« Arizona putsch | Main | Duke and more Ponzi dreams »

May 17, 2021


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

A tragedy

The Adams Hotel might have inspired the Mac Pro "cheese grater" look. :)

Compare: https://www.apple.com/mac-pro/

Hmm. Photographer JC Buck calls the Adams (now a Renaissance hotel) the cheese grater, too. He shot the hotel in black and white with the light rail running in front of it.


Hello Jon - On Jan 11, 2002, we arranged for me (as part of the Westward Ho Historical Group) to give you a tour of the Ho.
Last week I published a book "Stories of the Hotel Westward Ho." Right now it is ranked NUMBER ONE on Amazon new releases in Landmarks & Monuments.
HISTORY, MYSTERY & LOVE sums up the book. I give you credit for your fantastic columns on early Phoenix and recommend your columns and books on Phoenix.
This link goes to the Amazon page with the Wonderful number one next to Westward Ho. http://amzn.to/3owyif5

Thanks so much for your continuing columns. Mariam Cheshire

Downtown was in a long decline prior to the 1970s, but it was still vastly better than what succeeded it. The magic was in the garish neon, the movie marquees, the deco skyscrapers and their exotic signage. There is nothing downtown today that remotely approaches the magic of seeing a movie at the majestic Fox or Paramount. There is no restaurant that comes close to the magic of The Flame or The Concho Room. Downtown may not have been sophisticated but unlike today's downtown it was vibrantly real, a stark and unforgiving difference.

The urban renewal of the '60s and '70s was a fragmentation bomb that reduced the complexity and joy of old Phoenix to a sterile boneyard of much taller buildings and empty plazas. There were remnants that lingered to 1980 or so (Switzer's, Hanny's, Korrick's, and The Westward Ho, e.g.) but it was on the critical list once the "new" Phoenix staked its identity in buildings that could be seen in any other sterilized downtown. This self-inflicted catastrophe took place across America, and most people were too excited by the Modern to object. The Big Bright Tomorrow of post-war America exploded like a firecracker before slinking off like the grim reaper.

Portland, which had a much better building stock than Phoenix, tore down priceless cast-iron buildings from the 19th century. One magnificent hotel, designed by McKim, Mead, and White, looked as if it belonged in Salzburg. Another building was graced by a clocktower that looked like a campanile in renaissance Florence. The city still has enough old buildings to seem exotic but like Phoenix it's a ghost of its former self. Some ragtag anarchists sacked and pillaged it over the past year to the stifled yawns of Portland's ultra-woke citizens.

We can and should mourn these losses but it's the human condition itself that is problematic. Modernism reflects who we are for better or worse. In another generation what we call human consciousness might be dominated by AI or some conspiracy of social media and entertainment moguls. I am not optimistic about the future, but I won't curse it if only because there is no escape. The human social organism is a beast that is largely misdirected and insentient. We can marvel at our destructiveness without damning ourselves for being imperfect works in moral progress.

Thanks so much, Miriam.

OT, a kook has commented on the Arizona Putsch column.

Would be far easier to list municipalities that haven't leveled most of their city core.
Officials who considered downtown enhancements were born in the teens and twenties. The pitch tends to scream that doing so will boost the economy (in with the new and out with the old). Residents as activists fear the worst.

Environmental concerns (shade, tree removal) have weak concessions that are anything close to enhancing every block that is removed. Strategies for developer and tax breaks for the owner override, many times, common sense.

Affordable homes for the new workers? How about beginning with reasonable rent for those who are priced out from the get-go.

When I worked for the Maricopa County Attorney's office, I was asked to escort a domestic-violence victim from the Superior Court to her car beneath Patriot's Park, in case her abuser (who was out on bond) would be waiting for her in the underground garage.

At 5'5" and 130 lbs, with no weapon, I was scared sh**less, but I put on a brave front. It was creepy down there, and we were on edge that the bad guy could pop out from between any two cars. I've never been more happy to get out of a parking garage than I was that day.


My experience was very different. In my peregrinations I saw downtown preserved and come back in Cincinnati, Denver, and Seattle, along with big comebacks in San Diego and Charlotte.

Phoenix was unusual in its devastation of the central core. And it wasn't a result of urban renewal. See my What Killed Downtown series.


As a seven year full time newcomer I stand corrected. Having read your series several years ago the strongest points of contention had faded. Good intention gone amiss.

You know I had to look that up.

I guess since you updated your photo from open collar to a tie its ok to use
100 dollar words. (I got Chief Wetzel to do away with ties for street cops in 75.)
Regarding your definition of Downtown Phoenix, its predecessor was at what is now 4619 East Washington.

Great pictorial column and if course a follow up to your well documnted
101 what killed downtown column in 2013.

I used that word in a sentence and sent it to ten folks.
Six emailed me back, WTF?
four called me to see if i was ok?

I personally believe the downfall of downtown started when the deregulation of the banks and savings and loans.When that happened, the phoenix area. lost it’s leadership with the dissolution of the phoenix 40 and lack of any wealthy corporate.members to keep the wolves away.

The whole thing just gives me the "Fantods."

Jon’s Downtown Series really gives a great overview of the many mistakes and recent effort put into realizing a vital downtown. Like Jon, I can remember my family going up the circular parking garage in the ‘Green Hornet’ and then going to Newberry’s and Penny’s. The drive back home along Central Ave revealed a town of great charm and promise.

Today Furnix has lush ‘laterals’ --narrow corridors that appear healthy and vibrant-- but are surrounded by economic dead space. Outside of 7th Ave or south of Indian there seems to be a sense of decay. Seeing the police cruisers next to the streetcar stops when schools let out is depressing. Once this most recent housing bubble pops if Phoenix proper hasn’t created the needed urban infill I don’t hold much hope for the necessary revitalization. And I wonder when the incomes necessary to support the kind of infrastructure needed to attract and keep urban so-called sophisticates is going to materialize.

In addition to Jon's details I have one more significant tell that marks the decline of Furnix: when the AZR cut out the society pages (say 1980). I have always wondered why; it gave a good reason for the people who had money and friends and connections to see their name and picture in the paper. It might not have brought car buyers to the page but it brought the city together in unifying their civic spirit. The newspaper was as dependent on this as it was on folks buying cars, or pants or groceries.

First the society pages disappear, then in 1984 the landed gentry is banished from running the town with district elections. That’s when downtown became dependent on subsidies from City Hall. Sometimes you need to let them eat cake.

Remember when Eugene Puliam said tha we wouldn’t complete I 10 thru downtown Phx. Because we didn’t want to become another L.A.and he was right becuse we became another LA without freeways😁I remember cursing him the first time I took the tunnel through to 35 th ave ,saving me about 30 min.drive time🙁🙁🙁

Concrete is the enemy

Mike, your above, very natural,
is about you.

Earths worse day was when
"manunkund" left the cave

Thanks for the 2 articles on Sajuaros under Phoenix and Arizona pages.
Hopefully they will outlast humans.

Verify your Comment

Previewing your Comment

This is only a preview. Your comment has not yet been posted.

Your comment could not be posted. Error type:
Your comment has been posted. Post another comment

The letters and numbers you entered did not match the image. Please try again.

As a final step before posting your comment, enter the letters and numbers you see in the image below. This prevents automated programs from posting comments.

Having trouble reading this image? View an alternate.


Post a comment

Your Information

(Name is required. Email address will not be displayed with the comment.)

My Photo

Your email address:

Powered by FeedBlitz