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

Why people wore long sleeves in the summer in old-time Phoenix, and why some still do


Something that has always puzzled me about people working outdoors in Phoenix is why they wear long sleeves. You actually see quite a lot of that, even when the temperatures are soaring above 100 degrees, people in long sleeves, with long pants, and brimmed hats. It goes back to the days before air conditioning and sunscreen, and once you get an historic perspective, it makes more sense.

Speaking for myself, I've never had to work outside in Phoenix in the heat. So as soon as it gets hot I start wearing tee-shirts and shorts. But I know people who wouldn't think of that, and they've usually spent a lot of time working outdoors in Phoenix in the summer. I slather on SPF 50 and spend a minimum of time out in direct sunlight.

People who work on roofs, or on roads, or telephone lines, or places like, that have no choice but to be under the blazing sun. I've known a few people like that, and they toughen themselves up to heat. Like I say, I'd be getting dizzy and sick to my stomach, but there are people who do just fine. Thank goodness for them! Not everyone who works in Phoenix can have the luxury of doing it in air conditioned comfort.

Covering your skin from getting burned is something that people have done throughout history. Yeah, it's gotta be hot and miserable, but at least the material keeps your skin from getting burned. And that's not to mention that a lot of workers may come in contact with hot metal. If you've put your arm on the roof of your car in the summer in Phoenix, you know what I mean! That can cause more than pain, it can actually burn the skin.

Long sleeves and long pants are proudly worn by working men in Phoenix, and have been for generations. I've never met a cowboy who would saddle up in a tank-top and shorts!

Thank you for wearing long sleeves in Phoenix with me!

Image at the top of this post: Looking north up 2nd Street towards Washington in the 1890s, Phoenix, Arizona. That's Colonel Poston. And whether it was cold or hot that day I have no idea. And yes, that's the building that Majerles is in nowadays, the Fry Building. And yes, they have air conditioning now.

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