Scottsdale Historic Photo Exhibit

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A new exhibit at Scottsdale’s historic Appaloosa Library lets you take a step back in time. This exhibit features dozens of historic photographs celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Bennie Gonzales-designed Scottsdale City Hall and Civic Center Library, which opened in October 1968. The exhibition is designed to help people imagine what life was like in Scottsdale 50 to 100 years ago. We find out more from Wendy Raisanen, Scottsdale’s curator of exhibitions and collections


TED: A NEW EXHIBIT FEATURING DOZENS OF HISTORIC PHOTOS LOOKS AT LIFE IN SCOTTSDALE 50 TO 100 YEARS AGO. THE EXHIBIT IS PART OF A 50TH ANNIVERSARY CELEBRATION OF SCOTTSDALE’S CITY HALL AND CIVIC CENTER LIBRARY. JOINING US NOW IS WENDY RAISANEN, SCOTTSDALE'S CURATOR OF EXHIBITIONS AND COLLECTIONS. GOOD TO HAVE YOU HERE.

RAISANEN: THANK YOU. IT'S GOOD TO BE HERE.

TED: THIS IS NEAT STUFF. THE 50TH ANNIVERSARY. BENNIE GONZALES WAS THE ARCHITECT THERE. EVEN TODAY THAT STUFF LOOKS PRETTY MODERN, DOESN'T IT?

RAISANEN: YEAH, BENNIE GONZALES HAD A REALLY FORWARD-THINKING STYLE IN HIS ARCHITECTURE, AND THEY STILL LOOK FANTASTIC.

TED: AND AS FAR AS THESE HISTORIC PHOTOS ARE CONCERNED, THE EXHIBIT, WHAT IS THE GOAL?

RAISANEN: WELL, THE GOAL WAS REALLY TO SHOW SORT OF THE PIONEERS OF SCOTTSDALE, THE PEOPLE WHO CAME HERE WHEN IT WAS LIKE NOTHING. AND ALL THE WAY UP UNTIL THE '70S WHEN BENNIE GONZALES BUILT AND DESIGNED CITY HALL, AND THE LIBRARY.

TED: WE HAVE SOME OF THESE PHOTOS. WE'LL START WITH VERY EARLY, 1900S, THE CROSS-CUT CANAL, EVEN BACK THEN, A BIG DEAL IN SCOTTSDALE.

RAISANEN: WELL, SURE. WATER WAS THE MAIN THING TO ALLOW PEOPLE TO GROW THEIR CROPS AND BUILD THEIR LIVES. THAT PICTURE IS GREAT. YOU HAVE CAMELBACK MOUNTAIN THERE AND PRETTY MUCH NOTHING ELSE.

TED: YEAH. HARD TO IMAGINE NOW. ENGELSIDE INN- WE’VE HEARD OF ENGELSIDE. WHERE WAS THAT? AND APPARENTLY IT HAD A GOLF COURSE.

RAISANEN: RIGHT. THE FIRST GOLF COURSE IN 1910 WAS THE ENGELSIDE INN, THE FIRST LUXURY RESORT. AND THAT LOCATION IS REALLY RIGHT NOW WHERE THE ARIZONA COUNTRY CLUB IS IN THE ARCADIA AREA. AND HOW BEAUTIFUL IS THAT OPEN DESERT.

TED: CAN WE GO BACK TO THAT PICTURE ONE MORE TIME. BECAUSE WHAT YOU ARE BASICALLY LOOKING PROBABLY FROM THOMAS ROAD MAYBE NORTH AROUND 56- SOMEWHERE AROUND THERE. THAT’S IT. THERE’S NOTHING THERE.

RAISANEN: YEAH. FANTASITIC. I JUST LOVE TO IMAGINE WHAT LIFE WAS LIKE. HOW CLEAN THE AIR WAS AND HOW GORGEOUS THE DESERT WAS AT THAT TIME.

TED: YEAH. ALRIGHT WE HAVE A PHOTO FROM 1939, THE SCOTTSDALE HIGH FOOTBALL TEAM. I THINK A LOT OF FOLKS WILL BE SURPRISED THAT THERE WAS A SCOTTSDALE HIGH SCHOOL.

RAISANEN: YEAH, SCOTTSDALE HAD A HIGH SCHOOL BACK IN THE EARLY DAYS, AND OF COURSE EVERYONE WANTED TO BE A NORMAL AMERICAN PARTICIPANT IN SPORTS AND OTHER CLUBS.

AND WE GOT THE SCOTTSDALE POLICE DEPARTMENT, I THINK ANOTHER PHOTO COMING UP, SCOTTSDALE POLICE DEPARTMENT HERE AGAIN RELATIVELY EARLY. WHERE WAS-

RAISANEN: THAT WAS 1959, SO THEY ARE IN FRONT OF WHAT WAS THE GRAMMAR SCHOOL FOR 40 YEARS, AND THEY -- THE GRAMMAR -- THE STUDENTS GREW OUT OF THAT GRAMMAR SCHOOL, AND SO THE POLICE DEPARTMENT TOOK OVER, AND AFTER THAT, IT WAS THE LIBRARY, AND THEN AFTER THAT IT WAS CHAMBER OF COMMERCE, AND THEN FINALLY IT'S THE SCOTTSDALE HISTORICAL SOCIETY.

TED: AND IS THAT THE SAME BASIC AREA WHERE SCOTTSDALE HIGH SCHOOL WAS, ALONG THERE ON INDIAN SCHOOL, THAT AREA?

RAISANEN: YEAH, ACTUALLY THIS BUILDING IS STILL ON THE CIVIC CENTER MALL AT BROWN AND MAIN. IT WAS CALLED THE LITTLE RED SCHOOLHOUSE.

TED: THAT’S THE LITTLE RED SCHOOLHOUSE. I HAVEN’T BEEN DOWN TO THE CIVIC CENTER AREA IN QUITE A WHILE. OKAY. WE HAVE A 1960S SHOT OF SCOTTSDALE COUNTRY CLUB.

RAISANEN: RIGHT.

TED: DO WE KNOW WHERE THIS IS OR WAS?

RAISANEN: THAT IS NOW SCOTTSDALE COUNTRY CLUB. ALSO IT’S CALLED STAR FIRE.

TED: THAT'S WHERE STAR FIRE IS?

RAISANEN: UH-HUH.

TED: OH, MY GOODNESS.

RAISANEN: AND THAT FANTASTIC GOLF COURSE- GOLD CART THERE.

TED: VERY FUTURISTIC, HUH?

RAISANEN: RIGHT.

TED: AND THE LAST SHOT WE HAVE IS OF BENNIE GONZALES. AND THIS IS HIM- HE IS BASICALLY-IS THIS THE CIVIC CENTER RIGHT HERE?

RAISANEN: YEAH, THIS IS THE MODEL FOR THE CIVIC CENTER MALL. SO YOU’VE GOT THE CITY HALL, THE LIBRARY AND SIDE OF THE FUTURE PERFORMING ARTS CENTER.

TED: AND HE, AGAIN, WAS A VERY NOTED ARCHITECT, VERY INFLUENTIAL HERE IN THE VALLEY.

RAISANEN: RIGHT. HIS ARCHITECTURE IS STILL ALL OVER IN THE VALLEY.

TED: WHEN DID SCOTTSDALE GO FROM THE WEST'S MOST WESTERN TOWN TO THIS KIND OF GLITZY PLACE? PEOPLE DON’T THINK OF THE WEST WHEN THEY THINK OF SCOTTSDALE ANYMORE.

RAISANEN: WELL, THE WEST-MOST WESTERN TOWN WAS SORT OF A SLOGAN THEY CAME UP WITH IN THE 50S, AND I GREW UP HERE, AND BACK IN THE '70S, WHEN I WAS GOING TO SCOTTSDALE HIGH, WE DIDN'T THINK OF OURSELVES AS GLITZY, IT WAS JUST KIND OF A NICE QUIET TOWN THAT WAS SUPER, SUPER QUIET IN THE SUMMERS. AND IT WAS IN THE '80S AND ‘90S WHEN IT STARTED GETTING THE BIG MONEY COMING IN AND STARS AND EVERBODY COMING IN TO PARTY IN THE 2000’S.

TED: IN WHAT NOW THEY CALL OLD TOWN. BUT THAT WAS DOWNTOWN BACK IN THE DAY, WASN'T IT?

RAISANEN: THAT'S RIGHT.

TED: THAT WHOLE FIFTH AVENUE AREA AND EVERYTHING.

RAISANEN: THAT’S RIGHT. RIGHT ACROSS THE STREET FROM THE HIGH SCHOOL.

TED: SO YOU WENT TO SCOTTSDALE HIGH SCHOOL?

RAISANEN: YEAH.

TED: OH MY GOODNESS. SO YOU KNOW EXACTLY WHERE IT WAS, RIGHT.

RAISANEN: YEP.

TED: WHAT DO YOU WANT PEOPLE TO TAKE FROM THIS EXHIBIT? BECAUSE IT'S ALWAYS FUN TO LOOK AT OLD PHOTOGRAPHS, ESPECIALLY IF SOME OF THOSE OLD PHOTOGRAPHS AREN'T ALL THAT OLD.

RAISANEN: WELL TO ME THE REASON I PICKED THOSE PICTURES TO BE IN THE EXHIBITION IS BECAUSE THEY ARE THE PEOPLE. YOU CAN LOOK IN THEIR FACES, YOU CAN SORT OF IMAGINE WHAT THEIR LIVES WERE LIKE AND WHAT THEY THOUGHT OF THEIR LIVES AND WHAT THEY THOUGHT OF WHAT THEY WERE DOING. GROWING A TOWN, AND I -- I JUST THINK THAT WAS REALLY FASCINATING.

TED: YEAH. WHAT DO YOU THINK THEY WOULD SAY NOW IF THEY SAW DOWNTOWN SCOTTSDALE? ESPECIALLY KNOWING THAT -- BELL ROAD AND NORTH IS JUST DEVELOPED -- YOU NEVER WOULD HAVE THOUGHT THAT BACK IN THOSE DAYS --

RAISANEN: SOMETIMES I GET LOST OUT THERE IN NORTH SCOTTSDALE.

TED: YEAH, THEY SAY THE CENTER OF SCOTTSDALE NOW IS LIKE SCOTTSDALE AND SHEA. THAT USED TO BE NORTH SCOTTSDALE.

RAISANEN: THAT’S RIGHT, THAT’S RIGHT. I DON’T THINK THAT THEY WOULD RECOGNIZE IT, ESPECIALLY WITH THE FREEWAYS. EVERYTHING IS SO FAST PACED NOW.

TED: NOW THIS EXHIBIT IS AT THE APALOOSA LIBRARY. WHERE IS THAT?

RAISANEN: THAT IS PRETTY MUCH SCOTTSDALE ROAD AT WILLIAMS. WHERE RAWHIDE USED TO BE, ANOTHER BYGONE THING. AND IT'S OUR MOST NORTHERN MOST LIBRARY ON SCOTTSDALE ROAD.

TED: AND THEY CAN LOOK UP THE CITY OF SCOTTSDALE FOR EXHIBIT AND LEARN MORE THAT WAY I WOULD IMAGINE.

RAISANEN: YEAH, OUR WEBSITE, SCOTTSDALEARTS.ORG, YOU CAN FIND INFORMATION ABOUT THE SHOW.

TED: ALL RIGHT. WENDY RAISANEN, CITY OF SCOTTSDALE, CONGRATULATIONS. A NEAT LOOKING EXHIBIT AND GOOD TO HAVE YOU HERE.

RAISANEN: THANK YOU VERY MUCH. ♪

Wendy Raisanen, Scottsdale’s curator of exhibitions and collections

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