The amazing feeling of living in a modern city, Phoenix, Arizona
A typical criticism that I've often heard of Phoenix is that it's so new. There are very few old buildings, and the city kinda looks as if it were just built, and there's no trace of the old. And it's true. It's been true of Phoenix since it began in 1870, when it must have looked ultra-modern to people's eyes even back then. And that's the way it looked to me when I got there in 1977, from Minneapolis, Minnesota. It's still amazingly modern.
The neighborhood where I grew up, in Minneapolis, was built in the 1920s. And before you get all excited and imagine that it was some kind of "historic district" - it wasn't. It was just an old neighborhood, and it still is. Our house had been modernized with certain things, like the toilets and the kitchen, but overall it was an old house. And not old like "This Old House", but old like an old car with waaaayyy too many miles on it, all patched up, and not reliable. My high school was of the same era, and it was miserable. It was cold and drafty in the winter, and of course no air conditioning when it got hot (and it gets hot and humid in Minneapolis!). And, oh yeah, don't get me started on the local dentist's office, whose equipment looked like something from an old Frankenstein movie.
Moving to Phoenix was like sitting in a new car. Everything was new, everything worked. If you've ever lived in a really old neighborhood, with really old buildings that just smelled bad, you know what I mean. If not, it's hard to explain.
The house I'm in right now was built in 1985, and in 1993 when I moved in, it really felt brand new. Of course it's not new anymore, and neither am I, so I'm learning to settle in and deal with minor malfunctions, cracks, that sort of thing (both in me and the house). But when I bought it, it practically had the "new car smell" - only one owner!
I collect photos of old Phoenix and I often hear people criticize new buildings, like the Good Samaritan Hospital tower, which was built in 1982. Architecturally, it's not to my taste, but the feeling of modernity makes me glad it's there - it's sure looks better to me than that old dentist's office that I went to as a kid in Minneapolis (shudder!).
I like living in Phoenix, and I'm glad I'm here. This is where I want to stay until I get reeeeaaaally old, in a new city, that shines.
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Posted by Brad Hall