Building a new tower at Banner -University Medical Center Phoenix meant a trip back in time for construction crews who found a buried rail system for electric trollies that are precursors of today’s Valley Metro Light Rail.
The century-old rail track was found along 10th Street between Willetta and Culver streets on the southwest portion of the downtown Phoenix hospital campus.
The tracks were unearthed as part of a construction project to build a 16-story patient tower and significantly expand the hospital’s Emergency department. The ED expansion is expected to be finished this year; the tower is expected to be completed in 2018.
The unearthed tracks are believed to date back to the late 1800s. In 1893, electric street cars replaced horse-drawn wagons. The street cars were used until 1947.
The tracks are just one more example of how the hospital has been an integral part of Phoenix’s history since its creation in 1911. What is now Banner – University Medical Center Phoenix began with Lulu Clifton, who arrived in Phoenix to recover from tuberculosis and began a hospital and nursing program in rented apartment rooms. In 1917, Clifton and others acquired land on McDowell Road and 10th Street and after World War I construction delays opened a hospital in 1923.
The hospital’s name was changed to Good Samaritan Hospital in 1928 and since then it has grown as the metro Phoenix community has grown. It’s the largest hospital in the state and scene of revolutionary heart and transplant surgeries as well as multiple-birth deliveries.
“It was really interesting for us to find this during construction. It’s a fun bit of archaeology for us and nice reminder of what was here before,’’ said Steve Eiss, project executive.
About Banner – University Medical Center Phoenix
Banner – University Medical Center Phoenix is a large teaching hospital that has provided medical care to Arizona and the Southwest since 1911. It is part of Banner – University Medicine, a premier academic medical network. The hospital specializes in heart care, cancer care, high-risk obstetrics, neurosciences and stroke care, organ transplants and Emergency care, including a Level 1 trauma center. Banner – University Medical Center Phoenix is part of Banner Health, a nonprofit health care system with 28 hospitals in six states. The institution, which has trained thousands of doctors over decades as a teaching hospital, is the academic medical center for the University of Arizona College of Medicine – Phoenix. For more information, visit www.bannerhealth.com/UniversityPhoenix.
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