Exploring the history of Phoenix, Arizona and a little bit of Los Angeles and San Francisco, California. This blog is advertising-free, and is supported by my subscribers on Patreon. History adventuring posts are shared there daily. The basic tier is a dollar a month, and the PhD tier, which includes "then and now" photos, billboards, aerials, videos, and super high-definition photos, is five dollars a month, and is discounted for seniors, veterans, and students. If you're a subscriber, thank you! You make this happen!
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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Posted by Brad Hall