It's nice to read that the city of Phoenix is spending $560,000 on a facelift for First Street, including "street improvements, decorative sidewalks, new trees and pedestrian-friendly upgrades."
Unfortunately, my first reaction is that City Hall is about 50 years too late.
Into the 1960s, First Street, like much of downtown, was a thriving commercial avenue. Essential to this was affordable space for shops and a streetscape that meant every few feet you landed at the door to another business.
Let me give you an example. In 1956, between Washington and Monroe streets, two blocks, First was home to Russell Stover Candies, David's Shoes, Goldwater's, Hanny's, Dorris Hayman, Montgomery Ward, Porter Mercantile, Barney's Garage, Cole Home Supply, Morris Athletic Supply, Richards Dean Jewelery, Tony's Shoe Shop, The Normandie Hotel, Thompson's Indian Shop and Phoenix Stamp and Coin. All in two blocks.
That delightful commercial density was killed by "improvements" since then: Brutalist parking structures, hulking hotels that open onto other streets, teardowns and the Valley Center (Chase Tower) skyscraper. These destroyed literally scores of human-scale buildings and helped run retail out of downtown.