Aerial Show

Written by Nicole Tyau Category: History Issue: May 2016
Group Free


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DURING HIS PRESIDENTIAL campaign in 1960, John F. Kennedy gave a speech at the Westward Ho, where he remarked, “I understand that Senator Goldwater sent a wire to Nelson Rockefeller a few days ago saying Arizona is in the bag. Well, it seems to me it is a mighty thin bag... if we can keep working, if we can keep emphasizing how important it is for Arizona and the country that the United States look forward and move forward in the ‘60s, we will just take it right out of Barry Goldwater’s bag. In any case, we will make it easy for him to be a candidate in 1964. That is the least we can do for a favorite son. ”  

By 1966, Kennedy had been assassinated, Goldwater had run and lost, and Downtown Phoenix (pictured above) was dotted with local landmarks (including, somewhere in the mix, the first offices of PHOENIX magazine). Fifty years later, our offices are in Scottsdale and many of the buildings that bolstered our ‘60s skyline are gone. Here’s a ground-level look at a few key landmarks.

1. The Heard Building (1920)

With a deceptively Westward Ho-like radio tower, the Heard Building was Phoenix’s original skyscraper, standing seven stories tall. Because several fires demolished iconic buildings like the Hotel Adams in 1910, the building’s owner, Dwight B. Heard, had the entire structure built with reinforced concrete.

2. The Luhrs Building (1924)

The Beaux-Arts style Luhrs building was the tallest building in Phoenix until the Westward Ho was completed in 1928. Standing 10 stories tall, it was designed by El Paso-based architects Trost & Trost and financed by original Phoenix city council member George Luhrs Sr. The prestigious Arizona Club occupied the 10th floor penthouse until 1971.

3. The Hotel San Carlos (1928)

What’s Phoenix without a good ghost story? Before it was a popular hotel, the lot accommodated a one-room schoolhouse that was condemned in 1916. The site is said to be haunted by children of the former schoolhouse. The same year the hotel opened, young, heartbroken aspiring starlet Leone Jensen jumped from the seventh story of the hotel to her death. She is said to still haunt rooms, as a woman in white standing at the foot of beds.

 4. The Luhrs Tower (1929)

Famous for its cameo in Hitchcock’s film Psycho (1960), The Luhrs Tower has long been a fixture in the skyline. George Luhrs Jr. financed the 14-story Art Deco tower also designed by Trost & Trost.

5. Transamerica/Title & Trust (1931)

The lot’s original tenant was the two-story O’Neill Building that was demolished in 1929 to make room for the new $650,000 Title & Trust building. In 1959, Title & Trust sold the building to Transamerica Title Insurance Co., which held it until 1969 when it sold to T&T Building Associates. In 2002, the building became the Orpheum Lofts, a high-end residential space.