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

How to find Cactus Way in modern downtown Phoenix


If you lived in Phoenix during territorial times, you knew where Cactus Way was, halfway between Center (now Central Avenue) and Montezuma (now 1st Street).  it was also called Cactus Alley. No, it was never on any maps, but the gigantic scale of Phoenix as platted by William Hancock in 1870 meant that even the alleys were as big as many city city streets at the time. By the way, there was also Wall Street, and Melinda's Alley, also never on maps.

Loring's Bazar in the 1880s. You're looking west on Washington towards Central, at Cactus Way.

Cactus Way is where George Loring had his place of business, which he called Loring's Bazar (yes, he misspelled it that way). When the Ellingson building was built there, after Loring's building was gone (it was just adobe, anyway), it was the original location of Donofrio's. There used to be a plaque on that building, but when the building was torn down it went into storage, and is now at the Arizona Historical Society in Tempe.

Donofrio's Cactus Candy in the Ellingson Building in 1917. You're looking west on Washington towards Central, at Cactus Way.

1920 ad for Donofrio's Cactus Candy. Note the address: Cactus Way and Washington.

As a place of historical importance in Phoenix, Cactus Way is pretty darned important. Not only was Loring's Bazar the first Post Office, and the first Wells Fargo Station, Donofrio's in the Ellingson Building was pretty cool, too. Unfortunately, it has been mostly forgotten.


No, it's not a conspiracy, man. Phoenix just moves on. Time goes by, and people forget. There's a parking garage there, which is pretty darned useful if you work downtown! People drive past one of the most important historic places in Phoenix all of the time, and they don't know. Putting the plaque back up there would be nice.

Washington between Central and 1st Street. The entrance to the parking garage is exactly where Cactus Way was.


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