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Phoenix in Perspective: Reflections on Developing the Desert Paperback – April 16, 1999

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Herberger Center for Design; 1 edition (April 16, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1884320171
  • ISBN-13: 978-1884320170
  • Product Dimensions: 0.8 x 6.2 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #620,297 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Grady Gammage Jr. is an Arizona native who has practiced law in Phoenix since his graduation from Stanford Law School. He has spent the last 20 years dealing with land use, development, and growth issues; representing real estate development projects such as master-planned communities, high-rise buildings, regional shopping centers, and sprawling tracts of subdivisions; and consulting with cities and towns. In 1981, Mr. Gammage was instrumental in structuring Arizona's innovative Urban Lands Act, which allowed state trust lands to be released for private development. He has chaired the Phoenix Design Review Standards Committee twice, helping create mechanisms to regulate the aesthetics of commercial and residential development. He serves as an elected official as a board member of the Central Arizona Water Conservation District, and was president of that board from 1985-89. Mr. Gammage is also an adjunct professor at the Arizona State University Colleges of Architecture and Environmental Design and Law, where he teaches classes on land use regulation and on historic preservation planning.

Customer Reviews

3.3 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

15 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Theodore A. Rushton on September 20, 2000
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is truly a disappointing and shocking book; and, for that reason, a must read in any city where residents want to stop or at least curtail the destruction of their community by developers whose only motive is greed.
Grady Gammage Jr. is the son of one of Arizona's great families; Gammage auditorium at Arizona State University, designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, honors decades of contributions by his family. Instead of community service, he became a wealthy lawyer for developers and was instrumental in creating the urban blight he so skillfully outlines in this book.
A hundred years ago, Phoenix was the smallest of the four major Southwestern cities (the others are Tucson, Albuquerque and El Paso). Now it is the largest, and is growing by an acre of new homes per hour. At that rate, as Gammage notes, growth can continue uninterrupted for another 672 years.
What is the new Phoenix? In Gammage's words, "A small narrow lot, a relatively large house, and a two- or three-car garage combine to produce neighborhoods with a different feel than those of even ten years ago. Houses seem squeezed together by non-existent side yards. Garage doors, lined up to a mandatory setback line, become the dominant feature of the streetscape. Front yards are shallower, with less grass . . . the desert is covered by acres of concrete tile."
Everything is geared to growth, at the lowest possible cost to developers. When the first Interstate freeway was built through Phoenix in the 1960's, it went below ground in elite neighborhoods and then soared to 25 feet above ground in low income areas. The elevated portion was often called "our Berlin Wall" and it destroyed poorer neighborhoods, providing cheap land for "slum clearance" and industrial space.
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13 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Alexander Garvin on November 28, 1999
Format: Paperback
Grady Gammage provides readers with an accurate and insightful account of the development of the Phoenix metropolitan area. More important his book presents a sensible review of the problems of urbanization and suburban growth. Most important it avoids uninformed theories, irrelevant Utopian visions, or public action action that has neither political support nor financial justification.
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5 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Scott D. Mittelsteadt on October 16, 2000
Format: Paperback
Its hard to take Grady Gammage seriouly in this book. As a real estate lawyer, he has done little else besides acting as state cheerleader for the development industries.
While providing a pretty good history lesson on the city of Phoenix (thus the one star), this book does little but glorify and exaggerate the contributions the developement industry has had on the growth and prosperity of the Valley of the Sun (he credits the low-cost housing industry on the population boom...oh yeah...and air conditioning).
He discounts the notions of "sprawl" and blames any negative aspects on Phoenix's growth to market demand and a wonderful climate. He finds a way to absolve the develpment industry from any of the poor planning, tract housing, and characterless suburbs that blanket the Sonoran landscape.
While agreeing that there will someday be a limit to how large Phoenix and its outlying suburbs can get, he sees little use for any type of growth management and describes growth boundaries as "draconian." Portland is proof enough that growth boundaries do in fact work, and that they are hardly "draconian."
Gammage's solution to growth issues in Phoenix relates to water supply. Yet he fails to see that dealing with growth management via the water supply is like realizing that its time to go on a diet once you've already reached 400 pounds. By that time its too late. How do you tell a city of 5 million that the water supply has dried up, and now its time to start conserving....or limiting population? If growth boundaries are draconian, how does Gammage describe stopping growth because of a lack of water?
This book offers a neat history lesson on the Valley of the Sun, but outside of that, it offers little in the form of solutions to Phoenix's problems related to growth, pollution, traffic and its now characterless landscape. I'd give it a half star if I could.
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