Wednesday, August 20, 2008

REVIEW: How Arizona Sold Its Sunshine

Title: How Arizona Sold Its Sunshine, Historical Hotels of Arizona
Author: Victoria Clark
ISBN: 0974507407
Arizona History
Rating: B+

First Line: I was a student at
Rogers Elementary School in Tucson, Arizona in the 1950s.

Clark sets out to describe landmark Arizona hotels from their rather dubious beginnings in the 1880s to their swanky evolution in 1900 and beyond. From greasy beans, poor health standards and questionable clientele to air-conditioned, landscaped dens of lu
xury for the sick, the politicians, the movie stars and the wealthy. In the beginning, hotels were merely waystations, a place to take a short breather before hopping on the stagecoach and being shaken and jolted to the next destination. At the turn of the twentieth century, things were beginning to change. Billions of dollars were being taken out of Arizona mines. There had to be suitable places for the mine owners and investors to stay. By the 1920s, Arizona was a state, and Americans had the travel bug. Politicians wouldn't put up with bed bugs and bad food, and our mild winters, abundant sunshine, clear air and breathtaking scenery were tremendous draws for Americans who wanted to board trains and see the country.

Clark takes us on a journey to 65 Arizona hotels, from the Cameron Trading Post in the north all the way to the Gadsden Hotel in the south on the Mexican border. Each is clearly marked as to whether or not they are still in existence. Photos and history are given for each, and it's easy to see the evolution of the hotel business in the state.

I had no idea that I'd seen so many of the hotels included in this book. I've actually stayed in three of them. It was quite an education to read the their histories. For instance, shortly after I moved to Phoenix, the headlines screamed about Castle Hot Springs burning down to the ground. The very first day that Denis and I began our offroad explorations years later, we took a trail that led right past the former resort. I had no idea that Castle Hot Springs was where John F. Kennedy recuperated from the wounds he suffered when PT-109 was sunk.

The book was well written and well researched. The only complaint I found with it was that I wanted more. I could conclude with more tidbits from reading How Arizona Sold Its Sunshine. Instead I'll close with a photograph I took when Denis and I stopped in Cochise on our honeymoon travels. The Cochise Hotel is still open for business--but you always have to call ahead for a reservation!

1 comment:

  1. This sounds really interesting! I'll have to add it to the pile to be read.


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