PHOENIX — Mark Glock brushed the leaves away from two solid metal plates. It would take a crane to lift them in order to see what was hiding underneath.
“It’s not a very big area,” he said. “Maybe, my guess is, about eight lanes."
Glock was standing in a parking lot across from the Westward Ho at Central Avenue and Pierce Street in downtown Phoenix.
Below him, the remnants of one of downtown Phoenix’s most elusive mysteries: The Gold Spot. Glock is one of the few people alive who’s ever seen it.
“I didn’t know it was an old bowling alley at the time,” Glock said. “Just remnants in there, some writing on the wall.”
The Gold Spot existed in the early part of the 20th century, situated below the old Nielsen Radio shop.
In the basement was a small bowling alley the length of the building. At the end, bowling pins were set up by “pin boys”, who were paid to reset them between turns.
There was a lighted sign outside pointing to a stairwell leading down. The stairwell is now covered by metal plates.
“You know, we heard rumors but we didn't really know what was here,” Phoenix historian Marshall Shore said.
Shore is the “Hip Historian”. If it happened in the Valley, Shore probably knows about it. And he knows the Gold Spot existed, even if he’s never seen it for himself.
There are no photos left of the Gold Spot in its heyday, only photos from the last time anyone went down there.
The former owner of the building gave the photos to 12 News, showing concrete pillars and floors. The only trace of the bowling alley was a few words written on the concrete and a diagram of where the pins should be placed.
“There was like a line that said do not cross this foul line at a bowling pin on one of the columns, but other than that there was really no other remnants of the bowling alley left,” Shore said.
The lot, and the basement underneath, have since been sold to a developer. 12 News was unable to get in touch with the new owners to try to get inside, but the City of Phoenix said part of it has been filled in with concrete.
On the sidewalk outside the parking lot are small glass squares embedded in the ground. Those were the old skylights for the Gold Spot. In 2011, the City of Phoenix restored them and turned them into electrically-powered art installations. They now glow at night, but that meant they had to fill in a chunk of the former bowling alley.
There is one more mystery that not even Glock or Shore know the answer to.
There’s a persistent rumor that you could once walk to the Gold Spot via an underground tunnel from Westward Ho underneath Central Avenue.
No one 12 News talked to could give a definitive answer as to whether the tunnel was still there…or if it had ever been there at all.
But whatever is left of the Gold Spot is still underground…for now.