By Joan Fudala
Once a desolate crossroads far north of the Scottsdale settlement, the intersection of Scottsdale Road and Shea Boulevard is an ever-evolving epicenter of commerce and cuisine. Sleepy until the 1960s, the area around this intersection began to accumulate residents, businesses, restaurants and services, particularly after the Scottsdale Airport opened north of it in 1967.
How many of these Scottsdale/Shea memories to you have?
ν Between June 1942 and October 1944, Scottsdale residents working at Thunderbird II U.S. Army Air Corps pilot training base (now Scottsdale Airport) traveled north along unpaved Scottsdale road and through the intersection with Shea to get to work every day.
ν After the war, the area was still undeveloped; an article in an April 1949 Scottsdale Progress announced that Village Taxi Cab was offering moonlight tours through the desert that took passengers “along Shea boulevard, through Paradise Valley to the Rainbow Guest Ranch [on Scottsdale Road near Lincoln Drive] and return.”
ν For many years, there was a county dump site at Scottsdale and Shea; in 1950, at the urging of the Paradise Valley Improvement Association, the county closed to dump, which was quite an eyesore, and the area was cleaned up.
ν During the 1950s, the first businesses began to appear at Scottsdale and Shea. Perhaps the first restaurant/bar was the 19th Green, which opened on the south side of Shea just west of Scottsdale Road in about 1954. Harlan Sharp entertained on the organ; barbecued pecan pie and calves’ fries were specialties. A Scottsdale Progress ad in 1957 invited patrons to hear Pete and Rita Viera perform at the Francis Drakes Restaurant at Scottsdale and Shea.
ν Scottsdale School District voters approved the sites to purchase for future schools in an April 1959 election; among those approved was a 4-acre site for a future high school. Chaparral High opened in the southwest corner area of Scottsdale and Shea for the 1972/73 school year.
ν Maricopa County widened and repaved Scottsdale Road between Lincoln and Shea in 1960.
ν In 1961, Bill Bird opened Wild Bill’s Western-themed nightclub opened at the northwest corner of Scottsdale and Shea. The annual trail ride of the Scottsdale Charros often ended at Wild Bill’s. Singer Waylon Jennings was a featured performer in 1963. Wild Bill’s moved to downtown Scottsdale and the Shea location was renamed Handlebar J’s in 1966 and operated by the Lautz family. It’s been operated by the Herndon family since 1975.
ν In 1961-63, the Scottsdale/Shea area was involved in annexation disputes as Scottsdale proposed to annex county land between the Arizona Canal north to Shea Boulevard, but with some residents/businesses opposed. Scottsdale prevailed, and the “Four Corners” officially became part of Scottsdale.
ν In 1962, the commercial activity at Scottsdale and Shea was described in the April 17 Scottsdale Progress: “a grocery, two service stations, laundromat, tavern and liquor store form what may be the nucleus of a larger shopping center yet to come.” Later that year, the Surrey Steak House advertised its location on the northwest corner of Scottsdale and Shea. In 1968 Double O’s (owner was Oren Owen) took over the Surrey spot, offering fine dining.
ν A contract post office opened inside Thompson’s Hardware store at Scottsdale and Shea in 1963; area residents so longer had to drive to downtown Scottsdale’s post office. That same year, Lou Witzeman, owner of Rural Fire Department, with which Scottsdale had a contract for fire protection, announced Rural would open a fire station at Scottsdale and Shea in July.
ν In August 1964, Herb Drinkwater opened Drinkwater’s Liquor & Cheese on the northwest corner of Scottsdale Road and Shea Boulevard. Active in the Scottsdale Jaycees, Drinkwater would serve two terms on the Scottsdale City Council in the 1970s and as Scottsdale’s mayor from 1980-1996.
ν Prestige Cleaners, founded in 1964 in Scottsdale, expanded to the northwest quadrant of Scottsdale and Shea in 1968. Founder Don Frye established its corporate headquarters there on Sahuaro Drive and he and his son, Donn, continued to grow the dry-cleaning business throughout the Scottsdale area.
ν The Windmill Dinner Theater opened in June 1971 on the southeast corner of Scottsdale and Shea. Its first production was “Moll Flanders.” Actor Bob (“Hogan’s Heroes”) Crane, in town as the star of “Beginner’s Luck” at the Windmill Dinner Theater, was murdered in his apartment (on East Chaparral) June 29, 1978. After the theater closed, the building has housed several nightclubs (Buzz), an auction house and, now, a rental car company.
ν Scottsdale Memorial Hospital (former name of HonorHealth) had announced plans in the early 1970s to locate an ambulatory care facility at Scottsdale and Shea that might eventually become a hospital. In 1975, the hospital changed its ambulatory care site plan to the Pima and Shea area. Scottsdale Memorial North hospital opened in January 1984 at 90th Street and Shea.
ν Cactus Flower florists opened in 1972 and has had a presence on the northwest corner of Scottsdale and Shea for decades.
ν The Chuck Box replaced the Crystal Pistol in Windmill Plaza on the SEC of Scottsdale and Shea in 1981. Oregano’s now occupies the distinctly Western building facing Shea
ν On February 19, 1987, the Scottsdale/Paradise Valley YMCA held a grand opening for its new facility at 6869 E. Shea Boulevard (the Y had been in temporary offices at the former Kaibab Elementary School at 4330 N. 62nd Street since 1983 when it left its old building in downtown Scottsdale).
ν Gemmie Baker opened the Buffalo Museum of America in 1990 on the east side of Scottsdale Road, south of Shea. It closed in 2000 and reopened several years later in another Scottsdale location.
ν Dan Harkins opened a 14-theater movie complex on Shea Boulevard just east of Scottsdale road in 1995. That same year, Hampton Inn Scottsdale, 10101 N. Scottsdale Road, opened with 130 rooms. Homewood Suites, Sierra Suites and Comfort Inn also opened near the intersection in the 1990s.
ν Henry & Horne PLC, a statewide accounting firm, moved its Scottsdale offices into a new building on Cochise in January 1999.
ν During the 1990s and 2000s, many of the 50-year-old buildings have been remodeled or replaced, and businesses have come and gone, catering to ever-changing consumer demands. As Scottsdale continued to grow north, and the Scottsdale Airpark became the third largest employment center in Arizona, the crossroads of Scottsdale and Shea has become busier than ever.
Do you remember, or do you frequent, these places on the corners of Scottsdale and Shea (some of which are still open)?
ν On the southeast corner (including Windmill Plaza): Finch’s fine dining, Mag’s Ham Bun, Rancher’s Feed and Saddlery, Weser’s Golf Shop, Calico Corners, Saba’s Western Store, La Fonda Del Sol, Ernie’s, Crystal Pistol, Chuckbox, Oregano’s, Meggie’s Sample Shop, B’Gauze, Tiramisu, Cristo’s Restaurant, La Locanda, Dairy Queen, Marshall’s Jewelers, Driving School, Randy’s Food and Spirits, Philly Deli, Rochelle’s, Dirty Dogg, Romano’s Macaroni Grill, Salon Studios, Academy of Self Defense, Alfredo Ristorante, Arizona Outfitters, The Bag Lady, barbershop, Circle K, Hair Stalgia, Home Federal Savings & Loan, Jan Drake’s Garden Café, Nettle Creek Shop, Quartz Mountain Animal Hospital, Thee Pitts BBQ, Bates Nut Farm, Fry’s, D’Atri’s Cinema Paradiso!, Kelly’s Pub, Razz’s Restaurant, Rio Sports Grill, Ruby Tuesday, Sub Factory and more.
ν On the southwest corner: Acacia Creek, Mariposa, Saddletree and Scottsdale Meadows apartments; as well as Grady’s Grill, Sam’s Café, Walgreen’s, California Pizza Kitchen, Denny’s, Valley National Bank (then BankOne, now Chase), Indulge Burger, A.J. Bayless grocery, Alpha-beta, Appetito’s, Baskin & Robbins, Best Broasted Chicken, Wild Oats, Fresh n’ Easy, BevMo, Total Wine, Valerie’s, an outdoor pottery place, SleepAmerica, Checker Auto, Gold Dust Cleaners, Guys & Dolls Hairstyling Hancock Fabrics, Mobil service station, Pizza Express, Radio Shack, Revco Discount Drugs, Skinny Desserts, Thunderbird Pharmacy, Video Station, Video Time, several travel agencies, Churchill’s Fine Cigars, Hacienda de Mexico, Sun Patio & Pool, Native New Yorker, Pink Lotus, Rosati’s, Subway and more.
ν On the northwest corner (including Aqua Caliente): Chevron, Chop and Wok, Pischke’s, Maria’s When in Naples, Tuesday Morning, Copenhagen Imports, Adam’s Rib hairstylists, Aldo’s, MasterBooks, Hearty Hen, Pizzafarro, Jack in the Box, Choppers, Scottsdale Shea Rentals, My Dog’s Hair Salon, Dave’s Drum Shop, Bobby McGee’s, Dallas House, Ajo Al’s, Daylight Donuts, Discount Tire, Puddleduds, Paradise Hardware, San Paloma apartments, Chic Again, Gigi’s Second Time Around, High Society Resale, The Personal Ewe, As You Wish Ceramics, Double Joy Beads, Jiffy Lube, Shea Car Wash, Sundown Car Wash, Bank of America, Molnar’s Stamp & Coin, Arizona Bread Company, Circle K, The Clock Doctor, Paradise True Value hardware, Silvio Photographers, Seafood Central, Stone Soup, Uptown Brewery, Pro Golf Discount, Scottsdale Bridge Club and more.
ν On the northeast corner: Safeway, Long’s Drugs, Osco Drugs, Amy’s Hallmark, Combs Arco, Arby’s, Swenson’s ice cream, Jason’s Deli, McDonalds, Top Shelf, Sweet Basil, Martini Ranch, Lone Star, Macayo’s, HopDaddy, Posters Mostly, Oreck, One Hour Photo Finish, United Bank of Arizona, Wrangler’s Restaurant, Norwest Bank (Wells Fargo now), Jewish Quarter, Blue Burrito Grille, Carver’s, Butterfield Station, Pita Jungle, Coco’s, Coffee Plantation, Peking Palace, Sakura of Japan and more.
Stay tuned. There’s always history to be made on the Four Corners of Scottsdale Road and Shea Boulevard in Scottsdale. ν