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

The bittersweet sadness of watching a city grow - Phoenix, Arizona

I've always been fascinated with growth. I like seeing plants grow, I like seeing people grow. To me, growth has always been a good sign, a sign of health. But I understand why some people are saddened by the growth of a city that they love. It's a bittersweet sadness, and it's of the heart, not the head.

People who comment on the photos of old Phoenix that I post on the web often say that "it's a shame, really" or they do the crying face emoticon. And I understand. It's like looking at a child and wishing that they were still a toddler, even though it's been decades. Of course, we know that that would be weird, but it's still a bittersweet thought. I sometimes think of the little girl in my neighborhood who wasn't allowed to cross the street on her bike, and would just go back in forth on the sidewalk in front of my house. She's all grown up now and married, which is how it should be, but it still kinda makes me sad. I guess it would be sadder if she were still riding her bicycle back and forth on the sidewalk in front of my house!

So if the old photos make you sad, I won't argue with you. It is sad. No, Phoenix would look weird today without freeways and cellphone towers and a place to get drive-through coffee every few blocks, but it is kind of a shame.

I like living with air conditioning, and the internet, and all kinds of wonderful modern conveniences. But I like to visit old-time Phoenix. And when I do, it isn't a wish that Phoenix hadn't grown, it's just a wish that I had seen it, and a desire to see more.

Image at the top of this post: Looking west on Camelback Road towards 16th Street in the 1940s, and in the early 1970s, Phoenix, Arizona.

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