Bonsall Park (I had to go Google that one - if you Google "Chicken Park", it directs you to Bonsall Park).

People can get very defensive about the names of things. I remember when Piestewa Peak was called Squaw Peak, and that subject can get people throwing chairs at you real quick, whatever you call it. And my research on old Phoenix shows that while most street names in adjoining cities, like Glendale, had to change to match up with Phoenix, some didn't, like Dunlap/Olive. And in the very early years of Phoenix, the north-south streets weren't numbered, they were named after Indian Tribes. I'm sure the old-timers just hated saying "2nd Street" instead of Maricopa. But after a while people start using the new names, and the old-timers just sit there, getting angry.

A long time ago, someone said to me that to begin learning about something, start with learning what it's called. I like doing that, and I'm always learning.


Image at the top of this post: Cardinal's Stadium. That's what I call it, although it's officially the University of Phoenix Stadium. Glendale at the 101 Freeway (the Agua Fria Freeway), Glendale, Arizona.


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Why there is a road in Phoenix called Camelback


The road in Phoenix called Camelback is named after a mountain in the city that appears to be in the shape of a camel, lying down.

If you've lived in Phoenix, or visited much, this "mountain" (actually it's just kind of a big hill) is very visible. The mountain itself is along a range called the Phoenix Mountains that stretches from 19th Avenue to 64th Street. Between 44th Street and 64th Street is Camelback Mountain. The best view of it, in order to see the camel's back, is from the south. The head of the camel points west, and the camel's back (the hump) is to your right. Good views of it can be seen from the airport, and from the I-10 freeway.

I've lived in Phoenix for a long time, and the mountains that surround the valley (which is called the Salt River Valley) are like the faces of friends to me. A lot of things change in Phoenix, but the mountains remain the same. I've been trying to learn all of the names of them over the past few years, and I'm still working on it, but I recognize them, even if I can't put the correct label on all of them all of the time.

Yes, I know that Camelback Mountain is easy. But I tend to be wary of names that seem too easy. I remember being disappointed when I looked at a map and decided that the town of Snowflake would be a good place to drive up to and see snow. Then I found that it was named after two guys named "Snow" and "Flake". And that pleasant lake that's just north of me was created by the engineer who built the dam whose name was Carl Pleasant, Lake Pleasant. So I tend to be wary of easy answers.

But rest assured that there's nothing more to Camelback Road than the fact that since the pioneers first looked around at the Salt River Valley, they saw what looked like a camel's back. And the road to it, and just south of it, which now extend the entire length of the valley (including places where you can't even see Camelback Mountain) is named after the most-recognizable mountain in Phoenix.

Image at the top of this post: Looking north at Camel Back Mountain in 1934.

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The Phoenix, Arizona that never was, and why we believe in it


I like collecting old photos of Phoenix, and sharing them on Facebook, and one of the most common things I've always heard has to do with some description of the Phoenix that never was.

As an old Marketing guy, I have a theory about this. It has to do with how information is presented in advertising and promotion. And while I wouldn't go as far as to say that "In Advertising there's no such thing as a lie, only the expedient exaggeration" (Cary Grant said that in "North by Northwest"), I do understand that when we try to reconstruct the past based on only information that has been carefully presented, by the Chamber of Commerce, or advertising agencies, it's easy to imagine that it really was like that. That everything was perfect back then.

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Now waitaminute, I don't want to be an "Adam Ruins Everything" kind of person. I'm as happy as the next person with what I call the "West of the Imagination", I don't need to always be correcting everyone, and saying how bad it actually was. My experience is that people who do that make people feel bad, and stupid. I don't want to do that. Also I don't want a punch in the nose!

Railroad Bridge over the Salt River in 1888, Tempe, Arizona. Artistic license is expected!

But no, Phoenix wasn't ever 73 degrees year 'round (not even in the Ice Age). It's a brutally hot desert, and while the maps may say "rivers" and even be colored in in blue, those were never rivers, they were riparian washes. The list goes on and on, and after many years people believe what was never true.

So I collect it all. The stuff that I'm pretty sure is real, and the stuff that I'm pretty sure is an "expedient exaggeration". I figure if I look at all of it, I'll be able to draw my own conclusions. Phoenix goes back way before anyone who is alive today could ever remember (it was platted in 1870), and even my oldest friends, with the sharpest memories, can only do so much. And they're not immune to advertising, and promotion.

Image at the top of this post: Advertisement for Herz-Rent-A-Car in the 1950s at Camelback Inn in Paradise Valley, Arizona. Not to be taken literally.

How Phoenix solved its traffic problem in the 1950s


Like most people, I love cars, and I hate traffic. Sitting in a car, inching along, is just torture for me. I haven't seen a lot of traffic, especially in Phoenix, doing what is called a "grid lock" - which means that the streets are so jammed in all directions that there's no getting out of it, no matter where you turn, but I remember it happening a lot when I lived in Los Angeles.

Whenever I see photos of cars from the 1950s, they're in a perfect situation, maybe driving along a scenic highway, or being admired by people in an ad. But the reality of places like Phoenix after WWII, and up through the fifties is that the cities really hadn't adapted to cars. And the horrific traffic started back when cars were first invented.

Double-parking in Phoenix in the 1930s, next to the "No Double Parking" sign.

Time-travel with me to Phoenix in the 1920s. Cars are becoming so common that parking has becoming nearly impossible. Efforts are being made to keep the traffic flowing, but the cars just keep jamming. By the 1930s and '40s Phoenix has done all kinds of things, from installing traffic lights (along with police officers who direct traffic), no U-Turn signs (just as much ignored then as now), parking meters, you name it. And nothing really worked.

The solution was to give the cars a place to park, and the best example of this was a shopping center built way up on Camelback Road called "Uptown Plaza". It must have been a little bit of heaven. You could drive right to it, there was plenty of free parking, and you didn't have to get caught in the awful gridlocked traffic in the center of the city.

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This idea really caught on with a place called, appropriately enough, Park Central. It must have been amazing to see what seemed like acres and acres of free parking. Instead of getting stuck in gridlocked traffic, you simply drove there, parked your car, and strolled in to do your shopping.

After that, the next major breakthrough was an enclosed mall, with air conditioning, like Christown. It not only had the major advantage of a lot of free parking, away from the gridlock, it was a giant space that didn't require you to go out into the nasty heat of Phoenix to go from store to store. We take places like that for granted now, but I like to imagine walking into an enclosed air conditioned mall for the first time, after having parked my car for free without having to deal with the gridlock downtown. It was wonderful.

Thank you for time-traveling with me.


Image at the top of this post: Uptown Plaza in the 1950s, northeast corner of Central Avenue and Camelback Road, Phoenix, Arizona. It's still there, and there's still free parking.

Why there is a Ladmo Tree at Boyce Thompson Arboretum


If you were a kid living in Phoenix, Arizona between 1954 and 1989, you probably watched a local children's show called "Wallace and Ladmo". "Wallace" was Bill Thompson, and "Ladmo" was Ladimir Kwiatkowski. They worked together, and they were friends.

Wallace (Bill Thompson) on the top, Ladmo (Ladimir Kwiatkowski) in the top hat, and Pat McMahon (in the character of Gerald)

After Ladmo died, in 1994, his friend Wallace planted a tree at the Boyce Thompson Arboretum, which is in Superior, east of Phoenix. It's the Ladmo Tree, and you can go see it. It's a pistachio tree, and it's not very big, so you will probably need to have someone there show you where it is. And if you're wondering if there's a connection between Bill Thompson (Wallace) and Boyce Thompson, there is. William Boyce Thompson was Bill's great-uncle.

William Boyce Thompson, founder of the Boyce Thompson Arboretum, and great-uncle of Bill Thompson ("Wallace")


Ladimir Kwiatkowski ("Ladmo") on the Arizona State baseball team in the 1950s

By the way, "Ladmo" (Ladimir Kwiatkowski) was on the baseball team of Arizona State in the 1950s. He and his friend Bill Thompson spent their lives making children happy. I didn't grow up in Phoenix, so I have no memories of them, but based on the affection that the kids that they entertained have for them to this day, they must have been pretty great.

So if you remember Ladmo, and would like to see the tree that his friend Bill planted to remember him by, go visit the Boyce Thompson Arboretum. Speaking for myself, I can't think of a nicer way to be remembered.

The Boyce Thompson Arboretum is located at Highway 60 Milepost #223 near the historic copper mining town of Superior, about one hour's drive due east of Phoenix on the Superstition Freeway.

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Non-Vanishing Phoenix


I finally got to meet with the author of the book "Vanishing Phoenix", Rob Melikian, yesterday, and I have to admit that it was kind of a relief to find that since he wrote that book, years ago, he's changing his point of view a bit.

I'm not writing a book, I'm just collecting photos and information, and I guess the title of what I'm doing would be something like "Yeah, it's still there". Because I'm discovering a lot of "Non-Vanished Phoenix" - you just have to look for it. And more and more people are doing that, which makes me happy.

For years and years I've heard people say, "too bad it's gone" to which I say, "No, it's not, it's still there." There are thousands of historic buildings in Phoenix. Take a look at this list of the Phoenix Historic Property Register, and those are the buildings that are just on this list. You can see a LOT more, just by looking.

I'm not selling anything, I just love Phoenix. And when I hear people say that "it's all gone", I cringe. Because it sounds to me as if they were giving up, that they might as well accept the fact that historic Phoenix has vanished. But it hasn't.

Rob's new book, which he wrote along with Paul Scharbach, is exactly the kind of stuff I like to see. I call it "Then and now", they call it "Past and Present". Personally, I'm not a coffee-table book person, I prefer to see stuff IRL (In Real Life) or on my computer. I have a huge collection of old photos of Phoenix, which I post on a Facebook page called Phoenix, Arizona Historical Images, and whenever I get the chance to go roam around Phoenix I look for "now" stuff to go with my "then" photos. If you see someone standing on a street corner squinting at their phone, and taking a bunch of pictures and hoping that traffic will get out of the way, it's me.

Rob and Paul's book "Phoenix Past and Present" is available on Amazon, and here's the link https://www.amazon.com/Phoenix-Past-Present-Paul-Scharbach/dp/0692796436/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1492784071&sr=8-1&keywords=phoenix+past+and+present No, I'm not being paid to say this, and I'm not getting a kickback. What I am getting is the good feeling that more and more people haven't given up on historical Phoenix, because, really, it hasn't vanished.


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How Real Estate Companies built Phoenix, Arizona


Every once in a while I hear about how city planners have screwed up again. They may be building a freeway to nowhere, or they may be building a neighborhood "out in the middle of nowhere". These people apparently have secret meetings where they plan how a city will grow, and they can predict everything, and are either geniuses with their foresight or they are idiots, or are absolutely criminal.

And then at a certain point in my life, I realized that there's really no one like that in charge. There's no group of people who have control of how a city is built. There are, of course, people in places (probably right now) talking about the future of Phoenix, and there are people who are hoping that they can do the right thing for the future, and I'm sure people who are hoping that they can make a lot of money by having things go their way. And not surprisingly, it's the people interested in money that make things happen. Real Estate Companies.

Now waitaminute, calm down here, especially if you work for a Real Estate Company. I know that there are a lot of people who don't understand what you do, and probably think that all you care about is money. Of course you do care about money. Real Estate Companies aren't charities, they invest their time and effort with the hopes of making money. Sometimes they do, sometimes they don't.

There are a LOT of failed investments in Real Estate in the Phoenix area, and I won't try to list them all (it's kinda depressing). My favorite one, by the way, is the Sun Valley Parkway, which is just west of the White Tank Mountains. If you have time, drive along there and look at the Real Estate signs, most of which are so old and faded that you can barely read them. If you've never even heard of this area, it's not surprising. Failure doesn't get much publicity.

My two favorite Real Estate Companies in Phoenix were owned by Dwight Heard (the Suburban Land Company) and by Moses Sherman (he also built the original trolley lines in Phoenix). These guys wandered out into empty desert, looked at it, imagined that they could make a lot of money if they sold the land divided up for lots, and built houses there. And they did.

Time-travel with me back to the 1890s in Phoenix, and let's walk out into the desert. Just like any empty area of the desert now, there's a lot of dirt there. Maybe a cactus or two, and possibly a tumbleweed rolling by. Now listen to Dwight, or Moses. They see a neighborhood there. Yes, they have dollar-signs in their eyes. Anyone else walking past them would wonder what they were looking at? They imagined a city, and they built it. And they got tremendously rich doing it.

Image at the top of this post: 1949 ad for Dwight B. Heard Investment Company. Founded 1897, Realtor.



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The luxury of living in a Phoenix suburb


I always wanted to live in the suburbs, which I do. In my younger days I lived in some pretty harsh and crowded conditions, but I knew that I was going to work hard, get promoted, and someday live away from the noise and confusion.

It surprises people when I tell them that if they don't live in the original Phoenix city limits (from 7th Avenue to 7th Street and from Van Buren to where the railroad tracks are), they're actually in the suburbs. And there's a reason why people wanted to move out of town when they could afford it. Time-travel with me.

1913 ad promoting the suburbs of Phoenix

By the time Dwight and Maie Heard started their company, the Suburban Land Company, in the 1890s, Phoenix had been growing, and getting more crowded. It's hard to imagine today, but there really were no rules. Businesses could throw garbage out into the alleys, horses were everywhere, along with the smell of the stuff that they, uh, leave behind. Water ran through the muddy streets. I could go on and on, but hopefully you can see what I mean. I'm making myself kinda ill just thinking about it.

So the suburbs (originally called "Additions") were created for people who wanted to get away from all of that. They were mostly protected by distance from the city, but they were also protected as much as possible by the people who lived in these new neighborhoods and didn't want them to be spoiled, by someone building a corral of pigs, for example. This is what suburbia is all about, the peace and quiet of the country, yet within an easy distance to commute to work downtown. The map up there from 1911 assured people that the new Addition of Los Olives wouldn't be too far away from Phoenix.

Of course, cities grow, and the suburbs end up being "too close" to downtown, where there are new businesses, including car dealerships, and other places that make noise and create pollution. So the suburbs move again. This has been going on in Phoenix for over 100 years.

When I bought my house in the suburbs (I live in Glendale) I never really gave it much thought. I just wanted a place to live, and a place to park my car. But as I write this, with my windows open on a Wednesday morning, I'm reminded of how much I like the peace and quiet of the suburbs. Often the loudest noise I hear is just the sound of the birds. I may hear a car go by, but after the morning rush (it's now 10:30) it's pretty quiet. There's no chance that a gigantic building will grow up a few blocks away from where I live, and in addition to a Homeowner's Association, the city of Glendale has some pretty strict laws pertaining to "not disturbing the peace".

I like the suburbs, and most people in Phoenix do, whether they realize it or not.


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How the Westward Ho Hotel helped to destroy the neighborhood on Central Avenue


If you're a fan of Phoenix history, you know that Central Avenue, around where the Westward Ho is, at Fillmore, was once a beautiful neighborhood, with mansions. At the beginning of the 1900s, Phoenix started growing north, and this area, north of Van Buren, was considered one of the best neighborhoods. Of course now it's all just commercial buildings, and that was inevitable, as Phoenix grew, but what really caused the downfall of the neighborhood was the building of a gigantic "high-rise" hotel, the Westward Ho.

Nowadays it's hard to imagine how bad this would have been for a neighborhood, because the Westward Ho is now considered one of the architectural gems of Phoenix. But when it was built, in 1928, it was suddenly a gigantic "big box" building that looked down on all of the houses from miles around. And having strangers looking down into your backyard isn't exactly what most people want!

Of course nowadays there are laws protecting neighborhoods from such things. If a sixteen-story building suddenly sprang up in my suburban neighborhood I would imagine that people would be outraged, and wonder how it could have happened? Of course it can't happen now - even "Big Box" stores can be protested against and stopped (I saw that happen in my neighborhood a few years ago), and they're not even looking down on people's backyards.

Time-travel with me to the 1930s in Phoenix. We're sitting on a veranda of our beautiful home on Central Avenue, maybe sipping a mint julep. The palm trees on Central sway, and we see those new inventions, the horseless carriages, more and more. Darned noisy things! But it's not so bad, we're still far enough north to be away from the hustle and bustle of Phoenix. And then we look up at the monstrous structure being built just a few blocks away. And we know that's it's the beginning of the end for our neighborhood.

Image at the top of this post: the Westward Ho Hotel in the 1930s, Central Avenue and Fillmore, Phoenix, Arizona. Looking down on the neighborhood, and the church.

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The first buildings in Phoenix, made of adobe, melting away for years


The first buildings in Phoenix, Arizona were made out of adobe. That is, the dirt found in the desert (and there's a lot of dirt there!) mixed with water, made into blocks, and stacked on top of each other. They were the buildings that the Hohokam people made, and were the most economical way to build for the early pioneers of Phoenix. When the railroad made it to Phoenix in 1887 (17 years after the town was platted), bricks and other building materials became more economical, and the building of adobe structures was pretty much discontinued. Before the railroad, building materials (other than adobe) had to be brought down from Prescott, or places like that, laboriously with carts and oxen.

Just like today, old buildings were left when they were no longer used. It's a whole lot cheaper to just leave something to fall down on its own than to hire people to do a demolition. And the adobe buildings just melted, anyway.

The photo at the top of this post, from 1890, is typical of what you would have seen around Phoenix right up through the 1930s. That is, a modern brick building not far from an old adobe building. The brick building there, by the way, was the old Churchill Mansion, which became the first High School in Phoenix, at what is now Polk and 5th Streets. You're looking east.

Just like today, memories are short. And as the old adobe buildings melted away, it caused some confusion with the residents of Phoenix, who mostly assumed that they were all "prehistoric" (that is, from the Hohokams). And they must have looked very primitive! Of course, if you were Omar Turney, or some other expert on the Hohokams back then, the difference between the remains of a Hohokam adobe building, or one that was only a few decades old, would have been obvious. It wouldn't have been obvious to me - I would have just seen old adobe buildings!

Photo of the remains of a modern adobe building (built in the 1860s by Jack Swilling) in the 1920s. It was at the original Phoenix settlement, near where 32nd Street and Washington is now.

So, as you would expect, most people living in Phoenix naturally assumed that all of the old adobe buildings were Hohokam. And if you've ever seen what's left of an abandoned adobe building after a few decades, you will understand. There's not much difference between modern buildings and ancient ones. And eventually the adobe blocks just melt back down to just lumps and globs, like you see at Pueblo Grande. Those lumps and globs were all over Phoenix, some built by the Hohokams, some built by people like Jack Swilling.



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A study group for Phoenix history on Facebook


I'm interested in Phoenix history, and I like to get the help of experts. Luckily, there are a LOT of them out there. And I don't mean Professors at schools, or tour guides, or people like that (although they're fine). I mean people who have lived in Phoenix, people who recognize the difference between Camelback Mountain and the Papago Buttes, without really going to too much effort. People who have seen these places, know these places, and more importantly, love these places.

I stumbled into this when I started posting old photos of Phoenix many years ago on a Social Media network that I was learning about called Google+. It was a much smaller, and thoughtful, group than most of the Facebook stuff I'd seen. I use Facebook, but I never saw it as being anything other than places to see pictures of cats (which I like) or "cringe-worthy" comments like "that's what she said!". So I stayed with Google+ until last December, when I noticed that the Google+ Social Media site had become a ghost town, and that while there were a lot of followers of my Phoenix page, I could tell that it wasn't getting a lot of views. So asked for suggestions, and creating a group on Facebook was suggested to me. I went kicking and screaming. I didn't want "Facebook comments" - I didn't want flame wars, I didn't want drama. I wanted to learn more about Phoenix, and to my surprise, I've found it on Facebook. As of this writing, the Phoenix page on Facebook has been there for four months.

My Phoenix Historical Images page on Facebook is limited to allow only Admins (that's me) to post, but anyone can comment. And while I've seen a bit of spam, and some comments that look as if they may have been posted while "tipping a few", I've been impressed by the information that has been shared. It could be as simple as someone correcting my sense of direction (I always like to know as precisely as possible where and when a photo was taken, and what direction the photographer was looking).

I enjoy this immensely. I'm not selling anything, and I'm not trying to lecture. I'm sharing. The images that I post on the Phoenix page are my "raw information", and once I feel pretty comfortable with them, I try to pull it all together here on this blog. I want to walk in these places, I want to feel what these people felt (well, maybe not the summers before air conditioning was invented!).

The people who help me I call PhDs (Phoenix History Detectives) and as far as I can tell, they're as crazy as I am. Mostly they're like me, with no agenda other than hoping to share correct information. They tend to not be satisfied with "back in the day..." or "somewhere near...", and I understand. Vague information, which is usually not researched at all, and is based on something that someone overheard that someone said that someone thought they heard, is useless to people like me, and my PhDs. We don't want to start arguments, we just want to know, and share what we know.

If this makes sense to you, I encourage you to speak up. Believe me, I won't be offended if you tell me that Central Avenue and Washington don't intersect (I've written that, by mistake, several times). I appreciate the nasty sarcasm to be kept to a minimum, but I do want you to comment. I update captions and my file names. On the other hand, please don't feel that you have to comment, or anything. If you just like looking at photos of old Phoenix, please do so. I just love doing that, too.

This is just too much fun!

Image at the top of this post: looking south from the Westward Ho at downtown Phoenix in the 1940s.


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The "in-between" history of Phoenix, Arizona


My fascination with Phoenix history is what I call the "in-between" history. If you're more dramatic than I am, you could call it "hidden history" or "forgotten history" or even "history that isn't taught in school". If you consider yourself knowledgeable about Phoenix history, and know nothing about it, or very little, don't be surprised, and please don't be offended.

OK, you can set aside your history books, take off your graduation cap (you know, the kind that looks like you're balancing a board on the top of your head), and relax. No, there won't be a test, and everything won't be arranged in a particular order. It's a mess. Because that's what really history is. And no, it's not a conspiracy man. This stuff isn't hidden away, it's just been forgotten, neglected, shuffled aside. It doesn't fit in nicely to school curriculums, it doesn't make for a "page-turning novel of suspense", it won't get you cheering in a movie theater with that "feel good" thing that comes from watching something like a Disney movie. It's just an ordinary story of ordinary people living ordinary lives. And I find it fascinating.

Jack Swilling, founder of Phoenix, displaying unsafe gun handling techniques with his adopted son. 

Let's start with Jack Swilling in the 1860s. I didn't go to school in Phoenix, but I wouldn't be surprised if they just skipped over him entirely when talking about the founding of Phoenix. He was a violent drunkard ex-Confederate with a Mexican wife and an adopted Apache son. And no, I'm not talking smack about Jack, that's what he was. Kinda hard to make a nice "squeaky-clean" founding father out of him. So the history that I'm interested in mostly starts with him and his gang of friends who decided that they would dig a canal and live in an area that was a war zone for the Apaches and the Pimas, and was mostly dirt and cactus and got to over 100 degrees every summer. Whether Jack was crazy, or merely "touched" would be hard to say, but no one in their right mind would do anything like he did. But his project was successful, and modern Phoenix is here because of him, his friends, and their whiskey. I'd say that Jack and his friends never drew a sober breath and probably never took a bath. If you Google Darrell Duppa, who named Phoenix, you will find that he was a long-haired, unshaven hermit who would probably make the average homeless person in Phoenix nowadays look clean and shiny. I said this wasn't going to be pretty.

Now let's take a look at the Pima (Akimel O'odham) Indians. And this is where it gets really difficult for the historian. Because the history of Phoenix is just an additional chapter to the history of the Pima people. And it's not the story of Cowboys and Indians. Nor is it a "Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee" story. It's all about an alliance. And once you begin to understand that alliance, you realize that the Pima Communities aren't near Phoenix, Phoenix is near them. Simple answers don't work here, and if you want to understand it, you'll have to do a lot more than express cliches. You have to face some very horrible truths, not just about horrific violence between tribes, but the horrific violence of man's inhumanity to his fellow man. If you can stand it, read James McClintock's "Arizona the Youngest State". I had to skip over a lot of it, it's just too brutal for me. I appreciate the truth, but I doubt I'll be able to read that book again.

My interest for Phoenix history often makes people want to hand me history books, or give me pamphlets from museums, or go on guided tours. But what interests me isn't in those places, nor would I imagine it ever would. It's just too messy. So I share it here as I learn more. I am drawing no conclusions and I have no agenda, other than learning more.

Thank you for walking with me.


Image at the top of this post: 1888 ad for the Grand Central Livery Feed and Sale Stable, Corner of Center (Central) and Madison, 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/Phoenix HistoryAdventuring where you can show your support for as little as $1 a month. Thank you!

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Watering a lawn with flood irrigation in Phoenix, Arizona in the 1980s


As someone who grew up in Minnesota, one of the most bizarre things that I did when I moved to Phoenix was to water a lawn with flood irrigation. It's still being used nowadays, although it's not as common as it once was. If you've used it, you're probably saying, "no big deal, it's been a common thing in Phoenix for many years". If you haven't used it, or even seen it, I gotta start by telling you that there's a valve in the middle of the yard. Yeah, my friends back home had no idea what I was talking about. I'll see if I can explain it.

When I rented the tiny converted garage in Tempe, Arizona, while I was going to ASU, I noticed that everything was dead. The grass was dead, the trees were dead. So one day I went out with the hose and watered a bit. I got a call from my landlord, who had noticed the spike in his water bill, and he said that it would be fine if I wanted to take care of the landscaping, but I should instead use irrigation, as it was much cheaper.

Not all properties are set up for flood irrigation. You can recognize them by the large "berm" along the edge of a yard. You can see it in the pic up there along the driveway. And of course the yards are sunk down a bit, because the water has to sit there, like a little lake. It's kinda pretty to see, even though it usually smells bad.

There was (and still is) a lateral that ran along the edge of the road where I lived. Back in the 1980s it was open, but nowadays it's been covered up. Most of the laterals are covered up. You can see open laterals along stretches of Central Avenue between Bethany Home Road and the canal. By the way, a lot of people call the laterals "canals" - and I know what they mean. But they're not really canals, they're "mini-canals". Along Central Avenue the open laterals are scenic, but where I lived in Tempe they were hardly that - they were just mostly muddy, and attracting insects (including mosquitos) and the occasional dead animal.

It all started with a sign-up sheet, which was on a board that just happened to be right in front of where I lived. You would request water, by signing your name, and a few days later SRP (Salt River Project) would print out when it was time for you to take your water. Of course everyone would get a different time (everyone can't be taking water at the same time) and often it was in the wee hours of the morning. I didn't mind, I was a student up studying (or with insomnia) and I just found it to be an interesting part of my new life in Arizona.

It was pretty primitive. At your exact time you would stick a big metal sheet into the lateral and the water would redirect onto your property. Of course you'd need to open up the valve at the bottom on your yard. People in Minnesota just couldn't believe this when I described it to them! Then the water would start to bubble up and fill the yard. Despite the smell, it was pretty to see. Of course you always had to be carrying a shovel, because if any of the berms failed the water would flow out. This happened quite often when I was doing irrigation, and I would get help my my neighbor a couple of doors down who would help look for leaking areas, and we would rush over to plug up the hole with more mud. It was great muddy fun!

Every once in a while someone wouldn't take their water and it would cause a crisis for the whole neighborhood. My neighbor kept an eye on things, and sometimes we would take the excess water, and sometimes he'd come over and ask me if I would, which I did.

Like so many things that I saw in Phoenix, from palm trees to cactus, this absolutely blew me away. And it told me that I wasn't in Minnesota anymore. And the strangest thing was seeing people who just took it all for granted, with a yawn. Perfectly normal!

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How to see Phoenix (or any city) through the eyes of people who love it


After years and years of careful research, I have discovered that everywhere that people live is awful, and wonderful. Take any given city, and you can find lots of reasons not to live there. You really don't have to look very hard to find how terrible a city is, either it's too crowded, or there isn't enough going on there, or the restaurants are no good, or the team hasn't won enough games, the list goes on and on. And I often wonder why people live where they do? And what I see through their eyes often surprises me.

I've lived in some amazing cities in my life, and I've always wanted to see them through the eyes of people who love them. So I found the locals.

Now waitaminute, by locals I don't necessarily mean only the people who were born there. There are a lot of those people who really don't like where they live, and they're only there because, well, there are a lot of reasons, each one more depressing than the next. Instead I mean the locals who love it there, who know the best places, who know the best restaurants, whose eyes light up when you ask them about their city.

I wasn't born in Phoenix, but I'm one of those locals. Just get me started on my favorite city! Not only do I bleed maroon and gold (I'm a Sun Devil), I can get pretty emotional on the subject of the Arizona Falls, the Chuckbox, and Cave Creek Golf Course. Yes, I'm aching to show stuff to you. And if you're a local, too, you know what I mean.

If you're new to Phoenix, or any city, find a local. Don't bother with tour guides, or maps from the Chamber of Commerce, or Real Estate companies (although they're fine). Ask a local where you should go, and take them along.

Yes, beauty is "through the eyes of the beholder" and I see a lot of beauty. I know people who see a lot of ugliness, and it makes me kinda sad. I've known people like that all of my life, and they would see ugliness anywhere, from Phoenix to Santa Barbara.

I just love Phoenix, and Arizona, and the United States, and the Big Blue Marble. This is my home, I'm a local.

Image at the top of this post: Tres Rios Wetlands and the Estrella Mountains. The most beautiful sewage treatment plant you could ever imagine.


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/Phoenix HistoryAdventuring where you can show your support for as little as $1 a month. Thank you!

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How to enjoy the scenic beauty of Phoenix, Arizona


I was at a routine checkup last Friday, and after the nurse took my blood pressure (I'm fine, healthy as a horse) as she was leaving I casually mentioned that I was going to look out the window. I don't remember the exact the response, but it's typical of what I've heard all of my life, which is that there's nothing to see.

I've lived in some amazing places in my life, and one of those places is Phoenix, Arizona. And there's so much to see that I've had difficulty understanding people who see nothing. And now I know that there's not "seeing nothing", they're just looking at different things than I do. I've been weird this way since I was a little kid, and it looks like I'm never going to change. I am trying to understand what the grownups are looking at, and mostly it makes me sad. These people live in an ugly world, or at the very least a dull one, with nothing to see. But when I looked out of the window (which was the fifth story of the east building of the original Phoenix Baptist Hospital (now Abrazos), I saw a lot. Come and take a look with me.

The mountain pass between South Mountain and the Estrellas.

The face of Montezuma, Estrella Mountains.

The first thing I look for is what I call the "Invisible Mountain Pass" - the pass between the western edge of South Mountain and the Estrellas. I didn't even know that it existed until a couple of years ago, and now I look at it all of the time. And along the Estrellas I look for the face of Montezuma. If you know that story, I'm sure you can see him, still sleeping, waiting for the day when the Hidalgos will leave this land and return it to the people (Akimel O'odham).


The 300 Bowl building in 2017

Ad for the 300 Bowl at Christown in the 1960s

I could also see the architecture of the old 300 Bowl. I've always been fascinated by architecture, and I get a big kick out of what is usually called "Googy". It must have been amazing to see when it was new in the 1960s.



Of course I always look for downtown Phoenix. The downtown skyline of cities where I've lived are like the faces of old friends, I never tire of looking at them. Yes, they change over the years, but I still know them.

And of course the ten-year-old in me just loves seeing the Light Rail. Seeing the trains go by reminds me of every Science Fiction movie I ever saw where people were transported in something sleek like that. If what you're seeing is how bad the traffic is going by, or the parking lots, or the billboard for STDs, I'm sorry, but I understand.

I could go on and on, but as you can probably guess by now I wasn't even close to seeing everything I wanted to see when the door opened and the doctor came in. I turned around, stood up, smiled brightly, and started paying attention to what the grownups were interested in. The doctor seemed very pleased with my health, which is good, and I was very pleased to be able to spend some time enjoying the scenic beauty of my favorite city.


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/Phoenix HistoryAdventuring where you can show your support for as little as $1 a month. Thank you!

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How to enjoy Apache Junction, Arizona


I've spent a lot of time in Apache Junction. I have a friend who lives there, and I visit as often as I can, and I've spent a lot of time house-and-dog-sitting. And I enjoy Apache Junction a lot. If you've never seen what I've seen, I'd like to share it with you, so please walk with me.

And that's where you start. Get out of your car, and more than that, get out of your car mentality. If your first thought is to drive somewhere, and drive somewhere else, and then drive somewhere else, that's fine, but you'll never see what I'm seeing. Lace up your shoes. And no, I don't mean your hiking boots, we aren't going to see if we can find the Lost Dutchman Gold Mine. That doesn't matter to me. If you walk with me, you'll see the magical world that the grownups never understood when I was a kid walking around my Grandma's neighborhood in Minneapolis. If you can remember that fascination, you know what I mean.

There's a quality of light there that I've never seen anywhere else. I wish I could describe it to you, but you really have to see it. It's a wonderful warm glow (that can be kinda painful in the summer!) that washes the landscape. There's a sound of the desert, and the comforting human sound of things that people do in the background, like cars, or maybe someone revving up a power tool. The best way that I can describe it is that it's like the sounds people make in the background after a heavy snowstorm. There's a sharpness there, as if the clarity of the air carries it with more precision.

I like looking at the weeds. Of course, there's no such thing as a weed really, they're just a "plant out of place", and in the desert there are a lot of plants that would be out of place in a suburban yard that are just exquisite in the desert, with amazing tiny flowers and foliage. I also look at the rocks, both the ones beneath my feet and the big ones in the background, called the Superstition Mountains. I like rocks. I don't know what they're called. I don't label them, or categorize them, or count them. I just look at them.

I especially like walking with a dog. There's just something nice about walking along slowly, looking at stuff, and standing there looking at more stuff, when you have a dog. I just feel less self-conscious, as if I'm there just to allow the dog to sniff around. Dogs like to look at stuff with their noses, I like looking at stuff with my eyes.

When people ask me about places that I've visited, they're often puzzled that I didn't go visit a particular restaurant, or that I didn't go watch a movie, or go to some other pre-packaged entertainment. I could tell them that I was too busy looking at weeds and rocks, but I try not to say that. But it's true, and I highly recommend it as the best way to enjoy the most magical places in the world, like Apache Junction.



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/Phoenix HistoryAdventuring where you can show your support for as little as $1 a month. Thank you!

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Wearing your school colors, and what being a Sun Devil means


Like most people, I enjoy wearing my school colors. I graduated from Arizona State University, and that makes me a Sun Devil. The term "Sun Devil" by the way, refers to the Sun Angel Foundation, which has supported ASU Athletics for over fifty years now.

But being a Sun Devil, and wearing my school colors, means much more to me than whatever game is being played at my old Alma Mater. I never played football, and I really can't tell you the names of people who did. I recall going to a game or two, but I never considered the term "Sun Devil" as meaning only people who played sports at my school. It was everyone who went there, including me. I still feel that way.

I'm an old Marketing guy (my degree was in Graphic Design with a minor in Advertising) so I understand the importance of promoting the sale of tickets to sporting events at colleges. It's big business, and it brings in a LOT of much-needed money to schools, much more than people would just donate. And from a Marketing point of view, having people walking around wearing their school colors is great free advertising for the sale of these tickets. Of course, all of the money doesn't go to my school, but a big chunk does. There are always going to be people profiting from these things, and that's how it all works (I learned that in Economics class at ASU).

I'm proud of my school. The degree I earned that has served me well. I visit the Tempe campus as much as I can, and am always proud to show it off, especially the amazing arboretum (which is the entire campus). ASU does some awesome state-of-the-art stuff, and it helps to preserve historical buildings, such as the ones in downtown Phoenix.

I stopped wearing my school colors for many years, when I got tired of people asking me if I "knew the score of the game" just because I was wearing an ASU sweatshirt. I resented the thought that people considered my school to just be a football team. It's so much more than that. If that's all you see, I understand, it's Marketing. But if you see more, you're with me.

Go Devils!


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/Phoenix HistoryAdventuring where you can show your support for as little as $1 a month. Thank you!

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Why it's OK to share publicity photos


I started my collection of historic Phoenix photos with publicity photos from Valley National Bank. They had been created to distribute to newspapers, etc. to promote the company. By the time I got there, it was becoming Bank One, and part of the job of the Marketing Department at that time was to clear out all of the old stuff that said Valley Bank. And it had been sitting there for years! The storage room had stuff that had been there since the building was new, in 1973, and like any storage area, no one had bothered to throw away old worthless stuff. But now that the name of the company was changing, anything that said Valley Bank had to go, including publicity photos. By the way, Valley Center, which was the Bank One Building when I was there in the '90s, is now Chase Tower. It's at Central and Monroe. Tallest building in Arizona, you can't miss it (I sound like a Marketing person, which I am!).

I've always been interested in Phoenix history, and it seemed a shame to throw all of these old photos into the dumpster, so I asked my manager for permission to take them home. I didn't need permission to share them, because they were publicity photos, and that's the whole point of publicity photos. I wouldn't have been much of a Marketing person if I didn't know that!

When the internet was new, I started posting these photos on web pages, and I carefully marked the names of the photographers, and studios, stamped on the back. Most of the photography studios were long since gone, the only exception being Markow, which is now Paul, the son of Bob Markow. I've known Paul for a long time, so I double-checked with him, letting him know what I was doing. Just professional courtesy.

I'm an old Marketing guy, and a Graphic Designer, so while I'm no expert on copyright, I know that publicity photos were meant to be seen. They were meant to be published giving "free advertising" to a company. They were given out in quantity, in the hopes that as many people as possible would se them. That's the whole point of publicity, which is part of the Marketing Mix, like advertising.

So it's OK to share publicity photos. That's what they're for. And now I just share them for fun.

Image at the top of this post: Valley Center (now Chase Tower) under construction in 1972. Valley National Bank Publicity photo.



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/Phoenix HistoryAdventuring where you can show your support for as little as $1 a month. Thank you!

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The eucalyptus trees of Phoenix, Arizona


I like trees. I grew up in Minneapolis, and have lived in Phoenix and Southern California all of my adult life, and I just feel better around trees. And one of my favorite types of trees is eucalyptus.

Eucalyptus trees have been in Phoenix since territorial times. They're native to Australia, and come in a lot of varieties. The ones that most people recognize are the ones in the photo up there, which are at the Arizona Canal at 7th Street and Northern. And they get HUGE! And not only do they get huge, their branches are weak, and it doesn't take much for them to snap off a branch, so they're best planted well away from your house. They're great as windbreaks, and parks, but I can't recommend planting them if you have a tiny suburban lot like I do. In fact, the idiots who built my neighborhood planted two (2!) eucalyptus trees in the tiny "post office stamp"-sized spaces in front of each house, and after about ten years they were WAY too big for the space and had to be taken out.

I'm still learning the different types of eucalyptus trees, and many of them don't look enough like a typical eucalyptus tree that I can even recognize them. When I'm out walking around, I test if it's eucalyptus by taking a leaf, breaking it, and smelling it. There is a distinctive smell to eucalyptus! In fact, I have even mailed eucalyptus leaves to a friend in Minneapolis just because they like they smell. I find it wonderful.

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If you grew up in Phoenix, or Australia, you probably aren't very impressed by eucalyptus trees. As a kid from Minnesota I was absolutely blown away. These are trees that shed their bark! I would write back home and tell people about them, and of course they had no idea what I was talking about. I just found them amazing, and I still do.

I like trees, but having eucalyptus trees close to my house was not good, so with the help of a neighbor of mine, I removed them. It was quite a job! And now I keep "my" eucalyptus trees over at the college, or along the canals. They're beautiful, and exotic, but they're fragile, and I sleep better knowing that a branch isn't going to suddenly break and fall on my roof!

The next time you're out "urban hiking" take a break and walk over to a tree. Even if it doesn't really look like a eucalyptus, it may be. It's part of what makes Phoenix an amazing place to me, and I'm glad that they're around.

The Parking Lot Trees of Phoenix, Arizona


It's the first week of April, and here in the Phoenix area the weather is just glorious. I just got home from walking to the corner and it's 82 degrees right now. And it's just perfect with a bit of shade, and it's just awful in the glaring sun.

As someone who has walked a lot (not wilderness hiking, just urban hiking) I seek shade. I know where to find it because I pay attention to the time of day, the season, and I look for trees. If you haven't done much urban hiking, you probably have no idea what I'm talking about, if you have, you do. The difference between an area with a bit of shade from trees, and the glaring sun of the desert, reflected on concrete and asphalt, is appreciable. Even areas of grass with no trees offer little relief from the heat of the sun. I'm no expert on math, but out in the sun 82 degrees is uncomfortable, and walking in a bit of dappled shade is heavenly. And that leads me to Parking Lot Trees.

I first heard the term "Parking Lot Trees" by someone many years ago who was talking about the sickly-looking trees struggling for life out in the parking lots in Phoenix. Most of them had been planted a long time ago when the parking lot was laid out, and had been neglected, struggling to get enough water to live, and sometimes just toppling over from neglect. But things are changing.

The Parking Lot Trees that I'm seeing nowadays are looking a whole lot better. They're the same trees that have been planted in parking lots in Phoenix for years, such as acacia, or other desert-adapted trees like palo verde or palo brea (that's a palo brea in bloom at the top of this post).

I collect old photos of Phoenix, and it was transformed from raw desert into an oasis. Trees were planted as early as the 1860s, and Phoenix was a forest of trees, and shade, up until the 1970s. And the pioneers experimented with a lot of different trees, some of which turned out to be not such a good idea. The trees that I'm seeing now are desert-adapted trees, watered with drip irrigation, and cared for.

There are so many reasons not to plant trees in Phoenix - they drop their leaves, their blooms block the signs of businesses, they take up space that could be dedicated to one more parking spot, or another lane of traffic, they require water, they require maintenance, the list goes on and on. If you feel that way, I won't argue with you. I will just hope that there will be some shade that I can walk under.

I like trees, even Parking Lot Trees.


My favorite Parking Lot Trees:

• Mesquite - grows naturally in the desert in riparian areas, needs precious little water, makes a nice canopy of dappled shade.
• Acacia - Google "Serengeti in Africa" and you'll see LOTS of them, creates an amazing umbrella of shade.
• Palo Brea - that's the one in the picture up there
• Texas Mountain Laurel - the blooms smell like grape jelly!

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Why some old maps show California as an island


I've always enjoyed looking at old maps, and one of my favorite things is seeing when California was shown as an island, like in the map shown here.

Now waitaminute, California was never an island, so don't go looking for some hidden history about its geology. And it's not a conspiracy, man, it just has to do with how maps have been created up until very recently, from eye-level, and making educated guesses about how it would look from a bird's-eye view.

Time-travel with me to old California when it was New Spain. To get there, we would sail from Spain, across the Atlantic Ocean, around the tip of South America (Cape Horn) and then along the western coast of South America, and along what is now Central America, and Mexico. If that seems a strange way to go nowadays, consider that there was no Panama Canal back then, and there certainly wasn't any way to fly. We take flight for granted now, but there was no way to do it back then, not even in balloons yet.

So the first part of California that we would see would be the tip of what is now called Baja California, which belongs to Mexico now. Of course nowadays when most people think of California, they think of the United States, where Los Angeles and San Francisco are, but at first it included the chunk of land that most people never even think of, along the Gulf of California.

Of course, what you're looking at on the old maps is Baja California, which is a peninsula. But the earliest mariners didn't know that. They sailed up as far as they could at the time (and it was quite a trip!) then turned around. They assumed that the Gulf of California just continued all of the way up and reconnected with the Pacific Ocean. It just made sense.

Old maps that show California as an island are rare, and collectible. If you have one, you may want to dig it out of the garage, and hang it up, or sell it for big bucks on ebay. And watch out for Terra Incognita (Unknown Land)!

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When to leave Phoenix for the summer - the end of April


It's the first week of April, and here in the Phoenix area the weather is just spectacular. It's what I call "Chamber of Commerce Weather". It just couldn't be nicer, bright blue skies, in the fifties in the morning, high seventies for the high, maybe as high as eighty, and mostly mid-seventies all day. It's the kind of day that makes me go outside and just say, over and over, "This is nice!" But this is Phoenix, and it doesn't last. The summers are awful.

Don't get me wrong, I love Phoenix, but even its greatest admirers will admit that the summers are terrible. Not just hot, but "fry an egg on the sidewalk" hot. And I'm not just talking about record temperatures, that can get above 120 degrees, I mean burning hot for months and months, with temperatures over 100, and even in the middle of the night stifling heat. Even at 3 am, the desert doesn't cool off in the summer.

I collect old photos of Phoenix, and I had often wondered how people managed to get through the summer in Phoenix. And then I realized that most people just left town. Yes, there were the miserable people who were left behind (I call them desert rats, and I'm one of them), but anyone who could got out of Phoenix by the end of April did so. They returned in September. Yes, that's how long summer lasts in Phoenix. By my calculations, certain wealthily families in old-time Phoenix never even saw a summer there. They would go to California, or up into the mountains. Many people still do. If you can, I advise it. If I could, I would.

The ad at the top of this post, from 1909, was something that family men did who had to stay in Phoenix in the summer. They would send their family off to the cool breezes amidst the pines, and stay in Phoenix as a "Widower" (they're trying to be funny here, these guys weren't really widowers, they were just that way for the summer while their wives were away).

If you've never spent a summer in Phoenix (and I'm jealous of you!), then you probably have never seen how much, to this day, even with air conditioning, business slows down. And it's not just the winter visitors flying away, although they are important. I'm a Graphic Designer, and am on my computer all of the time, and I can always sense the drop in business in Phoenix in the summer. Many of my regular clients wander off for the summer, and I can feel the calm begin at the end of April. By the way, if you want to get a bargain in Phoenix, go play golf or rent a hotel room in summer!

I spend the summers in Phoenix, and if you're lucky enough to get away, I will miss you. I'd love to come with you, but I have to stay here. So please think of your Summer Widower while you're enjoying those cool breezes!



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Why the mountains of Phoenix seem to be disappearing


If you're like me, the mountains around Phoenix are like old friends. I see them every day, and have for many years. I may not always be able to give a name to a certain area, but I know them the way I know the faces of friends. And if you've lived in the Phoenix area for a long time, they seem to be disappearing.

Now hang on there, I don't mean that they're eroding away, or anything like that. I collect old photos of Phoenix, and the mountains don't change. Whether there's a horse and wagon or a skyscraper, I recognize the mountains. I just mean that every day you can see them less and less. It's a normal function of more buildings being built all of the time (Phoenix has a healthy economy) and as you drive around, the streets become more and more tunnel-like. Instead of seeing wide-open spaces, and mountains, you're seeing the walls of buildings. No, the buildings aren't as tall as the mountains, but if you're in a car, or walking, it doesn't take much to block a view.

The image at the top of this post is a good example. That's Mummy Mountain back there, as seen from the corner of Scottsdale Road and Lincoln, looking west. Construction of this building started in 2013, and I'm sure that most people driving by now will have no idea how nice it was to see this mountain from this angle. This was the last time it was seen from here.

No, I'm not suggesting that Phoenix stop building just so that I can see the wide-open spaces and the mountains. I'm just saying that I will miss them, and I'll take every opportunity to visit them when I can.


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/Phoenix HistoryAdventuring where you can show your support for as little as $1 a month. Thank you!

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Why there's so much empty land west of the 101 freeway


If you've been to the football stadium in Glendale, Arizona, you've seen a lot of empty land west of the 101 freeway that runs just to the west of it. And when you consider how much the Phoenix metro area has sprawled in the last few decades, you may wonder why this land is still mostly gravel pits, raw desert, and farmland. It has to do with the floodplain of the Agua Fria River.

Now waitaminute, don't get carried away with the word "river". Like all of the rivers, and creeks, etc. on maps in the Phoenix area, the Agua Fria is a riparian wash. That it, it's a place in the desert that water flows through after a rain, and then dries up mostly. It's like Skunk Creek, or New River. These are washes. Unlike the creeks and rivers where I grew up, in Minneapolis, which have water in them all of the time, the rivers and creeks around Phoenix are usually dry. In the summer they're bone dry, and in the winter they can go from carrying water in spots, to just being kinda muddy. If you've ever hiked through washes, you know that.

Yesterday, after visiting the Farmer's Market at West Park Mall (99th Avenue and Northern) I wandered over to look at the Agua Fria River. The mall is, essentially, on the eastern banks of New River. As you go west, you're heading for the banks of the Agua Fria River (which is the photo at the top of this post). Of course, like I say, it's not exactly like standing on the banks of the Mississippi River, because there isn't water in there all of the time, but if you look at a satellite view of the area just west of 111 Avenue you can see what is essentially the "high water line", and the subdivisions abruptly stop. The floodplain is so enormous that as you drive through it, it's hard to get a sense of the width of the river, which at that point is at the middle just east of El Mirage Road, and the land rises up again just before you get to Dysart Road.

Controlling the floodplain of the Agua Fria River has not been a priority for the Phoenix metro area. After all, there are a LOT of places to build houses and businesses in, with no need for massive flood control, so I don't expect that the Agua Fria Flood Plain will be a flood control project that I'll see in my lifetime. It really just makes sense to leave it there, and work around it. Certain businesses (and even some homeowners) are OK with being in a flood plain, and if it gets too wet there, they'll just deal with it.

Controlling the floodplain of the Agua Fria River will be a massive project, possibly the biggest that the valley area has ever done. I'm no engineer, but my best guess is that it will be done with gigantic underground storm drains. And once it's done, like all of the other floodplain projects in Phoenix (including the Cave Creek Floodplain, which had been catastrophic for Phoenix for years), it will be forgotten. Neighborhoods will be built there. The landfill will probably be converted into a golf course, like the Cave Creek landfill (now the Cave Creek golf course) was.

Image at the top of this post: Looking west across the Agua Fria River at about 111th Avenue and Northern, Peoria, Arizona. You're looking toward the White Tank Mountains.



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/Phoenix HistoryAdventuring where you can show your support for as little as $1 a month. Thank you!

What Patreon is http://bradhallart.blogspot.com/2016/03/supporting-creators-on-web-with-patreon.html