Whether this is your first or 50th trip to downtown Phoenix, here are some fun things to know as you explore the urban core of the 6th largest city in the U.S.
Downtown Phoenix is a hub for professional sports as it’s the home of the Arizona Diamondbacks baseball team, the Phoenix Suns and the Phoenix Mercury basketball teams and the Arizona Rattlers arena football team.
The historic Hotel San Carlos was built in 1928 and has welcomed famed guests like Mae West, Clark Gable, Carole Lombard, Cary Grant, Ingrid Bergman, Humphrey Bogart and Gene Autry.
The opening scenes of the classic 1960 Alfred Hitchcock film, “Psycho” and the 1998 Gus Van Sant re-make were filmed in downtown Phoenix. The overhead shot in the 1960’s version features the downtown skyline including the Luhrs Building, the Luhrs Tower and the Professional Building. The 1998 version features the U.S. Bank Building, Chase Tower and the Westward Ho.
Valley Bar, a favorite downtown basement bar and music venue, features a menu of specialty cocktails named after famous and infamous Arizona politicians, including the “Sandra Day Old Fashioned,” the “McCain” and the “99 to Fife.” Also, be sure to check out the permanent art installation above the bar that tells the story of 1930’s “Trunk Murderess” Winnie Ruth Judd.
Shock rocker Alice Cooper, who makes his home in Phoenix, owns a restaurant in downtown called Alice Cooperstown. The staff sports Cooper’s signature black eye makeup and one of their most popular menu items is the “Big Unit,” a full pound, 22 inch all-beef hot dog named for Baseball Hall of Fame pitcher and former Diamondback Randy Johnson.
Roosevelt Row and Evans-Churchill
On your walk from Phoenix Convention Center to Hance Park, you’ll see a variety of treasured eats and drinks options including Breadfruit & Rum Bar, Phoenix Public Market Cafe and Matt’s Big Breakfast, which rose to national fame following an appearance on Food Network’s Diners, Drive-ins & Dives with Guy Fieri.
The March Madness Music Fest takes place in Margaret T. Hance Park. Flowing under the park is the Interstate 10 freeway. This stretch of the freeway was the last section of the I-10 to be connected. The park was built to keep the historic neighborhoods connected (following the demolition of historic buildings to build the freeway.)
Burton Barr Central Phoenix Library was designed by Phoenix architect Will Bruder and the skylights on the top floor are designed to capture the light on the summer solstice. Like the map scene in “Raiders of the Lost Ark” without the blinding flash of light.
The “Release the Fear” statue on Central and Roosevelt was erected in 2005 by Phoenix artist Robert John Miley. It is composed of 8 1/2 tons of metal, 8,000 lbs. of which came directly from weapons used in violent acts throughout Arizona.
Arizona State University Downtown Phoenix Campus
The Arizona State University Downtown Phoenix campus opened in 2006, making it one of four ASU campuses. Its student population has grown to 11,737 over the past 10 years.
The Downtown campus is home to seven of ASU’s colleges and schools, inclusing the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication and the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law.
Adjacent to the ASU campus is Civic Space Park. It opened in 2009, creating a 2.7 acre grassy oasis with a 145-foot tall public art piece called “Her Name is Patience,” design by internationally recognized sculptor Janet Echelman.