The Last Last Look

Written by Leah LeMoine Category: History Issue: December 2017
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We bid a wistful adieu to our history-minded last page.

Last Look, August 2007
Last Look, August 2007
The Last Page, March 1997
The Last Page, March 1997

In magazine lingo, the page you’re reading is the last part of the “back of the book” – the remainder, the wrap-up, the little mint tucked in with the check at the end of the meal. It’s not as flashy or newsy as the front of the book, nor as deep as the feature well, but it serves an important role as the last impression each issue makes before it’s left on a coffee table, tossed into a pile, recycled or – we hope – fastidiously archived with your others.

In PHOENIX’s 51 years, we’ve played around with a lot of concepts for the last page. In the early days, it served as a depository for overflow text from features. In the decades that followed, society columns, crossword puzzles, opinion columns, photo essays, jokes, satirical dictionary entries and collections of bon mots variously populated the back page, long lumped under the banal title The Last Page.

In the March 1997 issue, The Last Page experimented with the prototype for our current back page: a pair of historical images of St. Mary’s Basilica in Downtown Phoenix taken in 1915 and 1916, with cultural commentary. This historical focus dipped on and off the last page until August 2007, when it was locked in and rebranded as Last Look, coinciding with the magazine’s redesign for our annual Best of the Valley issue. In the first official Last Look, a map printed in 1839 shows Mexico stretching up through present-day Arizona, New Mexico, Utah, California, Nevada, Colorado and Wyoming. The last sentence in the accompanying blurb’s italicization gone awry (see photo, left) reminds us that our predecessors also made mistakes, and that even hawk-eyed editors are humans.

In our 20 years of looking back, we dug up photos and old news stories on public pools, schools, agriculture, hiking trails, print and 3-D advertisements, insane asylums, brothels, hospitals, hotels, restaurants, politicians and athletes. Our beloved readers mailed us historical images, we ransacked the Arizona Historical Society and our art directors developed healthy eBay addictions to unearth these nostalgic gems. And now, in the ultimate irony, we begin the process of Last Look’s own historical canonization. In the January 2018 issue, we’ll be debuting a new concept for the last page. We can only hope it enjoys the storied run that Last Look did. And we promise it’ll have a better name than The Last Page.