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

The first step in historic preservation - going beyond your lifetime


If you're interested in preserving the history of your community, the first step is to go beyond your own childhood. For many people, this is pretty much impossible, and it creates the attitude of "whatever happened before my time doesn't matter". And as a historic preservationist, that makes me very sad, and I see things lost, destroyed, and thrown away, because of it.

If you don't understand what I'm saying here, I suggest that you to step away from your world view a bit, and picture the world of someone younger than you. And if you can see their point of view, you'll realize that only preserving things from your childhood passes along the same attitude to younger generations.

Now waitaminute here, I'm not talking about nostalgia. I love a sentimental journey as much as anyone. And I don't wanna turn this post into a rant, but every time someone draws a line in Phoenix history, and says "What happen 'back in the day' doesn't matter", I get sad.

If you want to preserve historic Phoenix, I suggest that you stop thinking that its history began when you born, or when you got there. Phoenix has so much more history that should be preserved before the 2000s, 1990s, 1980s, 1970s, 1960s, 1950s, 1940s, 1930s, and 1920s. In fact, the city goes back to 1870, and if you include the Hohokam people, much longer than that. If all we're preserving is "memories", that's not much, even in a city as young as Phoenix.

In this blog I explore the Phoenix that was here looooong before I got here. I time-travel back to the Victorian days, the days before air conditioning, the days before automobiles. And I don't expect everything to stay the same, nor would I want it to (I like air conditioning!). But I don't draw a line in time, and throw away everything that came "before my time". If you understand what I'm talking about here, you're with me, and in fact, probably way ahead of me. I'm learning!

Thank you for helping to preserve historic Phoenix!

Image at the top of this post: A typical canal near Phoenix, in the Salt River Valley, in the newest state, Arizona, in 1912.

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