Exploring the history of Phoenix, Arizona and a little bit of Los Angeles and San Francisco, California.

Attitudes towards money in old-time Phoenix



Like most people, I have a fascination with money. When I was a kid, of course, I had no idea how it worked, and I'm still learning. One of my brothers had figured that it came from grocery stores, as our mom would give the cashier a small amount of money, and get back lots more (change). As I write this, I have money in my wallet. Well, pieces of paper that other people will accept for goods and services. I haven't gotten any bitcoins yet, but I'll probably get some, just to do it. Just a bit. You have to be careful with money!

And all of this is making me wonder about the attitude towards money in old-time Phoenix. Let's time-travel to Wall Street in Phoenix, Arizona, right around the year 1900.

It's 1900, and we're young, and progressive, and we really have no memories of the "Greenbacker Movement" of the old days. But I know a lot of old-timers who wouldn't even think of accepting anything but silver and gold coins. I tried to give the landlady a paper dollar bill yesterday and see just stared at me - I had to go get a dollar coin, which is the only thing that she considers real money.

I'm a smart boy, and I plan on being so rich that I'll put my money in a bank. I like that bank on Wall Street, on Washington between 1st Avenue and Center [Central Avenue] called "The Valley Bank". I know the Christy family, and they're good people. I've also heard how rich Moses Sherman is, who lives mostly in Pasadena, so he must know what he's doing. I'm told that if you leave your money with them, they'll pay you what's called "interest" and when you take your money out, there's more of it.

I've been reading up on how money works. Seems like there's a big treasury somewhere in Kentucky where all of the gold of the United States is stored. I hope they're protecting it! And I understand that I can go there anytime I want, and get the equivalent of gold and silver in exchange for this here dollar bill. See? It says "Silver Certificate" right on it.

OK, I understand, you don't trust it. But I believe that someday everyone will, and they'll consider these little pieces of paper as real money. And who knows? Maybe someday money will just be things made up of that stuff called "electricity"!

Image at the top of this post: 1900 ad for the Valley Bank, Wall Street, Phoenix, Arizona.

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