I now know where the 20th century went to die. It’s in Phoenix at 2303 North 7th Street, and it’s called MacAlpine’s Soda Fountain. I learned about it on the uneven but fun Atlas Obscura website. Lunch for 2 near an early 20th century soda fountain was $22, and that included a huge, old-fashioned chocolate soda (also called a phosphate) that Ruth thoroughly enjoyed. However, I spent time in that soda fountain and wrote in my travel log “retro heaven” before I saw the rest of MacAlpines, where I found a painfully true and funny sign that read “Unattended children will be given an espresso and a free puppy.” If you never throw or give anything away, you’ll probably love MacAlpines.
A pharmacy named Birch opened on this spot almost 100 years ago, and Fred MacAlpine took it over in 1938. Yes, 1938! It operated as a soda fountain and pharmacy for another 53 years; and the malt machine, the original one, is still in place as is the gum chewed by the customers who ordered those malts, which is under the counter. If you like having to choose a soda from a list that includes more than 100, you’ll love MacAlpines.
The rooms beyond the authentically ancient soda fountain and retro clock are literally stuffed with antique everything. One entire room is full of clothing, hats, saddle shoes, and gloves. I found displays of very old irons and vintage dolls as I browsed. If you can’t wait to read Elizabeth Gilbert’s new book City of Girls, you’ll more than likely love MacAlpines and find something to buy. Gilbert wrote the very successful Eat, Pray, Love.
Ruth refused the free puppy.