Making of a Slum

In February 1978 I was a twenty-one year old soldier stationed at Luke AFB in Arizona. I looked for an apartment in Glendale and found just what a was looking for. In a low-cost neighborhood on the west-side of Glendale, near 67th Avenue and Glendale Avenue. Two brand-new four-plexes of two-bedroom apartments were just being built on an empty lot. The first one was going to be done within a few weeks. I was able to actually walk in and see the floor plan with the studs still not covered by drywall. I signed a lease with for $220 a month, which seemed like a lot of money to me and it felt like I was signing a mortgage.

I don’t remember the actual move-in date at the beginning of March 1978. I was the first tenant. The place had that new-house smell of carpet, paint and cabinet glue. There was fresh, lush lawn outside. I bought some new furniture. I was proud and happy to have my own brand-new place.

Last week, about 33 years later to the day, I drove by during a visit to Arizona.

Somebody had put an ugly chain link fence around the place, probably to keep a dog inside. The lawns are long gone, replaced by hard dirt and huge weeds. Some of the complexes surrounding it are completely abandoned and boarded up. There is trash and junk everywhere.

I wonder what the rent might be now? I wonder how many people moved in and out in the last 33 years? I wonder if all apartment housing in America turns into slums in 33 years?

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