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

How the Westward Ho Hotel helped to destroy the neighborhood on Central Avenue


If you're a fan of Phoenix history, you know that Central Avenue, around where the Westward Ho is, at Fillmore, was once a beautiful neighborhood, with mansions. At the beginning of the 1900s, Phoenix started growing north, and this area, north of Van Buren, was considered one of the best neighborhoods. Of course now it's all just commercial buildings, and that was inevitable, as Phoenix grew, but what really caused the downfall of the neighborhood was the building of a gigantic "high-rise" hotel, the Westward Ho.

Nowadays it's hard to imagine how bad this would have been for a neighborhood, because the Westward Ho is now considered one of the architectural gems of Phoenix. But when it was built, in 1928, it was suddenly a gigantic "big box" building that looked down on all of the houses from miles around. And having strangers looking down into your backyard isn't exactly what most people want!

Of course nowadays there are laws protecting neighborhoods from such things. If a sixteen-story building suddenly sprang up in my suburban neighborhood I would imagine that people would be outraged, and wonder how it could have happened? Of course it can't happen now - even "Big Box" stores can be protested against and stopped (I saw that happen in my neighborhood a few years ago), and they're not even looking down on people's backyards.

Time-travel with me to the 1930s in Phoenix. We're sitting on a veranda of our beautiful home on Central Avenue, maybe sipping a mint julep. The palm trees on Central sway, and we see those new inventions, the horseless carriages, more and more. Darned noisy things! But it's not so bad, we're still far enough north to be away from the hustle and bustle of Phoenix. And then we look up at the monstrous structure being built just a few blocks away. And we know that's it's the beginning of the end for our neighborhood.


Image at the top of this post: the Westward Ho Hotel in the 1930s, Central Avenue and Fillmore, Phoenix, Arizona. Looking down on the neighborhood, and the church.

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