Looking for a nice trip down memory lane? Let’s take a few minutes to reminisce about the good, old days and some of the places in Arizona that we wish still existed.
1. The Original Cine Capri
Once located at the corner of Camelback Road and 24th Street in Phoenix, this theatre was a true gem for both Phoenix and Arizona. Large and lavish, visiting this place for a cinematic experience was something Arizonans enjoyed between 1966 and 1997. It was eventually demolished to make way for a high-rise office building despite serious protest from the community.
2. Champlin Fighter Museum
Once an impressive historic aircraft museum located at Falcon Field in north Mesa, this museum housed a number of aircraft from World Wars I and II along with museum exhibits about the planes and pilots. The museum, however, closed in 2003 and the aircraft were transferred to Seattle's Museum of Flight.
4. Drive-In Theatres
If you younger readers never enjoyed the experience of drive-in theatres, you're missing out. Arizona once had dozens of such theatres scattered around the state, but they began dying out in the 1980s and 1990s. Today, Arizona has one—yes, just one—drive-in theatre still in operation, the West Wind Glendale Drive-In Movie Theatre, located near 59th Avenue and Bethany Home Road in Glendale.
5. Glen Canyon (before all the water)
Back in the 1960s, Arizona saw the creation of one of its largest water reservoirs, Lake Powell, inside Glen Canyon. A large sandstone canyon, it held a great amount of historic, archaeological, cultural, and wilderness sites that we often find in national parks. However, in a bid to create the reservoir on time, Glen Canyon was selected without much thought given to these cultural attributes until after construction of the dam began. Today, many homes, towns, petroglyphs, and other places are submerged under water.
6. Legend City
This thoroughly Arizona-themed amusement park operated for two decades before eventually being closed and demolished in 1983. Imagined as an Old West version of Disneyland, Legend City had the attractions that brought in crowds, but unfortunately never truly saw the financial success that could have kept the park open. It, along with Compton Terrace, were closed and demolished in 1983 after the land was purchased by SRP for its corporate offices. The Tempe History Museum also recently featured an exhibit with photos of the amusement park.
7. More passenger trains
OK, this one isn't a place but it is something that we wish Arizona still had. Sure, we still have the Grand Canyon and the Verde Canyon Railways, but it's not the same as being able to take the train from Phoenix to some other part of the state or another part of the country. Today, we have to travel all the way to Flagstaff to do that.
8. Route 66 during its prime
Here's another place that still partially exists in its original state, but parts of the experience are missing. Route 66 in its heyday was the major road that welcomed travelers into the state and saw the growth of roadside towns and tourist attractions. However, once Interstate 40 was constructed in the 1980s along many parts of the same route, many of these places soon were abandoned when travelers no longer were quite so tempted to stop in the towns.
9. Old speakeasies
Over the last couple of years, I've been hearing about the discovery of old speakeasies from the prohibition era being discovered in the basements of old hotels and other buildings. This includes places such as the Arizona Biltmore Hotel in Phoenix, the Crowne Plaza San Marcos Hotel in Chandler, and Moore's Laundry & Dry Cleaning in Prescott. While we don't exactly yearn for the prohibition days to return, seeing an old relic of decades past still in use would be pretty cool.
What other places from your youth do you wish would return to Arizona? I’d love to hear your thoughts, so please feel free to share them here!