Saturday, October 8, 2011


Phoenix's Most Eclectic Urban Village Hosts Artwalk

If you ventured north on Central Avenue in Phoenix at the turn of the century you'd run out of city well before Camelback Road. After that you'd pass what would soon become row after row of fragrant citrus orchards. And, if you journeyed much further you'd come to North Mountain.

The Central Avenue Sunnyslope Gateway Pylons
(The North Mountain Preserve is Beyond)

According to the historical timeline published by John C. Lincoln Hospital, residents started coming to North Mountain in 1903 when the city of Phoenix prohibited tent camps within its city limits. 

Four years later retired architect (WR Norton) and his concert pianist wife built a house in a greasewood clearing at 8713 N. Central Avenue. They later built a subdivision they called "Sunnyslope" based on a remark their daughter made about how the morning sun washed North Mountain.

My Architectural Office
Resides Almost Directly on the Site of WR Norton's Estate 

By the 1920's Sunnyslope was home to prospectors, beekeepers, and artists. Others were there for health reasons requiring the services of Sunnyslope's Desert Mission. Sunnyslope's role in health services culminated in the John C. Lincoln hospital in 1954. Today it is a superb forward thinking hospital and the major anchor of the Sunnyslope community.

John C. Lincoln - Saving Lives 
Building Neighborhoods

In the meantime Sunnyslope earned a reputation for non-code compliant housing, poverty, ancient trailer parks, and drug dealing. It was written off by its neighbors to the south as just too poor and weird.

But a tireless core of community leaders never gave up on Sunnyslope. They fought every application for a liquor license, they grabbed public art projects right and left, they got drug dens bulldozed, and  nurtured its schools.

Today, those efforts and Sunnyslope's proximity to downtown, great high school, relative affordability, and funkiness attracts families, professionals, teachers, artists, architects and chef's.

It has become an incubator for creativity in art, food and architecture. It is one of the few urban villages in Phoenix with almost no chain restaurants.

Sunnyslope Incubates Design 

Into this mix comes the twice annual Artwalk in October and April. Artwalk now draws thousands of valley residents who walk up and down Central Avenue from the canal to Dunlap enjoying dozens of musicians and viewing the bounty of hundreds of artists.

Artwalk is Sunnyslope's finest hour. This year when the lights went out there were still hundreds of visitors filling Central Avenue. 

Part of Sunnyslope's Artwalk

So come see what is happening at the end of the Bridle Path. The North mountain preserve offers a great place to ride bikes or walk. Its canals are great for blading.

And come hungry! There's amazing quesadillas and burgers at Corbin's. If you want the best sandwich you've ever tasted, its the prosciutto and brie confection at Timo's.

For breakfasts try Scramble. Burgers at the Burger Studio beat Five Guys any day. Arguably Phoenix's largest collection of tequila resides at Via De los Santos, and the hands down best family style Mexican food in Phoenix is served with love 6 days a week by the Tafoya family at El Bravo. For Greek food go to Greektown. It resides in an old Pizza Hut. Just tell George to make you something amazing. Maybe his rack of lamb or sauteed (never fried) calamari.

Oh, and forget Starbucks, we don't have one. We have Grinder's Coffee. Where Dennis roasts and grinds his own beans, and spouts his politics. His politics may be questionable, but his coffee is great. If you ask him for a venti, you'll get his look. His big cup is referred to as "serious". On a friday night he's likely to be on the patio playing the blues.

Great Food and Drink

Perfect Food Served in a Lovely Garden Setting

Some of Sunnyslope's Extensive Public Art Collection

Lots of businesses and services call Sunnyslope home. There's Karl's understated, yet amazing, european bakery and his daughter Christine's artisan chocolate shop is right next door. Looking for something fun to do on a saturday? Try a chocolate making class the first saturday of every month! If you need tires we got em. If you would like a meticulously restored vintage falcon or t-bird, two generations of Dottling's can fix you up. Italian Deli? It's Tony's. You can shop for appliances at B&B. Need a friend? The Humane Society delivers furry rescue's who will unconditionally love you.

B&B's Appliance's Homage to the Maytag Man

Seeking eternal peace? We've got you covered there too....

Really, How Does One Measure This?

It's edgy and funky.

I love edgy and funky.

It's Sunnyslope!

Roadboy's Travels © 2011

1 comment:

aborski said...

Missed it, Send me a email next year