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January 30, 2012


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Having a daughter who has taught high school in the Maryvale area for 20 years, I've got two competing and conflicting thoughts. One: the squishy liberals among us need to understand the goshawful ugly impact of illegal immigration on these "linear slums" to which Jon refers. Two: there are some really great kids coming out of these circumstances and we need to do our best for them . . lest they slide into becoming a permanent underclass or at best an underutilized resource. Sadly, our lackluster legislature and much of their constituency only comprehends #1.

I don't want to stir up any kind of East valley-West valley rivalry but............A person who drives into the sun in the morning and drives into the sun after work, pretty soon has a fried brain. I"m just observing..........

I used to like Maryvale. I hated to watch it crumble right before my eyes in the 80's and 90's.

If downtown Phoenix,which dates back to a time prior to the building of Maryvale,cannot create a critical mass,what chance does Maryvale have?Your are now seeing the beginning of Maryvalitis in North Scottsdale,East Phoenix, and West Mesa.Be afraid,very afraid.

I worked in Maryvale Justice Court during the 1990's. Those charged with felonies were mostly Anglo and rarely undocumented immigrants or gang members. Many were dangerous in a mentally disorganized sense.

A new prosecutor who moved from Los Angeles was assigned in the justice court. He was so fearful of the out of custody defendants he would hide in the building. I'd have to find him each week to take care of business.

He came out from California during either the Rodney King or earth quake exodus of the 1990's. Like most liberally oriented persons, he didn't stay long in Arizona, returning to California to live.

"Be afraid,very afraid."

Or, move away.

Maybe we can get about 5 Million to move and declare Arizona a Wilderness?

Reminder, coffee at Urban Bean Saturday
the 4th at 10 AM.

How about a little Kung Fu Girl or a martini at The Portland at 6 PM on the 14th?

I live in a tract house built in the 1950s. The difference from Maryvale is that it's been upgraded along with most of the other houses in its Pasadena neighborhood. This happened because of its proximity to north-central Phoenix. These houses are every bit as modest as Maryvale's but they don't overwhelm the larger area. They're close to downtown and the east Camelback corridor. Cross a major street, and you're in a neighborhood often very different than the one you left. A couple hundred yards east of my house is Medlock Place, a valued and pricy historic district. North of it is Rancho Solano, an even costlier enclave with its own distinctive flavor.

There's too much Maryvale. It goes on for miles without interruption. It doesn't vary its core design or economic basis. Aside from the cul de sacs, it's relentlessly flat and rectilinear. Its intrinsic cheapness required periodic investments that, in turn, required residents with good jobs to undertake them. If one street generates enough eyesores, it "tips over", i.e., the street goes bad. This is the story of Maryvale: it tipped over because it was cheap to begin with and, over time, became cheaper because there weren't enough economic assets pushing it in the other direction.

Phoenix's dizzying post-war growth was built on Fast, Cheap, and Easy. It assumed that instant gratification was the greatest happiness, so there wasn't going to be much thought applied to aesthetics, sustainability, the public square, or various intangibles that enhance community. You made a lot of money by giving people what they want. You let others wring their hands about the thinness of this proposition because making money has become the entire rationale of the our lives. Everything else just gets in the way.

We're living on the further edge of a scandal that is devouring our cities and civic soul. In the late 1950s, we constructed houses that actually started looking like cars sporting fins and chrome appliqués. They had elaborate fake dormers and cartoonish gables. You can still see some of them in Maryvale along with Hallcraft neighborhoods (built with brick so they've endured the insults of passing time better). For all our upward mobility, we didn't imagine a future where the consequences stared back at us. We were young, optimistic, and buoyant. It was a delightful time to be alive, all the more since we can now compulsively mourn our naïveté and lost innocence. We got old and our reckless youth stares back at us in wretched ruin.

Cal - I'll take you up on that ride in front of LEX ONE on Saturday... I'll be cruising in on the light rail at 9:52-ish. (Just tried your #, so that's me on your CallerID.)

This image says . . .

"The Jetsons"

Rectilinear - "a tessellation of the Euclidean plane."

Well, I looked up the word. A lot of good that did. (;-(

I think I can use it in a sentence.

A motorcyclist was traveling at a high rate of speed down McDowell road. He lost control and in the process of flying through the air his posterior came into an unfortunate contact with a wooden fence. He had a rectilinear tear from his @%$#@ all the way up to his belly button.

I'm not sure if Walter meant to use rectilinear in his analysis of Maryvale but he wouldn't far off. A rectilinear grid is basically a grid system of irregularly shaped rectangles and squares. Think of graphing paper with different sizes of rectangles that don't line up perfectly. If you took higher math classes think of logarithmic scale graph paper; that is an example of a rectilinear grid.

I have much to say on this Maryvale topic but little time. Hoping to share my two cents soon with you all! Until then, have a great night.

Maryvale was indeed a development model that has, unintentionally, inflicted a great deal of damage on American society. It may have been invented in Levittown, but Long invented its industrial scaled implementation model. In this respect, it is in fact a canary in the coal mine for what is to come of many communities across the country. This is precisely why it is so important to turn around. While no doubt an extremely daunting task – it simply must be done if Phoenix is ever to prosper and, like it was in the post-war boom, Maryvale has the potential to serve as a model for retrofitting decaying conventional, post-war suburbia across the country.

If you bring this topic up to many well-meaning visionary developers and urbanist-types, they’ll often leap to wild-eyed ideas of bull-dozing entire sections and starting over. This would repeat the same mistake that is Maryvale – too much change, too quickly, or what Walter describes as “fast, cheap (sort of), and easy”. Maryvale’s uniformity in subdivision design, architecture, market segmentation and land use was caused by a massive financial investment in a short amount of time. While the individual housing may be cheap, it’s sheer scale represents hundreds of billions of dollars.

What Jon often refers to as “the resistance” is strong in Maryvale, very strong. This “resistance” or social capital is the fundamental requirement for positive change – a prerequisite to absolutely everything that can be done to restore the health of any community, anywhere. Maryvale is deeply misunderstood in this way. No doubt, these organizations are a different flavor from the groups of architecture critics, indie record store entrepreneurs, and intellectual bloggers (I’m obviously over-generalizing here to draw a contrast) that Jon refers to in central Phoenix. They’re made up of Phoenicians who have stood toe to toe with gangs and hardcore criminals, raids and other civil rights abuses, and endured economic collapse 200 miles south.

These bold and growing groups of grass-roots residents are doing unbelievable things. They’re repairing homes, starting small and micro-businesses, protesting unfair wages, running political campaigns, walking block watch routes, planting community gardens, mentoring children, painting murals, and engaging their neighbors at neighborhood parks and - something I haven’t seen anywhere in my travels - throwing impromptu Latino/Polynesian luaus with front-yard pig roasting (seriously).

I would argue that their successes, measured by drops in crime, political electoral success, entrepreneurial activity, and authentic placemaking, outperforms any “bottom up” revitalization effort anywhere in this city.

The key to retrofitting Maryvale for economic vitality is partnering with, supporting, and helping to grow and strengthen these organizations by working with them to identify and implement strategic investments – things such as transit, sidewalks, zocalos, community services, home restoration grants (which is much more feasible with the vast stock of masonry housing), small business loans, culturally-appropriate regulatory reforms and trees, bioswales and other green infrastructure.

While obviously a long-term project (as it should be, in order to avoid the “Maryvale mistake”), it is critically important to keep the momentum going at this moment in history and make these smart, targeted and incremental investments.

btw - thanks again Jon for your outstanding work here and providing this forum.


Also, bus transit in Maryvale isn't all that horrible. In fact, it can be a model for other regions of metro Phoenix. For instance, Route 29 (Thomas Rd) has 10 minute headway and during the rush hours, drops to 7 minutes with the "double" route. One bus ends at 75th Ave (Desert Sky) and the other ends at 91st Ave.

The Indian School and Camelback routes each have 15 minute headway. McDowell and most of the north/south routes have 30 minute headway and that needs to improve. Maryvale also has a free neighborhood circulator (the MARY-clockwise/counterclockwise) which runs non-stop throughout the day. Its general route is 51st Ave to Desert Sky, and as far south as Encanto north to Campbell.

Maryvale isn't all that big. The area we are referring to (old Maryvale) all fits within 18 square miles (McDowell to Camelback-3 miles, 35th Ave to 83rd Ave-6 miles). If we lump Alhambra into the picture it gets a little bigger but not by much. Density is high in this part of Phoenix; averaging 10,000+ ppsm.

Quick side note: I find it interesting that the original sign from the picture above promoting Maryvale advertises "33 new designs". That is about 28 more models than in a new suburban master planned community.

That just about settles it.

Young eyes flat out don't see what old eyes see. Or is it the other way around?

Either way, a bunch of old farts see something one way and the young eyes (phxSUNSfan) sees an entirely different reality.

Maybe it's because the young eyes don't have the ugly filter of history to look through.

It has to be more than just cataracts, it just has to be.

I wish it was just an eyesight thing. I'm afraid it's also a hardening of the attitude.

It's tough being an old fart, it really is.

OT; the Phoenix City Council is questioning Joe Arpaio and formally announcing "concern" over his lack of supervision, racial profiling, and sex crimes that weren't investigated. Although the City isn't "taking a vote" on Arpaio, it is great to see the biggest city in Maricopa County opposing Arpaio's tactics (FINALLY).

"Young eyes flat out don't see what old eyes see. Or is it the other way around?"

Both, certainly. I wonder though, what will the eyes of the next generation, and those that might follow, see ahead and behind. Even the Phoenix that I first saw in 1990 is now long gone. What remains is an atrocity, and I regret my part in contributing to the unrecoverable damage.

BTW, "Atro™" is my new name for Phoenix and other such 'atropolises™'.

"I wonder though, what will the eyes of the next generation, and those that might follow, see ahead and behind."

I've thought about this.

My guilty pleasure is movies, and of late I've been "time traveling" into the resource-strained future and viewing films with an eye that doesn't see a gratuitous automobile in every garage and ubiquitous subsidized air travel for all; that sees empty and crumbling highways and abandoned towers of glass and steel. And so I envision future movie-viewers gazing at the strange landscapes that most movies, certainly all of the urban dramas, exhibit - the world of cheap oil, a world that surely will be looked at with some incredulity, and with a great deal of nostalgia by the older folks.

Phx planner thanks for your constructive analysis of Maryvale. I agree with you that a strong positive and vibrant community exists within those boundaries. Regardless of it's problems I stand by my earlier statement that I prefer a colorful mixture of "Real" people as opposed to the white bred racist and boring east valley.

Supreme commander
'atropolises™'. = Rotting shrinkage?

Sometimes we talk past one another in our desire to register our opinions. I'm disappointed that nobody picked up on the kids who are coming out of Maryvale and trying to make something of themselves. To me, they're our future and we ignore them at our peril. As we crank up their college tuition and put down the Dream Act, we're making it awfully hard for these young people. Isn't our society better than this . . or have we just snoozed out and let the lackluster legislature and bruja governor call the tune? Flowing prose aside, I sense more capitulation than rebellion . . . .

Rebellion, U coming to coffee Saturday, Morecleanair.


Our society doesn't value the young, middle-aged or old unless they have means. It's a terrible waste of human capital and immoral in the extreme. But these are the fruits of "conservatism" that has taken over, including with the acquiescence of the "left."

Nowhere is this more on display than in Arizona, with a heavy addition of racism.

Thus, most young people in Maryvale face a dismal future. The schools are poorly funded. College prospects are dim with tuition going up and financial aid being cut ("your tax cuts at work"). There are cultural factors at work, from a devaluing of education to language difficulties to the reality that a young man sees his best earning years spent working for a lawn service rather than trying to go to college.

On top of this, we live with the systematic incarceration of the poor and minorities. Once convicted of a felony, even for possession of a small amount of drugs, this person's life is pretty well set. See the book, "The New Jim Crow." It's a national scandal, but very profitable for the Prison Industrial Complex and their toady politicians.

In addition, our economy lacks the rungs of the upwardly mobile ladder it once had. They're just not there. The result is a permanent underclass. And sprawl helps the well-off in their new suburbs, behind their walls and in their Arizona room, feel as if this isn't their problem. That they reached their station simply through hard work.

Thanks Jon: no doubt you are right, but if the arc truly "curves toward justice", one wonders what it will take to begin to turn the tide. Such a waste of human capital! And so many of these folks purport to be Christians as they turn a blind eye to the "least among us". This is actually painful for me to contemplate as our government (read Romney) is soon to be run by the elite and FOR the elite. The still small voice in the back of my mind keeps telling me that we can't be that stupid. But I was the guy who thought anybody who didn't like Ella Fitzgerald was beyond help!

So, let me see if I understand this correctly:

Republicans support 'drill baby drill', Big Coal, nuclear power, and other methods of pumping carcinogens into the environment . . . and then they attack those receiving grants to provide cancer screening.

Is there anyone that Republicans don't hate?

"I sense more capitulation than rebellion" -- you are unfortunately correct mca. RC's reply is spot on too. The law is a bludgeon used for oppression. There is nothing moral or just about our legal system. It is a tool to rule, but to get buy-in the old and weak and hard-working and not-so-bright are scared to death with tales of the others who would rob them blind ("never mind those capitalists behind the curtain!" says the Great Oz).

Any one up for this. Looks good!


azrebel wrote:

"Rectilinear - a tessellation of the Euclidean plane'. Well, I looked up the word. A lot of good that did."

Rectilinear simply means, composed of lines at right angles (i.e., 90 degrees) to one another. Tessellations don't enter into it.

That said, a Euclidean plane is the flat, "infinite" surface familiar to us from analytic geometry, where coordinates are expressed along two rectilinear axes, X and Y.

A tesselation is a covering using tiles, or a division into tile-like pieces, such that all tiles meet and all space is covered by the tiles. Irregular pieces made simply to plug gaps are forbidden. Bathroom or kitchen linoleum flooring might be considered an example of a tessellation, at least in the most regular cases.

A rectilinear tessellation would be a covering or division of a surface into tiles, each of whose individual sides are at right angles to the adjacent sides, i.e., all tiles are squares and/or rectangles.

I don't see how the concept of tessellation could be logically applied to an unbounded surface like a Euclidean plane. But then, I often disagree with modern mathematicians. Probably they mean that it can be proved that a finite pattern of such tiles can be extended indefinitely without gaps.

Anyway, here, the term rectilinear simply refers to tract housing whose lots are composed of rectangles and/or squares.

Supreme Commander - let me put it to you this way, is there anyone the Progressive/Democrats don't hate?


They mostly look in the mirror and hate their hypocritical selves.

guilt is the harshest of emotions.

Terese and Helen:

Well, I'm looking in the mirror right now, and I like what I see. That must mean that I'm neither a Republican, nor a Progressive/Democrat (by your definitions).

I'll keep an eye out for all the thoughtless poisoners and consumers of our childrens' futures.

Terese and Helen:

P.S. Perhaps, in the future, rather than simply name-calling, you might consider providing reasons for your aspersions that are as vivid as vehemently supporting polluting industries on one hand, while denying support for cancer screenings on the other hand.

P.S. Not sure if I made it clear: the tiles of a tesselation (shapes and relative sizes) have to be both finite and defined ahead of time. You can't just say "rectangles and squares" and create them as you go along.

supreme commander,
wasn't name calling. just quoting leading left wing leader, chris hedges. his opinion, not mine. I greatly dislike both parties, so I'm an equal opportunity critic.


Send the Maryvale kids here for one hell of an education. It'll probably be free for all.


I was born in the BEAUTIFUL area of Maryvale, Arizona in 1963. Maryvale was new back then, green, clean, and absolutely BEAUTIFUL. It was to be a planned community area with everything imaginable right there. From the Maryvale Mall at 51st Avenue, and Indian School, Maryvale Theatre's, Maryvale Parks, Maryvale Hospital, Maryvale Golf Course, and Maryvale High School. We, the original Maryvalers were SO proud of OUR community. We all took pride in ownership of our homes, and our area. We just knew WE were going to be the Scottsdale of the west side. IT WAS WONDERFUL THERE!! I have nothing but fond memories and PRIDE of being a native when I think of it. Still to this day, when I travel back to Phoenix for a visit, and I find myself approaching 51st Avenue and Thomas Road, (MY area), I silently swell up inside knowing I'm home. I know my lovely Maryvale has suffered these past few decades, I know what people say. It absolutely breaks my heart to hear people make derogatory statements. You've all heard the saying, "you look at the world through rose colored glasses", WELL that best describes how I still see my beautiful Maryvale. It's not that I'm blind to what has gone on there, and how my area has declined over the last few decades, BUT, it's that when I drive down these all to familiar streets, I see ALL, ABSOLUTELY ALL the utterly fantastic potential this area, MY area, still possesses. The homes are well built homes, block, and brick construction. How many people in Phoenix today, can afford a NEW brick home? The home site lots are much larger on average than ANY new home lot sizes. The homes aren't HUGE, but just the right size. The home aren't opulent, but THEY ARE ADOREABLE, CUTE, and yes even HANDSOME! I still remember how all the lawns used to be lush, green, and one flowed into the next with no divisions. Dad cutting the grass, and mom washing the new car in the big two car carport. I would LOVE to see a resurgence in my beloved Maryvale area! I think all of us native Maryvaler's would. It would be absolutely PHENOMENAL to see a Maryvale RENAISSANCE such as the one that took place in the Height/Ashbury district of San Francisco. I truly believe it could, and would happen if certain artistic people with a common vision of what the result could be, coupled by putting their artistic flair to work, the SKY would be the limit. San Francisco has the Castro, (which used to be the worst area in the city), Maryvale could be the brought back the same way.

We moved into our John F Long home in Maryvale in 1958. We are still here. Yes the neighborhood has been through a lot, but seems to be recovering. Our home has been maintained and is amazing. People who visit are always astounded by the well built construction, the fabulous cabinets, which were an upgrade and the size of our lot. There are still a FEW original home owners scattered throughout the neighborhood. The houses built in the mid to late 70's are a different story. But our house will last forever.

You really are a fabulous writer. I read every word. I knew Maryvale had a story behind it I know you are the one to not only tell the story but to tell the story well. I know you must have more writings...your own web page or something. Would you plz get in touch with me and let me know.

Moved to maryvale back in 1996 59th ave n thomas from 11st Taylor. I was 11 yes old. My block had 3 Mexican families living there including mine, the rest were white, just on my block. Gang activity increased slowly but surely by West Side Chicanos Gang, this gang has a lot to do with Maryvales downfall, including other gangs but I speak from experience and witnessing if any involvement I had with this gang I can say criminals these days are too smart and they can destroy your life take everything you work hard for all our life within days and you wouldn't even know what the hell happened to your money, cars, home and valuables, making you look crazy on top of it all when you search for answers. I believe the neighborhood wouldn't look so bad if decent residents could trust their neighbors and invest in their home not worried if breaking in, stealing everything little by little or just out of jealousy destroy your home over time , for example, last night they came in through the roof while you sleep deeply 2-5 am with tools and make a secret door/ way in to your house you can't tell is there because who does that, right? Tonight they go back in and replace your furniture with old look alike have u scratching your head like " did my couch get smaller, where that stain come from" or your car is now missing pieces and all scratched up and your lucky if its even your car you're driving around like you just paid insurance on... I WANNA GO BACK TO THE EAST SIDE!!!

I was born and raised and went to school in the maryvale area back in the very early 60's. I live in a different state now, but I have family that still lives in various parts of az. BUT, NOT the maryvale area. I recently went to visit my family in az and went to the house I grew up in in maryvale and I CRIED WHEN I SEEN IT AND ENOUGH SAID!!

My husband and I lived in Maryvale from the late 1970's though the late 1990's. As a phone repairman, I saw the insides, the front yards, and the back yards of almost every house in Maryvale. The section north of Indian School from 75th Ave to 83rd Ave didn't deteriorate as quickly as many of the others.

Maryvale is an example of Environmental Injustice. When Westridge Mall was opened, it was nice and offered a good variety of stores including 2 bookstores.

Desert Sky Pavilion offered quality entertainment at quality prices, with a large section section where one could enjoy grass pass seats and allowed increased accessibility to lower income families to still enjoy Billy Joel, Neil Young and Crazy Horse, and other quality acts.

When the "cancer cluster" story became public, there were 5 other clusters announced at the same time, but the news didn't hammer on the any of the others that were in wealthier neighborhoods. A lot of discriminatory reporting helped further the decline of Maryvale.

It became known as a low-income/minority-filled neighborhood, and businesses pulled out.

In the mid-late 1980's when the valley was beginning to recover from the Real Estate crisis of the 80's, that was filled with people letting their homes go into foreclosure, the City of Phoenix decided to "stimulate" the economy and move some people out of the "projects" by buying the undeveloped lots in lower-income areas and moving low quality "manufactured homes" into our neighborhood. Two lots were bought on every street as I recall, and suddenly they carried houses in two halves, set them on a tiny stem-wall that looked like a concrete curb, poured driveways/ sidewalks, and the city thought they were done. We had to take them to court to force upgrades. These manufactured homes had no front porch and no car ports, and were sub-quality to the block homes with garages and/or carports.

We found paperwork to back up our claims (deeds of restrictions, I think?) that guaranteed what types of homes could be built in our neighborhood. It expressly said there would be no manufactured homes, and all homes would have covered porches, covered patios, and carports or garages.

City of Phoenix produced paperwork declaring these low quality homes were "modular" not "manufactured" so although they had to upgrade them, the homes that started the decline of our little area got to stay. The homes were wired with substandard phone wire, and had very few phone jacks, in the days when phone needed jacks, so I was hired to add jacks to many of these homes. I was amazed at the number of tiny bedrooms they fit into these little houses. A twin bed took up most of the bedroom.

Then a few of the houses on my block became "section 8" housing, and we had drug dealers move in and several of the friendly neighbors on my block moved out one by one.

The grocery store replaced English produce signs with Spanish-only signs, until I called a manager over and made him translate for me. Then he switched back to bilingual signs.
The Westridge Mall forced Borders out (the manager at Border's Bookstore told me they were forced out due to a deal with Barnes and Noble) then Barnes and Noble left. When I confronted the manager with information that his mall had 12 athletic shoe stores, and 12 jewelry stores, and I thought we needed at least one bookstore, he said "These people don't read, and besides we would have to include Spanish books. Even though I presented him with a petition signed by many neighbors requesting a bookstore that would include books in English and Spanish, he said there would be no bookstore for our neighborhood.

The decline of Maryvale was caused by negative stigma, and social injustice of Environmental and Recognition nature.

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