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Visiting Phoenix, Arizona in 1961


As someone who has always had a particular fascination with the 1960s, I thought that it would be fun to do an imaginary visit to Phoenix in the first year of that decade, and see how the "happy days" of the 1950s transitioned into the "swinging sixties".

I'll start with a Hallcraft Home in 1961. The one at the top of this post, at 4219 W. Marlette, is a great example. And although to our eyes it might look classic, or even quaint, I see some stylish stuff there, especially the "swoop" over the door. My understanding is that these homes were very well made. And my best guess on the picket fence there in the front was just decoration, or to keep out rabbits that couldn't jump very high.


The Black Canyon Freeway (Interstate 17) was under construction in 1961. And if you've ever wondered if it was a big storm drain, it was. It had the dual purpose of being a freeway, and pumping water away during flooding. Usually it worked fine, sometimes it didn't, and it created a mess.


President John F. Kennedy visited Phoenix in 1961. Here's his motorcade going north on Central Avenue towards Adams. The two buildings there in the background are still there, the Heard Building (although they took down the radio towers) and the Professional Building (then Valley National Bank, now the Hilton Garden Inn).


The really big news in town in 1961 was Chris-Town Mall, at Bethany Home Road and 19th Avenue. It must have been absolutely amazing - especially the air conditioning!


Courtesy Chevrolet, at 1233 E. Camelback Road, is still there, as is the sign. In 1961 this couple was buying a Nova. I suppose a Corvette would have been too flashy for them!


The new Federal Building, which is at 1st Avenue and Monroe, was completed in 1961. It replaced the old Federal Building, which went back to Territorial Days.


On December 30th of 1961 Legend City had its groundbreaking. That's Ladmo in the big hat, of the children's local TV show "Wallace and Ladmo".


In 1961 the Phoenix Police had these police cars. Not sure, but I think they're Ramblers? Edit thanks to the Maryvale Man - see comment below. They're Studebakers!


And here are some students in 2nd grade at Sunnyslope Elementary in 1961. Cute kids.


The actor (who later became president) Ronald Reagan, was the spokesman for John F. Long homes. Here he is with John in 1961. The house is 5608 W. Indian School Road.

That was fun! Thank you for visiting Phoenix in 1961 with me!

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