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Why Mill Avenue curves into Apache Boulevard in Tempe, Arizona

If you've ever driven in Tempe, Arizona, you know that the main road through town is Mill Avenue, and after you've gone past the campus of ASU, while Mill Avenue continues south, the main route curves to the east to become Apache Boulevard.

The reason for this is that most people who are traveling south on Mill Avenue are crossing the river with the intention of continuing on to Mesa, Apache Junction, and all points east.

Personally, I'm fascinated by any road in the Phoenix area that curves at all. The greater Phoenix area is mostly just a big flat expanse of desert, and whenever I see a road curve I wonder why? Back in Minneapolis, where I grew up, roads curved all of the time around lakes (there are a LOT of lakes in Minnesota, and several are right there in town), but in Phoenix unless a road is curving to go around a mountain, it makes me wonder.

Of course, looking at the curve from the opposite direction shows the route people wanted to take if they were coming from Mesa, Apache Junction, and all points east. Most people wanted to cross the river, and so essentially Apache Boulevard ends at the curve, and you turn north on Mill Avenue, which takes you to downtown Phoenix, which is northwest of Tempe.

The photo at the top of this post, which is from 1963, shows the curve during the construction of the Gammage Auditorium. And since this is one of the most beautiful buildings in the greater Phoenix area, designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, it just seems fitting to have a gentle curve around it, showing off the southwest corner of the campus of Arizona State University.

There really isn't a name for this, I just call it the Mill/Apache curve. Go Sun Devils!

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