Saturday, December 14, 2013


I miss this.  I tend to pick topics that are hard and ultimately probably unrewarding, but are nevertheless things that I MUST KNOW.

Current topic: What (if anything) stood on the land that now hosts my office building?  We are in a residential area that has a really curious mix of housing, age-wise.  We are just a couple of miles outside of the original Phoenix city limits, so it's reasonably likely that there was something there in the 19th century or around the turn of the century.  It could have been orchards, farmland, perhaps a mix of the three with a dwelling, etc.  We are close the the state hospital (formerly: The Insane Asylum of Arizona), too, which was located on a sprawling acreage that included orchards, grain crops and vineyards, but I have no real concept of how large 160 acres is, so I can't tell if we are close enough to have been part of that, or if the hospital ever even got rid of any of that land.  I haven't found a map of the hospital from that time.  Sidebar, the hospital also has its own cemetery with graves dating back to 1888.  Want to see!  It seems pretty securified there, though, and like many places, probably won't let me in.

Obviously, the reason I want to know is because of THE GHOST.  I mean, the alleged ghost.  I haven't seen shit and that is fine.  But continued conversations with someone who claims to have seen it indicate that it wears a giant, oddly-shaped hat the likes of which your great-great grandmother was probably into.

There are precious few early Phoenix maps that are of any use for this.  The Assessor's office doesn't seem to have any historic property info.  Do parcel numbers change, ever?  How can we keep track if they change them?  I can't seem to find anything about the previous zoning or address situation of any given parcel.  The current residential developments around us cannot be original - they're inexpensive 40s and 50s builds, some of which appear to have been built to house airport personnel.  And one street over, we have much earlier homes.

Because we are so close to the original city center, and not far off the path people used to get to Tempe, and because we are right smack in between the downtown area and the hospital (which was pretty impressive at the time and therefore a bit of a landmark), it seems likely to me that there could have been a few scattered homes in the vicinity of our office building.  Perhaps more than a few.  I'll find out eventually.

1890s hospital administration enjoying their "lake" hole

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