[above] Gene Magee and Jim Glinski

Above Tucson Then & Now developed from the desire to see how a midtown neighborhood evolved from raw desert. A huge creosote bush grew along my side yard, standing out from the other “introduced” plants. It got me wondering what it might have looked like in its natural environment. So, I set out to find a way to see the desert the way it was before development.

During the search for old photographs of the Tucson valley, the name of Gene Magee came up and I soon found myself knocking at his door. Opening up his home and studio, Gene kindly showed off his collection of vintage photographs taken from an airplane, using a large format portrait camera. It was easy to appreciate the detailed perspective those low elevation photographs provided and, so inspired, I chartered an airplane to take a matching photo for the record. After acquiring a few sets of “then and now” photographs, I came up with the idea for a book.

I first saw those old photos on January 3, 1995, but by the following December boxes of books were selling in most major bookstores around town! I imagined I would be showing them one at a time as I met with people and striking up conversations about our changing city. But that year Above Tucson Then & Now became a hit around town and the first printing sold out in only two weeks.

Thanks to all those who have helped, working on this book has been an incredible experience, and that experience continues to reverberate today. And yes, that old creosote did look quite evocative in that old photograph, sitting way out in the desert plains east of the little town of Tucson.