Founded in 2010 by Phoenix preservationists and planners Yuri Artibise and Taz Loomans, Vanishing Phoenix sought to document the successes and failures in preservation in the Valley of the Sun. Inspired by Hotel San Carlos owner Robert A. Melikian’s book of the same name, Vanishing Phoenix aimed to be the voice of this city’s oft-forgotten history. Over several dozen posts, and aided by the addition of fellow Phoenix preservationists and historians Jim McPherson and Marshall Shore, the site became the go-to source for news on this relatively young city’s history. Both that which remained and that which was no longer in Phoenix became instant conversation starters for the bloggers and hundreds of readers which frequented the site. All involved believed that only upon an historic foundation can a truly great city be built. And between the four bloggers, they aimed to help establish that historic base.
Also in 2010, Downtown Devil reporter (and now Managing Editor) Jack Fitzpatrick embarked on a similar mission with his PHX History blog. Through the lens of an ASU student, Fitzpatrick looked along the light rail to document the numerous Phoenix landmarks which remained decades after their construction. Following a bit of research, posts were written and slideshows were created to provide readers with real documentation of the history that surrounded each building, even in a city with supposedly no history. As a non-Arizona native, Fitzpatrick gave succinct histories of historic buildings, aiming to entice students and Downtown community members to explore the city in which the dwelled.
Now, in 2012, Connor Descheemaker has combined these two forces to create the new Vanishing Phoenix. As a lifelong Arizonan, Descheemaker offers a unique perspective on the city’s evolution, and the role of native residents in its development. At age 13, he first ventured Downtown to explore the burgeoning arts scene, which largely takes place in myriad converted historic commercial, residential and industrial spaces. From that point on, he knew he wanted to be a part of the city’s growth and evolution. Now a freshman at ASU’s Downtown Phoenix Campus majoring in Urban and Metropolitan Studies and minoring in Urban Planning, Descheemaker can play a more direct role in creating the city’s future, while preserving its past. Descheemaker currently serves as the Director of Community Initiatives and a Contributing Reporter for the Downtown Devil, and the Director of Social Media & Photography at the IceHouse art space in a converted 1920 icehouse along the railroad tracks in the Downtown Warehouse District. First a reader and now the featured writer, Descheemaker is eager to take Vanishing Phoenix and PHX History’s twin legacies and bring them to the next level with thoughtful, informative posts each week on the news, events and ephemera celebrating Phoenix’s vibrant, unheralded history.