Exploring the history of Phoenix, Arizona and a little bit of Los Angeles and San Francisco, California.

Why the ground is so lumpy at the Arizona Center, and what they're doing about it


If you visited the Arizona Center in downtown Phoenix, which is between Van Buren and Fillmore and 3rd and 5th Streets, anytime after it was built until just recently, as it started more construction, you may have been puzzled as to why there was so much lumpy ground there. The reason is because the original design called for more buildings, that have taken over thirty years now to get started on building. If you never noticed, it's to the credit of the builders who filled in as best they could, and did a great job of it.

The original design for the Arizona Center from 1985, Phoenix, Arizona.

Back in the mid-nineties I often went to the Arizona Center to eat lunch. And since I worked at Bank One, which is now Chase, at Van Buren and Central, I walked over to the Arizona Center and entered the area from the southwest, at 3rd Street and Van Buren. And it was this area that really stood out for me as empty, and lumpy. It's as if another building should have been there, and it should have. When the building was never built, a large area was left blank with a lot of landscaping, and a lot of paving. I used to walk around and look at the rows of Mediterranean palm trees that were planted very closely together, to just kinda fill up the space. The ground around there hadn't even been smoothed out, it was left lumpy. And the Arizona Center had a lot of lumpy land that was landscaped, and had grass. I enjoyed the landscaping and the grass, but I knew that something was missing - buildings.

Phoenix has a lot of missing buildings, and they're usually just empty lots, with chain-link fences around them, and a few weeds. At the Arizona Center, to their credit, they landscaped. It looked so nice that the effect was that it looked intentional, as if all that extra land had been set aside so that there would be open space, and plants.

Now that the construction has been resumed, in 2018, the lumpy ground and the landscaping will go away, and I have to admit that I'll miss it!

Image at the top of this post: The Arizona Center under construction in January of 2018, photo by Mick Welsh.

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