Central and Van Buren in 1972.
Part I and Part II of "What Killed Downtown Phoenix" were the most popular posts in the history of Rogue Columnist. So much for the notion that Phoenicians don't care about the center city. Now it's time to bring the story to a conclusion.
By the mid-1970s, downtown was in a freefall, despite the construction of the Phoenix Civic Plaza, Hyatt Regency, new Hotel Adams, new Greyhound bus depot and skyscrapers housing the headquarters of the state's three big banks. Unfortunately, in the process many historic buildings were demolished, including a priceless red sandstone multi-story building at Second Avenue and Washington. Block-long parking garages and assembly of superblocks created long, empty spaces along sidewalks where once there were dozens of shops. Several valuable territorial-era structures were demolished to create the desolate, sunblasted Patriots Square (workers discovered an "underground city" from frontier Phoenix that had housed opium dens and gambling parlors, protected from the heat in an era before air conditioning). These and others lost were precisely the kind of buildings rehabbed in downtown Denver into Larimer Square.One of the greatest calamities was the demolition of the Fox Theater, the finest movie palace downtown. This happened without a peep of protest. On the land, the city built a "transit center," which was little more than a Maryvale-style ranch house "station" and parking stalls for city buses. The Paramount somehow survived, running Spanish-language films. Another calamity was the Westward Ho, which closed as a hotel and only avoided the wrecking ball by being turned into Section 8 housing. The smaller San Carlos, thankfully, was saved as a historic hotel.