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Van Buren

A glimpse into the golden age of Van Buren Avenue in Phoenix Arizona. Structures still standing are noted in color, demolished structures in white. Data is based upon observation and a huge debt to John Deal's website at http://www.sierraestrella.com/vanburen.html. Mr. Deal's captions are used with his permission. This interactie version of Van Buren is brought to you by http://www.modernphoenix.net
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St. Luke's Medical Center
1920 E Van Buren St
Phoenix, AZ 85006, US
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Sun Dancer Lodge
803 E Van Buren St
Phoenix, AZ 85006, US
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AutoLodge Motel
804 E Van Buren St
Phoenix, AZ 85006, US
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Newton's Inn
917 E Van Buren St
Phoenix, AZ 85006, US
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Hyatt Chalet Motel
938 E Van Buren St
Phoenix, AZ 85006, US
In the 1960's it was a star memeber of the Hyatt chain, on the upscale side for Van Buren. In 2007 it was boarded up, and from the sign it used to be a "7 Motel", whatever that is. The colored glass windows under the A is long gone - it had been replaced by painted plywood.
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Phoenix East Travelodge,
965 E Van Buren St
Phoenix, AZ 85006, US
It was here in 1966 that a robber had cut out the manager's eye to show he was serious about wanting some money. In 1974, another manager was shot, then taken to St Luke's Hospital just down the street where he died (All around St Lukes there is a public housing project known at the time for its criminal element). Years later, the cold case police used old fingerprints to track down the shooter, who was then a preacher in Washington.

Currently a Super 8 Motel
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Camp Montezuma
1850 E Van Buren St
Phoenix, AZ 85034, US
"The finest cottage auto camp in Arizona. A really beautiful place - one that offers comfortable cottage quarters or attractive camping sites with all modern conveniences including free baths and electricity at reasonable rates. The comforts of home; a quiet restful environment; friendly folks around - combine to make Camp Montezuma 'a place by the side of the road' for those who yearn for something a bit better, yet something within their means. Just watch for the orange sign on the Bankhead National Highway, two miles east of Phoenix."

Now how many people have heard of Bankhead National Highway? Not many! It was one of the first Interstate roads (which were usually called transcontinental trails in the 1920s), from El Paso Texas to San Diego. This route was later called the Borderland Highway after 1926 and finally still later most of it was incorporated into US 80 in the 1930s. The route was conceived as a tribute to Senator John H. Bankhead, who had been instrumental in passage of the Federal Aid Road Act of 1916.
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Winter Garden
1850 E Van Buren St
Phoenix, AZ 85034, US
One of the early auto courts in Phoenix. It had "cabins and trailers" for weary travelers. I guess this came after Camp Montezuma. Had a water tower and windmil. This location is basically where the Indian "La Ciudad" ruins were located. Up into the 1920s, when this was still Camp Montezuma and then later Winter Gardens and Tent City, the Hohokam mounds were very much visible.
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Montezuma Motel
1890 E Van Buren St
Phoenix, AZ 85034, US
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Ground Zero
1920 E Van Buren St
Phoenix, AZ 85006, US
Estimated location of the site of the original Phoenix.

"Swilling has an 'original' idea. - In the late 1860's a guy named Jack Swilling and a group of people moved to a flat area just north of the Salt River, planted corn, wheat, squash and pumpkins, and started a city. They called it Swilling's Mill, then Helling Mill, and then a few other names. They just couldn't find a good name. Anyway, it didn't make much difference because they didn't like the location anyway. So they moved down the road to this spot, where there happened to be old Indian ruins and the remains of pre-historic canals. The settlers built a few houses, a store and a saloon. They needed a name for the new settlement, again. One person said the place should be called Salina. One moron suggested Pumpkinville, pointing to the crop out in the field. Still no name. After a few fist fights and a round of booze, a guy named Duppa stood up and said it should be called Phoenix, probably because the town (all five mud huts of it) was obviously built on top of the ruins of an ancient Hohokam Indian village (which archeologists call "La Ciudad"). Anyway, somebody grabbed a pen and wrote down the word Phenix on the map. Close enough."
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Tropics Motor Hotel
1902 E Van Buren St
Phoenix, AZ 85006, US
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Old Faithful Inn
1916 E Van Buren St
Phoenix, AZ 85006, US
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Stone Motel
2114 E Van Buren St
Phoenix, AZ 85034, US
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Camp Phoenix
2220 E Van Buren St
Phoenix, AZ 85006, US
One of the early 'auto camps' as they were called. Notice the refrigeration cooling tower or, in other words, a giant, centralized swamp cooler. And no self-respecting auto camp is complete without Arizona's favorite game: shuffleboard, on concrete.

Camp Montezuma, Camp Joy, Camp Phoenix and Autopia were probably the first generation of the new type of hotels on Van Buren, targeting the new type of traveller that appeared in the 1920s: the motorist and his family.
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Traveler's Motel
2228 E Van Buren St
Phoenix, AZ 85006, US
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Camp Joy
2229 E Van Buren St
Phoenix, AZ 85006, US
This is one of the first motels on Van Buren, built in the cottage campground style. A postcard from the 1920s, and it was at the time beyond the eastern city limit of Phoenix, in the country. The back of the postcard says: Most Modern and Beautiful Auto Camp in Arizona. Rates $1.00 a Day and Up. Air Colled, Steam Heat. Present this card to manager and he will do his best to please you.
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Holiday Inn
2247 E Van Buren St
Phoenix, AZ 85006, US
There was a Holiday Inn starting probably in the 1960s. Before that there appears to have been a small sandwich shop called Dinette (You name the sandwich, we'll build it!) witha soda fountain. I don't know if this was associated to a motel.
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El Rancho Viejo
2353 E Van Buren St
Phoenix, AZ 85006, US
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Green Parrot Motel
2360 E Van Buren St
Phoenix, AZ 85006, US
aka Jay Hawk Motel (Same place, different bird!)
and Wrangler Motel
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H and R Auto Court
2364 E Van Buren St
Phoenix, AZ 85006, US
Where the KonTiki was later built. This one is an early auto courts from the 1930s. There were at least two or three other establishments after this and before the KonTiki, but I can find no record of them.
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Kon Tiki Hotel
2364 E Van Buren St
Phoenix, AZ 85006, US
The last and greatest of the hotels and motels on Van Buren. "A little bit of Waikiki in the heart of Phoenix." It was as nice as any hotel in town, and it marked the end of an era. Jet airplanes had arrived at Sky Harbor and Van Buren was already in decline. A postcard that describes the Kon Tiki as follows: Fabulous Polynesean atmosphere in the midst of Phoenix. Only minutes to all business and points of interest. One "short mile" from Phoenix Sky-harbor Airport. Complete hotel services with personal attention, and Kon Tiki enjoys the City's most wonderful food by the valley's finest chef -- Come to the Kon Tiki and take away a life long memory.
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Paradise Motel
2433 E Van Buren St
Phoenix, AZ 85034, US
Former Mission Motel
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Log Cabin Motel
2515 E Van Buren St
Phoenix, AZ 85034, US
Demolished 2010
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Sun Villa Motel
2529 E Van Buren St
Phoenix, AZ 85034, US
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Thunderbird Motel
2601 E Van Buren St
Phoenix, AZ 85034, US
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Arizona Motel
2625 E Van Buren St
Phoenix, AZ 85034, US
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Roadside Auto Lazy A Motel
2635 E Van Buren St
Phoenix, AZ 85034, US
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Rose Bowl Motor Court,
2645 E Van Buren St
Phoenix, AZ 85034, US
One of the earlier motels on Van Buren, probably from the 1930s.
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Sea Breeze Motor Hotel
2701 E Van Buren St
Phoenix, AZ 85034, US
It advertized itself as the "Largest Deluxe Motor Court in Arizona, Air conditioned by Refrigeration (the only one in Phoenix), Steam Heated, Circulating Ice Water, Four minutes from center of town, east on highways 60-70-80-89.

May also habe been known as the Sea Breeze Tourist Village
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Desert Hills
2745 E Van Buren St
Phoenix, AZ 85034, US
Now the Salvation Army's Herberger Center.
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Navo-Mex Curio Shop
2820 E Van Buren St
Phoenix, AZ 85008, US
One of the four curio shops once located on Van Buren
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Frontier Lodge Motor Hotel
2823 E Van Buren St
Phoenix, AZ 85008, US
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Copa Inn
2834 E Van Buren St
Phoenix, AZ 85008, US
Demolished 2007
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Zira Court
2836 E Van Buren St
Phoenix, AZ 85008, US
No sign; buildings still standing.
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Red Barn Motel/Barn Door Restaurant,
2853 E Van Buren St
Phoenix, AZ 85008, US
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Deserama Motel
2853 E Van Buren St
Phoenix, AZ 85008, US
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Tahiti Inn Huts
2900 E Van Buren St
Phoenix, AZ 85008, US
Now Days Inn Airport.

Another one of the establishments belonging to the Polynesian phase that swept the nation in the early 1 960s.
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Motel Relax Inn
2922 E Van Buren St
Phoenix, AZ 85008, US
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The Dunes Motor Hotel
2935 E Van Buren St
Phoenix, AZ 85008, US
Built approx 1960. No sign left or pool remain.
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Dreamland Mobile Home Park
3033 E Van Buren St
Phoenix, AZ 85034, US
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Romney Motor Hotel
3037 E Van Buren St
Phoenix, AZ 85008, US
Now Econo-Lodge
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Hiway House
3148 E Van Buren St
Phoenix, AZ 85008, US
Build by Del Webb. It was a large hotel complex and convention center. Their motto: "Sleep is our business." The Hiway House advertised itself as the "King size playground of the South West," with a miniature train to attract the kids in the back seat. The Hiway House lasted about ten years and then was sold off. It went through several owners before the State of Arizona purchased the property and converted it to a women's prison, which is now closed/demoed.

The miniature train was known as the Arizona & Pacific Railroad and the locomotive (word loosely used, there) was Engine No. 1 of the A&PRR, also called the "Phoenix." The tracks went from outside the lobby around the pool, through the gardens, to the cabanas. Even after the resort was sold, the train stayed on site in storage I guess, and was sold by the Department of Corrections in a public auction when they acquired the buildings (1995).
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Phoenix Star Theatre
440 N 32nd St
Phoenix, AZ 85008, US
Now Celebrity Theatre

This was originally part of the Del Webb Hiway House complex. They even built a huge theatre next to the resort. On the postcard, the Star Theatre has a Van Buren address, now it is called the Celebrity Theatre and is listed as 440 North 32nd Street.

An ASU paper gives the following information on this establishment: The Star Theater was built in 1963 by Del Webb Corporation as a convention center for the Highway House Resort. During the summers, promoter Buster Bonoff staged Broadway musicals at the theater. In the late 1960s, the theater was renamed the Celebrity Theater and converted to a full-time concert hall, featuring a round center stage and seating 2,650 patrons intimately close to the performers. The 1970s and 1980s saw the Celebrity become the hottest theater in Phoenix, drawing national and international acts like Liberace, Sammy Davis Jr., Nat King Cole, Cream, Bruce Springsteen, Bonnie Raitt, and Frank Zappa and hosting musical productions like Funny Girl and South Pacific. The theater rapidly fell into disrepair in the 1990s... Today the Celebrity Theater must compete with similar venues in more attractive neighborhoods.
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Navajo Motel
3232 E Van Buren St
Phoenix, AZ 85034, US
Sign no longer standing
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Pyramid Motel
3307 E Van Buren St
Phoenix, AZ 85034, US
Another Arabian-themed hotel on Van Buren. This part of the road was once called 'Little Arabia' (Caravan, Bagdad, Pyramid, Sands).

Currently a Travelodge (2010).
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Caravan Inn
3333 E Van Buren St
Phoenix, AZ 85034, US
This place is best known as being purchased by the good Rev. Roger Rudin in the 1980s (?), an austere, respectable Pentecostal preacher and one time owner of the Westward Ho. By day RR was a preacher on intimate terms with the Lord, who even made him (RR) His (God's) official end time prophet. At night, he was Roger Rudino, a flamboyant, colorful character that entertained intimate gay friends at his glitzy Paradise Lounge establishment. Somehow for years he managed to fool both communities, ripping off both and leaving many if not fond memories.
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Bagdad Inn
3335 E Van Buren St
Phoenix, AZ 85034, US
A later reincarnation of the Caravan Inn above with a different street number.
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The Sands
3400 E Van Buren St
Phoenix, AZ 85034, US
Simply known as "the Sands" it was a large well-known hotel that endured for decades. It is now the New Day Center, the largest Family Homeless Shelter in Phoenix, run by the United Methodist Outreach Ministry (UMOM)
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Crest Lodge
3411 E Van Buren St
Phoenix, AZ 85034, US
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Desert Rose Motor Hotel
3424 E Van Buren St
Phoenix, AZ 85008, US
Original motel closed in 2000. It had a diner that dated from the original 1957 building.
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Valley Garden
3441 E Van Buren St
Phoenix, AZ 85034, US
One of the early trailer Parks, also rentals for travelers.
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ABC Court
3541 E Van Buren St
Phoenix, AZ 85034, US
An early motel
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Desert Sky Hotel
3541 E Van Buren St
Phoenix, AZ 85034, US
Built after the ABC was torn down. as of 2010 it was a Travel Inn.
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Phoenix Drive-In
3600 E Van Buren St
Phoenix, AZ 85034, US
Probably the first drive-in movie place in Arizona. It was built in the 1940s, after World War 2.
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Theatre Motel - and Drive In Movie Theatre
3602 E Van Buren St
Phoenix, AZ 85034, US
"Movies under Arizona Stars. Open year round. Theatre Motel Apartments, finest in the Southwest."

"World's finest cinema auto amphitheatre."
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Sun Valley Motel,
3641 E Van Buren St
Phoenix, AZ 85034, US
Another early motel, probably built in the late 1940s.
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Vagabond Motel
3644 E Van Buren St
Phoenix, AZ 85008, US
A later motel, probably from the 1960s, based upon the style of the buildings. As of 2010 it is the Phoenix Sunrise Motel.
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Yaqui Motor Lodge
3650 E Van Buren St
Phoenix, AZ 85034, US
"All modern, some units with kichenettes. Air cooled, vented heat. Adobe construction. Spacious laws. Member of Phoenix Chamber of Commerce."
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Lone Star Motel
3707 E Van Buren St
Phoenix, AZ 85034, US
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Arizona Palms Motel
3725 E Van Buren St
Phoenix, AZ 85034, US
As of 2010 the buildings are recognizable as part of the Western Lodge with an address at 3727 Van Buren.
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Bill Johnson's Big Apple
3757 E Van Buren St
Phoenix, AZ 85034, US
A long-time Arizona institution and a Van Buren survivor. In 1955 Bill Johnson and family moved to the Arizona desert. He bought a piece of land on Van Buren "where the pavement ends and the Old West begins." The Big Apple at that time was the last outpost of civilization on the road to Tempe. It also had many famous guests, including locals Waylon Jennings, Marty Robbins and Wayne Newton. Out of state folks such as Roy Rogers, Dale Evans, Johnny Cash, Buck Owens and many more would come in for a meal when in Phoenix. Wallace and Ladmo, Barry Goldwater and other politicians were regulars, too. As a kid, I always thought it was a really cool place because of the sawdust on the floor and especially because the waitresses packed a six-shooter on the hip. Another reader remembers pushing the button to make the pig turn on the rotisserie (above the entrance). It was, it is, a great restaurant. Here is a link to the restaurant's site: As Bill says, Let's eat! Update: I once came across a Bill Johnson's Restaurant with a 3149 address in a 1950s phone book. What is that about? Was there an earlier building down the street? Was it a typo? I have an answer: Jim R at the Big Apple says: Bill Johnson 1st opened the Belle Starr Restaurant at that location in 1961 but changed to El Diablo Mexican food in 1963 which was there until 1985.
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Ramada Inn
3801 E Van Buren St
Phoenix, AZ 85034, US
Not to be outdone by the train at the Highway House, the Ramada put in a full size trolley to ferry clients to their rooms. The main lobby was built like a barn.
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State Motor Lodge
3810 E Van Buren St
Phoenix, AZ 85034, US
This establishment has been around at least for 3 decades. That is not a record, but even so it makes it one of the older businesses on the street. One reason for their longevity is probably because they didn't spend any money on fancy signs.
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Sunset Motel
3818 E Van Buren St
Phoenix, AZ 85034, US
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La Casa Real Motel
3830 E Van Buren St
Phoenix, AZ 85034, US
This was later replaced by a hotel chain called Imperial 400 Motel - "Coast to Coast, Thr-rifty rates" now demolished.
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Autopia,
3901 E Van Buren St
Phoenix, AZ 85034, US
"Autopia as Utopia". Another very early motor hotel and tourist court.

"Finest motor park in Arizona with tourist hotel apartments. Private garage for your car, and the best hotel acommodations for you and your family. Rates are no more than you want to pay. Don't unpack - Just drive in. Everything furnished."
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Aloha Polynesian Resort
3901 E Van Buren St
Phoenix, AZ 85034, US
After the Autopia was torn down there were at least two other motels on the site: the Samoan Village ("An Island in the Sun") and later the Aloha Resort. The two establishments use the same picture on the front of their postcard - one says Aloha Resort and the other says Samoan Village on the printed side.
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Tropicana Motel
3901 E Van Buren St
Phoenix, AZ 85034, US
Yet another motel at this site. "Its tropical setting beckons many to spend their entire vacation here summer or winter. Lounge in our beautiful patios, swim in filtered, pure, sparkling clear water, play tenis, shuffleboard, have Bar-B-Que parties and dine in our attractive restaurant, serving the best of food. 76 individual cottages. Each with telephone."
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Continental Guest Lodge
3901 E Van Buren St
Phoenix, AZ 85034, US
At least the fourth establishment at this address. How many hotels, motels and lodges existed here?
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Warner Trailer Sales,
3924 E Van Buren St
Phoenix, AZ 85034, US
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Desert Star Motor Hotel
4120 E Van Buren St
Phoenix, AZ 85008, US
Another motel from the 1940s, with "26 new, very lovely hotel rooms and apartments, with tile baths and showers." It was reborn in the 1960s with "55 modern units, beautifully furnished and decorated Hotel Rooms, Studio Rooms, Family Rooms, Kitchenettes and full apartments, situated in a beautifully landscaped area. Air-conditioned by Refrigeration, Tiled baths, tubs and showers. Room phones and Color Television. Newly opened deluxe addition. Filtered and heated swimming pool. Shuffleboard. Lobby and Coffee Shop." Now a Ramada Limited.
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Rose Marie Motel
4127 E Van Buren St
Phoenix, AZ 85008, US
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Motel Flint
4140 E Van Buren St
Phoenix, AZ 85008, US
Another early motel - this postcard is from about 1950. The back says: A modern, air-cooled motel with tubs and tile showers. Some kitchens and apts with electric refrigeration. Carports. Close to good restaurants.
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StageCoach Motel
4311 E Van Buren St
Phoenix, AZ 85008, US
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Tovrea Castle
5041 E Van Buren St
Phoenix, AZ 85008, US
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Cottage Court
5218 E Van Buren St
Phoenix, AZ 85008, US
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City Center Motel
600 W Van Buren St
Phoenix, AZ 85007, US
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Phoenix Travelodge
402 W Van Buren St
Phoenix, AZ 85003, US
Now "Budget Lodge"
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Kelly Motel
424 W Van Buren St
Phoenix, AZ 85003, US
Significantly remodeled, but original structure remains. Now an America's Best Value Inn.
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Desert inn
950 W Van Buren St
Phoenix, AZ 85007, US
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Greenway Motor Hotel
1208 W Van Buren St
Phoenix, AZ 85007, US
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El Rancho
1300 W Van Buren St
Phoenix, AZ 85007, US
Probably the biggest and best of motels on the west side
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Palomine Motor Hotel
1520 W Van Buren St
Phoenix, AZ 85007, US
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Park Lane
1601 W Van Buren St
Phoenix, AZ 85007, US
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Circle K Motor Hotel
1939 W Van Buren St
Phoenix, AZ 85009, US
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Cocanut Grove Motel
2012 W Van Buren St
Phoenix, AZ 85009, US
Now spelled 'Coconut'
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Sandman Motel
2120 W Van Buren St
Phoenix, AZ 85009, US
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Del Ano
2125 W Van Buren St
Phoenix, AZ 85009, US
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Sombrero
2125 W Van Buren St
Phoenix, AZ 85009, US
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Oakland Motel
2448 W Van Buren St
Phoenix, AZ 85009, US