Arcadia Then and Now

Arcadia Then and Now

Arcadia today, is a charming neighborhood in Phoenix between 44th street east to 68th  street – Camelback Road south to Thomas Road.  This quintessential Phoenix neighborhood began development at the turn of the century with the start of the Salt River Valley Reclamation Project which resulted in irrigable land in the suburbs of Phoenix to become a viable option.  Marketing itself as “the oasis at the foot of Camelback Mountain,” the first development in this area was called Citrus Homes in 1915. It was located between Camelback Road and Lafayette Boulevard to the north, 56th Street to the east, and the Arizona Canal to the south.  Within Citrus Homes, were 25 lots running north to south with each lot bordering the Arizona Canal.

In 1919, the Arcadia development was built bounded by Lafayette Blvd. to the south, Scottsdale Road to the east, Rockridge Road to the north, and 44th Street to the west. The developers divided Arcadia into large five to ten acre lots to attract upper class homeowners who wanted a more rural surrounding to live.  Essentially these lots were meant to be homesteads on small citrus orchards.

In order to grow citrus groves in Arcadia, there needed to be a reliable source of water.  The slope of the land would only allow for the lots south of Camelback Road to receive irrigation.  In 1919, the Arcadia Water Company was formed as a means to resolve this issue.  Large pumping plants were constructed in Paradise Valley supplying the 2000 plus acres with water.  Transportation was also designed as an underground irrigation system with 15 miles of underground concrete pipe which is still functioning today.

In the 1930s, resort living started to make its way over to Arcadia and The Cook Mansion was constructed by Thomas Cook of the Cook Travel Agency family.  The Cook Mansion today is called the Royal Palms Hotel and is still attracting an affluent crowd, seeking a luxury hotel experience and incredible gourmet food at their restaurant T. Cooks, named aptly after Thomas Cook.  Quick to follow were the Jokake Inn and the Paradise Inn.

The 1950s brought about changes in zoning laws for the area.  Builders were allowed to break up the 5 and 10 acre lots into smaller 1/3 and 1/4 acre lots.  Along with the already built estate homes were now 3 and 4 bedroom ranch style homes which have become significant architectural landmarks.  Frank Lloyd Wright also designed a handful of homes in Arcadia during this period.  Most famous is the David Wright House which was recently saved from demolition by an anonymous benefactor.  Another noteworthy architect during this time was Ralph Haver.  Known for his “Haver Homes” these houses are characterized by low-sloped rooflines, clerestory windows, massive mantle-less chimney volumes, floor-to-ceiling walls of glass, brick or block construction, clinker bricks in the wainscoting, angled porch posts and brick patios. They have a style which is was contemporary, modern and prized by designers.  The Windermere Neighborhood in Arcadia is full of these homes and highly desired today. Haver also designed Coronado High School, Town & Country Shopping Center, and several of the Madison District Schools.

Arcadia today is in the heart of the Valley of the Sun and far from rural.  Nicely nestled between Scottsdale, Paradise Valley, and Tempe, the urban revival of Arcadia is in full swing.  Trendy, tasty and chic restaurants are popping up all over while mainstays such asLa Grande Orange and Vincent on Camelback stand the test of time.  The ranch style homes coupled with the custom homes create a neighborhood of architectural diversity and visual interest.  The smell of citrus trees, lush lawns and mature landscape at the foot of the awesome and beautiful Camelback Mountain make it feel like you are not smack dab in the middle of the Sonoran Desert.  Arcadia with  its family centered values and access to leading schools-public, private and charter, is the classic Phoenix neighborhood.

Here are a few noteworthy places in Arcadia:

Arizona Country Club  (“ACC”) – a private country club with luxurious yet charming homes.  Arizona Country Club’s history dates back to 1909 when it was then known as Ingleside Golf Resort and the first winter golf resort ever built in Phoenix.  In 1946, the course was redesigned and became the premier private club in the Valley as well as host to the Phoenix Open (now the Waste Management Open).  Golfing greats such as Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus have won titles and walked this historical and treasured course.

Camelback Mountain – 2 trails on opposite sides of the mountain, Echo Canyon and Cholla Trail offer rewarding views of the entire city in all directions.  To really take in  the beauty of The Valley spend a few hours hiking the trails.

Postino – Wine bar, great food, awesome ambience.  Perfect for date night or to meet a girlfriend for a glass of wine.

La Grand Orange – Unique yet homey little pizzeria/market.  Great to grab a coffee, enjoy a delicious salad, pizza or bring home some take out.

Wally’s American Pub – Looking for a great place to have a beer and a blue plate special?  Family owned Wally’s is a warm, down-home place where you will always have a great meal and most likely a laugh too.

Chelsea’s Kitchen – Consistently good, modern American food, perfect place to sit outside on the patio, good for a date night.

Desert Jade – Chinese food done right with years and years in the same location serving the same scrumptious food under their belt.  Awesome lunch specials and great takeout.

Havana Café – Looking for some tasty Cuban food?  This place is serves up authentic, delicious Cuban food.  Great appetizers and superb mojitos.

Tee Pee Tap Room – Mexican food even former President Bush enjoyed…true story!  Great combo plates and the chips and salsa are off the charts.

Vincent on Camelback – Considered the granddaddy of Southwestern cuisine, Vincent Guerithault serves well-thought out meals almost too beautiful to eat.  Great place to go for a birthday or celebration.  They also have a farmer’s market on Saturdays.

Chicago Hamburger Company – Greasy, heart attack inducing burgers, sausages and wings – perfect football food.  This hole-in-the-wall is a must if you are looking for authentic, Chicago-style food.