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.

Successes, and failures, in the history of Phoenix, Arizona

If you're interested in the history of Phoenix, Arizona, you may have heard of some great successes, made by visionary men like Jack Swilling, or John Y.T. Smith, or Dwight Heard. And yes, these guys did great. Phoenix is an amazing success story. I mean, just look at it, a shining city way out in the middle of the desert. The people who imagined this, and invested in it, must have been geniuses!

But if you're absolutely obsessed with the history of Phoenix, like I am, you know that all you are seeing is the successes, not the failures. And the same people who seem like geniuses when thing go right seem like idiots when things go wrong. And yes, a lot of things went wrong.

Now waitaminute here, I'm not trying to put down anyone. It's just that if you take a look at the big picture, it's just a lot of *unrealistically optimistic* people, imagining a better future.

Yes, the quarter section that became the Phoenix townsite was purchased for fifty dollars in 1870, and within a few years was worth thousands, and then millions, but if you look elsewhere, you see a lot of the same type of investments that didn't do quite as well.

I post photos of old Phoenix on a Google+ page and often people mention that they wish that they had invested in land back in the day. You could have gotten land cheap in the Paradise Valley area before the 1930s, and look at the value of the land today!

If the 1920s is too long ago for you, how about investing in land in the 1980s? I had an elderly neighbor who did just that. I met him in the '90s and he wasn't too happy about the investment, which he just kept paying on, month after month. He had bought land in the Sun Valley, which was just empty desert back then. The road through it, by the way, is called the Sun Valley Parkway, which was privately funded in the 1980s. And if you wished that you could have invested back then, go take a look at it now. Still pretty much the same. The Sun Valley Parkway goes from Buckeye north along the west side of the White Tank Mountains and curves around to become Bell Road. There's a sprinkling of activity along the southern and northern edges of it, but otherwise it's still empty. For miles and miles. If you had invested in land there thirty years ago, you would own land that, well, didn't become very valuable.

And then there's the Agua Fria Project, or the Beet Sugar Factory in Glendale. And Marinette, which became a ghost town. The list goes on and on, and is just about enough to discourage anyone who may want to invest. But there were a lot of *unrealistically optimistic* people back then, and there still are. And there are no guarantees of success.

Pictured above: the Arizona Canal in 1896, running through some of the most prime real estate in Phoenix nowadays. Now THAT was a success! Would you have invested?
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