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The unusual story of how Phoenix’s Sunnyslope community got its start over 100 years ago

Image by Volker Glätsch from Pixabay 

By Camryn Sanchez | Arizona Republic

Remote work has influenced housing patterns in the COVID-19 pandemic, but it was another respiratory disease that brought many to the Arizona territory more than a century ago.

People with tuberculosis began coming to Arizona in the late 1800s for its dry desert air.

Sunnyslope, an area of north-central Phoenix that is home to some 50,000 residents, got its start as an encampment for people suffering from what was one of the nation’s deadliest contagious diseases.

Wealthier TB patients stayed in sanatoriums set up to treat those with the respiratory illness, but others made do in tents.

When Phoenix banned tent encampments in 1903, many people moved to what is now Sunnyslope but what was then desert land outside the city limits, according to the Board of Visitors, a group established in 1908 to help Phoenix-area tuberculosis patients that still operates today with a broader mission.


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