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BULLEThistory archive

History Archive Photo
Westward Ho pool, 1970

© Markow Photography

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A Ho Lot of History
In its heyday, the Westward Ho was the hotel of choice for high-profile guests such as John F. Kennedy, Elizabeth Taylor and others. It was also the tallest building in Arizona. Today, the luster is gone, but it remains one of the most identifiable historic landmarks in Phoenix.

By Andrea Crandall

If walls could talk, the Westward Ho's would have quite a story to tell. The hotel opened in 1928, as Phoenix was evolving from a Wild West outpost into a booming city. It quickly became a sophisticated destination for notable visitors, including Clark Gable, Elizabeth Taylor, Martin Luther King Jr. and President John F. Kennedy, who made a campaign speech there during the 1960 presidential election.

Well-heeled travelers were drawn to the glamorous 15-story Spanish Colonial Revival building, with its beautifully decorated pillars, hand-painted watercolor ceiling and lush courtyard. By day, the hotel's swimming pool beckoned guests with its cool, turquoise waters; and by night, guests danced the evening away in the ballroom. In its heyday, the Westward Ho was the city's premier luxury hotel, and everyone wanted in.

It was an architectural marvel, too. In 1949, a steel broadcast tower was mounted on top of the hotel, more than doubling the building's original height. And until 1960, the Westward Ho was the tallest building in the state, featuring magnificent views of Phoenix.

Unfortunately, time took its toll on the Westward Ho, and, today, it serves as low-income housing for approximately 300 senior citizens. Although it's a shadow of its former self, many of the Ho's original architectural details remain intact, including original stained-glass windows and chandeliers.

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