Horizon, Host: Ted Simons

February 13, 2012


Host: Ted Simons

AZ Centennial: Images of Arizona


  • Horizon continues its celebration of Arizona's Centennial by showcasing fascinating historic images of Arizona from the private collection of Jeremy Rowe.
Guests:
  • Jeremy Rowe - Art Collector
Category: community   |   Keywords: art, arizona, centennial,

View Transcript
Ted Simons: Arizona celebrates its 100th birthday tomorrow, but tonight we take a look at the state's colorful past by way of some remarkable images. They're from the vast collection of Jeremy Rowe, the owner of vintagephoto.com. Many of the photographs are featured in the centennial edition of Arizona Highways, including the image that graces the magazine's cover. Here now to talk about these historic photos and images is Jeremy Rowe. Good to see you again. Thanks for joining us.

Jeremy Rowe: Thank you.

Ted Simons: Before we get to all this, here's some great stuff we got for tonight. How do you find these things?

Jeremy Rowe: I think collecting -- I've been collecting for about 30 years, since grad school. Originally I -- I started collecting from a swap, and antique stores, flea markets, yard sales. There's a collectors' organization, several, that we sort of exchange things. So if I find Colorado material I can get it to someone in Colorado who gets me Arizona material. We work the exchange.

Ted Simons: You focus on Arizona material.

Jeremy Rowe: I like historic photography in general. I've got a strong Arizona collection, but I also do early 19th century, 20th century material as well.

Ted Simons: Let's look at some of your old Arizona photos, starting around I guess around 1898, a parade. It was the Indian cowboy parade?

Jeremy Rowe: Yes. They had a number of events like that to generate business in Phoenix. This is one that was a major event for a couple years and it tapered off again. They had rodeos along with this, a variety of images shot in the studio of Native Americans, cowboys and others, and this shows downtown Phoenix during that era.

Ted Simons: We're looking west I believe on Washington, the parade going east.

Jeremy Rowe: That's correct.

Ted Simons: Wow. Look at that. That is a lot -- what happened to this parade?

Jeremy Rowe: It tapered off, it didn't generate quite enough interest and the town grew, they started having fairs, the Maricopa County Fair, Arizona State Fair, other things started picking up instead of this, and transitioning on from in.

Ted Simons: From about the same time period we have a photograph of a baseball team sponsored by a local store?

Jeremy Rowe: Local store called the Beehive Store. This one shows the early baseball players with their home brew gear, it's interesting only eight people in union forges one is a manager. Whether he was in uniform periodically our not is up in the air.

Ted Simons: Doesn't make for much of a bench.

Jeremy Rowe: And if you look at the padding on the floor the gloves are thin, there's a thin pad that is the catcher's pad. Not a lot of safety either.

Ted Simons: Towns had teams, mining camps had teams?

Jeremy Rowe: It was a social event. You'd have globe playing Miami, or Bisbee playing Phoenix, and it was one of the major social events of the time. There was no movie theaters, other sorts of public events like that. So these tended to draw a lot of interest.

Ted Simons: This next photograph is of a cactus that looks like it's out in the middle of a field, an alfalfa field. Where do you think that is? That's probably not that far away from downtown.

Jeremy Rowe: It looks like it's on the route to sunny slope, but not quite there. North Phoenix, that neck of the woods. There are a number of images where they left the cactus in place and did things around them. Roads or fields. They would protect them for a while but overwatering for the alfalfa would eventually kill it this is an iconic image of Arizona.

Ted Simons: And really a farm that is now just so urban you would never even imagine an alfalfa field there. And that's because of the canals, correct? We've revived the canals and desert land blossoms.

Jeremy Rowe: The canals fed alfalfa and hay very early on. It was one of those things Phoenix was founded around. Development followed, and things expanded from there.

Ted Simons: This next photograph is fascinating, it shows the Adams Hotel, the original Adams Hotel I take it, burning. You don't see many photographs, this is someone who was pretty enterprising, around 1910, talk to us about this.

Jeremy Rowe: These buildings were made of wood and they tended to have wood heat, kerosene lighting, a variety of things that were fairly flammable. It didn't take much to set them off. They were packed tightly together. This one had a lot of open spaces so once a fire started it went very quickly. You can see the firemen in the back trying to cool the buildings next door. Fire was a major factor in most of the early Arizona towns. Many of the towns burned regularly, there wasn't a lot left, and they would be reborn for another few years and another fire with a take them down.

Ted Simons: Thus brick and steel. That was I believe at First Avenue and Washington?

Jeremy Rowe: First and Washington on the northeast corner I believe.

Ted Simons: All right. I gotcha. We got a picture of a sketch, I believe, of the Yuma Bridge over the Colorado River. And this was something that eventually occurred, but this -- what we're looking at is just an idea.

Jeremy Rowe: I think it's wonderful the photographer took the time to sketch the name with India ink on the negative to print on the image. It was a proposed bridge, and if you look in the corner, right below the bridge you can see there's a ferry boat. And that used to go across the Colorado before there was any railway bridge or railway bridge was replacing the ferry, but this replaced the auto bridge. And this is the view of the ferry boat with the proposed bridge on top. The brick looks somewhat similar to that in that location where it was built later.

Ted Simons: I guess built in 1914, opened in 1915, but this sketch was five years earlier.

Jeremy Rowe: About five years before that. They were trying to generate funds and interest in that. One of the first parts of the cross country road system that helped tie the United States together. It was a very important gap in that system.

Ted Simons: I know back in the day when official business was done there wasn't a lot of laughing and high-fiving. But when President Taft signs the bill, signs Arizona into statehood, the photograph you have, I'm not seeing a lot of yucks, no smiles. What's going on?

Jeremy Rowe: It was a very somber event. There had been a lot of controversy about Arizona becoming a state. They had been trying to become a state for a number of years. Arizona was fairly progressive and had a provision to recall judges that was not liked by Taft and many of the others in Washington, DC. So our statehood was blocked for a period of time. Once that was changed, we were signed into statehood, and very quickly Arizona put that provision back in which is the sort of gotcha. I had a feeling they may have thought that might have been coming.

Ted Simons: He looks exactly like he knows what's coming. The next photograph is a pawn shop, an all in one sort of shop in Oatman, Arizona. Oatman is a fascinating place. Talk to us about it, especially it was a big deal, kind of revived and now what's going on there?

Jeremy Rowe: It's like any of the towns that have become ghost towns, it was a very active mining community in the teens, 1915-1920, 1925, it's just a little to the west of Kingman between Kingman and the river. And if you go up that area you can still see many of the buildings still in place. These communities tended to be driven by the mines, a strike, a huge flurry of activities and they would go to the next strike and move on. Recycling materials, reselling materials is a big business. Folks like Lou Grossman who ran these shops set up these pawn shops and had amazing amounts of material and they were sort after focal point for the town and would move on from place to place.

Ted Simons: And the town is named after Olive Oatman who is, we can't go into it now, that's a story in and of itself. If you're ever interested, look that one up. It's great stuff. The next one, anyone who's been to Papago Park would say, I bet that looks very familiar. Except for the part of Chuckawalla Slim, who is Chuckawalla Slim?

>> A gentleman, sort of another one of the entrepreneurs that came to Arizona, his original name was Ed Voss. He was in the navy during World War I. He got out and went into the merchant Marines and got seasick too much, so he came to Arizona and started trading Indian jewelry, rocks, and others. He was active for many years. He moved to California but still came to Arizona for decades, literally. A friend of mine in Prescott bought jewelry from him in the 1960s.

Ted Simons: Interesting.

Jeremy Rowe: Wonderful character and sort of an iconic image of Arizona. That's one of the images they used in the Arizona Highways book.

Ted Simons: I think I recognize -- speaking of I think I recognize the cactus this, next one, I think, this is we think Stanford Drive, if you go up 44th it's the first big light past Camelback. Correct?

Jeremy Rowe: Yeah.

Ted Simons: So looking east toward Camelback Mountain, this is a 1930 or so, so it's a dirt road, I think that cactus is still there in the middle of the road.

Jeremy Rowe: That one is probably not but there are similar ones sprinkled all over the place. This is an example of keeping the icon in place and a dirt road going along one side, and it expand the across, and disappeared. This is probably just a little farther west of 44th Street looking toward Echo Canyon.

Ted Simons: Basically 44th Street is between us and that mountain in that shot.

Jeremy Rowe: Yes.

Ted Simons: Isn't that something. Ernest Hall, this photograph is interesting because this guy wound up being a Secretary of State and Acting Governor and he is surrounded by woodpeckers? What is this?

Jeremy Rowe: Arizona had a number of people that rose to prominence and fell from that fame. He collected woodpecker holes. This is his collection of woodpecker holes. We had people like Charles Poston who is also a major figure that became a street person later in his life, had a decorative burrow and donkey he carried around town and generated funds with.

Ted Simons: Again, Secretary of State at one time, Acting Governor at one time.

Jeremy Rowe: Right.

Ted Simons: We'll move on. The coffee pot diner on Seventh and McDowell.

Jeremy Rowe: Wonderful example of vernacular architecture that is no longer here. Phoenix has been good at removing these buildings over time, but this is a classic and is used to demonstrate that style of vernacular architecture across the country in books and magazines. It was the Northwest corner of Seventh and McDowell, and you can see it's an open air building, it had French doors.

Ted Simons: That is something. Fox Theater, this was a massive public movie house, and I think you mentioned that it seated about 1800 folks, that's like how much of a percent of the population?

Jeremy Rowe: About 4% of the population of Phoenix at that time, which is phenomenal. Looking at growth back then, trying to build at that level. It was the movie palace in town. Very, very opulent, very thick carpet, very thick elaborate curtains, chandeliers and so on. I was lucky enough to be in Phoenix when it was active, and actually worked for a friend there for a period of time during the summer in high school. Just an unbelievable building.

Ted Simons: Located where?

Jeremy Rowe: On Washington just west of Central Avenue.

Ted Simons: OK. Fascinating. Air conditioned --

Jeremy Rowe: One of the first air conditioned big buildings in the Phoenix area. It was a very popular place.

Ted Simons: That was a postcard, this is Sky Harbor from about 1950s when I guess this new terminal and tower, that just looks like old Arizona. Doesn't it?

Jeremy Rowe: You can see the development all around the airport now that would just block the shot in. This is 1952, just after the first tower was built. The tower has been moved to the other side. But, yeah, at this point there were a whole 42 flights a day scheduled into this, and that was the high point of Sky Harbor Airport during that era.

Ted Simons: Real quickly we got about 30 seconds or so, it's got to be rewarding, it's almost like a treasure hunt when you find these postcards.

Jeremy Rowe: Everyone has a story, and trying to find the story, dating it, background material, photographers who did the work, photographs I consider primary resource materials, just like text and many people have not seen that, but the more you understand about them the more you can pull those stories and weave them together and hopefully share them.

Ted Simons: You've done a great job. Thank you so much for sharing your images with us. Good stuff. Happy birthday to Arizona, huh?

Jeremy Rowe: Happy birthday to Arizona.

Ted Simons: Thank you for being here. Tuesday on "Arizona Horizon" we'll celebrate Arizona's Centennial with the state's official historian and official Balladeer, and we'll show you how a dirt lot in Downtown Phoenix grew into a model of sustainability. That's Tuesday on "Arizona Horizon," 5:30 and 10:00 right here on eight H.D. That is it for now. I'm Ted Simons. Thank you so much for joining us. You have a great evening.

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