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

The subdivisions of suburban Phoenix, Arizona


To understand the history of Phoenix, or any modern city, you have to understand subdivisions, and suburbs. I took the pic at the top of this post yesterday, at the Alice Park subdivision in Glendale, which is on Seldon and 61st Avenue (south of Olive). And as a history adventurer, I have mixed feelings about subdivisions, and suburbia.

As you know, Phoenix as originally platted went from Van Buren to Harrison, and from 7th Avenue to 7th Street. Everything beyond there was considered an "addition", or what we would call nowadays a "subdivision". So houses that we don't consider "suburbia", such as just north of downtown Phoenix, were actually exactly that, many years ago. And I'm sure that people had mixed feelings about seeing Phoenix grow. Not to mention the growth of other towns nearby, like Glendale, or Peoria, or Scottsdale!

1890 ad. Note the word "suburban".

As the houses were built, the open spaces went away. The farms went away, the desert went away. There was more traffic, more crowding. And I'm sure that people who remembered the empty desert north of the city, and the farms, were unhappy to see them go. Like so many things in Phoenix, it repeats over and over and over, and the next generation forgets.

I was out enjoying the beautiful weather yesterday and I walked through the Alice Park subdivision, which is just a few blocks south of Glendale Community College. You know, where the farm used to be! Well, maybe you don't remember the farm, it's been gone for many years now, and it's just been an open chunk of land. And don't imagine some scenic farm, it really was just a tangle of mesquite, and a few cows walking around. So visually, this subdivision is quite an improvement.

And at the risk of making this sound like a commercial, the subdivision is beautiful. The houses look great, there's a nice park for the kids to play, and a nice wide greenbelt through the middle of all of it to walk. It's certainly an improvement over what had been there, which was a bunch of dead trees and a couple of condemned buildings.

And that's what the city of Phoenix does, it grows. There may be some sadness for what is lost, but when you look at what has been created, it's astonishing.

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