By Allison Barnett

Before the construction of SR-51, North 32nd Street functioned as the major arterial road from Central Phoenix to Northern Phoenix. During this time, businesses on North 32nd flourished. There were movie theaters, bowling alleys, and more.

Once SR-51 was completed, traffic was diverted from North 32nd to SR-51 which contributed to less patrons of the businesses along the corridor. Unfortunately, this caused a period of time where the community experienced a downturn. Thanks to the work of now Supervisor Bill Gates and many community members who created a vision for how to rebuild the community nearly a decade ago, we are seeing the manifestation of their vision for North 32nd begin to shine again.

A unique characteristic about our North 32nd community is that in addition to new residents from other areas, there are many people that have lived in the community a long time or moved away and returned to call this home again. The fun of having this rich history is that we enjoy learning from people with memories about the last time that North 32nd was “the place to be.”

Recently on our North 32nd Facebook page and group, we had a lot of fun seeing just how much people could remember about what existed here before. Some of the fun facts that were shared:
• The many movie memories enjoyed at the theater where Hallmark is now located
• Chompie’s was originally on 32nd St. where VIP Airsoft is now located before it moved to PV Mall
• Thrifty used to be on 32nd St., which was a favorite place to grab a scoop of ice cream
• Bike riding has always been a favorite, whether it was biking to businesses or riding BMX in the Preserve or on vacant lots
• Several pizza places used to be here like Shakeys and Peter Piper
• Checking out videos at several video stores in the neighborhood, including a family owned store as well as Blockbuster
• The many, many firsts that happened at local businesses whether writing a first check at Valley National Bank, which is now Zipps, or the many first jobs that people enjoyed at different businesses

This is just a sampling of the memories that people shared with us on Facebook. As you enjoy being out at local businesses or community events, we encourage you to be curious to find out even more about the rich history of our vibrant community.

What are your favorite memories of North 32nd? We encourage you to join the conversation online and in person to help shape the future of our amazing community.

Looking for more information? Please connect with us:
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Email: [email protected]


Have a nostalgic photo from this area you’d like to share?
Send it to [email protected] and [email protected] with the subject line ‘North 32nd’ for a chance to be featured in an upcoming issue!

Allison Barnett is an Ambassador for North 32nd, which is bringing revitalization of the community through strategic partnerships with the City of Phoenix as well as local businesses. Allison is also a licensed Associate Broker with Realty ONE Group.