Year In Review: A Look At Our Top 10 Instagram Photos of 2020

by Fara Illich
Arts & Culture Community Featured Fara Illich January 7, 2021

Peaceful protesting by @thedatadoc | June 5, 2020

June 5, 2020 marked the ninth consecutive day of demonstrations in honor of George Floyd and Dion Johnson. This march brought more than a thousand people together in Downtown Phoenix against racism and social injustice. (Photo: Ken Colburn)

Downtown Phoenix is a place for people to gather and voices to be heard, and this snapshot from June 5 reflects a powerful moment in our history. During the summer of 2020, protests across Phoenix against racism and social injustice lasted for five straight weeks. On May 25, the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis coincided with the officer-involved killing of a local man, Dion Johnson, on the same day. Locally and abroad, these events spurred community action, demands for justice, and the growth of the international Black Lives Matter movement.

Black-owned businesses in #DTPHX @laurenthepotter_ | June 2, 2020

Chef Stephen Jones’ restaurant, The Larder + The Delta, is a local favorite and downtown-dining staple. (photo: Lauren Potter)

“Black-owned business have long-been a staple in the Black community providing jobs, economic security and somewhere for us to go and feel seen and safe. In these uncertain times, we need these places more than ever.”

– Patrisse Cullors, Black Lives Matter co-founder.

A story on Black-owned businesses in DTPHX, originally published in February during Black History Month, gained a lot of renewed attention in June as the Black Lives Matter movement grew in downtown — and across the world.

Home is where the heart is by @phoolio| May 15, 2020

Set against the backdrop of the coronavirus shutdown, the Sheraton Phoenix Downtown Hotel pictured in the center with the heart in lights was temporarily closed. Given the economic and emotional climate, this photo was a much-needed morale boost for the community (Photo: Jerome Favre)

Who doesn’t love a good downtown skyline shot? Sometimes it’s important take a couple of steps back (like waaaaay back). Once you do, sometimes it’s easier to see what’s important, the beauty in things, what’s possible, and perhaps most importantly, what’s beyond our control. In a year full of chaos, this aerial photo of Downtown Phoenix with the Sheraton hotel’s heart in the center felt incredibly grounding. It was a simple reminder of how much we all love our community, and appreciate this place we call home.

Hearts of hope by @root.josh | March 25, 2020

In March of 2020, the Sheraton and Westin hotels in Downtown Phoenix sent out their love by lighting up their windows with hearts. (Photo: Josh Root)

Hotels around the world temporarily closed during the early months of the pandemic but “kept the lights on” with inspiring messages of hope. In Downtown Phoenix, the Westin Phoenix and Sheraton Phoenix downtown hotels lit up their rooms in heart-shaped patterns. Hotels were among the hardest hit by the shutdowns, travel and event restrictions of the past year.  

The Save Our Stages movement by @crescentballroom | August 10, 2020

Independent venues across the country like Crescent Ballroom in Downtown Phoenix (pictured) suffered major losses due to COVID-19-related closures. A team of venue owners and event producers fought to keep the heartbeat of the scene alive – and eventually won. (Photo: Crescent Ballroom)

Back in April, a group of young, independent promoters with little political experience came together and announced their plans to lobby Congress for federal funding – a much-needed lifeline that would save music venues from permanent closure. They succeeded.

Thanks to a new federal aid bill signed into law in December, indie venues might have a fighting chance for survival. The National Independent Venue Association (NIVA) worked alongside Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn) and John Cornyn (R-Texas) on the $10 billion bipartisan bill. NIVA’s founding board includes Phoenix promoter Stephen Chilton with the Rebel Lounge.

Supporting local businesses by @reminiscement | March 17, 2020

Skyline photo of Downtown Phoenix during the monsoon season. (Photo: Casey Olson)

The caption of this photo was a call to action: “Now more than ever, it’s important for us to come together as a community and support our local businesses. They are the lifeblood of our city…”

That message resonates then and now. Supporting local and small businesses became a top priority for Downtown Phoenix Inc. (DPI) in 2020 – and that focus continues. For the past year, DPI staff has been meeting one-on-one with small business owners and employees, offering social media marketing support, loan and grant information, help with outdoor dining extensions and more. In March, DPI created a widely-popular online Takeout Guide, followed by the Buy + Fly local spending incentive program and a Downtown Dine Out activation — just to name a few. In the New Year, DPI is working on a number of new creative projects and programs to support small businesses, nonprofits and the arts community.

Art is protest by @ashleymacias | June 29, 2020

Six different artists collaborated on the 150-foot mural on Roosevelt Row. Featured from left to right: MDMN, Nyla Lee, Muta, Clyde, Ashley Macias and Giovannie aka “Just.” (Photo: Ashley Macias)

A 150-foot collaborative mural went up on Roosevelt Row at the end of June – a symbol of change and support for the Black Lives Matter movement from the Downtown Phoenix art community. Six different artists collaborated on the piece; featured from left to right: MDMN, Nyla Lee, Muta, Clyde, Ashley Macias and Giovannie aka “Just.”

Phoenix love by @tall_dark_and_brian | March 30, 2020

” I  Love PHX” art by Sloppy Joe’s Signs. Photo: @tall_dark_and_brian

The streets of Downtown Phoenix are like an art museum – from pop art to fine art, it’s not uncommon to find painters using city walls and buildings as canvases. More than just a fun backdrops for photos, art tells the stories of our past, comments on social issues, and perhaps most importantly — inspires us to explore our city. The “I love PHX” art is by Joe Beck, the mural on the left is by Hugo Medina and Darrin Armijo-Wardle, and the one of the right is by Clyde.

Winter sunset by @desertgirlaz

Winter sunset captured on Van Buren Street Jan. 15, 2020 (Photo: @desertgirlaz)

January 15 of 2020 seems like a lifetime ago. Downtown Phoenix Fry’s Food Store had just opened, which was a big deal for downtown. The word “coronavirus” wasn’t even part of our everyday vernacular. And this magnificent winter sunset was the only thing on our minds. (Oh, the good old days.)

Full moon magic by @zachcooleyphoto

This photo is real of the August full moon over downtown is “real” (no Photoshop involved). It’s enhanced by a few camera tricks, like zooming and double exposure. (Photo: Zach Cooley)

When you’re always hanging out inside the city, it’s hard to see its scope, scale and depth. Perhaps that’s why people love to see the city from afar, and why this downtown skyline shot under the full moon is so full of mystery, magic and intrigue. Believe it or not, it’s not Photoshopped (even though the moon is not to scale). According to the photographer, it was taken with a technique called in-camera double exposure.

To check out more photos and stay up-to-date on all-things downtown, follow us on Instagram @downtownphoenix.