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 Park Central Mall Archival Park Central Mall Archive

 Researchers from across Arizona State University are coming together to analyze, preserve and revitalize historic materials found during the renovation of Park Central Mall in midtown Phoenix.

The materials found range from old photographs and advertisements to microfilm reels and antique signage, all depicting a mid-century Phoenix in the midst of monumental growth.

The site of Phoenix’s first shopping mall, Park Central Mall is undergoing renovations to revitalize and return the property to its stature as a hub for community gathering. The developers, Peoria-based Plaza Companies, in conjunction with Tucson’s Hoalualoa Companies, discovered the historic materials during the first few days of renovation. Sharon Harper; president and CEO of Plaza Companies, ASU Trustee and co-chair of ASU President's Club; reached out to ASU with the thought of preserving materials.

An interdisciplinary team of ASU researchers from the School of Historical, Philosophical and Religious Studies (SHPRS), the Nexus Digital Research Co-op and ASU Libraries are working together to preserve and share the stories held within these historic pages.

“This is a one-of-a-kind collection of newspaper clippings, photographs, advertisements and ephemera related to Park Central Mall,” said Matthew Delmont, director of the School of Historical, Philosophical and Religious Studies and professor of history. “It is a sort-of time capsule that gives us a glimpse of into Phoenix's cultural history from the 1950s through the 1990s. It is an important collection of everyday history, that reveals where people socialized, what they bought, how they dressed, what they ate and how these styles and tastes changed over the decades.”

Interested in sharing your memory of Park Central Mall? Attend a collection day at the mall itself, or add a comment to the developing digital collection at parkcentralmall.org.

Saturday, March 3, 8 a.m.-2 p.m.
Saturday, April 7, 8 a.m.-2 p.m.
Park Central Mall 
3121 N 3rd Ave, Phoenix, AZ 85013

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The Smithsonian's Water/Ways

Arizona Humanities and the Walton Sustainability Solutions Initiatives and School of Historical, Philosophical and Religious Studies at Arizona State University are pleased to bring to Arizona an exclusive tour of Water/Ways, a traveling Smithsonian exhibition. Twelve venues in rural Arizona communities will host the Water/Ways exhibition beginning in 2018. Water/Ways explores the endless motion of the water cycle, water’s effect on landscape, settlement and migration, and its impact on culture and spirituality.  It looks at political and economic efforts to ensure access to water, and explores how human creativity and resourcefulness provide new ways to protect water resources and renew our relationship with the natural environment. 

Water/Ways is designed for small-town museums, libraries and cultural organizations; the exhibit will serve as a place to convene community conversations about water’s impact on American culture. With the support and guidance of staff at Arizona Humanities and scholars at Arizona State University, towns will develop complementary exhibits, host public programs and facilitate educational initiatives to raise people’s understanding about what water means culturally, socially and spiritually in their own community.

“All communities in Arizona are biologically and economically dependent upon precious and limited water supplies, yet only rarely do we take time to reflect on what water has meant to us culturally,” said Paul Hirt, Water/Ways State Scholar and History Professor at the School of Historical, Philosophical and Religious Studies.  “When we do create interpretive exhibits about water, they are mainly available to urban dwellers with access to museums. Consequently, the Smithsonian’s Museum on Main Street program was designed to make world class exhibits available to smaller communities allowing them explore the relationship between nature and culture with the same richness offered by our urban cultural institutions.” 

Water/Ways is part of the Smithsonian’s Think Water Initiative to raise awareness of water as a critical resource for life through exhibitions, educational resources and public programs. The public can participate in the conversation on social media at #thinkWater and #waterwaysAZ. Water/Ways is part of Museum on Main Street, a collaboration between the Smithsonian Institution and state humanities councils. Support for Museum on Main Street has been provided by the United States Congress.

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