This blog explores the history of Phoenix, Arizona and a little bit of Los Angeles and San Francisco, California. This blog is not supported by advertising, it's supported by the generosity of my patrons on Patreon. Thank you!

Back to the future - downtown Phoenix plan from 1985


Walk with me. Let's go back to 1985 and walk around a plan for the future of downtown Phoenix.

I'm gonna wander around Phoenix, and find things that I remember from working at Bank One Center (now Chase Tower) in the 1990s, and see what I recognize, and how this vision of the future of Phoenix is different, and the same, as today.

I'll be looking at the original here at my desk, and I've uploaded a high-res version here http://bradhallart.com/images/Downtown_Phoenix_plan_1985.pdf if you want to look at it more closely. Let's go.

Oddly enough, this plan has south at the top, and I'm gonna start with the place I know best, Central and Monroe, labelled here as Valley Bank Center. It's just about in the center, slightly right. They drew it to look like a couple of salt-and-pepper shakers, I have no idea why. Anyway, just south of that is a building that's unlabelled, and which is now the Hilton Garden Inn (don't confuse that with the building that's labelled Hilton, that's the old Adams Hotel, nowadays called the Renaissance - you know, the one that kinda looks like a cheese grater).

Support Arizona history by becoming a patron on Patreon

Click here to become a Patron!
History Adventuring blog posts are shared there daily, also there's "then and now" photos, billboards, aerials, and super high-resolution photos of historic Phoenix, Arizona

South of that, on Adams, you can see that there was a plan for a building called Square One. I wonder what that was about? And then there's City Place, which looked like it was going to be mostly parking with a big shiny tower. That's Block 23, which is still a parking lot as of this writing, and which is right across from the basketball arena, which I guess they hadn't thought about back then.

OK, let's go across the street to the Luhrs Building, which is on Jefferson and Central. It's not labelled on the plan, but it's there. And so is the Luhrs Tower, which is labelled. If you've used the Light Rail on Jefferson, you've gone past those buildings, which are from the 1920s. Glad they didn't plan to tear them down! The Maricopa County Complex is also still there, by the way.

Now let's cross Jefferson to where CityScape is nowadays. That's where Patriots Park was. I remember Patriot's Park in the '90s - it never really worked all that well. Across 1st Avenue is Historic City Hall, and I'm glad that they had no plans to tear that down!

I remember when the One Renaissance Square building was built, in the 90s. So it looks like something from this plan made it! It's the building with the statue of the naked man, on the northwest corner of Central and Washington. By the way, the Municipal Building (Calvin C. Goode) and the First Interstate Building (now Wells Fargo) are still there, too.

The Arizona Bank building is now US Bank. Now let's jump over to the Hyatt, which is the building with the circular restaurant on the top that goes around and around. I went there once, and it is kinda cool to see the view slowly turning around. But it's too expensive for me!

It's amazing nowadays to see how small Symphony Hall looks when I go downtown. Back in the '90s, it was very visible, and there was a huge open space just north of it, just like on this plan. I guess they hadn't figured on expanding the Convention Center, which just dwarfs Symphony Hall now.

OK, let's jump on over to the Arizona Center. This is what really caught my eye! I used to spend a lot of time there, usually at the food court. I know that I went to Hooters, but I never went to a movie there. And a lot of the people that I worked with at the bank did some shopping there, for things like clothes. I really don't remember any of the stores. The Arizona Center is between Fillmore and Van Buren and 3rd Street and 5th Street. Looks like they planned on a lot of tall buildings, mostly set at rakish angles! I understand that there are big plans nowadays, can't wait to see what they do!

Looks like they completely missed that ASU would take over downtown Phoenix. Who could have imagined? The block across from the Arizona Center, that says "Superblock Mixed-Used Project looks like they hadn't planned much. The Heritage Hotel (I never heard it called that!) was the Ramada Inn, where the ASU School of Law building is now. And then across from that (I'm going west now) is a block of more rakishly-angled tall buildings, of which only the Post Office building (now used by ASU) I recognize. North of that is the Westward Ho.

This has been fun, but my feet are getting sore, so I'm gonna stop for now. Thanks for walking with me! If you see some cool stuff that I missed, please leave a comment.