Friday, March 06, 2015


The Italian Job

PHMLL01Forty years ago, Phoenix was transforming from a sleepy desert town into a full-fledged city. Shopping malls sprang up like crabgrass. Construction on Papago Freeway began. City-dwellers fled to the suburbs. Everything was in flux, including two Italians who would change the Phoenix food scene, bringing a big taste of Little Italy and big personalities to match.

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Towering Legacy

PHM 500x500 FPOThe new air traffic control tower that soared over Terminal 1 became an immediate architectural landmark when it opened in 1952. The cylindrical tower was composed of underground fuel storage tanks that had been welded together, and topped with a stylish, art deco control cab equipped with the latest communication technology. The tower’s appearance was even lauded by architect Frank Lloyd Wright, though the building did have its shortcomings. “As beautiful as the tower was, the structure lacked such amenities as a restroom and an elevator, which made going for snacks and toilet breaks a real adventure,” Operations Assistant Michael D. Jones says.

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Terminated Terminal

PHM 500x500 FPODefunct since 1991, Terminal 1 lifted Sky Harbor Airport into the modern aviation era as a dining and entertainment destination during air travel’s golden age.

The 100,000 passengers that pass through Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport on a typical day are to be excused if they think the city is mathematically challenged. Terminals 2, 3, and 4 teem with flight activity, but Terminal 1 is mysteriously nonexistent. Having ushered modern airline travel into Phoenix when it opened in 1952, the facility formerly known as Terminal 1 was razed in 1991 after 38 years of service. Subsequently, the name “Terminal 1” was retired, causing the odd numbering scheme.

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Decades of Docs

PHM 0414 LL1The Top Docs issue you’re holding is the 20th such edition published by PHOENIX magazine – that’s two decades of telling readers “who local M.D.s pick when they need a doctor,” as we phrased it in our 1995 inaugural edition. Since then, Top Docs has become something of an institution in the Valley, selling roughly twice as many copies as any other PHOENIX magazine issue in a given year – and for good reason. When it comes to making informed decisions about their health, people usually have no problem spending $4.99 – or $2.50, as they did in 1995.

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Gold Standard

PHM 500x500 FPOOne of the world’s greatest athletes liked breaking a sweat at the Downtown YMCA. Jesse Owens, the track and field legend who won four gold medals at the 1936 Berlin Olympics, worked out at the YMCA after moving to Phoenix in 1972. Ironically, Owens’ exercise regimen did not include his forte. “I don’t jog,” Owens told the New York Times, “because I can’t run flat-footed. And at 60 years old, you’re crazy to be out there running.”

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Fit-ting Legacy

PHM 500x500 FPOThe Downtown YMCA has undergone more than $32 million in renovations, but its egalitarian vision has changed little since 1892.

As one of the most
“ancient” things in the comparatively young city of Phoenix, the mid-century Downtown YMCA building has long been a beacon for those in search of a pick-up basketball game or iron to pump. But aside from the old red brick facade, the original Y is almost unrecognizable after recent facility upgrades, including the addition of the Sun Devil Fitness Complex and posh ASU athletics wing, with its state-of-the-art equipment and stunning rooftop pool. One thing that hasn’t changed with the remarkable facelift, however, is the Downtown YMCA’s century-old mission of providing Phoenicians with a healthy environment for mind, body and spirit.

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Musical Racquet

When Elton John had staff lug an upright piano to center court, graduates of the week-long clinic at John Gardiner's Tennis Ranch probably suspected they wouldn't be treated to a traditional rendition of "Pomp and Circumstance." As his fellow tennis alumni sipped champagne, John performed "Saturday Night's Alright for Fighting," perhaps to get competitive juices flowing for the afternoon's matches. "Elton was just crazy about tennis," Horst Falger says. "He spent lots of time here and gave us a wonderful surprise once with an impromptu concert. When he was later interviewed on the TV show 60 Minutes, he was wearing our logo on his jacket. Our phone rang off the hook for a week."

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