This blog is about the story of my family here in America. We arrived in the 1630s as Puritans, and became the common folk of the New World.

Things that don't change in Phoenix, Arizona - mountains, canals, and fire hydrants

My fascination with history, and architecture, has created a fascination (some would say an obsession) with the visual history of Phoenix, Arizona. I collect old photos and work very hard to determine exactly where, and when, they are. And since Phoenix has changed so much since its founding in 1870, and even since I came here as a teenager, sometimes it can be quite a challenge identifying where a particular location is nowadays.

But there are some things in Phoenix that don't change. When I get a photo that shows the mountains surrounding the valley, I can usually match it up. For some reason I call the profile of mountains *teeth marks*. And the the view of mountains changes based on its angle. So, if a photo, for example, shows the distinctive *U* shape that I've been used to seeing when I head west on Peoria Avenue and look at the White Tanks, I know where the photo was taken from. Yeah, the mountains don't change.

Looking east towards Camelback Mountain at the Arizona Canal,
32nd Street and Stanford.
Most of the canals in the Salt River Valley go back to before 1900. Even the newest one, the Crosscut Canal, was built in 1913. So if I see a photo that shows a canal, I can usually figure out where I am. Although some very old canals have been covered up, you can usually still see them on a map by looking for the roads that were originally built along the side of them. That's why Randolph Road is at that angle, by the way. It originally ran next to the Maricopa Canal. So, if you see an old photo of Phoenix, and even if there aren't many streets, you can figure out its location if you can see a canal and a mountain that you recognize.

And what I find particularly funny, although it makes sense, is that the fire hydrants are in the same place. The buildings may all change, but fire hydrants stay put. After all, underground water lines aren't easy to move, and there really is no reason to move them. The actual fire hydrant there in the 1901 photo at 1st Avenue and Washington is, of course, different from the one that is there now, but it's in the same place.

Phoenix changes all of the time. But if you just squint your eyes and see nothing but mountains and canals, it really hasn't changed all that much. Not even the fire hydrants.
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