This blog explores the history of Phoenix, Arizona and a little bit of Los Angeles and San Francisco, California

Why the intersection of Van Buren, 7th Avenue, and Grand is called Five Points

If you shopped at the many places that were on Van Buren and 7th Avenue in 1913, like the ones shown in the ad above, you probably called the area "Five Points". I've lived in Phoenix for several decades, and even though I worked downtown for a while, it wasn't until I started collecting old images of Phoenix that I learned about Five Points.

If you're wondering why the intersection of three streets would be called "Five Points", stand in the middle of the intersection of 7th Avenue and Van Buren. Well, in your imagination. This is where Grand Avenue begins, which runs at a 45-degree angle. Now count the different directions that you can walk. You can go 1) west on Van Buren 2) east on Van Buren, 3) north on 7th Avenue, 4) south on 7th Avenue, and 5) northwest on Grand.

If you're wondering why Grand Avenue doesn't go the other way, it's because it was built to go northwest to the brand new towns of Glendale and Peoria at the turn of the century. 7th Avenue and Van Buren was at the city limits in the 1800s, and so it was just the most direct route. Grand Avenue was privately funded by William Murphy and his company that built the Arizona Canal in 1885, by the way, and was there years before the railroad was built alongside of it.

So, if someone tells you that they'll meet you at Five Points, you know where, and you know why. Nowadays, of course, it looks just like any other busy intersection in Phoenix, but if you squint your eyes a bit, and you can time-travel!

Image above from the Library of Congress

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