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Bill Brown

A complicated man.

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Today I continued my lunchtime activity of rollerblading—err, inline skating—and I saw a lot of interesting stuff.

For any Phoenicians reading this, I work at 48th Street and Washington. I skated up to Van Buren and east on Van Buren until I got to the parking lot across the street from Phoenix Municipal Stadium. I discovered this rollerblading venue earlier this week and it is a true gem because it’s completely vacant, not particularly debris covered, has multiple elevations that make for speedy driving, and a pedestrian bridge to connect to the stadium that is exhilirating to skate down. The parking lot has a special meaning to me because I used to visit the site in my early childhood since it once was the location of Legend City, Phoenix’s only major amusement park that closed in 1983.

From the parking lot, I continued down Van Buren and skated alongside the Phoenix Zoo. Out of the corner of my eye, I spotted a historical marker about fifty feet from the sidewalk in the middle of the desert. Moseying over to it, I saw an original plaque indicating that this was the site of the Hunt Bass Hatchery and that it was built by the Works Progress Administration (WPA). I recalled reading a history of Papago Park as I continued along and saw some of the original hatchery lagoons behind the Zoo’s fencing. These lagoons are off-limits to the public, but you can see them if you’re on the sidewalk. As I rode along I also noticed the markings on the sidewalk that bore the imprint of “WPA 1937”! These were the original sidewalks! Amazing how well they’ve stood up in the 65 years since their construction.

Van Buren by this time had turned into Mill Avenue and I continued along to Moeur Park. Two things that I found was a weird marker next to the sidewalk that read “Arizona Highway Department 1956” with an elevation reading of 1189’ or thereabouts and a Frisbee golf course adjacent to Moeur that I had never known was there.

Hanging out at the corner of Mill Avenue and Washington, I prepared to start the return trip to my work. The ride back was uneventful, but I found an interesting island of swampy area in the desert that I’d like to check back on someday. I also got to spend some time pondering Tovrea Castle. Some things I noticed as I leisurely rode alongside it were that the caretaker’s cottage had no windows and was rather dilapidated, that the castle’s color was a vibrant cream, and that one of those huge billboards was laying vertically on Tovrea’s grounds without its lengthy pole. That last piece of information was rather odd since Tovrea is a historic landmark and it seems like a weird place to store such a billboard.

If you’re a Phoenician, you might appreciate the length of this journey and the interesting things that can be found almost anywhere in our great city. You might also appreciate how this is the one time of year when the previous narrative wouldn’t be filled with exclamations of heat exhaustion and perspiration. I’m enjoying it as much as I can while it lasts.

If you’re not a Phoenician, the moral of this story is that your city is probably just as filled with treasures and history and that you should really endeavor to seek them out. The feeling of such a geographic and temporal connection is exciting and not to be taken lightly. Enjoy your environs!