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

Why you should, or shouldn't, have a tour guide to see historic Phoenix

I love to go see things in Phoenix, especially with friends, but I just hate "tour guides".

Now please don't get me wrong, there are some wonderfully entertaining tour guides. Many of these people combine their knowledge with some wonderful humor. In fact, the most popular tour guides are the ones who are comedians - with witty quips, funny stories, that sort of thing. And I respect them, but I just hate to see them get in my way when I just want to see something. To me, it's like someone stepping in front of the Taj Mahal just when I want to see it.

Support Arizona history by becoming a patron on Patreon

Click here to become a Patron!

To me, tour guides are like the amateur comedians that do the "Dumb-Dumb" classes when you get a speeding ticket. They can help to pass the time, mostly with people who really have no interest in the subject. Yes, we know, we're supposed to not speed. But, officer, I was just keeping up with traffic! And I like comedians, and good public speakers. I've been to the Improv, I love watching stand-up comedy on Netflix. But when I'm interested in seeing, for example, an historic house, I want to see the house, not stand there listening to someone who is doing their best to keep people interested, by being entertaining.

My first experience with this was may years ago, when I finally got a chance to get inside of one of the historic buildings at the Sahuaro Ranch. And once I was in, I was supposed to stand in a group, staring straight ahead, at someone who was talking. When I turned away to look around a bit, he cracked my knuckles in front of the group, insisting that I return to listen to him. I suppose he thought that I was going to steal something? He was very flustered, and I remember saying, "I'm sorry, please continue." In reality I was thinking "I won't make the mistake like this again." I stood there listening to him politely. I remember that it puzzled my girlfriend why I wasn't showing proper manners. You're supposed to stand, look at the tour guide and listen. No wandering off! I understand.

My preference nowadays when going out adventuring is to have someone who will "run blocker" for me. That is, someone with a pleasant personality who will stand there and talk with people who come out and want to talk. I understand that these people are these places are bored, and want to talk. They're often elderly people, who are volunteering. I understand. But I want to see things, so I wander off. I call my friends who block for me "Diplomats" for doing that. I've often heard later that it seemed strange that I just wandered off, as in "What's up with your friend?" Of course, I want to be polite, but I don't go to these places to listen to someone. I go to these places to look at these places. From what I understand, it's unusual, and rude. Because that's what you're supposed to do at these boring places apparently, just stand and talk.

But historic places don't bore me. I don't need jokes, or witty quips, or anything like that. I find these places fascinating on their own. If that's not you, then by all means go on a tour with an excellent and funny tour guide. The best one in Phoenix, by the way, is Marshall Shore. He's hilarious, and also very knowledgable about Phoenix (free plug for Marshall!). As for me, I'll just be wandering off, and I know that he'd understand. And tour guide or not, I highly recommend touring Phoenix. If you're not sure where to go, here's a list, let me know when you've seen everything: http://www.historyadventuring.com/2015/05/phoenix-historic-property-register.html

Image at the top of this post: touring Pueblo Grande in the 1940s, 44th Street and Washington, Phoenix, Arizona.

Why people shouldn't be living in Phoenix, Arizona, or any city on Planet Earth

If you've ever been in Phoenix in the summertime, you may have wondered "Why would people live there?" It gets HOT in Phoenix. Not warm, not uncomfortable, but life-threateningly, dangerously, fry-an-egg-on-the-sidewalk hot. During the big heat wave recently it was like standing on the sun. And there's no other way to describe it, the city should not exist, it's a monument to man's arrogance!

And I agree. So, the question is, where should people live? If you're in Phoenix, chances are your first thought is: San Diego! To which I have one word: earthquakes. I've lived in Southern California, and believe me, if you're a worrying person like me, it's not easy getting a good night's sleep thinking about that. Don't get me wrong, I love coastal California, but putting several huge cities on the San Andreas Fault is really just a monument to man's arrogance. Or confidence. Or faith.

Support Arizona history by becoming a patron on Patreon

Click here to become a Patron!

My first thought along these lines was when I was delivering newspapers on a dark and cold Sunday morning in the dead of winter in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The temperatures there regularly fall to thirty degrees below zero. And if you're not sure what that means, that's about sixty degrees BELOW the temperature which ice freezes. So as I stood there in the snow, with my newspapers, I really wondered what in the world people were doing living there? I was there because I was born there, and believe me, I got out of there as soon as I graduated from High School, got a car, and learned to read a map.

OK, so now I know what you're thinking? Where, exactly, on Planet Earth should people live then? How about a Tropical Paradise? Of course there are things called Hurricanes, and Typhoons.

Let's see, how about where a LOT of people choose to live, along along the eastern edge of what is known as "the Ring of Fire". That's where Tokyo is.

Yeah, I know now it sounds like I'm just picking on cities. Pick any city on planet earth and I'll give you a reason that people shouldn't be there. And now you see what I mean, because it's all about compromise. The people in Pompeii were happy there, with the beautiful weather, and the delicious grapes, until that darned volcano erupted.

I live in Phoenix. I shrug my shoulders on days that are insanely hot, and am glad that I'm not out in it, and that I have great air conditioning in my car and house. My friends in California don't spend a lot of time dwelling on earthquakes, they focus on the cool ocean breezes. I'm sure the happier people in Pompeii were enjoying the wine, not looking at Mt. Vesuvius. And that's how it works. The big blue marble is a very dangerous place for people to live, but it's the only home we have. That's us, that's home.

Image at the top of this post: Flying over Phoenix, Arizona in the 1950s

Seeing your hometown through the eyes of a stranger - Phoenix, Arizona

I've lived in some pretty amazing places in my day, mostly because I just knew that there had to be somewhere that wasn't like where I grew up, which has two seasons: Snow, and Mosquitos. I grew up in Minneapolis, Minnesota. So I left there as soon as I figured out how to read a map, and which direction was "West".

I came to Phoenix, Arizona, when I was 19, got my degree at Arizona State University, and went to Southern California afterwards, seeking fame and fortune. Fame and fortune I never found, but I was amazed by the places I saw, and even more amazed by the people who were essentially blind to all of it.

Mine is the world of palm trees and mountains. It's a place of Arizona sunsets. It never snows in Phoenix, and sometimes it gets so hot that it makes your eyes bug out just to walk out of your house. There are lizards on the walls, and there are trees with green bark (palo verdes). And there are palm trees! There are thunderstorms that are beyond amazing, and there's a smell to the desert that's the most wonderful thing I've ever experienced, especially after a rain. I could go on, and on, and I probably will, but I'll need to include the mention of a stifled yawn from people who just take all of this for granted.

I saw these people in California, too, even Santa Barbara. They had grown up there, or had lived there for a long time, and to them the ocean wasn't the most amazing and spectacular thing ever, it was just where their Uncle had lost his boat last year. The rainbows behind the mountains just reminded them that they were going to have to drive somewhere, and that the traffic would be awful. This isn't true of all locals, of course, but the vast majority were essentially blind to the beautiful place where they lived. I wanted to grab them by the shoulders, and shake them, saying "can't you see this?"

I learned a long time ago that it's a matter of choice where you live. You can live in an exciting, beautiful, and amazing world, or not. And it doesn't even matter if there's palm trees and mountains. I chose a long time ago to live surrounded by amazing things, to walk around with my mouth hanging open, to be a stranger in a strange land.

If you haven't seen it yet, I'm hoping you will. Walk with me.

Image at the top of this post: the Black Sphinx palms at 44th Street and Camelback, Phoenix, Arizona.

Become a PhD (Phoenix History Detective) with Brad today on Patreon!

Click here to become a Patron!
History Adventuring posts are shared there daily including "then and now" photos, billboards, aerials, videos, and super high-definition photos of historic Phoenix, Arizona. Discounts for seniors, students, teachers, and veterans.

The ghost signs of Phoenix, Arizona

As a history adventurer, I love to see ghost signs. A ghost sign is just a sign on an old building that has been left to fade away. Sometimes they are just about impossible to see, but when I see them I know that I'm time-traveling.

There are a lot of ghost signs in Phoenix, but you have to look for them. The easiest ones to see are on the eastern wall of the Fry Building, at 2nd Street and Washington. When Dan Majerle opened his restaurant there in the '90s, he made sure to carefully reveal the old signs that had been painted on the brick. If you're wondering they're real, they are. Sometimes ghost signs are faked for effect, but those are real. The building goes back to 1885, and while the ghost signs aren't that old, they're pretty old.

Ghost sign on the St. Francis Hotel and Apartments, usually referred to as Steineggers (the original name), visible from the alley south of Monroe between Central Avenue and 1st Street.

Sometimes you have to walk down alleys, and get behind buildings, to see a ghost sign. The one on Steinegger's, which is next to the Hilton Garden Inn, at Central Avenue and Monroe, is only visible from the alley (which is Melinda's Alley, by the way). It says, "The St. Francis Hotel and Apartments", which was probably very visible until the Professional Building blocked it in 1931. At that point, no one paid any attention to it, and the building that blocked it protected it. The sign is from 1912.

1912 ad for the St. Francis Hotel and Apartments, 27 E. Monroe, Phoenix, Arizona.

Ghost sign at the San Carlos Hotel, Central Avenue and Monroe. This is the wall facing west, and can only be seen now from the pool area.

If you've ever been in the swimming pool area of the San Carlos Hotel, and looked up, there's another ghost sign there. It says, "Air Cooled, Hotel (something). That's how it is with ghost signs. This wall faces west, and isn't visible from the street, so most people don't know it's there. Since the San Carlos has been there since 1928, long before any other tall buildings blocked the sign, it must have been visible for a good distance.

Ghost sign on the back of the old Central Hotel, Washington west of 2nd Street. 

Of course, not everyone believes that ghost signs are all that interesting, or attractive. One of my favorites, the ghost sign on the old Central Hotel, at Washington east of 2nd Street, was painted over recently. I got a few photos of it, in 2013. It says "Hardware Ezra Thayer". Territorial era, but just an old unsightly sign in an alley, I guess. There's a graffiti painting there now. I guess old faded signs can't last forever, and that's why I like to preserve the photos.

View from the alley (which smells bad) of the ghost sign for Ezra Thayer Hardware, Washington between 2nd and 1st Streets.

Ghost signs aren't the most glamorous things in the world, and really, they're just old neglected stuff, like you would find in a junkyard, left out in the elements, falling apart. And really, they're like old tractors that farmers leave out in the field after they stop working. Just neglected junk that hasn't been dealt with. If they get cleaned up, and painted over, I understand. My preference would be leave them revealed, as part of the look of the building, the way that Dan did.

Ghost sign at the Arizona Center, advertising what was once a Food Court called "Gardenside".

I'm sure that there are a lot more ghost signs in Phoenix. I saw one not long ago at the Arizona Center, which is at Van Buren and 3rd Street, from the 1980s. The sign is still there, advertising a food court that's been gone for years. The lettering still looks fine, and it would be a lot of work and expense to take it down, and besides there actually is a garden nearby.

Image at the top of this post: ghosts signs preserved at Majerles Restaurant, 2nd Street and Washington, Phoenix, Arizona.

Become a PhD (Phoenix History Detective) with Brad today on Patreon!

Click here to become a Patron!
History Adventuring posts are shared there daily including "then and now" photos, billboards, aerials, videos, and super high-definition photos of historic Phoenix, Arizona. Discounts for seniors, students, teachers, and veterans.

Los Angeles in the days of the Sandwich Islands (Hawaii)

I just finished reading "Two Years Before the Mast", which is simple narrative story of a young man who spends two years (1835-6) on a ship that sails from Boston, Massachusetts, around the tip of South America, and spends a lot of time on the coast of California.

The book is public domain, and you can read it for free. I spent 99 cents to get it on my Nook (an ereader), and I have to admit that it wasn't really catching my attention until it got to places that I recognized, like San Diego, and Santa Barbara. And then the term "Sandwich Islands" was mentioned, so I looked it up. It was what Hawaii was called back then! How about that?

When the author visited California it still belonged to Mexico, and Hawaii was still called the Sandwich Islands. If you read the book, you'll see Los Angeles mentioned, as "El Pueblo" when they stop at San Pedro. Of course, the rest of the names you'll know, such as Monterey, and San Francisco.

When the author revisits 24 years later, I noticed that he used the term "Los Angeles" instead of "El Pueblo", but he still was calling Hawaii the "Sandwich Islands". He was forty by then, and often old-timers have difficulty adjusting to the new names of things. I suppose that the young 'uns would either correct him, or have no idea what he was talking about? Sandwich Islands?

The drawing at the top of this post is from 1873, long after Los Angeles was called "El Pueblo", and long after Hawaii was called the Sandwich Islands. But it's all that I can find, and I wanted to have a picture with this blog post. The real image of Los Angeles at the time will take your imagination. If you read the book, you'll see it. I did.

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 become a patron.

Become a Patron!

Going to St. Joseph's Hospital in 1918, Phoenix, Arizona

Time-travel with me. It's 1918 and I don't feel so well. I think I'm going to the hospital. Luckily, it's St. Joseph's in Phoenix, Arizona.

The hospital is over on 4th Street and Polk, not far from where I live here on Melinda's Alley, and a friend of mine is coming over with his buck wagon. It's a hot day here in Phoenix, but I feel cold. I must have a fever.

1918 article about Mother Paul, the Sisters of Mercy, and St. Joseph's Hospital

I've heard good things about St. Joseph's Hospital, I even saw an article in the paper yesterday. Old-timers still call it the Sister's Hospital. I wonder how Mother Paul is doing? She founded the hospital twenty-five years ago, so she must be pleased at how much its grown.

I'm sure I'll be OK. I'm young and strong, and the Sisters will take good care of me.

St. Joseph's Hospital in the 1940s, 4th Street and Polk, Phoenix, Arizona

St. Joseph's Hospital in its newest location, at 3rd Avenue and Thomas, in the 1960s. It moved there in 1953.

If you liked this article, and would like to see more, please consider becoming a patron of History Adventuring on Patreon. If you're already a patron, thank you! You make this happen!

Click here to become a Patron!
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.

Getting a chop at Gass Brothers in 1917, Phoenix, Arizona

I know it's late, but I'm hungry. It's 1917 in Phoenix, Arizona and I'd like to go get a chop at Gass Brothers. Come along with me.

It's easy to find, just look at that neon. It's right there on Central, between Washington and Adams, you can't miss it. I'm driving my dad's automobile so we'll be there in no time. I'll park right out front.

This is going to cost us some money, but don't worry, I can cover it. The good old days of being able to get a meal for a quarter are long-gone, I know, and the war is driving up prices, too, I'm told. But order whatever you want, this is a special night. I'm going to get a chop.

The interior of the Gass Brothers in 1915

Let's sit at the counter. Here comes the waiter, order a cup of coffee for me, I'm going to visit the loo. Tell them to put everything on my dad's tab. Sure, get whatever you want. I'll be right back.

Gass Brothers Chop House in the 1930s

That was great. Nothing like eating a chop late at night! Makes me feel like Phoenix is finally becoming a big city. I like that. OK, let's go. Here's the hand crank, if you don't mind helping me start the car? Yes, I know what to do - let's see, set the spark...?

Image at the top of this post: Gass Brothers at night in 1917, 21 N. Central, Phoenix, Arizona.

Become a PhD (Phoenix History Detective) with Brad today on Patreon!

Click here to become a Patron!
History Adventuring posts are shared there daily including "then and now" photos, billboards, aerials, videos, and super high-definition photos of historic Phoenix, Arizona. Discounts for seniors, students, teachers, and veterans.

Fighting for equality in the 1990s in Phoenix, Arizona

People who know me know that I'm a believer in equality. I am a follower of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., who said that we should judge someone based on the content of their character, not the color of their skin. And interesting enough, I fell into a category that a lot of people didn't consider worthy of that equality, a male Anglo-Saxon straight man. And it's how people have treated me that I have judged the content of their character. Because there are things you can't change, the color of your skin, your gender, your sexual orientation. And if those things are held against you, especially in your career, it's horrible.

My career started in the 1980s in Los Angeles, in the era of quotas. A "quota" meant that a manager had to hire people based on race, and gender. As a white guy, I knew that I wasn't going to fill any quotas, and it made me nervous. Yes, things have gotten better, but back then this was a road being built with best intentions that had unintended results. Instead of creating equality, it polarized. Nowadays, of course, managers can't say things like "I've filled my quota, so now I can hire you", but that's what I heard when I got the job in LA. And then there were the memos that the managers would get that said that they couldn't hire, or promote, anyone of my gender or race. Yes, I know that's not what was intended, but that was the effect.

When I lost the job in Los Angeles, and returned to Phoenix, I brought my "non-quota filling self" to job interviews. I heard of people who were digging up information about their family so they could include some type of minority on their resume. I had none - I was a white guy, and besides, I didn't believe in that kind of stuff.

I brought my intolerance of degradation of people based on race and gender to the workplace. As a Graphic Designer I resented working on things that were gender-and-race specific. If someone decided that my race and gender were things to be made fun of, I politely asked for them to stop. I got the same reactions over and over - "Come on, lighten up."

When new brochures for the company I worked for needed to be designed after 1992, my boss asked me to look through the stock photos to see if I could find something that corporate would approve. What they wanted was diversity, and the stock photos didn't have that. It seemed to puzzle the people I worked for, and I volunteered to art-direct photos for the brochures. The models were all fellow-employees that I knew, and I selected all kinds of people - white people, black people, Hispanic people, Asian people, Indian people. The brochures often needed to show couples, and I would match people up. I wasn't allowed to do mixed-race couples (I did ask), but I did as much as I could. Looking back now, it doesn't seem like much, but back then it was very progressive, especially for Arizona.

I still fight for equality, and I still judge people based on the content of their character. And I'm afraid that some people are just stinkers, I know. But many people just don't realize what equality means, and I have hope for the future.

Image at the top of this post: A representative of a white male in a brochure that I did in the 1990s, Phoenix, Arizona. That's me.

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 become a patron.

Become a Patron!

When Los Angeles was called El Pueblo

If you're fan of Los Angeles history, you know that the full name of LA is "El Pueblo de Nuestra Señora, la Reina de los Angeles" (the town of our Lady the Queen of the Angels) and that it was named by Spain.

I just finished reading the book "Two Years Before the Mast", and while I can't recommend it as a thrilling page-turner, for someone like me who's interested in California history, it's wonderful. It's just the ordinary day-to-day life of a young man on a ship that sails from Boston, Massachusetts to California in 1835-36. At that time, California was owned by Mexico (they had kicked the Spanish out), but of course the language of the land was still Spanish. The author, who was just doing a couple of years of adventuring before he went to college, describes in wonderful detail what the coast of California was like then, from San Diego to San Francisco. But what really caught my eye was when he was talking about the area that I know about - Los Angeles.

Well, he didn't call it Los Angeles, he called it El Pueblo. When the ship stopped at San Pedro, he mentions going up to El Pueblo. The harbor at San Pedro is still there, and for reference, El Pueblo in 1835 would be downtown Los Angeles.

Interestingly enough, in the chapter after the end of the book, called 24 Years After the Mast, he visits California again in 1859, when it was part of the United States. I noticed that he calls El Pueblo Los Angeles at that time. He was in his forties on his second trip, so probably only the old-timers were still using the name El Pueblo. So it's fair to say that it's been Los Angeles since 1859, and probably the whole time that it's been part of the United States.

His son added a chapter in 1911, called Seventy-Five Years After the Mast, and it's fascinating to see the changes that California went through so quickly. Based on what he and his father had seen, he wonders about the future of California, and imagines that it's going to grow a lot. He was right!

Image at the top of this post, El Pueblo, California, now known as LA.

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 become a patron.

Become a Patron!

Eating Chinese Food in Phoenix, Arizona in 1917

I'm hungry, let's go get some Chinese Food. We're in Phoenix, Arizona in 1917, and I know the best place in town - the American Kitchen, run by Yee Sing.

1903 ad for the opening of the American Kitchen

I've been going there since it opened, in 1903, and it's great. Yes, of course you can get Chow Mein. I understand it's very popular in San Francisco! And no, I have no idea why Yee calls his restaurant "the American Kitchen". Maybe because he's from China, and this place is in America. Maybe we should ask him. Of course he speaks English!

1906 ad for the American Kitchen

It's just north of Washington, on Center Street. Wow, I can smell those Chinese Noodles from here. I'm hungry! I've been helping out the Blacksmith all week, and I've got thirty-five cents in my pocket, so I'm going to get the full meal. You can get a short order if you want to.

Boy howdy, that was good! We'll have to go back soon. I got the Chop Suey, and it was wonderful. And I think one of the girls there was making eyes at me. Or she may have been looking at you? I think I saw her at the big New Year's celebration on Montezuma Street (1st Street). It's great living in Phoenix, isn't it?

1893 New Year's Celebration by the Chinese population of Phoenix, often referred to as "Celestials".

The American Kitchen in the 1940s. Central just south of Adams, Phoenix, Arizona.

Image at the top of this post: 1917 ad for the American Kitchen, Central and Washington, Phoenix, Arizona. From the Library of Congress.

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 become a patron.

Become a Patron!

Love and marriage at Arizona State University in the 1980s

Like most people who attended Arizona State University, in Tempe, Arizona, I fell in and out of love many, many, times, but I knew that was too young for marriage. The mention of marriage made some friends of mine accuse girls of looking for their "Mrs. Degree", and I'd always heard that anyone who got married had to drop out of school. But like so many things I thought I knew, I was wrong.

A good friend of mine got married while he was going to ASU. I attended the wedding, which was held in a little "get married under neon lights" chapel on Van Buren. I remember meeting his wife, who spoke very little English at the time. I remember seeing their first born, whose nose I would pull off (if you've never seen the trick, it's done by holding your thumb between your fingers and turning your hand sideways, revealing what looks like a little nose). I would say, "¡Mira, tengo su nariz!" (Look, I have your nose!).

My friend stayed in school, went on to a career in his chosen field, and at the same time was a family man. To me, since I saw it, it just seemed perfectly natural. Looking back now, from the vantage point of years, I now know that it was exceptional.

A few years later I called my friend and his wife answered, speaking to me in perfect English. I hadn't called for many years, but I remember that when she had answered in the past that I had had to use what little broken Spanish that I knew in order to communicate, and she had struggled with her English. I remember being impressed. Looking back now, I know that I shouldn't have been, but I didn't know.

Nowadays when I go to the Chuckbox, which is right across from the ASU campus, I watch the young people walking by. And it's easy to stereotype them, to imagine that they're all just young, irresponsible people, who just party all of the time. But I've seen different, and I know that real life is always much more complicated than what we imagine. And yes, it's OK to say, "I think I'm in love!", because I've actually seen love happen. It happens all of the time.

Image at the top of this post: Gammage Auditorium in the 1960s, Mill Avenue and Apache, Tempe, Arizona. Arizona State University

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 become a patron.

Become a Patron!

Getting a cup of coffee in 1899 Phoenix

I could use a cup of coffee, how about you? It's 1899 and we're just west of Phoenix Arizona, and there are a lot of places in town, but my favorite place is Coffee Al's.

If you don't mind hitching up Autumn and Rapunzel to the wagon, I'll go see if I can find some money. My parents left some greenbacks sitting around here, and I guess I'll use them in town. Most people only accept silver and gold coins, but these will have to do, hopefully they'll pass, because I need to get a lot of stuff in town. What's this? An old Confederate coin? Wonder if it's worth anything now? Probably not.

Support Arizona history by becoming a patron on Patreon

Click here to become a Patron!
History Adventuring blog posts are shared there daily, also there's "then and now" photos, billboards, aerials, and super high-resolution photos of historic Phoenix, Arizona

Let's get moving. The sun's coming up and we're going due east, so I'm going to tip my hat over my eyes and let the horses just find the way. When we get to that area where the Cave Creek floods I'll know that we're almost in town. I understand that those darn fools are building the Capitol Building right there.

Here we are, entering the edge of town, just a little ways to go. There. I can see Coffee Al's, which is just west of Center Street. Boy howdy, I could sure use a cup of coffee! I think that cheap whiskey that I had last night has given me a little bit of a headache. Nothing better than a cup of coffee for that! Let's just stop right in front. Washington is very wide, I don't think we're going to get in anyone's way. The wagon's empty so we can both go in.

That was great. A little bit of coffee was what I needed. And I didn't realize that I was so hungry, so I got us some sandwiches, here's yours. Now let's go get those supplies.

Phoenix, Arizona in 1899. Looking northeast towards Camelback Mountain from 1st Avenue and Washington

John "Yours Truly" Smith's Flour Mill in 1885, Phoenix, Arizona.

OK, time to head back. I'm glad we came into town this morning. Ma will be especially happy with the nice fresh bag of flour that I got. Milled by J.Y.T. Smith - best in town! I hear that the flour that old man Hayden makes out in Tempe is pretty good, too. And I know what you're thinking, another cup of coffee would be great before we head back west. But don't worry, there's another Coffee Al's on the north side of Washington, so we don't even have to turn the wagon around, or walk across the muddy street. How convenient! I wonder if people in the twenty-first century will have such convenient places to get coffee?

The Territorial Capitol Building was built at 17th Avenue and Washington, and the building is still there, as a museum. The Cave Creek flooding was finally fully controlled in 1994 with the completion of the Diversion Channel along the Arizona Canal. And Phoenix is still a convenient place to get coffee.

Image at the top of this post: the Coffee Al's on the north side of Washington, just west of Center (Central). The other location of Coffee Al's was, of course, on the south side of Washington.

Being a black person in the early 1900s in Phoenix, Arizona

There are a lot of shameful ways that non-white people were treated in the history of Phoenix, and if you really can't find a lot, well, that's not surprising. It doesn't paint a glamorous picture of a place when you mention Segregation, or Jim Crow Laws, or the Ku Klux Klan.

But I'm gonna talk a little bit about it here. I'm interested in Phoenix history, and exactly how everyone lived is important to me, even if doesn't paint a pretty picture.

No, I'm not trying to spoil an image of "the good old days". I like the West of the Imagination as much as anyone, you know, the Wild, Wild West. But if you know about the era of the west, you know that there's a big difference between imagination and reality.

Let's start with the end of the Civil War. What a lot of people don't realize is that not only were Black people freed from slavery, they were given the same inalienable rights that were written into the Declaration of Independence in 1776. Well, not women yet, that would have to wait. But Black men could vote, they could hold office, and they were considered full citizens of the United States of America. That era was called "Reconstruction" if you want to Google it.

But it didn't take long after that for the backlash. And yes, Phoenix did the same things that the rest of the country was doing. These were called "Jim Crow" laws, which very quickly took away the rights of Black people. And it got even worse with something called the Ku Klux Klan, which enforced this attitude, with violence, murder, and terror. The Ku Klux Klan were what we would call nowadays "Skinheads" or "White Supremacists". And yes, they were in Phoenix, and yes, there were lynchings.

And it gets worse. States, including Arizona, discriminated against Black people by doing what was called "Separate but Equal". And that meant separating things, even drinking fountains into "Black" and "White". This soon became the law of the land. The dividing line for Phoenix was the railroad tracks, and Black people were not allowed to buy houses north of that line. A school was built where the Black kids were obligated to go, called Caver High School. "Separate but Equal" was never equal, and the fight against it continues to this day. Phoenix desegregated its schools in 1953. More about desegregation in Arizona is here https://arizonastatearchives.net/2016/02/04/desegregation/

Yes, there were black people living in Phoenix at the turn of the century. And the future looked bright for them back then. But things were about to get really, really bad. After over 100 years that progress still needs to move forward, and it is.

Image at the top of this post: Sam Berry with his hand on the shoulder of Arthur Luhrs at the Commercial Hotel (the Luhrs Hotel) in 1888, Central Avenue and Jefferson, 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 become a patron.

Become a Patron!

Phoenix, Arizona in the days of Prohibition

It's Friday night and I could use a drink. However, it's 1921, and we're in Phoenix, Arizona, and intoxicating beverages are illegal. The sale of beer, wine, and spirits has been illegal in the United States since the passing of the 18th Amendment to the Constitution in 1920. And it's been illegal in Arizona since 1915. But that's OK, I know where to go.

Walk with me, I know a place. The place I know is called a "Speakeasy". I like to call these places "Blind Pigs", but there are a lot of names for places where you can get a beer, or a glass or wine, or some whiskey. You just have to know somebody, and you know me. Let's go.

No, there are no signs, so don't bother looking. I heard from a friend of a friend that there's a Speakeasy somewhere in Melinda's Alley, behind the Adams Hotel. Let's see, I'll knock on this door. The password is "Service and Cooperation".

We're in. Yes, there are a lot of people here. Just because the sale of alcohol has become illegal doesn't mean the consumption of it has gone down. The price has gone up, because now it's supplied as an illegal drug, and it's handled by organized crime, you know, Al Capone and his friends. What'll ya have? Don't worry, the booze here is fine. I've heard of places that sell hooch that's deadly, home-made stuff that not only tastes awful, but really isn't safe to drink. But I know the bootlegger who supplies this place, and he makes regular runs to Canada.

What's that sound? Dang, it's the cops, the place is being raided! Calm down now, this happens all of the time. Usually they just ask for your name and let you go. The worst that's happened to me is to spend the night in the hoosegow. I never give my real name, I just call myself Remington Steele, or something. I'd hate to have my parents find out that I went to a place like this. Besides, my dad stills his own gin, and he thinks it tastes fine. But it's awful!

See, I told you that they'd let us go. The place will be closed down, and a new one will open somewhere else right away. I got a little flask of whiskey, let's go down by Swilling's Ditch and finish it off.

Image at the top of this post: A Speakeasy in Phoenix in the 1920s. Undisclosed location, don't ask.

Become a PhD (Phoenix History Detective) with Brad today on Patreon!

Click here to become a Patron!
History Adventuring posts are shared there daily including "then and now" photos, billboards, aerials, videos, and super high-definition photos of historic Phoenix, Arizona. Discounts for seniors, students, teachers, and veterans.

Using historical terms that aren't politically correct now

As someone who's interested in history, I'm interested in learning the names of things. It's true that "a rose by any other name would smell as sweet", but if you want to learn about roses, you have to start by learning the word "rose", if you see what I mean.

I like doing original research. That is, I dislike history books, or pre-packaged stuff. I take the time to look through old newspapers, vintage books, that sort of thing. And in order to find things there, you have to know what they were called back in the day.

Of course times change. How we use the language changes, what is acceptable in polite society changes. And I'm OK with what is called being "politically correct", which means to show modern respect by avoiding using terms that have become offensive over time. I'm old enough to remember hearing stuff as a kid that no one gave a second thought to, but would now get you a punch in the nose (and you would deserve it) if you used them today. At the very least it would you get rolling eyes from people who wonder if you've been living in a cave. I have some years on me, but I haven't been living in a cave, and I appreciate receiving, and giving, respect.

So I'm learning the modern names that my Native American friends prefer, such as the Akimel O'odham. But you won't find anything in old documents by doing a search for Native American Akimel O'odham - you will have to look for Pima Indians. It's the same way with African-Americans, which you will find in old documents as "Negro". The list goes on and on, and you see what I mean, which is that within an historical context, those terms are acceptable. Throwing them around on social media just because you're out of touch is just ignorant. As you can tell, I feel very strongly about this.

So as a historian I give myself special dispensation to use these terms. When I'm searching through the Library of Congress I'll use terms that I would never use in my ordinary course of life, in ordinary posts on Facebook, that sort of thing. And if you're a time-traveler like me, you understand.

Image at the top of this post: Noted Negro Orator Professor Kelly Miller in Phoenix in 1920.

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 become a patron.

Become a Patron!

Speaking Spanish in Los Angeles, and Phoenix

No, you don't have to speak Spanish to live in Los Angeles, or Phoenix, but it's kinda cool if you do. It introduced me to some way cool people, and helped me understand the history of that area, going back to when the only language spoken there was Spanish. You know, the days of Zorro!

Like most people, I learned a foreign language in High School. I chose Spanish, and took two semesters of it in Minneapolis, where I was born and raised. And really, that should have been the end of my use of it. There may have been Spanish-speaking people in Minneapolis in the '70s, but I don't recall any. My idea, by the way, was to move away from the snow and cold and go live in Mexico. I never did that, I moved to Phoenix.

When I started at ASU I met my first real, honest-to-goodness Spanish-speaking Hispanic person. I'll call him Miguel, because that's his name. He had been born in Mexico and had been in the United States since he was five. He was also the very first person in his family to go to college. To me, it was just some art classes in a building in Tempe. Through his eyes I saw something much more spectacular - El Norte!

Miguel spoke perfect English and the most perfect Spanish that I've ever heard. He may have used a few slang terms, but never, ever "Spanglish" (which is a combination of English and Spanish). He insisted that his children learn both languages correctly, and they could choose to speak to him using either one, but there was no mixing them together. No. No.

If you speak Spanish, you know that I really don't. I've been practicing, off and on, for a long time now, but I really don't get much practice. But the man that I wanted to grow up to be would speak more than one language, so I'm working on it. And I wanted to do it right, to speak like Ricardo Montalbon, or Antonio Banderas. I hate the sound of what I call "Highway Patrol Spanish" - you know, where things are pronounced "Mee-Gwell" or "Tort-iLLa".

I can read Spanish better than I can understand it spoken, because the words on a page are much slower than the spoken word. A lot of people who only speak English have no idea how slurred together spoken words are - such as the English word "Jajeejet?", to which the proper response is "Yes, I have eaten." I was able to do the layout for the Spanish-language brochures at Bank One, where I worked as a Graphic Designer in the '90s, and it surprised a lot of people.

I love learning about history, and it all started for me in Los Angeles, which I started to realize how much history there was. And knowing a bit of Spanish unlocked a lot of historical secrets for me, my favorite being the full name of LA, which I love to say, especially if I'd had too much coffee, or too many beers: El Pueblo de Nuestra Señora, la Reina de los Ángeles. In old books LA is simply called El Pueblo.

If you're interested in learning some Spanish, I encourage you. Wander over to your local community college and take a class. But be careful of the correct etiquette when speaking to someone in public when you want to practice. Just suddenly speaking Spanish to someone can be insulting, so listen first, and then ask politely - "Quiero practicar mi Español" (I want to practice my Spanish). I've been doing it a lot lately, and I want to do more. And remember this trick: to get the sound as correctly as possible: smile. Spanish is a smiling language.

¡Viva Zorro!

Image at the top of this post: Macayo Mexican Food Restaurant in the 1960s, 4001 N. Central, 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 become a patron.

Become a Patron!

The billboards of old-time Phoenix

I really don't remember the billboards of Phoenix. By the time I got to Phoenix, in 1977, they were going away. Before that, from what I've been learning from collecting old photos of Phoenix, they were everywhere, the "pop-up ads" of old Phoenix.

Of course, there are still billboards in Phoenix, but nothing compared to the amount that covered the valley prior to the 1970s. I'm interested in advertising, and I've studied some history, and apparently there was quite a backlash against how they were making American cities ugly by the 1960s, and there was even the "Highway Beautification Act" of 1965 that included limiting billboards on America's scenic highways. The message was clear: billboards were ugly, and people were tired of seeing them.

The reason that I'm aware of the tremendous number of billboards is because I visit the Duke University Digital Collections site, looking for images of Phoenix. The site is dedicated to advertising, and the advertising in Phoenix which the site has from the early 1960s to the early 1970s is billboards. LOTS of billboards. Of course now it's fun to look back and see them, but it must have been as annoying as an internet pop-up ad to the people at the time. That's how it works, after several years the annoying ads become things that people buy on ebay, and hang in their garage. It's hard to imagine, but those annoying ads that you see while surfing the internet today will probably be displayed in glass cases in the future and shown off to friends to see what life was like way back in the early 21st Century.

My hobby is collecting old photos of Phoenix, so I scour the Duke site and look at the backgrounds. I will usually crop out the billboard, especially if it was advertising liquor, or tobacco. And there were a lot of those! I won't post them here, but if you visit the Duke site, you'll see them.

I definitely have mixed feelings about billboards. I'm a Graphic Designer, so I understand them, and advertising in general. But I like scenic views, and even the most beautifully-designed billboard doesn't exactly enhance a mountain view. So I'm glad that there are a lot less billboards in Phoenix than back in the day. I enjoy seeing them in the past, but nowadays I'd rather see the mountains.

Billboard for A1 Beer on McDowell looking east towards 19th Street in the 1960s

1960s billboard for Allied Homes

Billboard for Herb Stevens Mercury on top of Barron Drugs in the 1960s, 666 W. Camelback Road, Phoenix, Arizona

Image at the top of this post: Billboard on 19th Avenue and Vogel in 1966, Phoenix, Arizona.

Become a PhD (Phoenix History Detective) with Brad today on Patreon!

Click here to become a Patron!
History Adventuring posts are shared there daily including "then and now" photos, billboards, aerials, videos, and super high-definition photos of historic Phoenix, Arizona. Discounts for seniors, students, teachers, and veterans.

Phoenix, Arizona in the Happy Days - the 1990s

Back in the 1970s, I watched a TV show that was called "Happy Days". It was an idealized view of the world of the 1950s, and it seemed so very far away from the modern world. It tied into nostalgia that people were feeling for a time long ago.

And a few days ago I realized that Happy Days were set only twenty years previous to the time of the show. And I did the math - and that meant that the Happy Days now would be the 1990s. It sounded ridiculous to me - the world doesn't seem all that different from the 1990s. Does it?

For me, the '90s were all about dedicating my life to golf. I had played precious little in California, which was too crowded and too expensive, so when I moved back to Phoenix in '89, that's just about all I wanted to do. I recall vaguely having a job, and doing other stuff, but my mind was always on golf.

The foursome in the picture there, Mike Binder, John Boucher, Scott "James" Bond, and myself, at the Foothills Golf Course, which is just south of Chandler Boulevard and west of 24th Street, wasn't typical of the courses that I played. And that's because I wasn't paying for the round. One of the perks of working for Bank One was being invited to play golf by the sales reps that did the printing for the collateral of the Marketing Department. And although I wasn't really all that important to the company, I was the one who was always up for golf, so I played a lot of golf. The best courses I played when the Bank One Advertising Manager couldn't go, and my terrible golf stunk up some of the best courses in the Phoenix area in the '90s.

The 1990s were happy days for me. I had returned to Phoenix in '89 just to visit, and when I got there I wondered why I had ever left? I drove out from LA just to visit old friends in Phoenix, and in an idle moment I decided to see how much rent was for apartments. I stopped at one and was astonished. And then I heard, "...and if you want to be on the golf course..." I signed a lease that day, lost my deposit on my place back in California, and decided to never roam again. I got the job at Valley Bank, which became Bank One, and Phoenix was good to me. In 1996 I started teaching Graphic Design at the Art Institute of Phoenix, but I don't recall any of that interrupted my main goal in life, which was golf.

Happy Days!

Image at the top of this post: at the Foothills Golf Course in 1995, 2201 E Clubhouse Dr, 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 become a patron.

Become a Patron!

Time-traveling back to the good old days in Phoenix - the 2000s

The "good old days" is an expression that I hear a lot. I collect old photos of Phoenix, and share them on a Facebook page, and one of the most common comments I see is when someone is remembering the good old days, when life wasn't so complicated, and Phoenix was a better place to live. And it can be any era, it just depends on the individual. I like to time-travel in my imagination to these times, so today I'm going to go back to the 2000s in Phoenix. The good old days! Come along with me.

Let's start at my favorite golf course in Phoenix, Cave Creek. I haven't played there for a while, but it's where I would always go. It's a big municipal course, and it's much less expensive than most other golf courses, and it's big and wide. I could always hit 'em far, but just not very accurately, and I like big, wide golf courses. The Cave Creek Golf Course built on top of a landfill, and I've been playing it, like, forever.  When I first started playing it, the ground was still settling, and chunks of the course would collapse, or even fall into the creek. Well, the wash. The course follows the Cave Creek Wash, which most people don't even know is there. I know it's there because I've hit so many balls into it. Look for the orange ones. My friends and I would call it "Rattle Snake Gulch", and I liked the fact that there was rarely any water in it, and if you didn't mind getting your clubs all scratched up, you could hit out of it.

For me, the 2000s was the era of the Barrett-Jackson auctions in Scottsdale, which I went to every year. I have friends from California who would come out and stay with me and invite me along when they sold their cars. I got to go to the big party for Carroll Shelby's 80th birthday in 2003. After the 2000s my friends didn't go to the Barrett-Jackson so much, but instead to the RM, and more upscale auctions. Yes, the Barrett-Jackson isn't really all that upscale compared to the ones that get less publicity. In 2004 I went to the party for the 100th Anniversary of Rolls-Royce, which was at the Arizona Biltmore.

September of 2001 is the year I started teaching at Glendale Community College. And I'll never forget September 11th, 2001. And what I remember most is the eerie quiet afterwards because there were no planes in the sky, no distant thunder from the jets at Luke Air Force Base.

2003 is the year that I got my first cell phone. I've always had a tendency to wander off, and go looking at stuff, and when I went shopping with my girlfriend she would be annoyed at always having to go find me, because apparently I'm a three-year-old. So she insisted that I get a cell phone, which became my "leash". I still use it a lot like that - when I'm out history adventuring I'm sure to always be listening for my phone. Nowadays you can check Facebook on your phone, you couldn't back then. Well, not on the phone I had.

The good old days are whenever you say they are. When you look back on them, I suggest that you do the same thing that I did after I played a round of golf - focus on the good things. I would always remember my best shots, a long putt, a lucky bounce off a tree onto a green (that actually happened once at Cave Creek - on the back nine!). I think it puzzled people who had seen how poorly I had played, but it's just the way I look at the world. There are so many wonderful things to remember, back in the good old days!

Image at the top of the post. At my favorite golf course in 2000, Cave Creek, which is between Greenway and Thunderbird Roads at 19th Avenue.

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 become a patron.

Become a Patron!

Time-traveling back to the good old days in Phoenix - the 1990s

If I've learned anything from collecting and sharing old photos of Phoenix, I've learned that there were always "good old days". Those were the days when life was simpler, when everything was better, the time before all of the things that are around now changed everything. And the good old days will always be whenever people say they were. Today will be the good old days some day. For me, the good old days in Phoenix were the 1990s.

Time-travel with me to a time when people didn't carry around cell phones, when they couldn't get a question answered in seconds on Google. It may be hard to imagine, but it was true.

When the 1990s started, there was still a bank in Phoenix called "Valley National Bank". Yes, I know it sounds like I'm making it up, but that's what it was called. I worked there, in the Marketing Department, as a Graphic Designer, and we had just started using Macintosh Computers, which were made by a company called Apple. The software we used was called Pagemaker, and we saved the files onto little discs that were stored in little cardboard boxes. In 1992 a bank called "Bank One" purchased Valley National Bank, and the building downtown where I worked, which was called Valley Center, became the Bank One Building. Bank One even built a baseball stadium in downtown Phoenix, which was called Bank One Ballpark, affectionately known as "BOB". Bank One, by the way, was purchased in 2002 by Chase.

The 1990s were a big year for the Phoenix professional basketball team, the Suns, who played at the America West Arena (now the Talking Stick Arena). Enthusiasm was high, and there was a lot of purple around town! This was the Charles Barkley era, and you can go Google him to find out more. Wow, you couldn't say "Go Google" something in the 1990s! Well, I guess you could, but people would have had no idea what you were talking about. Google?

My career at Bank One ended in 1996, when I resigned, and started teaching Graphic Design at the Art Institute of Phoenix, which had just opened up the previous year. I liked being there, and remember that they were still rearranging the interior walls when I was doing my first classes. At the risk of sounding as if I were giving them a plug, they were (and are) amazing - state-of-the-art computers (mostly Macs) with the emphasis on professionalism. If you can hire an Art Institute grad, especially from the '90s, do so. They're good. I'm an old ASU grad, and they got nothing on AIPX when it comes to training for a career in Computer Graphics. OK, end of free plug!

There were a lot of people who were afraid about what would happen when the '90s ended. Apparently the fact that computers hadn't allowed for the dates to change from 1999 to 2000 would cause the economy to collapse, and planes would fall from the sky. I remember that my next-door neighbor was horrified at what might happened, and comforted that it would mean the Second Coming of the Lord, and I knocked on her door the evening of the 31st of December 1999 and assured her that I was right next door, and she could call me. Not sure what I would have been able to do if planes were falling from the sky, but it seemed the neighborly thing to do. Of course she would have had to have called me on a regular telephone (now called a land line), but everyone had them in those days.

I could go on and on about the good old days, and I probably will, but just not in this blog post. I like time-traveling, and I like to imagine all kinds of good old days in Phoenix, from Territorial Days to present day, and even into the future. Yeah, the 21st Century will be the good old days some day, and they probably already are for some people, that's how it works.

Image at the top of the post: At Corporate Center in 1992, 23rd Avenue between Peoria and Dunlap, Phoenix, Arizona. With my brand-new Saturn SC.

Become a PhD (Phoenix History Detective) today on Patreon!

Click here to become a Patron!
History Adventuring posts are shared there daily including "then and now" photos, billboards, aerials, videos, and super high-definition photos of historic Phoenix, Arizona. Discounts for seniors, students, teachers, and veterans.

At the Matchbox Sports Bar and Grill in June of 2017

As a history adventurer, I like to time-travel. So let's go to the the Matchbox Bar and Grill in Peoria, Arizona last night, Thursday, June 8th. If you understand my sense of humor, you may see that I'm kidding, but just a little bit. To me, time-traveling has no boundaries. I'm not limited to a particular time frame, if it happened in the past, or will happen in the future, I want to go there. Thank you for coming along with me. We're at Grand and 91st Avenue.

If you've never been to the Matchbox Bar and Grill in Peoria, Arizona, that's not surprising. I was there with a good friend last eating drinking beer and eating a burger, and we pretty much had the whole place to ourselves. We had a choice of sitting anywhere, and decided against sitting in the booths because the decorative lamps that hang over the tables had glaring lights. So we moved over to a table that was nearby the video machines. Of course, it would have been a crowded and noisy area, but there was nobody there. I took a look at the video machines and tried to calculate their vintage, probably early '90s, if not late '80s, at least in design. They obviously worked, and could accept money, but the graphics reminded me of the very first video games that I played way back in the late '80s in Los Angeles. Remember Road Blasters? Nah, nobody does.

If you're tired of waiting in lines, you may want to try the Matchbox Sports Bar and Grill. It was so empty that there was no question of having to wait for anything. Our server attended to us in a way that made me think that having two big cash customers, who actually wanted to eat hamburgers, was something kinda special. I would guess that, since it's in a Day's Inn (a motel), that business fluctuates. Apparently it's been there since 2005, so there must be more business than what I saw on a Thursday night. When we asked when the place closed, she said gave a vague answer that made me wonder if she was kidding, or if the place would just close up after a certain number of hours completely empty.

As I sat there I imagined what it would have been to stop in a little "greasy spoon" or bar (it would actually have been a Speak Easy, or a Blind Pig, in 1917 - Arizona prohibited alcohol in 1915, five years before it became a Federal Law) in Phoenix 100 years ago. Probably pretty much the same thing. There would have been things hanging on the walls, whatever the owner of the place thought would cover up the walls, some old people would have shuffled in for a beer, some young people would have stopped by, laughing and bringing their joyous lives to what had been a quiet and dusty place. I often wonder what they would say if walls could talk. Last night the walls watched me eat a hamburger. Not the most exciting history in Phoenix, but the slice of life that interests me the most.

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 become a patron.

Become a Patron!

Past, present, and future Midtown Phoenix

If you're wondering where "Midtown" in Phoenix is, don't look at a map and try to figure out where the middle of the sprawling metropolis is, it's not there. And that's because when it got the name of Midtown, it was between downtown and uptown.

Let's time-travel back to 1870, when Phoenix was first laid out. It went from Van Buren to Harrison (where the railroad tracks are) and from 7th Street to 7th Avenue. So at the beginning it would have been ridiculous to say "downtown", but eventually that's what that area came to be called. Of course it's open to interpretation, as the city doesn't exactly put up markers indicating exactly where downtown is, it's just something people figure out, by saying "I'm going downtown today".

Of course as soon as people got used to saying "downtown", they started to refer to "uptown". In Phoenix that name became kinda official in 1955 when Uptown Plaza was built on Central and Camelback Road.

Midtown really didn't mean anything until the 1960s when there were a lot of new buildings built on Central Avenue that weren't really downtown, but weren't really uptown. In fact, midtown buildings became a sort of "second downtown" as they were built a good distance from downtown and after a while the tall buildings just kinda met as they marched south. Of course now there's no break at all between what was known as Midtown and what was known as downtown. And I've heard many people say that they were going downtown when they were actually doing to Midtown. Actually, from here where I'm writing this, in Glendale, going to uptown makes me feel like I'm going to downtown Phoenix. At least a little.

When someone mentions Midtown to me, I tend to think of no further north than Indian School Road and maybe as far south as Park Central Mall.

But nowadays the boundaries of Midtown have expanded. To my surprise, the Midtown Neighborhood Association is contained by 3rd Ave and 3rd Street and I-10 / Hance Park up to Indian School Road, and in the future will be between 7th Avenue and 7th Street, south to Roosevelt and north to Camelback Road.

Thank you for going to Midtown with me today, yesterday, and tomorrow!

Image at the top of this post: Midtown in 1973, Phoenix, Arizona. You're looking south on Central from Indian School Road.

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 become a patron.

Become a Patron!

Malinda of Melinda's Alley, Phoenix, Arizona

If you're interested in Phoenix history, you know that there were several unofficial streets (really alleys) that, while never on maps, everyone in town knew about back in the 1890s. They included Wall Street (which ran north and south between 1st Avenue and Central - it's where the banks were, so that was the joke), Cactus Way, which ran north and south between Central and 1st Street (where Loring's Bazar was, and later Donofrios in the Ellingson Building), and my personal favorite, Melinda's Alley, which ran east and west between Monroe and Adams. Of course, back in those days Phoenix was only from Van Buren to the Harrison (the railroad tracks), and from 7th Avenue to 7th Street. Hard to imagine, but true.

I collect old photos of Phoenix and I love to travel there in my imagination. I'm always happy to get back to air conditioning, and my computer, and sometimes I picture what Phoenix really was like (hot, and no WiFi!) and sometimes I imagine it in a Romantic way. And actually, I'm OK with both points of view, the harsh reality, and what I call "the West of the Imagination".

So don't get me wrong, I'm not trying to spoil the fun. I enjoy a good old-fashioned Western movie as much as anyone, and it never bothers me that they never seem to need to reload their six-shooters after dozens and dozens of shots. I'm OK with that, and I'm OK with Malinda.

I love the new mural of her, which shows the original Adams Hotel and the fire which creates her beautiful hair. I've read what's been written about her, how her name was Malinda Curtis, and that she was Black. I think that's wonderful, and she is so beautiful.

And for those of you with a less Romantic nature, here it is. I've been researching this for years and I've never found anything convincing about who Melinda's Alley was named after. That she was probably a prostitute is extremely probable, because that's where the "Ladies of the Evening" were in the 1890s. At the very least she was poor, as no wealthy woman would have gone strolling along a place like that, they would have stayed closer to Millionaire's Row, which although it was nearby, was a million miles away from Melinda's Alley. Millionaire's Row, by the way, was east of Central on Monroe, and the Rosson House is still there, on 7th Street. Melinda's Alley would have been one half-block south of there. Yeah, Phoenix was a small town then!

So if you're someone who insists on the absolute truth - here it is. Yes, there was (and still is) an alley between Monroe and Adams. It was called Melinda's Alley, and it would stand to reason that there was a woman named Melinda. And yes, there were women in Phoenix at that time. If you've done your research on what life for women at the turn of the century was, you know that it would be far from what we would describe today as glamorous. And yes, there were women of color (Black, Hispanic, Asian, etc.) and their lot in life would have been even more difficult. I'm not going to describe any of it to you here, but I can refer you to learn more about what happened in the U.S. after the Civil War, the Reconstruction Era, and the rise of the Klu Klux Klan. I study this stuff all of the time, and there are plenty of books to read.

But if you choose not to, I'm OK with that, too. The West of the Imagination is a wonderful place, and I like to imagine that Malinda looked just like she does in the mural. She's beautiful.

Image at the top of this post: Mural of Malinda, in Melinda's Alley, in the alley east of Central between Monroe and Adams, Phoenix, Arizona. Created by local artists Hugo Medina and Darrin Armijo-Wardle.

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 become a patron.

Become a Patron!