Digging up history - East Valley Tribune: News

Digging up history

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Posted: Sunday, September 5, 2004 6:52 am | Updated: 5:52 pm, Thu Oct 6, 2011.

The original tenant of the old Los Arcos Mall is looking for a home.

It’s small, quiet and doesn’t require much space. It also isn’t asking for a large financial subsidy from the city.

Initially intended to be buried at the former mall for a century, the Los Arcos time capsule has been residing in a storage unit for the last four years.

It’s surely a step down from its once-fashionable resting place at the entrance of the now-razed Broadway department store, where it was buried in 1969.

The capsule’s journey to a storage unit on North Hayden Road is a slice of Scottsdale history that many don’t know about. It also paints a picture of Scottsdale’s smalltown roots.

"I was the only guy with a pickup truck, so I ended up with it," said former Scottsdale Mayor Bill Jenkins. "And here it sits."

Jenkins was among a handful of city dignitaries in 2000 who attended the unearthing of the rectangular metal box and accompanying bronze nameplate. Digging up the time capsule was necessary so crews could demolish the old mall and make way for what was once envisioned to be a professional hockey arena.

Now the 42-acre site at Scottsdale and McDowell roads is scheduled to be an Arizona State University research center.

Jenkins and other members of the Scottsdale Historical Society have been waiting for certainty about the development before suggesting a final — or at least more permanent — resting place for the time capsule.

"We wondered whether the city would like to have it back and make it a part of the project," said JoAnn Handley, a society board member.

Those involved with the project have had brief discussions about the capsule, but no decision has been made. To be sure, the fate of the time capsule has not been a top priority as the city figures out how to finance its share of the $300 million research center.

"One option is to rebury it; keep it closed until the 100 years is up. But I guess some people could argue that is really burying Los Arcos again," said Steve Roman of the ASU Foundation. Roman observed that 1969 was not that long ago, considering Vietnam is a topic of discussion in the current presidential campaign.

In some ways, the capsule was ahead of its time.

Buried by city and state leaders, the "Broadway Scottsdale Capsule" had a corporate name attached to it long before such publicprivate endeavors were common. The City Council on Monday approved a policy that allows Scottsdale to pursue corporate sponsorships for city property.

Asked whether Scottsdale should seek new naming rights for the capsule, Mayor Mary Manross simply replied: "No way."

The mayor said she would consider opening the capsule during a ceremony, and perhaps the city could create a new capsule with 21st century items.

"I’m really interested to see what’s in that time capsule to see how much the world has changed," she said.

The capsule was buried on June 24, 1969. The bronze plaque reads in part: "Contains Historic Items to be Removed In One Century. Time Will Tell the Story."

The dedication ceremony featured Gov. Jack Williams, Mayor Bud Tims and a crowd of other politicians. The 23-by-36-inch capsule contains copies of the Scottsdale Progress, photos of Valley cities, government and historical documents, and a film of the capsule ceremony.

A Progress editorial, which was placed in the capsule, reads:

"If man is to achieve his potential, and survive as long as the year 2069, we will have to learn to live at peace with each other. It’s a great challenge, and we hope we succeed."

City Manager Jan Dolan had yet another idea: Open it up, add to it and rebury it.

"It would be kind of the next phase of that corner in Scottsdale," she said. "It really would capture the evolution of the community."

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