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

Discovering Wall Street in Territorial Phoenix, Block 77


If you've spent much time exploring Territorial Phoenix, that is, between 1870 and 1912, you probably already know about streets that weren't on any maps, but people knew about anyway, such as Melinda's Alley, or Cactus Way. But you may not have noticed Wall Street. It was in Block 77, the original business district of Phoenix. It's where the west half of CityScape is now, and where Patriot's Square Park was from 1976 to 2009.

Wall Street ran north and south between Central Avenue and 1st Avenue from Washington to Jefferson in what was originally called Block 77. By the way, Phoenix was divided into 98 blocks when it was first laid out, which went from Van Buren to Jackson, and from 7th Avenue to 7th Street.

Phoenix Block Map from 1881

The names of the streets in Phoenix originally were Presidents (east-west streets) and Indian Tribes (north-south streets). They were, of course, just marks in the dirt, and the little adobe buildings that were originally built must have looked pretty tiny compared to the skyscrapers of today's Phoenix. And it was the gigantic scale of these streets, and blocks, that made people come up with ways to describe spaces in between. And one of those places was Wall Street.

In Territorial Phoenix, there really wasn't much need to use addresses. Territorial Phoenix was small enough that you could pretty much see the whole town from the tower of the Court House, which had a clock on it, by the way, which just about everyone could easily see, to know what time it was. Locations were described by who owned what area of a block, for example the Irvine Block, or the Porter Block. And the big buildings that were built there were referred to in the same way, as the Irvine Building, or the Porter Building.

Wall Street is where the banks, and financial institutions, were. And if you know your Phoenix history, you know that it was all about the gold being found in Wickenburg. Phoenix flourished, like San Francisco did, because of gold. For the City by the Bay, it was because of the 49ers, for Phoenix, it was the Vulture Mine. And Phoenix became a place to store the money (banks) and spend the money (merchants). And of course, Real Estate!

As you can imagine, there were a LOT of places in Phoenix that were happy to handle money. The biggest ones were: Valley Bank, the National Bank of Arizona (1st National Bank), and the National Bank of Phoenix. Impressive names for tiny little places in a dusty little desert town. There were Real Estate Offices, which also did similar functions as banks, such as lending money. And they were originally all on Block 77, along an alley between Washington and Jefferson between 1st Avenue and Central. And whether it was rustic humor or not, that alley was referred to as Wall Street.

Three friends standing on the northeast corner of Washington and 1st Avenue, Phoenix, Arizona. They're in front of Wakelin's, in the Monihon Building. Right behind the man's head is the Valley Bank building, which was on Wall Street. You're looking southeast.

Image at the top of this post: 1895 ad for George Perkins. Note the address, which was Wall and Washington Streets. Sounded better than "along the alley".



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