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!

The Motels of Phoenix on Van Buren and Grand before the 1970s


For someone like me, who didn't know Phoenix before the 1970s, it's hard to picture the motels on Van Buren, and Grand Avenue as anything but horrible and run-down. By the time I got to Phoenix, in 1977, the days of those motels as anything but crime-infested places, with prostitutes, etc., was over. And since I collect old photos of Phoenix, I'm finding out that these were some awesome places. Let's go visit some motels on Van Buren, and Grand Avenue, before the 1970s.

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It's the 1960s in our imagination, so let's start at the Dunes Motor Hotel, which was at 2935 E. Van Buren. The sign reminds me of classic Las Vegas. Of course the rooms are refrigerated (which meant air conditioning, as opposed to the old-fashioned "swamp coolers" that many places had back in the '40s and '50s). There are also televisions, and phones. And of course a pool - with a slide!


Of course, we could also stay at the Rose Bowl Motor Hotel, at 2645 E. Van Buren. It's also cooled by refrigeration. And we can swim! And there are a lot more places like this on Van Buren. They grew up along what was then the main highway in Phoenix in the 1940s, and flourished after World War II, and the economic boom of the 1950s. From what I can tell, they were still good places for families throughout the 1960s.

But now let's go over to Grand Avenue. That's the route up to Glendale, and it starts at 7th Avenue and Van Buren going northwest. And the first place I see is the Caravan Inn West, at 1501 Grand Avenue.

The Caravan Inn West, 1501 Grand Avenue, Phoenix, Arizona

I know it's late, but I want to stay up, and just look at the colors reflected on the pool. There are a lot of places on Grand that have the "Oasis" theme.

The Bali-Hi Motor Hotel, 1515 Grand Avenue, Phoenix, Arizona

Right next-door is the Bali-Hi, at 1515 Grand. I'm pretty sure that it was named after that popular song in the play "South Pacific", which I hear they've made into a movie. Now that song is stuck in my head - Baallii- Hiiiii..." OK, I'll stop singing. Let's go get into the pool!

At the pool in the 1960s at the Bali-Hi, 1515 Grand Avenue, Phoenix, Arizona

The pool at the Bali-Hi in the 1960s, 1515 Grand Avenue, Phoenix, Arizona