The City of Phoenix defines Downtown as the area between 7th Street and 7th Avenue, from McDowell Road on the north to Buckeye Road on the south. However, the majority of downtown development is concentrated in the smaller area surrounding the intersection of Washington St. and Central Ave (which is the point of origin of Phoenix street addresses and numbering).
In 1870, a meeting was held to select a town site for the influx of pioneers coming to the recently recognized town of Phoenix. 320 acres were purchased for $50 raised by popular subscription. This original site, the whole of the town of Phoenix in that day, encompasses what would presently be the Downtown Core, bordered by Van Buren Street south to Jackson Street, and Seventh Street to Seventh Avenue.
With the first survey of the new town, streets were laid out in a grid, with Washington Street as the main east-west thoroughfare. The north-south streets originally bore Native American tribal names, but were changed to more easily remembered numbers, with everything east of Center Street (later Central Avenue) named as streets and everything west as avenues. The town continued to grow, and was eventually incorporated as a city on February 28, 1881, centered around downtown.
Throughout the 1880s the newly incorporated city made many strides toward modernization with the construction of one of the first electric plants in the West as well as the opening of the horse-drawn streetcar line. The Phoenix Street Railway system was eventually electrified and expanded to several different lines that connected Downtown Phoenix to other neighborhoods and cities in the Valley. Independence Day of 1887 heralded the arrival first Southern Pacific train. This opened up the economy of the young city, as goods now flowed in and out by train as opposed to wagon. As Phoenix became the center of commerce in the territory, the capital was moved to Phoenix.
After Arizona was granted statehood in 1912, the growth of Phoenix exploded from the downtown epicenter. By the 1930s, a modern skyline composed of various commercial buildings began to take shape and Downtown was a dense, compact and pedestrian friendly city characterized by Victorian buildings and ground-floor retail. Post-World War II building focused heavily on suburb creation, and this, combined with the rise of the automobile and evaporative cooling, resulted in large population relocation outside of Downtown.