This blog explores the history of Phoenix, Arizona and a little bit of Los Angeles and San Francisco, California. This blog is not supported by advertising, it's supported by the generosity of my patrons on Patreon. Thank you!

Appreciating Phoenix before your time


I love learning about old-time Phoenix, and one of the most common things that I hear is that young people can't appreciate anything that happened before their time. The old-timers talk about stuff that happened before the young people were born, and the young people just roll their eyes.

This makes sense. As a teacher, I call it a "reference point". It's a determination of whether something is interesting to someone based on how it makes some type of attachment to their experience. It's the reason that otherwise thrilling stories about the history of, for example, Cincinnati (which I don't know anything about, and have no connection to) leave me cold. But if you mention Phoenix, I'm interested. If you tell me more about something that I know a little about, that's the best.

Since Phoenix has existed since 1870, if you're reading this, you're too young to remember most of its history. It's before your time. Sorry, you're just too young. And if your only interest is in Phoenix during your lifetime, you're probably going to roll your eyes at anything that was before your time. I understand. In Phoenix, I call it the "Wallace and Ladmo Effect", as if nothing happened of interest in Phoenix before the 1950s. Don't get me wrong, those guys are great, but it's just a tiny bit of what makes Phoenix history so fascinating.

I invite you to time-travel with me and explore Phoenix before your time. And I recommend that you find a reference point that matters to you. Personally, I'm fascinated with the mountains. I live in Glendale, and I see the White Tanks and the Estrellas all of the time. That's my reference point. Those mountains were there before my time, and they're here right now. When I look at old photos I strain my eyes trying to recognize "my" mountains. When I look at them I can imagine the gold being shipped in wagon trains from the Vulture Mine under the eyes of the Apaches. I can see the failed Agua Fria Project from the 1930s. In the Estrellas I can see the face of Montezuma.

I'm still interested in memories of Phoenix during my time. But I haven't been here long enough to limit my interest to that. There's so much more to see, so much more to learn!

Thank you for exploring with me.

The White Tank Mountains west of Glendale, Arizona.


Image at the top of this post: The White Tank Mountains in 1915.

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