Taking Pride in Sunnyslope

Sunnyslope is weird — in a good way.

I think so, anyway. But it took me a while to forget this oddball neighborhood's reputation as a slum, because I grew up in Phoenix, where for many years Sunnyslope was the punch line to a local joke about "bad" parts of town.

But I started writing about Sunnyslope a few years ago, which meant driving around its streets, lined with cleverly renovated bungalows and neatly rehabbed former public buildings — rather than just driving through and past Sunnyslope on my way somewhere else, which I'd always done before. And it became difficult, once I really began looking at Sunnyslope, not to see the ways in which it was splendid. For one thing, it's nestled against a mountain, just like some of our tonier bedroom communities. Its amenities include privately owned — and extremely peculiar — gardens and museums open to the public. It has its own art walk, a history museum (seriously, find me another neighborhood that has its very own museum) and a growing number of Internet fan pages. And it practically shines with a real sense of pride in itself, as if it were a town, rather than just a neighborhood.

"There's a reason that some of the top architects in the city live there," says Marshall Shore, a local historian who will host a private tour next month called "Keep Sunnyslope Quirky" as part of Modern Phoenix's April celebration of that part of town. "There are artists and designers and creative types all over Sunnyslope. And it's not just because it's pretty. It's because creative people are drawn to interesting, diverse communities."

I have a different theory: Sunnyslope is, in many ways, the most Phoenix-like part of Phoenix. Its topography features hills and a proper mountain; its outlying areas are studded with cactus. Wealthy people live in fancy houses that overlook housing developments where the immigrant population makes its homes.

"The real difference between Sunnyslope and other parts of town," according to Christine Plante, "is that these people behave like a blended community. In the rest of the Valley, it's more about like-minded people living alongside like-minded people. Here, not so much."

Plante is a Sunnyslope resident who moderates the neighborhood website (www.sunnyslopecommunity.org), as well as the official Sunnyslope Facebook page. She's also the neighborhood relations manager for J.C. Lincoln Health Network, which means she's hooked up to the very life source of Sunnyslope, because J.C. Lincoln is that rarest of things: a large local business that supports the community in which it resides (and practically created, since the hospital rose from the ashes of the TB camps that were Sunnyslope's original raison d'etre).

"It's freaky, but true," Plante says. "People who live here are so engaged in their town they create fan pages for this place. It comes from a place of pride."

She's not kidding. There are five separate Facebook pages extolling the virtues of Sunnyslope — two of them dedicated solely to S Mountain, Sunnyslope's famous landmark at Central Avenue and Hatcher, and one of these "narrated' by the mountain itself. (To be fair, downtown Phoenix has three Facebook pages — although none of them was created by unpaid fans of the neighborhood, and none features a talking foothill.)

Plante disagrees with me that Phoenix neighborhoods never overcome their lousy reputations. "Not never," she says. "People come in with fresh eyes and new ideas; they don't know about how people were laughing at your part of town 20 years ago. A stigma can be overcome by a good neighborhood, and why would anyone think Sunnyslope isn't a great place?"

Maybe because some people don't like quirky. Sunnyslope has grocery stores and public art and nice views, but its featured amenities are rather rarefied. There's the Sunnyslope Rock Garden, an odd jumble of tiny buildings, weird ceramic masks, and rock fountains on the front lawn of a local brick house. There's the Building Materials Museum, where one can ogle old bricks and bits of plaster excavated from torn-down bank buildings and long-gone Der Wienerschnitzels. And there's the El Cid, formerly a bowling alley and skating rink (and now a hockey training facility) built by a doctor whose patients paid off past-due medical bills by setting up pins and handing out skates.

I love all this, and so, it's obvious, do the people who've created and sustained it. Sunnyslope belongs to its people, and they're not about to let go of their town's — I mean their neighborhood's — quirkiness. While Arcadia, another well-known neighborhood here, spent our recent boom years tearing down its original ranch architecture and replacing it with Styrofoam-and-stucco McMansions, and while downtown Phoenix continues to bulldoze landmark hotels and churches, Sunnyslope is staying put.

"Our idea of renovation isn't to make things look new and modern," says Plante. "We got grant money from the city to give a facelift to The Eye Opener, and now it looks like it used to when it first opened. In another part of town, the building would have been modernized."

Plante is referring to the greasy spoon where Sunnyslopers have gathered for breakfast and lunch for decades. It's among the last of the old-time, ma-and-pa diners in the city. It's a gathering place that stands, according to Shore, as an example of how truly unusual Sunnyslope is.

1
 
2
 
All
 
Next Page »
 
My Voice Nation Help
16 comments
Will Novak
Will Novak

Sunnyslope is awesome, gotta love it :D My hope is as the Phoenix shade master plan goes forward that the 'Slope can greatly benefit. Already you see people walking in Sunnyslope more than in another parts of town and if there was more shade/trees that would help pedestrians in the area a lot (as well as beautify Sunnyslope and help with the urban heat island)

linbo4
linbo4

Versace is a name with resonance in the fashion industry due to the amazingly style and high quality. Shop the latest Versace boots handpicked by a global community of independent trendsetters and stylists. Offer cheap replica Versace women’s boots and sell at a discount. The Versace boot is on sale now. Take a look at these crazy Versace Cut-Out Platform Boots! You can't stop looking at them! No matter what age, what the weather is outside, it is important that everyone should wears some kind of eye protection. Our shop offers Cheap Sunglasses, a wide range of sunglasses and goggles. You can from soozone.com website choose your favorite cheap Sunglasses. Now what really knocked me out are the cheap sunglasses.Oakley store online news and Oakley store online reviews help you know more detailed information about Oakley store online. Our Oakley Sunglasses online shop is your best choice!Many fashion & top quality replica Oakley sunglasses are cheap sale for men & women online. It is a wiser approach for online purchasing Oakley sunglasses because you are able to clearly compare the appearance and preciseness of the replica. Buy Oakley Sunglasses online with confidence.

Patron Anejo
Patron Anejo

Loved the article, I've been a resident of Sunnyslope for 18 years. I love it more than ever, there's Hope for the 'Slope!

guest
guest

Love the 'Slope. Grew up at 12th st and Dunlap in the late 60s early 70s--AWESOME place to have been a kid.........0-18 yrs old

linkiss
linkiss

Versace is a name with resonance in the fashion industry due to the amazingly style and high quality. Shop the latest Versace boots handpicked by a global community of independent trendsetters and stylists. Offer cheap replica Versace women’s boots and sell at a discount. The Versace boot is on sale now. Take a look at these crazy Versace Cut-Out Platform Boots! You can't stop looking at them! No matter what age, what the weather is outside, it is important that everyone should wears some kind of eye protection. Our shop offers Cheap Sunglasses, a wide range of sunglasses and goggles. You can from soozone.com website choose your favorite cheap Sunglasses. Now what really knocked me out are the cheap sunglasses.Oakley store online news and Oakley store online reviews help you know more detailed information about Oakley store online. Our Oakley Sunglasses online shop is your best choice!Many fashion & top quality replica Oakley sunglasses are cheap sale for men & women online. It is a wiser approach for online purchasing Oakley sunglasses because you are able to clearly compare the appearance and preciseness of the replica. Buy Oakley Sunglasses online with confidence.

Porfirio McDiaz
Porfirio McDiaz

Thanks to its beginnings as a TB colony and its distance from the irrigated oasis of the central city, Sunnyslope in the early days was one of the only urban areas in the U.S. where the wealthy passed on the chance to look down on everyone else.

jiazhuangde
jiazhuangde

input this URL:( http://www.findsoso.com )you can find many cheap and high stuff(jor dan shoes)(NBA NFL NHL MLB jersey)( lv handbag)(cha nel wallet)(D&G sunglasses)(ed har dy jacket)(UGG boot)WE ACCEPT PYAPAL PAYMENTYOU MUST NOT MISS IT!!!

"S" Mountain
"S" Mountain

Thanks for the plug. I may be a foothill to some, but to Sunnyslope I am a Mountain.

Gwynne Sullivan
Gwynne Sullivan

Thanks again to Robrt Pela for his awesome attitude about Sunnyslope. I keep meeting new neighbors - the housing market slump was good to us here. 20-somethings bought neighboring homes on my street for $40k and began refurbishing them. I've been here for 12 years, and was mega surprised to meet an architect recently who expressed envy about our neighborhood.

I also noticed the Scottsdale Center for the Arts is doing a home tour in here in April.

Abe Johnson
Abe Johnson

It's true what Mr. Pela says that Sunnyslope belongs to it's people. It's one of the few villages in the west where it's hilly and yet you can have a mix of different classes of people living side by side only demarced by what street they are on. You have a total range of houses in a few blocks from 7th ave going east to one of the hills. I love the fact that it has great potential to be turned into a unique pocket much like Arcadia or LA's silver lake neighborhood. Just when this will happen no one knows.

Max McCoy
Max McCoy

10 years ago Sunnyslope was the center for methaphetamine, crack, graphitti etc not anymore, now that stuff is everywhere!

Connor
Connor

Why can't there be more positive, uplifting articles about our city like this one?

Stan Plum
Stan Plum

I came here 17 years ago to escape the horrors of West Phoenix. Best move I ever made!

Wayne Michael Reich
Wayne Michael Reich

You ask why, Connor?Managing Editor Amy Silverman is why.

For proof to back up my statement, check out this link to an article she wrote:

http://www.phoenixnewtimes.com...

She hates PHX, apparently hates Yuma as well:

http://blogs.phoenixnewtimes.c...

and could give two spits about fostering positive articles of any sort.

Being positive doesn't generate "hits" on the website, whose statistical data is then used to sell advertising, and that's how the bills get paid.

Want to see more positive articles come out of New Times?There will have to be a new Managing Editor first.

Wayne Michael Reichhttp://waynemichaelreich.blogs...http://www.waynemichaelreich.c...

 
Loading...