Located just south of the Downtown Core and north of Central City South, the Phoenix Warehouse District is rich with history and authentic character. Making up two fifths of a square mile, the Warehouse District’s proximity to the Union Pacific Railroad’s rail yard, distribution centers and produce sheds constructed around the railroad tracks in the early 1900s led to the formation of the Warehouse District as the commercial heart and economic core of Old Phoenix.
This area also formed the epicenter for agricultural shipping. Produce was trucked to the Warehouse District where it would then be loaded onto refrigerated boxcars and distributed. Through the 1950’s ice houses along the rail line manufactured ice to keep boxcars cool and allow produce and perishables to make the long journey to markets in the east.
Chinese immigrants working as railroad workers established the first Chinatown in the Phoenix Warehouse District, originally occupying Adams & First Street. Opposition from locals and pressure from the city resulted in Chinatown moving south between First & Third Street and Madison and Jackson Street creating a second Chinatown within the Warehouse District. Filled with laundry facilities, grocery stores and restaurants from 1870 until the mid 1940’s Phoenix’s Chinatown flourished, until larger corporations began migrating into the area and buying out Chinese businesses.
Today, many of the Warehouse District’s original buildings still remain in and around what once served a variety of important industrial commercial services. While many of these buildings have degraded to no longer meet the needs of current businesses, momentum is gaining to redevelop and occupy these buildings to ultimately restore the Warehouse District into a thriving economic hub.