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History buffs, Phoenix fans and newcomers: These Downtown Phoenix fun facts are for you. From hidden letters on the side of a hotel to stats that prove we’re one of the fastest-growing cities in the nation, here are some interesting tidbits you may not know about our city:
The Gold Spot was downtown’s underground bowling alley from approximately 1939 to 1950 — and you can still see remnants of the bowling alley on the sidewalk across from the Westward Ho on the southeast corner of Central Avenue and Pierce Street. Look for the glass blocks in the sidewalk, which were once used as subterranean skylights.
Unfortunately, there isn’t much else left of the bowling alley — but we can dream of it someday being redeveloped.
The “ghost letters” are created with reflective material that is hidden during the day. Here’s how you can capture the letters at night: Head to First and Adams streets and find the Renaissance Phoenix Downtown Hotel, stand across the street from the valet area on First Street, turn on your camera’s flash, point your camera toward the East-facing wall, take a photo and keep snapping until you get the “PHX” letters.
And don’t forget to use #DTPHX when posting!
Marilyn Monroe stayed in this room at the Hotel San Carlos twice in the 1950s. She preferred the hotel for its privacy at the time and chose to stay in the suite directly next to the pool so that she could swim at any hour. Other stars that frequented the historic hotel include Mae West, Clark Gable and Humphrey Bogart — who have suites and gold stars on the bordering sidewalk of Monroe Street and Central Avenue named in their honor.
We get a panning look at our city nearly 60 years ago at the beginning of the classic film. At the start, you’ll see the Heard Building (not the Westward Ho), Hanny’s and an assortment of other Phoenix relics. Hitchcock then zooms into the Jefferson Hotel (now the Barrister Place building) where Marion Crane and Sam Loomis discuss their future.
Built atop the 2,800-foot-long Interstate-10 tunnel and commonly referred to as deck park — Margaret T. Hance Park has hosted food festivals, countless community events and even an NCAA Final Four March Madness Music Festival with 20,000 attendees.
Phoenix Community Alliance (PCA) and the Hance Park Conservancy are leading fundraising efforts to revitalize the park with shade trees, a splash pad, amphitheater and a restaurant.
Thousands flock to the First Friday Art Walk to experience downtown’s artistic side through galleries, performances and murals. Beyond Roosevelt Row, public art can also be found on Grand Avenue, in the downtown core and the Warehouse District.
Just last year downtown added a mural on the Renaissance Phoenix Downtown Hotel by Clyde, an uplifting “You Are Amazing” mural on the Hyatt Regency Garage by Kyllan Maney and Jayarr and several artist-painting Giving Meters throughout the city.
Before it was the Hilton Garden Inn, the Art Deco skyscraper on Central Avenue and Monroe Street was home to Valley National Bank of Arizona from 1932 to 1972.
After a long vacancy, the building was renovated to become a 170-room hotel in 2016 — where you can find the bank’s original tile in the lobby, a business center converted from the office of the bank’s president and an old deposit box in the wall.
The past few years have seen a marked increase in residential completions, with no signs of a slowdown. Downtown Phoenix’s residential population is expected to nearly double in population in the next five years— thanks to developments like Block 23. Other developments to watch include Adeline at Collier Center (379 units), Kenect Phoenix (320 units), X Phoenix (253 units) and The Derby (211 units).
Built in 1972, the 40-story tower takes up an entire city block. The second-tallest building, U.S. Bank Center, is just a block away.
Who knew?! The state amphibian is an Arizona tree frog, which is green and a bit larger than a quarter. Although you may not see any live tree frogs in downtown, you can admire large lifelike artwork of them in the fountains of the Arizona Center.
The red rock walls and turquoise waters of the Grand Canyon inspired the architecture of the Convention Center when it was expanded in 2008. The $600 million project tripled the size of the center to more than 900,000 square feet of extraordinary meeting and exhibit space.
No crane, no gain. As one of the fastest growing cities in the U.S., Downtown Phoenix is reaching new heights each year with the most continuous development momentum ever. From now until the end of the year, you can expect to see 11 cranes in the rising skyline.