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

How to become a Phoenix History Detective (PhD)


Several years ago I started collecting old photos of Phoenix. I've always liked old photos, but I've never liked photos without captions. That is, I wanted to know where something was, and when it was. Without that, to me old photos are boring, and pointless. And it has became something like detective work for me.

I started posting old Phoenix photos in 2011 on a site called "Google Plus", and little by little the corrections came in. I have to admit that everything looked pretty much the same to me, the old intersections, the old buildings. And I would post something with a description, and someone would say, "Dude, that's not Washington, that's Adams", that sort of thing. Then I'd go and do some research, and if I was convinced, I'd update the caption, and the file name. And I started calling these people Phoenix History Detectives, which I shortened to PhDs.

Being a PhD isn't easy. It's earned by having documentation. Since this is the day of the internet, I had a lot of people who expected me to believe them just because they had heard from someone who had heard from someone, or they kinda thought that maybe they remembered seeing it on the internet. That's not a PhD, anyone can just guess about stuff.

If you want to become a PhD, I highly recommend it. There's something very satisfying about researching things carefully, and instead of getting into arguments, presenting things that are "commonly misidentified". And there are so many errors out there, in books, in magazines, in newspapers, on the web, that there's never any shortage of "common misconceptions". My favorite one, by the way, is the pic at the top of this post, which is looking north from Grand Avenue in Glendale. It's often misidentified as Glendale Avenue, but it's not, it was called 1st Avenue at the time, and is now 58th Drive. The Sine Hardware Building is still there, you can go visit it anytime you want to.

And no, my PhDs don't get together and have meetings. I hate meetings. They don't wear uniforms and march in parades. Most of my PhDs I've never even met face-to-face but I feel like I know them as we communicate so much. I don't give out certificates - you just simply say that you're a PhD and that's it. And then the next thing you do is go exploring - either through old documents, at a library, on the internet, digging through boxes of photos, wherever. I just love doing this stuff, and I hope to be able to do it until I'm too old to risk carpal-tunnel syndrome on my computer.

Thank you for history adventuring with me. This is a team effort - if you're bored of just being a spectator, join me!

Image at the top of this post: Looking north from Grand Avenue on 1st Avenue (now 58th Drive), Glendale, Arizona. The Sine Hardware building, which is still there, it's just in from the right, the one with the balcony.

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