Filed Under Tourism

King's Rest Hotel Motor Court

Motor courts catered to the mid-century rise of automobile tourism.

A 1930s era bungalow catered to automobile tourists along Arizona's "Eastern Gateway".

As the automobile solidified itself as a definitive part of the American tourist lifestyle, the Phoenix area stood out to tourists as an ideal winter destination. The era of auto tourism and strip commercialism began in the early 1920s and dominated commercial growth throughout the 1940s. As a result, there was a shift from high-rise hotels, such as the Westward Ho, to complexes of one-story bungalows known as motor courts (a.k.a. auto courts or tourist camps). As more Americans began to travel the country via their private cars, the motor courts stood out as the perfect lodging for this new breed of tourists.

The King's Rest Motor Court, built in 1937, was situated along highway U.S. 80. The road continued west from Van Buren Street, then south on 17th Avenue before heading west onto Buckeye Road. This once iconic stretch of road was known as the "Eastern Gateway" into the city of Phoenix. The King's Rest was one of over thirty motor courts that stood ready to serve any Phoenix tourists who rode into town. However, as Phoenix expanded even further throughout the '60s and the '70s, the Van Buren area slowly began to leave the spotlight, particularly after the construction of Interstate 10. Without the constant stream of tourists visiting Phoenix, the motor courts which once dotted the Eastern began to wither away.

Today, only the King's Rest remains. It was the only site deemed worthy of being added to the National Register out of the many motor courts which once populated Van Buren and the greater Phoenix area. In 2006, it was rehabilitated through Historic Preservation Bonds and is now an apartment complex.

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Mark Simonitis and Jennifer Schaper, “King's Rest Hotel Motor Court,” Salt River Stories, accessed May 24, 2024, https://saltriverstories.org/items/show/279.