Intersection of Central Avenue and Hatcher Road
Location in Maricopa County and the state of Arizona
The Sunnyslope community is an established neighborhood within the borders of the city of Phoenix, Arizona. The geographic boundaries are 19th Avenue to the west, Cactus Road to the north, 16th Street to the east, and Northern Avenue to the south. This area covers approximately nine square miles and is divided into nine census tracts. The Sunnyslope community is included in parts of three zip code areas: 85020, 85021 and 85029.
Perhaps attributable to its origins and the sense of place established prior to annexation into the city of Phoenix, though part of a major metropolitan area, Sunnyslope has its own “small town” identity and a sense of place that is a point of pride embraced by community members.
Although Sunnyslope is widely known for having been settled by poor tuberculants who spent their last dimes travelling west for the drier climate and cleaner air, a subdivision called “Sunny Slope” was first platted by healthy architect William R. Norton in 1911.
Reportedly, one of his daughters looked at the sun shining on the area’s rolling Phoenix mountains and exclaimed, "What a pretty, sunny slope!" Inspired by the phrase, Mr. Norton named the area Sunny Slope. The name was written as two words until after World War II when it was combined into one word.
The Sunny Slope Subdivision’s original boundaries were from Central Avenue on the west, to Dunlap Avenue on the north and from 3rd Street on east to Alice on the south. By 1919, Sunny Slope was a natural desert area with only four or five cottages surrounded by cactus and sagebrush.
With no irrigation north of the Arizona Canal, the Sunny Slope desert was a very dry area and was considered to be a good place to live for people trying to recover from tuberculosis or asthma. During this period, it was common for people from eastern states, known as “health seekers,” to move to Arizona.
Many of these people built tent houses or small cottages, planning to get well and then return to their old homes. Others, having spent their last dimes to move west in search of health, pitched tents or slept on porches. There were no roads or electricity.
Desert Mission and Angels of the Desert
They had come to the desert in 1919 for their son’s health. Marguerite was a practical nurse and a social worker. She soon began visiting her sick neighbors bringing food and aide to their bedsides. She met Elizabeth Beatty who was also providing help for those suffering from TB or asthma.
In 1927, the Desert Mission was established. This was a facility – a comprehensive, faith-based community center — that provided for the medical, social, and religious needs of the people living in the community. Through its food bank, children’s dental clinic, community health center, behavioral health clinic and a licensed and accredited child care facility, the Desert Mission continues to respond to the needs of Sunnyslope and North Phoenix. In 1936, there were approximately 600 residents in Sunny Slope. There was still much vacant land, covered with vegetation and cacti.
In the late 1940s, after World War II, the population of the community expanded tremendously. Many small businesses, churches and schools were established. The first school, Sunnyslope Elementary School, was opened in 1949, Mountain View Elementary School was opened in 1952, and the third elementary school built in Sunnyslope was Desert View which opened in 1956. Sunnyslope High School opened in 1953.
As the decades progressed and the neighborhood grew, the medical functions of the Desert Mission became a separate entity by the 1950s, now known as the John C. Lincoln Health Network. Its Sunnyslope-based flagship hospital is now one of eight Level I trauma facilities in Arizona. The Desert Mission remains in operation, as noted above, serving the community as a subsidiary of this healthcare group.
John C. Lincoln, an Ohio inventor and industrialist who founded Lincoln Electric, relocated to the Sunnyslope district in 1931 with his wife Helen, to treat her tuberculosis; almost immediately, the Lincolns became major financial supporters of Desert Mission and took on key leadership roles in the organization for most of the remainder of their lives. Helen Lincoln lived to the age of 102, after initially being given just two more years to live by doctors.
The King of Sunnyslope
Dr. Kenneth E. Hall was a native of Oklahoma, who in the 1940s lived in Sunnyslope. Dr. Hall considered himself the “King of Sunnyslope” and built the biggest house in Sunnyslope. Dr. Hall, considered by his peers as controversial, operated the North Mountain Hospital, a 40-bed hospital in Sunnyslope, which he built in 1955. The hospital had a primate zoo located on the hospital grounds. In 1963, he illegally diverted $16,564 in Medicare funds to help in the construction of El Cid Castle, a bowling alley which resembled a Moorish Castle.
Dr. Hall had been performing unsanctioned medical operations, and his physician’s license was revoked in 1971 after four patients died during gastric bypass surgery. In 1974, he pleaded guilty to diverting thousands of dollars in Medicare funds to help build the castle. Dr. Hall was bankrupt, and in 1982 El Cid Castle bowling alley, which took 20 years to be built, closed after one year of operation. Dr. Hall lost the building in order to settle a malpractice suit. Dr. Hall died in 2001.
Sunnyslope has attempted to be incorporated as its own town on four occasions but failed every time. In 1959 the City of Phoenix annexed the community of Sunnyslope along with many other valley areas. These areas became part of the City of Phoenix, but Sunnyslope has always retained its identity.
In 2011, Sunnyslope zipcode 85021 had above average risks for automotive theft at 473, as well as 211 for burglary, 167 for personal crime risk and 259 for property crime compared to 100 represented as the national average. zip code 85020 came in as 358 for automotive theft, burglary 179, personal crime 170, and 222 for property crime.
The population of Sunnyslope represents the most diverse socio-economic neighborhoods of Phoenix. In fact, many of the wealthiest and most politically active persons (past mayors, councilmembers, and business leaders) in the valley and many of the most financially vulnerable in the Phoenix area live in Sunnyslope. John C. Lincoln Health Network, a two-hospital network of primary, specialty, ambulatory, and emergency care providers, grew out of the Desert Mission community medical center. John C. Lincoln Health Network has been the largest employer of Sunnyslope and the surrounding neighborhoods for more than 15 years. Desert Mission Services continues to meet the basic needs of the community through the Desert Mission Food Bank, the Desert Mission Children's Dental Clinic, Desert Mission's Marley House Behavioral Health Clinic, Lincoln Learning Center, a nationally accredited child development and learning facility, and Desert Mission Neighborhood Renewal (a neighborhood-based Community Development Corporation).
In April 2011, Sunnyslope was the featured community for the Modern Phoenix Home Tour, shedding light on the number of prominent architects and other creative individuals who have chosen to develop (and live in) properties in the community.
Gallery of historic Sunnyslope
(PHPR = Phoenix Historic Property Register)
(Sunnyslope Historical Society and Museum) 
|Historic "Walter Leon Lovinggood House" |
|El Cid Castle
(Located on the opposite side of Sunnyslope's western boundary)
- Sunnyslope (Images of America); by Reba Wells Grandrud; Publisher: Arcadia Publishing (July 29, 2013); ISBN 978-0738599571
- Phoenix New Times
- Sunnyslope Village Voice Vol. XXVI I No. 09 September 2012
- There’s No Place Like Sunnyslope
- Phoenix Magazine Diagnosis: Bananas Author: Douglas Towne Issue: Jul 2013
- ”Arizona Republic iPhoenix, Arizona Friday, January 22, 1971 Page 5’
- Sunnyslope Historical Society and Museum
- There's No Place Like Sunnyslope
- Sunnyslope History from the Sunnyslope Historical Society and Museum
- Historical Timeline of Sunnyslope by John C. Lincoln Health Network
- There's No Place Like Sunnyslope by The Modern Phoenix Neighborhood Network