Whether through absent-mindedness or a Kookish desire to obliterate the memory of FDR, the state came very close to tearing down the 1938 administration building at the Arizona State Fairgrounds built by the WPA. The loose-knit community of preservationists — the preservation police, as one called it — went into action and the building was saved.
It's exhausting work done by average people. Phoenix lacks a wealthy steward such as Paul Allen, who saved and restored Seattle's magnificent Union Station and Cinerama. Phoenix lacks a widespread preservation ethic, too. There have been successes, such as saving the Frank Lloyd Wright house. And crushing failures, such as Robert Sarver's demolition of two territorial-era hotels to make...a surface parking lot.
Precisely because of these things, because Phoenix does have a fascinating history worth protecting even if it lacked the abundant good bones of older big cities — this makes the battle so important. Cities with enchanting old buildings and streetscapes also attract the creative class and urban-oriented tech workers and startups.
Our losses are profound. Here are a few of the ones most worth mourning:
1. The Japanese flower gardens along Baseline Road.