Learning From South Phoenix


Melting Pot at the Mountain

For our land survey study my fellow group members and I decided to scope out the neighborhood located around 14th Street and Dobbins in South Phoenix. This was a rather interesting area to check out because it is located at the base of South Mountain and is actually a rather old neighborhood. It was a strange sight to behold these houses that have been around since at least 1980 mixed together with brand new homes. It was nothing spectacular to see old houses or the new “cookie cutter” homes that have become so prevalent today in the Valley. What was interesting was to see these older houses with brand new houses literally right across the street.

According to one homeowner, Ozzie Owens, it was not until the new houses began to pop up in his neighborhood that the streets around the area were even paved. Mr. Owens was a very friendly man who had a lot to say about the changes that are taking place in the neighborhood in which he has lived for the past ten years. He is not opposed to the new homes coming into the area because he believes it is bringing about a positive change in his section of the Valley. It was comforting to hear that he has received no pressure from developers to sell his home to make way for the “new pioneers” who are flocking to South Phoenix in droves. The video we watched that was filmed in Brooklyn so many years ago was a disheartening way to start out the adventure we had when we began our land survey. Because of that video we were nearly certain that we would hear many similar stories of harassment, but not according to Ozzie.

That little area we studied was a very tight knit community, one in which everyone knows one another and looks out for everyone. It truly brought to mind a simpler time when neighbors were not privacy guardians with eight-foot concrete compounds protecting them from the outside world. This was a neighborhood with simple four-foot chain link fences and patio chairs set up in the driveway to while away a lazy afternoon. Every house was different, with the exception of the new intruders building their homes in the already existing neighborhood. Every home was unique in a haphazard sort of way that is rather endearing. One home had a shrine in the front yard honoring the Virgin Mary and chained right next to that shrine in the same yard were two very protective dogs, eager to guard their territory. Every house seemed to have its own signature to make its mark in something as simple as a mailbox. There were only about four or five houses on each street, making it feel much roomier than the subdivisions that are sprouting up everywhere in South Phoenix these days. The houses each sat on about a quarter acre of land, some with desert landscaping, others with grass, and yet others with an odd mixture of both.        
Although it isn’t exactly what one would consider a ritzy neighborhood, it had such charm and appeal it is no wonder that it is a spot that would have such a draw to it. It is nestled at the base of a beautiful mountain and has a great view of downtown Phoenix in the distance. Because of the unusual mixture of the old and the new coming together in this tiny community, we have affectionately dubbed this part of South Phoenix the “Melting Pot at the Mountain.”


Written by: Charity Spivey
Group Members: Julie Peterson, Rachel Gregorie, & Charity Spivey


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Contact: jmpeterson@firstam.com