By Joan Fudala
Scottsdale marks 50-year milestones during 2018
Flashing back 50 years, Scottsdale was a different community; however, many actions were taken to make it the glorious place it is today. Scottsdale residents, businesses and visitors have much to celebrate this year, savoring the people, places, ideas and events that occurred half a century ago.
Nationally, Lyndon B. Johnson was president; Hubert H. Humphrey was vice president. The U.S. military served in the Vietnam War in Southeast Asia, but the war’s controversies generated protests on U.S. college campuses and city streets. Civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. and presidential candidate Bobby Kennedy were assassinated. The U.S. and the Soviet Union were Cold War adversaries and Space Race competitors. President Johnson signed the landmark Civil Rights Act of 1968. North Korea seized the USS Pueblo and held its U.S. Navy crew captive for many months. At summer conventions, the Democrats nominated Hubert H. Humphrey for president (Edmund Muskie as vice president) as protesters chanted in a nearby Chicago park. Republicans chose Richard M. Nixon as their candidate (Spiro T. Agnew as vice president). George Wallace and Gen. Curtis LeMay ran on an independent presidential ticket. In the November 1968 election, the Nixon/Agnew ticket won. In December, U.S. astronauts orbited the moon in preparation for a planned moon landing in 1969. Congress created four permanent three-day weekends, altering the dates for Washington’s Birthday (President’s Day), as well as Memorial, Columbus and Veterans’ Days.
In Arizona, Jack Williams was governor; Senators Paul Fannin and Carl Hayden and Representatives John Rhodes, Mo Udall and Sam Steiger represented us in the U.S. Congress. The state’s population was about 1.5 million (it’s an estimated seven million today). The new NBA franchise Phoenix Suns played their first season at Veterans Memorial Coliseum. The Central Arizona Project (CAP), planned for decades, finally got the go-ahead for construction from President Johnson. In September 1968, the 90th Congress authorized acquisition of the Paradise Valley Flood Retention Basin as part of the CAP project; public recreational use of the land making up the detention basins was included in the plan. Today WestWorld and the McDowell Mountain Golf Course are located on that recreational-use land.
Scottsdale had a population of approximately 65,000 on 62 square miles (now over 230,000 on 185 square miles). Bud Tims was Mayor and Bill Jenkins, Leonard Johnson, Robert Jones, Doris McCauley, Ken Murray and John Senini served on the Scottsdale City Council during 1968 (Mrs. McCauley resigned in August; Heinz Hink replaced her). Bill Donaldson was City Manager. E.G. Burnkrandt replaced John Tanner as Superintendent of the Scottsdale Unified School District; Walter Gray was president of the Scottsdale Chamber of Commerce.
The 14th Annual Parada del Sol parade and rodeo took place in early February, with future Mayor Herb Drinkwater as Scottsdale Jaycees President and Charlie Smith as the Jaycees’ Parada Boss.
The 13th Annual Arabian Horse Show moved from its former Paradise Park on the McCormick’s Ranch to Desert Farm on Bell Road near Tatum Boulevard.
The Chicago Cubs played their second season as Scottsdale Stadium’s “home team” for spring training (and played in Scottsdale until moving to Mesa in 1978).
Scottsdale and Alamos, Mexico became informal “sister cities,” initiating several exchange programs. The relationship was formalized the following year.
Members of a subcommittee of the Scottsdale Town Enrichment Program (STEP) urged the Maricopa County Community College District to open a junior college in the Scottsdale area (which resulted in Scottsdale Community College opening in 1969 and moving to its permanent home on the neighboring Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community in 1970).
Creation of a Civic Center – including a new City Hall and Main Library – was another initiative of a citizen-driven STEP subcommittee. Both Bennie Gonzales-designed buildings and a surrounding park-like area were under construction throughout the year between Hinton and George Avenues and Second Street and First Avenue.
A terminal building and hangar were under construction at the newly-opened (June 1967) Scottsdale Municipal Airport. The first businesses (Casa Precision, Telos and Delavan) were opened in the Thunderbird Industrial Airpark, located on the west side of the airport’s runway.
Los Arcos Mall was under construction on the southeast corner of Scottsdale and McDowell roads. Los Arcos opened in the fall of 1969 as the area’s first fully-enclosed regional shopping mall.
Mayo Furniture opened on the northwest corner of Scottsdale and McDowell roads, advertised as “the largest furniture store between Chicago and L.A.” After rebranding as another furniture store, the building became a U.S. Post Office in the early 2000s.
When the city’s plans to create a civic center mall included the razing of the 1909-vintage Little Red Schoolhouse, longtime residents as well as Scottsdale High School students held a petition drive to save the historic building. They also organized the Scottsdale Historical Society to preserve and celebrate Scottsdale’s brief but fascinating history. They were successful in saving the schoolhouse; it has been home to and a museum for the historical society since 1991 (having served as the Scottsdale Chamber of Commerce/Visitors Center from 1973 to 1991).
The City of Scottsdale, through its Fine Arts Commission (established in 1967), began accepting donations to develop a fine arts program, including citywide public art installations. A private Scottsdale Art Collection Committee raised funds to buy public art for the future Scottsdale Civic Center.
A fire station was built at Miller and Thomas roads; Scottsdale contracted with Rural Metro for its fire protection service (through 2005).
Broadway department store opened at the west end of the then open-air Scottsdale Fashion Square.
In April, the Scottsdale Baptist Hospital on Osborn Road added a two-story wing that included a pharmacy, dietary facility and additional patient beds. It was the initial two floors of what became the West Tower of what is now HonorHealth’s Osborn Campus. Dr. A.E. Carpenter was the hospital’s chief executive officer.
The City of Scottsdale adopted its first flag, the city seal on a white banner.
During the summer of 1968, Scottsdale Road throughout downtown got a face lift. The road was widened in places to two lanes, road islands were built to accommodate left-hand turn lanes and the road was black-topped. Further out, a bridge over the Arizona Canal on Pima Road helped east/west traffic.
Strolling east down Main Street from the Hotel Valley Ho in the spring of 1968, one would pass places such as the Ramada Inn, La Chaumiere Restaurant Francais, Scottsdale Girls Club Thrift Shop, Yares Art Gallery, Est Est Interior Design, Guidon Books, The Arizonian newspaper office, Cali’s Restaurant, many art galleries, Hanny’s, Wigwam Department Store, Scottsdale Chevron, the iconic cowboy sign at Scottsdale/Main, Pink Pony, Lulu Belle’s, Kiva Theatre, The Art Wagon, Anna Whiting’s residence, Bear-Step Jewelers, Village Patio Shops, Rusty Spur Bar, Portofino Cinema, Flagg’s, Seidner’s Flowers by Posie Post, Saba’s, Arizona Bank, J. Chew Mexican Imports, the state drivers license bureau, Scottsdale Police Department, Scottsdale Public Library (in the Little Red Schoolhouse until November), El Sarape Restaurant, several residences, and China Lil’s at the intersection of East Main Street and George Avenue. Main was a through street until Civic Center Mall was completed.
The newly-constructed Stagebrush Theatre opened on Second Street just west of Marshall Way in October. It replaced the original Stagebrush Theatre located in an out-building of the Adobe House just north of Scottsdale Stadium. Scottsdale architect Joe Wong designed the new theatre, home to the Scottsdale Community Players.
On October 11, the city and its residents officially dedicated their new Civic Center during week-long festivities. An estimated 6,000 people came to an open house at City Hall, which was ready immediately; the Civic Center Library opened to the public in late November.
Perhaps you have other memories of “Great ’68,” whether you were in Scottsdale or somewhere else in the world. Whatever and wherever, this is a great opportunity to pause, reflect, and remember.