Summer Reading 2013: Downtown Phoenix

My summer reading: the history of downtown Phoenix plus the wider contexts of urbanism post-World War II.


Summer Reading 2013: The History of Downtown Phoenix and the Context of Urbanism post-WW2

The books (so far, there’ll be more):

  • The Emerging Metropolis: Phoenix 1945-1973, William Collins (2005)
  • Urban Theory and the Urban Experience: Encountering the City, Simon Parker (2004)
  • Urban Policy Reconsidered: Dialogues on the Problems and Prospects of American Cities, Charles Euchner and Stephen McGovern (2003)
  • Metropolitan Phoenix: Place Making and Community Building in the Desert, Patricia Gober (2006)
  • Growth in Arizona: The Machine in the Garden, Morrison Institute at Arizona State University (1998)
  • Desert Visions and the Making of Phoenix: 1860-2009, Philip VanderMeer (2010)
  • Urban Theory: A Critical Assessment, John Rennie Short (2006)
  • Images of America: Downtown Phoenix, J Seth Anderson, Suad Mahmuljin, and Jim McPherson (2011)
  • Megapolitan: Arizona’s Sun Corridor, Morrison Institute (2008)

More will be added, I’m sure…

PHX Sky Train Art Tours

The PHX Sky Train opens tomorrow and the art is the attraction! Learn about a tour that takes place tomorrow that showcases the new public art.

Sky Train Public Art Tours

The Sky Harbor Airport’s PHX SkyTrain opens tomorrow, after some hiccups and delays. It will make traveling between light rail, the east economy parking garages, and Terminal 4 easier. (The remaining terminals as well as the rental car center will be linked in 2015 and 2020, respectively.)

Come see the spectacular public art at each of the new SkyTrain stations! A tour begins at 12:15pm from the 44th St SkyTrain station. (Unlike the image above, the tours are tomorrow and not in 100 years!)

Pictures will follow.

Units will set me free.

How to be 95% sure your physics/chemistry/science homework is correct? Check your units.

My friend Jamie Gladhart posted this to Facebook and it’s definitely worth a share here:


You’ll have to click on the image to see it in full resolution. If you get the joke, then you are a good person. If not, then I hate to say that you’re missing out on a very good science joke.

I post this because I’ve been asked by several friends (and even colleagues!) about doing the math of science problems. Here’s what I say to them, and repeat after me: Units and Dimensional Analysis will set me free.

If you want to be about 90-95% sure that the math you have done is right, check your units. If your units in your problem make sense, then you’ve most likely done the math right. If they don’t, then check your work and your logic.

Units will set you free.

Veterans’ Day 2012

Veterans Day 2012

While tomorrow may be a day off from work, it’s a day filled with observation, commemoration, and gratitude for friends, family, and all who have served, are serving, or are yet to serve in our country’s armed forces. We are eternally grateful for your service and sacrifice every day, even if it’s just more acute on this day.

Her Secret is Patience

A picture of Her Secret is Patience, the public art piece in downtown Phoenix.

I think it goes without saying that my all-time favorite piece of public art hangs right here in downtown Phoenix. It’s Her Secret is Patience, created by the artist Janet Echelman, for the Downtown Phoenix Civic Space Park.

Photo of the Day, 19 Oct 2012

It, like most things in downtown Phoenix, photographs better at night than during the day.

What’s OUR Apollo moment today?

What is our Apollo moment today? What can we accomplish before THIS decade is out?

Forty-three years ago, humanity set its first feet on a foreign celestial body. Or, in other words, 43 years ago, we landed on the Moon.

New York Times, 21 July 1969

Forty-three years ago today, Neil A. Armstrong and Edwin E. “Buzz” Aldrin, Jr., set humanity’s first foot on the moon. It came from an audacious dream in 1961 from the then-President, John F. Kennedy, and it was achieved “before this decade is out.”

What is our Apollo moment today? What one goal can we as Americans — nay, as humanity unified — achieve before this decade is out? Do we choose to eradicate poverty and hunger? Or pledge to ourselves that war will be no more? Do we challenge ourselves to stop our influence on global warming?

If we don’t dream audaciously, then humanity’s future is bleak. Here’s to exploring further, digging deeper, and dreaming like we’ve never dreamed before.

Rendering the word “sustainable” useless

The webcomic xkcd has this interesting diagram showing that the word “sustainable” is unsustainable.

That is not a sustainable strategy because sustainable sustainable sustainable sustainable.

For what it’s worth: the webcomic xkcd has created a diagram rendering the term “sustainable” as unsustainable. It’s an interesting chart but one that I’m sure merits little attention.

Unfortunately, there’s a bill in the Arizona state legislature (SB 1507) that would make sustainability illegal in the state of Arizona, including its cities. My friend Stacey Champion has been leading the fight to stop this very bad bill from making its way through the Capitol. At her blog (; guidance: language), you can find information on this bill, including a petition signed by many of us to stop it.

We’ll see what happens…

Failure to Launch: Downtown Phoenix edition

Downtown Phoenix still isn’t ready to take off. Parking lots for cars — the enemy of density — is still a priority. Grr.

In the midst of re-doing my blog, I’ve gone through and looked at some old posts of mine. (Unfortunately, I’ve lost almost everything I’ve written before 2011, which happens to be a lot of content. But that’s okay, I guess.) Anyway, one of those posts was my year-end retrospective post I wrote before the New Year 2011, in which I said:

We’ve learned that downtown Phoenix just isn’t ready to take off…yet. We’ve seen steps forward and backward with CityScape. Even with light rail access, parking spaces are still important to downtown Phoenix planners, as evident with the demolition of the Sahara/Ramada Inn for a parking lot (even with better alternatives) and an extension of a parking lot’s life in the heart of the urban core. [from here, written 27 December 2010]

Keep in mind that this building at 2200 N Central Avenue is less than a block away from the Encanto / Heard Museum METRO light rail station. But no, we have to consider car parking. If we have to consider that “abundant parking” is a key feature for anything in central Phoenix, then what we have here is a failure to launch.