When Carl Hayden stood for his last U.S. Senate term in 1962, he faced a state that had been radically changed by population growth in the late 1950s and early '60s. He was also confronted by a radical Republican challenger in car dealer Evan Mecham who found purchase with many of these newcomers.
Hayden's crafty aide Roy Elson came up with a "re-introduce Carl Hayden" campaign — even though Hayden had served Arizona in Congress since statehood and was the indispensable man on water, especially the Central Arizona Project. For the showpiece, he angled a Carl Hayden Day featuring President John F. Kennedy and Vice President Lyndon Johnson.
The location was never in question: the Hotel Westward Ho at Central and Fillmore, the premier hostelry of Phoenix since it opened in 1928. The event was a huge success and Hayden won the election.
Within little more than 13 years, with downtown dying, the Westward Ho was a target for demolition. The iconic Luhrs Hotel and others had already met the wrecking ball. The beautiful Hotel Adams had been torn down, replaced by a box containing all the charm of 1970s brutalism. The Ho was saved by making the building into subsidized housing for seniors and the disabled. After falling out of family ownership, the property was repeatedly flipped and eventually sold at a sheriff's auction. Now the owner is using $44 million in a "multifaceted refinancing project" to upgrade the building. And it will continue as elderly housing.
Is this really the best Phoenix can do?