One hundred years ago, the brothers Charles and Abraham Korrick opened a department store at the corner of First and Washington streets in downtown Phoenix. The brand new building had three stories and a basement, as well as state-of-the-art elevators.
As the store flourished over time, the building was expanded to the east, additional floors were added, and it remained in business for over five decades. When it finally closed in 1966, it had outlasted every other local department store in downtown Phoenix.
My grandma grew up in Casa Grande, and tells stories of driving into Phoenix to go shoe-shopping at Korrick’s, which was across the street from a men’s store called Hanny’s. And after shopping they would all catch a show at Fox Theatre.
Korrick’s Department Store in the early 1900s. Photo via Brad Hall.
Our city has changed a lot since then. If you compare the old black-and-white photos of Phoenix with the vibrant, colorful urban core we see today, it’s almost unrecognizable. But that building at the corner of First and Washington is one of the few buildings from early Phoenix still standing.
As we began work on our sixth-floor collaborative workspace in 2015 we decided to call this place The Department to remember the history of our building and the history of the entrepreneurs in the Wild West who have helped make Phoenix what it is today.
And we love this city – we love it as it is today and we can’t wait to be part of what it’s becoming. We are experiencing an entrepreneurial renaissance, seen most clearly through #yesphx, an organic movement made up of generous entrepreneurs who truly care about our city and are committed to making it an even better place for all of us to call home. As Daehee Park and JT Marino of the local mattress startup Tuft & Needle can attest, Phoenix is already a great place to do business.
“We aren’t trying to keep up with the startup down the street; we’re not eyeing all of our friends and VC-backed neighbors with envy,” Park and Marino recently wrote. “Instead, we’re doing what we wanted to do from the beginning: building a business according to our own rules, our own sense of what we’re after: Building something that has principle.”
They aren’t alone. We see it every day in the startups, investors, small businesses, social entrepreneurs, nonprofits, artists, designers, and developers who have made the decision to do business here – and to do it according to their own values and priorities.
At The Department, we’re committed to Phoenix and its future. In the weeks and months to come, we’ll use this blog to highlight why we love downtown Phoenix and to spotlight some of the amazing people and companies at The Department who are creating new products, providing new services, and generating new ideas, all while making Phoenix better and better.
Thanks for reading.
– Kyle Frazey, Managing Director