I came into the new wing of terminal four at Sky Harbor. It's fancy and the terminal is still being improved. Still, it's difficult not to notice how American airports resemble malls, as if this is the defining and highest aspiration possible for an empire facing decadence and many breaking points. And on the outside, Sky Harbor is brutally ugly. I think of Cincinnati Union Terminal, one of America's most glorious art deco treasures, built to inspire, built for the ages. It's not only in Phoenix. We can't do these things any more.
It was a late flight, so it took a mad scramble to get the last light-rail train headed west at 11:25 (this is the sixth largest city in America?). Once on board, everything is delightful (we built it, you bastards). I am struck again by all the empty and underutilized land along much of the route. Oh, for some urbanism in fillers with capital, as is happening at a frenzied pace in Seattle. Still, it's wonderful to see the convention center, CityScape and downtown ASU campus. Then enfolded in the comforting spaces of my old haunts in Midtown. Central between McDowell and Osborn is the only really filled-in part of the core, with the ghastly exception of the northwest corner of Central and McDowell. Up to Thomas, it is surrounded by the real, walkable neighborhoods of the historic districts.
Here, it's impossible for me not to grow romantic, listening to the train whistles that I heard from my earliest childhood, feeling the cool wind sweep down from the High Country. And Phoenix is never sweeter than on a rainy night. More to come.