The rise of Arizona and 59th Ave historic district run within the same train station but on different tracks. The rise and stumbles of both state and street can be better looked at through a timeline rather than a picture. The homes built within the…

Before the rise of the motor court and luxury resort, Phoenix tourism was defined by a different sort of refuge. Out in desert, the enterprising tourist could find himself staying at the guest ranch, a resort that catered to would-be adventures…

In 1937, the piece of land that would one day house Taliesin West was classified by the Arizona government as a wasteland, not fit for any kind of public development. However, where others saw only devastation, legendary architect Frank Lloyd Wright…

Just nine years after the 1904 establishment of the town of Chandler, the mighty San Marcos hotel was constructed. This luxury hotel was an instant success, attracting a flock of wealthy guests every winter. Just across the street from the San…

In 1893, city planning took on a whole new dimension. At the World Columbian Exposition, architect Daniel Burnham advocated for extensive planning out of the new cities being built throughout the United States. In what he called the “City…

It all started when a couple was looking for something to drink. When he and his wife Alice established what is now known today as the Buckhorn Baths Motel in 1936, Ted Sliger was planning on using the building as a store, a gas station, and a home…

The origin of the city of Mesa relates directly to the expansion of Mormon settlement out of Utah and into the surrounding territories. In 1887, the first group of Mormon settlers arrived in the Salt River Valley, dispatched by Brigham Young. Over…

In 1887, Mormon leader Brigham Young sent out the Lehi Company to settle the Salt River Valley. A year later, another group of Mormon settlers arrived under the banner of the Mesa Company and camped approximately five miles away from the Lehi…

As the automobile solidified itself as a definitive part of the American tourist lifestyle, the Phoenix area stood out to tourists as an ideal winter destination. The era of auto tourism and strip commercialism that took hold by the early 1920's and…

One of the most legendary hotels in Phoenix, the Westward Ho Hotel has been one of the city’s defining landmarks for nearly a century. As with many other hotels in the Phoenix area, the Westward Ho was constructed in response to the tourism boom of…

It was the 1930’s and times were changing. Though African Americans were no longer suffering under slavery, they were by no means on equal ground with their fellow Americans. Was there any hope of escape? As writer George Schuyler said in 1930,…

The development of the McDowell Sonoran Preserve tapped drew from many currents within the region's history and American culture more broadly. Among these was a connection to the broader emergence of the environmental movement in the United States. …

In the late 1940s and early 50s, Tempe stood on the precipice of rapid expansion. A small farming community prior to the war, Tempe grew rapidly as GIs who had trained in Arizona returned to the Southwest to live. Developers seized on the influx of…

Plummeting property prices beginning in the early 1970s enabled developers to purchase numerous lots along Apache Boulevard and build low priced apartment complexes. This initial wave of apartment construction largely catered to local residents.…

Serving as both a major tourist route and the highway between Tempe and Mesa, Apache Boulevard catered to both travelers and hungry locals. Restaurants, taverns, and food vendors flourished following World War II. Road side fruit stands, such as the…

Fast food restaurants emerged as a vital part of American auto culture, first as drive-in restaurants and later with drive-thru lanes. The term itself appeared in the dictionary for the first time in 1951, about the time that Apache Boulevard’s…

The term motel, coined in 1926, derived from joining the words “motor” and “hotel.” The motels along Apache Boulevard tell us about the growth of the street and the city in the period following World War II. The motels served vacationers…

Prior to the 1930s, the Arizona State Teacher’s College football team played at Irish Field, which had bleachers capable of holding no more than one hundred spectators. Tempe businessman Garfield Goodwin arranged for the purchase of ten acres along…

Apache Boulevard emerged as a vital link between the developing towns of Tempe and Mesa, known locally as the Tempe-Mesa Highway. Eventually, the road became a part of the highway system that linked the Eastern and Western United States. Highways 60,…

Auto culture along Apache Boulevard and Arizona itself was inevitable. Apache was the main route for vacationers who were travelling by car to California. It was inevitable that cars would break down, and oil would need to be changed and flat tires…

With its rapid post-war growth, Apache Boulevard became a hotbed of mid-century modern architectural development. This emerging style found expression in signature projects, such as Gammage Auditorium or the Valley National Bank, and more mundane…

Travel trailers first appeared in the United States in the 1920s as American “tin can tourists” ventured onto the developing highway network to see the nation. Written works such as Trailer Ahoy! by Charles Nash and Touring with Tent and Trailer…

Baker’s Acre Baker’s acre began life in 1947 a John Kielbowski’s Tropical Gardens Motel on the west side of the property where there were brick units surrounding a central grass strip or court. In 1952, Harry Baker developed a nearly identical…

Glittering neon signs lit Apache Boulevard for Westbound travelers along the Tempe Mesa Highway, pointing the way to hotels, restaurants, trailer parts, and various shops. Signs for Harman’s Restaurant, the Tempe Bowl, Catalina Hotel, Pioneer…

Tempe Tavern began its life as a dairy barn. It is a small, square single-story building constructed of concrete and river cobbles, presumably drawn from the Salt River. E. M. White migrated to Arizona from California in 1908, eventually settling in…

Valley National Bank served the Valley from its founding in 1900 through 1992; its iconic logo played a significant role in the region's development and its branches often had iconic architectural design. The Tempe branch was located at the corner of…

The Wigwam design was created by Frank A. Redford, eventually his style became so popular that it became a nationwide phenomenon. His designs depicted Native American architecture through the perspective of the American architecture in the mid 20th…

Opened in 1952 by Dave and Belle Harman along the Tempe-Mesa Highway, the Red Barn served customers for only about twenty years. Among the many items on Harman's menu was "Kentucky Fried Chicken." The family had licensed the recipe from Harland…