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

Block 23 in Phoenix, Arizona - from City Plaza to Fox Theater to unbuilt Collier Center buildings


If you're a serious fan of Phoenix history, you know the importance of Block 23. It was the original City Plaza, which was there from 1870 until 1931, when the Fox Theater was built there, on the northwest corner. In all of the time I've been in Phoenix, Block 23 has just been a blank space, which is now just an underground parking garage, with a parking lot on top of it.

I visited the Collier Center yesterday, which is on Block 24, and was surprised to find out that the entire project, from the 1990s, was never finished. Collier Center is located between 2nd and 3rd Streets and Washington and Jefferson. On Washington is the Bank of America tower, but the southeast corner, which faces Chase Field, is unfinished, because the original plan, which included a high-rise hotel, was never completed. There's a model of it on the 2nd floor of the Bank of America building, if you're curious about it. The model also shows where two more high-rise towers were planned to be built, on Block 23, which is also still a blank. This plan was from the late '90s. Well, this happens. Architects must really hate to see this happen.

Downtown Phoenix has really started to grow in the last few years, so rumors are circulating as to what will be done with Block 23. If you lived in Phoenix between 1931 and 1975, you probably would like to see the Fox Theater still there. If you lived in Phoenix between 1870 and 1930, you probably miss the park, with the trees, and the Band Stand, where generations of people in Phoenix would go, especially to watch parades.

Block 23 certainly is a prime piece of downtown Phoenix Real Estate. It has spent most of its time as one of the most important places in Phoenix, and hopefully it will stop being "just a blank". I'll let you know what I find out.

1881 plat map of Phoenix, Arizona. Block 23 is labeled as Plaza.

The Plaza (marked as 13) on the Dyer map, 1885. Block 23. The two-story building across Washington is the Fry Building on 2nd Street, where Majerles is nowadays. You're looking northeast.

Riding past the City Hall Plaza in 1905, Washington looking southwest towards 1st Street. Block 23 is at left, where the trees are.

The Band Stand at City Hall Plaza in 1911, Washington between 1st and 2nd Streets. Block 23.

The Fox Theater in the 1930s, 11 S. 1st Street. Block 23. In the background you can see the old Fire Station, which was on Jefferson.

JC Penney's in 1958, Washington and 2nd Street. Block 23. To the right is the Fox Theater.

1990s plans for Block 23 from the architect's model. You are looking southeast from 1st Street and Washington towards the Bank of America Building.

Image at the top of this post: Looking northwest across block 23 from 2nd Street, from the Collier Center. 


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