- Name: Prescott
- Where: Arizona, USA
- Founded: 1864
- Population: 39,843
- More Info: City of Prescott website
After my family and I finished our tour of the Meteor Crater we then made the three hour drive from the crater over to our next destination Prescott, Arizona. Prescott is located nearly in the very center of the state and is known as Arizona’s Mile High City due to it 5,350 foot elevation:
In the late 1800′s due to the growing number of gold mining camps in the area, Fort Whipple was established to protect the miners from hostile Native-Americans. These early gold strikes were found in the creeks running out of the Bradshaw mountains that border the south and western parts of the city:
In 1864 the settlement of Prescott was officially established near Fort Whipple and was named after the famed historian of the time William H. Prescott. The settlement became the first territorial capital of Arizona from 1864-1867 before it was moved to Tuscon. Prescott once again became the capital in 1877 before it gave up again for the final time to Phoenix in 1889:
Today Prescott still serves as the capital of Yavapai County. Due to its high altitude mountain location Prescott is a popular summer location for people from Phoenix to escape the summertime heat there. Prescott is home to two mountains that immediately catch the eye of visitors, with the first one being Thumb Butte located on the West side of town:
To the South side of town is the 7,626 foot Granite Mountain:
Instead of staying at a hotel like we had been doing previously on our trip we decided to instead rent a historic Victorian house since we would be staying in Prescott for a few days to catch up with friends I had not seen in a while. We ended really enjoying our stay at this small Victorian house that I highly recommend to anyone thinking about making an extended visit to Prescott:
The house we rented was part of the historic district in Prescott:
This neighborhood is known as Nob Hill in reference to its more famous counterpart in San Francisco. Just about every structure in this neighborhood is over 100 years old. The best thing about this neighborhood is that the vast majority of these buildings have been beautifully maintained to where they look like they had just been built:
Many of the Victorian structures in Prescott date back to the 1890′s-1910′s when this style of architecture became popular in the growing city:
The land on Nob Hill was actually originally set aside to be the location of the territorial capital in 1864, but due to the uncertainty of the capital remaining in Prescott the land was auctioned off and developed into the beautiful neighborhood of homes that can be seen today:
One of the things I really liked about renting a house on Nob Hill was the easy walk to access downtown Prescott. It was short 5-10 minute walk down a hill with nice views of the iconic Thumb Butte in the background to reach downtown:
The short walk meant less driving to go check out the various shops, restaurants, and historic sites that can be seen in the downtown area. The historic site in downtown Prescott that always catches everyone’s eye is the Courthouse Plaza:
The history of courthouse plaza began in 1879 when the citizens of the city wanted a park to be put around the first courthouse made of brick in 1878 in the center of town. The courthouse has been rebuilt a few times, most recently in 1916, but Courthouse Plaza continues to be the heart of the city of Prescott. In front of the courthouse there is a sidewalk that has the ongoing history of the town carved in it that I always checkout every time I return to Prescott to see what has been updated on it:
The courthouse also has a number of really nice statues around it to check out to include most notably the below statue in tribute to Buckey O’Neill who led a contingent of “Roughriders” from Prescott that fought in the Spanish-American War of 1898:
O’Neill was a former journalist, Sheriff, and then mayor of Prescott before volunteering to fight in the Spanish-American War. He was killed by machine gun fire during the battle of Kettle Hill on July 1, 1898.
Here is a statue that further shows the cowboy and Old West heritage of the city:
Another item of interest around the Courthouse Plaza is the Statehood Tree:
The tree was planted on February 14, 1912 on the very day that Arizona became a state. The tree is now quite large since it is now over one hundred years old:
Around the courthouse is the commercial district of the city. Like Courthouse Plaza many of these buildings are very old as well. The most well known section of the commercial district is the infamous line of bars called “Whiskey Row“:
When I used to live in Prescott I actually used to work in bar on Whiskey Row called Matt’s Saloon:
Here is a brief history of the saloon from their website:
Matt’s Longhorn Saloon has been a part of Prescott’s famous “Whiskey Row” since the early 1960’s and is still going strong today as one of Prescott’s last true Honky Tonks. Occupying the historic D. Levy Building, built in 1901 as a mercantile, then becoming a saloon just at the end of prohibition in 1934, Matt’s Saloon has become an internationally recognized and highly acclaimed destination place for country music. Great country western acts such as Buck Owens, Lee Hazelwood and Waylon Jennings entertained Matt’s customers in the early to mid 60’s and more recently, in 2003, Andy Griggs and Leland Martin performed. Even legendary rock & roller Bruce Springsteen has a special connection with Matt’s Saloon. [Matt's Saloon]
I have a lot of good memories from this place:
On the northeast corner of Whiskey Row is the most impressive structure on the block, the Hotel St. Michael:
The hotel was constructed in 1901 after the old Hotel Burke burned down on the corner in 1900. It was the nicest hotel in the city until the construction of the Hassayampa Inn in 1927. The hotel has hosted a number of famous people to include President Theodore Roosevelt, author Zane Grey, and Senator Barry Goldwater.
To the north of Courthouse Plaza is a block of commercial stores and restaurants:
The one place I always stop at while in town is the Prescott Brewing Company. Locals call this place the “PBC” and it has some great micro-brewed beers on tap. The PBC is not a historic business since it has only been around since 1994, but it has definitely become a fixture in the city within that short time. My favorite beer at the PBC is the Liquid Amber that I made sure to buy a half gallon of to bring home with me:
On the northwest corner of the Courthouse Plaza is the building that once housed The Bank of Arizona which was built in 1877 and was the first bank in the Arizona Territory. Today the building has been converted into a local business:
A block away from the courthouse is the nicest hotel in town, the historic Hassayampa Inn:
The Hassayampa Inn was constructed in 1927 as a resort and tourism attraction for the city. The hotel was built by the Ramey Brothers of El Paso for a cost of $140,900. The original elevator still runs in the lobby, and period details like the hand-painted wood ceilings, etched glass, and embossed copper panels are still visible inside the hotel. The Hassayampa was renovated in 1985 and continues to host celebrities, politicians, and many other visitors every year.
Walking around the commercial district it is easy to spot other historic buildings such as the Prescott Post Office that was built in 1931:
Here is a picture of the Masonic Temple building that housed the Prescott Gas and Electric Company until 1907 when the building was bought by the Masons:
One of the nicest restaurants in town, Murphy’s can also be found downtown:
Trains no longer run to Prescott, but many decades ago trains were the primary means of transportation to the growing city. Prescott was first connected to the outside world by rail in 1886. The old Santa Fe Deport where these trains would have stopped to drop off and pick up passengers has been converted into a building that hosts local businesses:
The deport is not as old as the railway because it was built in 1907 to better serve the growing number of passengers using the railway. The depot was built in the Spanish Mission Revival style of architecture that was popular for railway stations in the Southwest during this time period.
There is plenty of more to see in downtown Prescott which is one of the reasons I like the city so much. Unlike many other downtown areas in US cities that have hollowed out by Wal-Mart and other big box stores, the small businesses in downtown Prescott continue to thrive. It is good to see how lively the downtown area continues to be every time I visit Prescott. Just because there is a lively downtown does not mean that the big box stores and chain restaurants cannot be found in Prescott. Outside of Prescott all these type of stores can be found with one I was very happy to see, In-N-Out:
When I lasted visited Prescott five years ago there was no In-N-Out so it was great to see that there is one there now. I do not each much fast food, but I will eat In-N-Out burgers and fries:
The last time I ate In-N-Out was when I visited Las Vegas a few years ago so it was great to eat dinner there. Down the road from In-N-Out is the Prescott Resort which is a nice hotel on Yavapai Indian land which means it allows gambling. I made a stop at the resort after eating In-N-Out not to gamble, but to take pictures of the city from its lofty location:
Right below the Prescott Resort is the Veterans Affairs Hospital for Northern Arizona:
The VA hospital was originally the home to Fort Whipple. The fort served as the home base for the United States Cavalry during the Indian Wars of 1864 to 1882. It then became the home base for Arizona’s Rough Riders during the Spanish American War. After the war, Fort Whipple was converted to a tuberculosis sanatorium and was transferred to the Public Health Service in 1920 for continued use as a hospital for disabled Veterans. In the early 1930s, the facility was transferred to the VA to become a hospital. The VA hospital is also home to the Fort Whipple Museum.
Here is a panorama of Fort Whipple and Prescott from the Prescott Resort:
There is much more to see and do in Prescott, but what I like the most about the city is what its nickname of “Everybody’s Hometown” refers to which is the nostalgic and friendly atmosphere of Prescott. There are few towns as large as Prescott that continue to maintain a small town atmosphere despite its growth. I think this is a tribute to the long time locals as well as the new residents that quickly assimilate to the culture of the city. I hope visitors enjoy “Everybody’s Hometown” as much as I do.