Best Neighborhood 2017 | F.Q. Story | Megalopolitan Life | Phoenix

This historic neighborhood sandwiches the Interstate 10 and serves up 20th-century charm. Founded by Francis Quarles Story in 1920 (hence the name), this 602-home hood features an assortment of Tudors, bungalows, and Spanish revivals — a good majority of which have been lovingly restored to their architectural heyday. Despite the slightly patchy surroundings, F.Q. delivers a serious draw: downtown proximity, pedestrian-friendly streets, and some serious curb appeal. So although homes in this area are of modest size, the real estate is pricey. No matter, we're fine oohing and aahing at the neighborhood's annual home tour in December.

We've got two words for why the Modern Phoenix Home Tour keeps returning to Paradise Gardens: Beadle Mania. The north Phoenix neighborhood nestled near Shea Boulevard and 32nd Street has some of the best examples of Midcentury Modern aesthetic in town, thanks to acclaimed architect Al Beadle, who had a hand in the initial design of the area. Whether the houses are genuinely his, however, is up for debate (supposedly, Beadle did not want his name associated with the project in the end). Regardless, the '60s-style concrete block homes are breezy and balanced thanks to curated desert landscapes and color accents that pop against earthy undertones. It's an unassuming area of town for sure, but its restaurant scene is improving, and from the right angle, it could rival a residential area in Palm Springs.

There's a little pocket of houses on the west side, bounded by Dunlap and Northern avenues and 35th and 43rd avenues, and a bunch of them are true-blue Ralph Haver homes. The renowned midcentury architect's low-slung designs are unmistakable with their slanted rooflines, clerestory windows, massive mantle-less chimneys, and tidy cinder block construction. They're also much sought after, and with fewer than 20,000 Havers in all of Arizona, we're sure this pocket tract will be hot real estate any day now. Grab one while you can, before this neighborhood even has a nickname.

For those of us that like to daydream about our future homes in Phoenix, Tonka Vista is essentially our Fight Club: We don't talk about it, because spreading the word about Tonka Vista means surrendering some of its charm. Despite being centrally located, backing up to State Route 51 and Bethany Home Road, this midcentury marvel manages to keep a low profile. With rolling streets and homes designed by prominent architects, including Ralph Haver, Fred Guirey, and Al Beadle, Tonka Vista has just about everything you want in a Phoenix suburb: great location, scenic streets, designer dwellings, and of course, a hush-hush address.

In the age of Atlas Obscura and murder podcast fandom, some of the city's more sinister properties are getting some renewed attention. The most prominent is the duplex of the 1931 murderess Winnie Ruth Judd. It was at this midtown home that the infamous Judd murdered her two roommates with a .25 caliber handgun before packing their bodies into trunks and taking the train out of Phoenix's Union Station with the victims in tow. After being caught and found guilty for her crimes, Judd was sentenced to a state mental hospital in 1933. Unlike the deceased murderess herself, however, the house lives on despite a close call with demolition last year. And while this macabre piece of real estate is private property, true crime enthusiasts can easily drive by the murder house for a shot of its eerie exterior.

Phoenix's history runs deep. Block 23, otherwise known as that empty parking lot next to CityScape, has seen its share of activity over the years: a theater, a JCPenney, and, before that, the city's first fire station. But when construction crews broke ground for what will eventually become a mixed-use development, they uncovered something older than all the previous tenants combined: five Hohokam pit houses believed to date back as far as 300 B.C. The site was remarkably intact given the centuries of activity above, but takeaway artifacts were few and far between. And while construction ultimately resumed, tearing up the remaining houses in the process, archaeologists were able to preserve some shards of pottery, which will be recorded, carbon-dated, and eventually gifted to the Pueblo Grande Museum.

In Phoenix, we've got a bad habit of tearing down our history. So go scope out the Buckhorn Baths sign while you can. The famous Mesa curiosity, posted outside of the long-shuttered Buckhorn Mineral Baths, has been the subject of much debate and was included in a historic-trust purchase. To this day, no one can quite decide what will become of it. Make the trek to Mesa and take it in. Bask in its kitschy glory. There's something majestic about that buck deer gazing out over Mesa. It's a relic of bygone days, of Old West mystique, and former glories. Even as Mesa morphs and sprawls, there's something about that stoic buckhorn that seems to remind us of who we once were, of the promise and hope of the desert. We can't put a finger on it either, but it's worth preserving.

You'll spot Psychic Consultations by the small sign announcing psychic readings in the front yard of a little white house at the corner of 44th Street and Glenrosa Avenue. After you find street parking, you'll meet your reader — a European woman who specializes in tarot card readings and palmistry. Psychic Consultations covers areas like relationships, goals, career paths, and spiritual development through their palm reading-services. You'll get a basic character reading in this quaint east Phoenix neighborhood home, which is said to provide insights to yourself, your future, and your love life in 30-minute and one-hour sessions. What's more, they're also available for parties and events. Plus, there are plenty of good restaurants around for after your reading.

Some superstitions say that black cats bring bad luck. Some superstitions say black cats bring good luck. We say that black cats, like all cats, are soft and adorable and we want to snuggle them. When the urge hits, we go to La Gattara Cat Lounge & Boutique. The lounge, which opened earlier this year, is a bright space decorated in cheerful tones of pink and blue. Shag rugs, pillows, and beanbag chairs dot the floor, making it feel like someone's basement rec room — y'know, if that person also had, like, 20 cats. Besides allowing the feline-loving public to just come in and hang out for a small fee, the lounge also holds a number of events, like yoga with cats, cat-themed movie nights, group painting sessions, and even speed dating. The cats and kittens come from a number of local rescue groups and are adoptable, so if you happen to fall in love with one feline in particular (black or otherwise), you could end up with a forever friend. Lucky you.

It's about 5,000 miles from Phoenix to Dublin, so it's not exactly practical to hop a plane to the Emerald Isle to experience the best of Irish culture. We prefer to get in on the luck of the Irish a little closer to home; namely, at the Irish Cultural Center and McClelland Library in downtown Phoenix. It's hard to miss — it's the only set of buildings that looks like a freaking castle and Irish cottage in the neighborhood — and it's got a little bit of everything. St. Patrick's Day celebrations? Check. Full-color facsimile of the Book of Kells? Yup. Historical exhibits, live music, genealogy resources, and Irish dance classes? Those too. You can even get married there if your nearest and dearest aren't willing to go to Ireland for a destination wedding. Whatever the reason for visiting, we feel lucky that the Irish Cultural Center is a part of downtown Phoenix.

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