The demolition of the Victorian houses in Phoenix, Arizona
As someone who's interested in history, and architecture, I have a particular fascination with Victorian houses. Here in Phoenix, they were mostly along what was known as Millionaire's Row, which was on Monroe between Central and 7th Street. The Rosson House is an example of one that was preserved and restored. The other ones, like the one in the photo at the top of this post, which was at 725 E. Washington, were demolished.
If you've ever visited a beautifully-restored Victorian house, you may wonder why they were ever demolished? But if you had seen what these houses had become by the 1980s, you'd understand. Time-travel with me.
After the wealthy people moved out of these gigantic homes, beginning in the 1920s, they quickly became apartments. What were once spacious homes were subdivided into tiny rooms that allowed people with limited budgets to have a place to live. And as you would expect, the upkeep of these houses wasn't as good once they became apartments. I saw one of them in the 1980s in Los Angeles, when I was looking for a place to live, and I still shudder at how horrible it was. There wasn't nothing "quaint" or "historic" about the place, it was hardly fit for humans to live in. I was poor, so I was considering it.
And that's what happened to these big old houses. Over the years they got worse and worse until the city stepped in and condemned them, and tore them down. They weren't even safe for people to live in, mostly because the electrical systems were a fire hazard. The photo up there is from the 1930s, and if you can imagine a place like that getting more and more run down, just add another fifty years to it. They were unimaginably horrible. And they were a disgrace to the city to allow people to live in them.
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Posted by Brad Hall