Memory Map

The area where I grew up and the area for which I made my memory map is in Northern Phoenix: North of Happy Valley Road and just West of the I-17 freeway.  I found myself viewing my memory map in two different ways. The first way is  the way the area used to be; a large area of land with few houses and hundreds of acres of desert landscape. When I look at my memory map as the area is now I  see the situation reversed; there are large areas of land covered by houses and the desert landscape is dwindling. 

The area of my memory map is the area where I grew up as a child.  Things that stand out to me about the area tend to be related to the natural desert environment because there was very little else around. I remember discovering where  a small pack of coyotes was staying on the side of a hill. I also remember finding where a great horned owl that hunted the area around my house lived. My friends spent our youth hiking the mountains and exploring the desert.    

    Now when I go to the area I feel a sense of loss. The desert terrain has been replaced by suburbs that seemed to have appeared out of nowhere (the areas in pink on my map are the areas that used to be desert but are now subdivisions).  There are three distinct developments in the area with a fourth one planned. The first two subdivisions are much more closely packed than the third and they tend to consist of “snout” houses packed together ( snout house are described in Dolores Hayden’s Field Guide to Sprawl as house in which the garage is placed toward the front of the structure giving the home the appearance of a snout). The third development is of much larger house on somewhat larger lots (although the lots look miniscule compared to the open five acres my parents still live on). The prices of a house in the third subdivision can reach to around $400,000. I wonder if people are getting their money’s worth; having seen how these homes were constructed in manner of day s out of 2x4’s, chicken wire, Styrofoam and stucco. 

            The area where I grew changed as Phoenix expanded into the nation’s fifth largest city. The development of the “Anthem” subdivision north of my parent’s home created a leapfrog effect and developers scrambled to fill every available inch of space in between with homes. The area that was once home to a few people and an abundance of plant and animal life is now full of people and has little remaining animal life.  





Return to South Phoenix 2005