Prescott was founded in 1864 as the Territorial Capital of Arizona. it didn’t retain the capital status for long. In 1867 the capital moved to Tucson for 10 years before returning to Prescott at the end of 1877, where it remained for 12 more years.
As with most Arizona towns, Prescott’s beginnings are credited to mining activity in the nearby area. Unlike many mining towns, Prescott’s economy survived the numerous mining slumps through the cattle industry and copper mining during WWI. Prescott’s access to the railroad also bolstered the economy with the establishment of mercantile stores. It saw an increase in tourism, especially during the summers when residents of other Arizona towns needed to escape the Arizona heat.
We didn’t need to escape the heat yet (Tucson has been in the nice 70s-80s) but we did want to explore Prescott. Last time we visited Prescott, we were snowed in/out. This time around the weather was perfect for strolling through Historic Prescott, visiting the numerous antique shops, and even having a few drinks on Whiskey Row.
Originally the J.I. Gardner Store (see below), opened in 1883. This store carried every type of general supply and merchandise which were paid for in gold or trade goods.
We thought this Billy Carter sign found in an antique store was amusing.
At the heart of downtown Prescott is the Yavapai County Courthouse, built in 1916. The statue honors members of the First U.S. Volunteer Cavalry of Teddy Roosevelt’s Rough Riders who gathered at the plaza on May 4, 1898, before heading to San Antonio at the onset of the Spanish-American War.
We dined at The Palace Saloon, the most prominent building on Whiskey Row. Its exact age is a bit of puzzle, having been burned down twice, once in 1883, and again in 1900. It was rebuilt as the Palace Hotel in 1901 but in 1907 prohibition took its toll. In 1996, restoration of the Palace began and what stands today is a bar/restaurant that serves delicious food and tasty ales.
Historic Downtown Prescott Overview
- Address: 120 S Cortez St, Prescott, AZ 86303
- Parking Fees: FREE; plenty of street parking available
- Usage: Heavy
- Things to note:
- Prescott is considered Arizona’s antique capital. Be sure to block out several hours for store browsing. Most stores are open 9/10am – 4/5pm.
- Prescott enjoys a mile high elevation & is usually 15-20 degrees cooler than Phoenix.
- Pets allowed: Yes. This is a very dog-friendly town.
Where to stay
Spend the night in one of these historic hotels right in downtown, Prescott:
Read about our stay at this hotel americanexpeditioners.com/historic-hassayampa-inn
122 E Gurley St, Prescott, AZ 86301
Hotel St. Michael
205 W Gurley St, Prescott, AZ 86301
230 S Cortez St, Prescott, AZ 86303
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