[IN-DEPTH] Dirt Wars: The battle over the future of downtown Phoenix

Looking northwest from the intersection of Washington Street and First Avenue in 1928. Prior to World War II, Phoenix had a thriving, bustling downtown./McCulloch Brothers Inc. Photographs, 1884-1947/ASU Library
Looking northwest from the intersection of Washington Street and First Avenue in 1928. Prior to World War II, Phoenix had a thriving, bustling downtown./McCulloch Brothers Inc. Photographs, 1884-1947/ASU Library

By Antonia Noori Farzan | Phoenix New Times

There are vacant lots scattered throughout downtown Phoenix, so the one on the corner of McKinley and North Second streets doesn’t stand out.

Odd bits of trash — a Push Pop wrapper, a blackened banana peel — have collected in the dusty gravel. A street sign warns, “No Parking: Police Department Will Impound.” People pass by on their way to Cobra Arcade Bar or the Angel’s Trumpet without looking up from their phones.

Back when the street grid was laid out in the 1890s, an ad in the Phoenix City Directory described this area as a “good neighborhood within a short and pleasant walk of the city,” with “the best and most eligible building sites in Phoenix.”

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