Sunday, October 2, 2011

The Kon Tiki Hotel

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One of the most notorious and memorable motor-hotels in Phoenix was the Kon Tiki Hotel at 2364 E. Van Buren St. Built as an outlandish display of the tremendously popular 1960s Polynesian style, this certainly was an eye-catcher...

From my earliest childhood memories of driving by it with my parents, I marveled at it's odd shape and (to my kid-brain) inscrutable purpose. The place looked like fun, and it was fun to look at! Designed by the renown Phoenix architect Ralph Haver, who is responsible for so many midcentury marvels in the Valley of the Sun, the Kon Tiki was built in 1961 and closed in 1993.

Like many of the motels along Van Buren, the Kon Tiki ended up as a cheap refuge for hookers and drug dealers. However, it was considered a higher-end resort when it opened--rivaling some of those in nearby Scottsdale at the time. There were always plenty of honeymooners, according to employees, and many snowbirds would spend the entire winter at the Kon Tiki. 

The following video was shot at the Kon Tiki in 1991 by some visitors in town to see the Grand Prix. Venture back to a time when hookers walked the streets with abandon and there was what seems like a greater amount of traffic in general on Van Buren than there is today. The Kon Tiki only had a few years left...

Phoenix Streetwalker - watch more funny videos

Kon Tiki Hotel, R.I.P. 1993