When Midtown cooked

GB Bldg 1964

By: Rouge Columnist 

Midtown wasn't planned. It simply escaped...any coherent city planning, zoning, or vision. Some say it was Phoenix's attempt at Los Angeles' Wilshire Boulevard, the nearly 16-mile avenue from downtown LA's financial district to Santa Monica. Maybe. But Phoenix never had the economic power or urban assets to support its version of Museum Row on the Miracle MileCentury CityKoreatown, Beverly Hills, Westwood with UCLA, and subway lines. Wouldn't want to become another LA.

The two are comparable in that both were the sites of a majority of post-1960 skyscrapers. In Phoenix, it began with the building above. A turquoise-skinned International-style box, the Guaranty Bank Building opened in March 1960, designed by architect Charles Polacek and built by contractor David Murdock (who lived a remarkable life). At 252 feet, it dethroned the Hotel Westward Ho as the tallest building in Phoenix and the Southwest. On the top floor the Cloud Club offered a spectacular view.

Over the next thirty or more years, this was the heart of the city. For better and for worse.


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