Recently I came across an article in a 1960 issue of the Saturday Evening Post that featured Scottsdale, Arizona. Titled “The Town Millionaires Built,” it had a “lifestyles of the rich and famous” emphasis. Though my experience growing up in Scottsdale was far more modest, I enjoyed the article and the photos.
I recently was in Long Beach for a conference. Downtown Long Beach has lots of cool art deco buildings, and some good examples of newer buildings that draw inspiration from the older deco ones. Here are some photos I took during one of the breaks in the conference.
Once upon a time when people came back from vacations, they’d invite friends and neighbors over to view a slide show of their travels. This could be interesting, but also very tedious – particularly if there was a large quantity of slides.
On the other hand, it could be fun to see some slides. The hard part is deciding how many slides is too many, and how quickly and much detail to provide for the narratives.
The web has provided a tool to deal with this. With a web-based slideshow, friends and neighbors can go through slides at their own pace, and skip through them if the quantity of slides exceeds their interest level. The social element of the slide-viewing party is missing, but the slides themselves are easily sharable.
So I’ve been on a trip to Reykjavik and took some pictures. Here are the slides… click in the “i” in the circle to toggle the captions on and off.
For a time I had two parallel careers: city planning consulting and real estate agent. Though I’d studied city planning, I’d also long had a real estate license so I could help out in my partner’s business on the weekends. In 2005 with the strong local property market I went full time into real estate sales while my planning consulting was fledgling.
During that time I got a listing for a loft that was in the popular South of Market (SOMA) neighborhood. Life in SOMA varies block-to-block, with snazzy new lofts and highrises on one block, and skid row and rescue missions on the next. It is the diversity that makes the neighborhood interesting and provides a place for pretty much everyone, but can provide a challenge for marketing a property depending on which of those blocks it is located. My loft listing was on one of the more troubled blocks, one with more than its share of boarded-up buildings and illicit activity occurring in broad daylight. Yet within two or three blocks were the bars, restaurants and markets that prospective loft-dwellers would be attracted to.
In an effort to encourage prospective buyers to “look there, not here” I took a series of neighborhood photos to accompany the internet property listing. The photos included the various popular hang-outs in SOMA at the time.
A decade later, SOMA is a bit more snazzy and quite a bit less diverse than it was then. And at the time these photos were taken, the neighborhood had already been notable for how much it had changed from previous decades. So in a sense, these photos offer a time capsule of a point in time of an ever-changing neighborhood.
Went to the post office today to mail a birthday card to my sister, and realized this may be the last time I visit this venerable building in its current use. It’s scheduled to close January 17th and move retail operations to a smaller space down the street. Somewhat ironically, the self-serve machine was out of order, so one had to wait in line and engage with a real person at the counter. Perhaps it was the old building’s way of exerting its influence one last time before the doors are shut.
When we were working on the Scottsdale Downtown Plan and renting an apartment in Downtown Scottsdale, we’d often drive down Thomas Road on our treks into Phoenix. On our way we’d pass by an unusual mobile home park featuring mobile homes flanked by permanently-built structures. After driving by countless times, we pulled over one day and took these photos. It’s called Oasis Park and features a fantastic array of mid-century architecture, both factory-built and site-built.
“Unique” is the word Oasis Park uses to describe itself on its website:
The word “unique” is one of the few in the English language that cannot be modified. There is no “very unique” or “a little unique” or “somewhat unique”. It stands alone. Above all else.
So, too, does Oasis Park. From the one-of-a-kind architecture of its homes to the perfect Scottsdale location to its welcoming residents, Oasis Park stands alone as that “unique” place to call home in the Valley of the Sun.
Reading up on the park on the website and other web articles, we learn that Oasis Park was created in the mid-1950s on nearly 15 acres in the midst of cotton fields. A drive-in theater sat across the road, long since replaced with office buildings. The first residents moved arrived in 1957 to find shuffleboard courts, a putting green, a 54-foot heated pool with a rock waterfall, a library inside the clubhouse, an on-site hobby shop for men, and a pink laundry room with matching pink washers and pink dryers. The amenities alone help set the park apart from other mobile home communities. Eventually 95 couples filled the park, maneuvering massive 55-foot mobile homes into their designated lots. Residents were required to add “ramadas” to the existing structures, and some opted to add more than what was required.
According to the reports, most residents were (and still are) winter visitors, maintaining homes elsewhere. Though originally a rental community, residents now own their homes and are shareholders in the Oasis Park Company, the corporation they formed in order to buy the land on which their homes sit. Each resident now 1/95th of the total land and decisions about the park must be approved by the majority.
The community was always intended for older couples whose children were grown, restricted to members 55 years old and older. At one time, Oasis Park would not let in widows; however, many of the homes are now occupied by single women. Prospective buyers are interviewed and must be approved by the Oasis Park membership.
The original mobile home is still part of the structure, as a rule, but each home has a uniqueness of its own. This comes both from the mobile home and the ramada structures, which create interesting compositions. In some examples the original mobile home is a distinctive element unto itself, whereas others are so fully integrated to be nearly indistinguishable from the rest of the structure.
I’m not sure which aspect of these structures I like best. Many (maybe even most) of the mobile homes are midcentury vintage, with cool styling that has come full circle to be very hip. But then the ramadas themselves are pretty great too. The two together are like nothing I’d seen before.
I’m in Atlanta this week for the annual American Planning Association (APA) national conference. I arrived early and had some spare time, so took a quick roadtrip to Athens. The city is well known as the home of bands like R.E.M. and The B-52s, and several long-time indie rock groups, so had been a place I’d long been curious about. So I rented a car, and an hour or so later I was walking around downtown Athens:
It’s been nearly a decade since I last featured a blog on this website. I’d registered the domain in 1999, but hadn’t really figured out what to do with it at first. Then one day listening to KFOG in the morning, they were interviewing someone who had been writing a web log, or “blog.” I thought I’d give it a go, and the first entry was in January 2003.
I’m not sure what kind of blogging software was available then, and I wouldn’t have known about it anyway. I used what I knew, which was Adobe PageMill. The graphic design of the site was decidedly minimalist. The entries were written in a diary format, with each entry accompanied by an image or two.
I kept at it until the end of 2004. By then I was bored with it; the novelty had worn off. In 2005 I started my own consulting firm and transformed the website to serve the business. Meanwhile, MySpace and then Facebook came to fill the need to share in a much more dynamic format than a traditional blog.
The business has since wrapped up, so it’s time to find another use for this website. Through the years of the business we compiled a lot of photos, so this site can be a venue for pulling those out of the archives. Meanwhile it can have the sharing of articles, music and videos similar to Facebook and Twitter… except without being Facebook or Twitter. Then again, I could re-post content from here onto there, or vice versa… so many platforms to keep track of! Since multitasking makes me dizzy and irritable, I’ll focus on this being the go-to place.