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March 18, 2013


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Every city should have a superb historian like Phoenix has with Talton. The city's roots so well described give enhanced understanding of present day Phoenix.

The Central corridor all the way up to Sunnyslope is thriving. The Protestant churches make the drive up Central pretty pleasant. Brophy will break ground on their insanely nice swimming facility and sand volleyball courts soon also to be on Central. UW doesn't even have swimming program anymore.

Personally I'm spending my little extra cash between Hula's, Postino, St Francis and Federal Pizza. The Yard on 7th Street I bet will be a big hit. A new Spinatos will be nearby. My point is simply that this area's lifestyle is pretty dang good. The urban bike paths are a huge amenity for me as well.

Imagine trying to live this well in Seattle or Orange County. I'd have to make 300k a year. I am simply not that talented. lol Say in Seattle, to live in a small 3x2 in a pretty safe neighborhood 8 mins by car to get your kid to O'Dea HS? Not sure it's even possible to do that. In Phoenix it is possible to have really good nearby restaurants, the NBA, MLB and hiking all in an extended downtown. Not ideal, but pretty dang close to it.

My youngest is in love with her Madison school too. Her new BFF is a super artist whose parents are exposing both kids to the local arts scene. Seriously I'm happy to be here and enjoy seeing Central PHX continue to have a high quality of life.

BTW. Did you folks see the Google Plus page for historic PHX pictures? It's pretty great.

Thanks, LeftCoastDood - I see it's different from (and complementary to) the FB site Vintage Phoenix.

Really nice: I second jmav's comment. Personally, I found Part II much more inspired and informative than the introduction, filled with Phoenix-specific details that flesh out the dynamics of the (d)evolution. I also liked the way general city trends were explained while noting where and why Phoenix deviated from these, and why some of its peers had greater success maintaining or reviving the city center.

For whatever reason, the link to the FB site got mangled. Here's the raw link:


Jon, your essays on the history of Phoenix are on par with Marshall Trimble's narratives on Arizona.

Side note: some new replies added to Part I in the comments section.


Side note: some new replies added to the "While America Slept" thread.


LeftCoast, I think you missed the big point of this column. A lot of people who enjoy living in the Phoenix area say they like it because it's relatively affordable compared to other big cities in the U.S. and/or the weather is good. You cited cost as a major reason you like living in Phoenix. Fine, that's nice. What Jon focuses on here is what Phoenix abandoned/lost in its quest to become a big city, and what that big city looks like now. Was it really worth it? To natives like Jon (and myself) and longtime residents who appreciate what Phoenix was when it was smaller, no, it is not worth it.
LeftCoast, did you ever get a chance to drive out of the city and past the citrus groves before they were was bulldozed? Did you ever visualize the Japanese Flower Gardens on Baseline? Do you remember when there was no SR 51, Chauncey Ranch still stood in North Scottsdale and Scottsdale Road was a two-lane blacktop from Frank Lloyd Wright all the way to Carefree Highway? Do you remember what the desert looked like before it was profaned by developers? I do. I miss those days.

ChrisInDenver, that SR 51 cuts right through the Phoenix Mountain Preserves.

There was a time that a night hike took you to a place where, if you stood very still, you could enjoy peaceful quiet while viewing the indigo glow along the mountain ridges on the horizon. It was like a planetscape from 2/3 of the way out of the solar system. This was about the only place in the city where actual SILENCE could be had, away from nearby traffic noise.

It was like a line from Poe's poem, Dreamland:

"For the heart whose woes are legion
'Tis a peaceful, soothing region-
For the spirit that walks in shadow
'Tis- oh, 'tis an Eldorado!"

Since the freeway was built, that is no longer true. It matters not whether you hike at 2:00 pm or 2:00 am, the drone of traffic is never absent for one standing still in the desert. The lovely indigo glow is no more, either, whether because of an increase in particulate pollution or changes in city lighting, I don't know. Instead, the horizon sky is cursed by a sleet-colored haze that whites everything out and obscures the very stars.

Well I haven't had time to read this, but this looked to be topical:


Thanks, e-dog, that's a great essay by deBuy. I was particularly struck by this bit of drollery (excerpted):

Drought and heat waves are different... You have lots of time to meditate on the deficiencies of your neighbors...

I know that dark humour is not lost upon the Roguenistas...

I miss all that too ChrisinDenver, but I'm glad LeftCoastDood can see its not all bad and that there is good left. Although Emil had a great point about the 51 (dare I say the Squaw Peak Parkway) and its destruction of a desert oasis in the middle of a megapolis. I miss that silence in the middle of the city too.

I want to weigh in with a reminder that my columns are not about "all bad" or "all good," "always," "never," or other such absolutes.

The restaurant scene on the Central Corridor is much better than a few years ago. The same is true of downtown.

That said, Phoenix can only support so many restaurants with its generally low-wage economy. Also, the Central Corridor — which is only tangential to this history post — still has miles of blight and emptiness. It is far below its potential.

Thanks for all the comments.

I still love Phoenix,but only in the winter,and then only when the air is still relatively clear.I should probably feel guilty,but I have the luxury of going to my cabin near Flag when it gets over 100 degrees.My large extended family has not recognized the looming problems they will experience from climate change,but I will be waiting for them at 6000 ft. altitude when they do.The Vintage Phoenix photos are really neat and reminds me of the many days in the past when I was unaware of the fateful choices our city was making.I guess I was just like my childrnen and grandchildren-too busy with life to think about the future.

Great stuff Jon.
And is there a part III ?

Cal, part III should be ready next week. It's the last part.

Looking forward to it.

This reminds me so much of Oklahoma City. Urban Renewal GUTTED Downtown in the 60's and 70's. I just finished a book by Steve Lackmeyer, a journalist for The Daily Oklahoman, titled "OKC Second Time Around". The beginning of it reads just like this. A mass exodus from downtown.

But downtown OKC has made quite a comeback. See the City Desk link on my site.

Thanks for the kind words, Chris. Marsh Trimble was my Arizona history teacher in high school.

We interrupt this stroll down memory lane to bring you a bulletin from "the now".

Thanks to John Kavanaugh, we now have the "Arizona Bathroom Bill".

Gotta pee? Let's see your papers.

The national press is going to kill us.

I just e-mailed the idiot. Hope I didn't catch him with his pants down.

Just when you think it can't get worse.

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