I took this photo earlier this week, on Central Avenue between Bethany Home and Northern, just a few dozen feet south of Maryland Avenue.
Those unfamiliar with this section of downtown Phoenix might not recognize the bit at the far left of this photo. It looks like a wide sidewalk, but it's actually a section of the Murphy Bridle Path (variously spelled as "bridal" on some internet venues.)
Whether it was people on horseback out for a ride, or scores of young women wearing wedding dresses that gave the trail it's name is unknown. Well at least I couldn't find it after a lengthy Google search.
Trails.com claims the trail was founded in 1895. My colleagues Artur and Joanna at Realty Executives found some online info claiming the path was named for a man named Murphy Bridle who invented the Styrofoam cup. Hmmm.
No matter the origins of the name, Phoenicians flock to Murphy Bridle Path weekdays and weekends. You'll see serious joggers, folks walking dogs, high school track teams and stay-at-home Moms out for a quick walk and chat with girlfriends. The shady lanes on either side of Central run for 2 miles, from Bethany Home Road to Northern Avenue. As you can see from this photo, on a rainy weekday no one flocks anywhere near the Bridle Path.
I've always thought of this as the "old money" section of Phoenix. The houses are set back off the road, on deep lush lots, just peeking out from behind tree branches. No two are the same and each seems to tell a little bit of a story about the lives of the people who built them. Tudors, Colonials, sprawling ranches, and even a few that truly looked like mansions.
I remember spending a good deal of time as a child, being driven up and down Central Avenue. We were probably on the way to the Burton Barr Library (Mom was a big believer in library books as babysitters). What I remember best about the trips though is pressing my nose to the glass as we passed one stately home after another and imagining which one I'd buy when I was all grown up. I poked around the internet before posting this and found my family aren't the only ones who played the game of "Which house would you choose?"