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First Prescott Courthouse, circa 1885

Prescott (Yavapai: Wiikwasa Kasikita) is a city in Yavapai Countymarker, Arizonamarker, USAmarker. Local inhabitants prefer to pronounce the name PRES-kit in a way that rhymes with "biscuit."

According to 2006 Census Bureau estimates, the population of the city is 41,528. The city is the county seat of Yavapai County. In 1864 Prescott was designated as the capital of the Arizona Territory, replacing the temporary capital at Fort Whipple. The Territorial Capital was moved to Tucsonmarker in 1867. Prescott again became the Territorial Capital in 1877, until Phoenixmarker became the capital in 1889.

The towns of Prescott Valleymarker (7 miles east) and Chino Valleymarker (16 miles north), and Prescott, together comprise what is locally known as the "Tri-City" area. Population of the Tri-City area in 2007 is estimated to be about 122,000. Prescott is the center of the Prescott Metropolitan Area, defined by the U.S. Census Bureau as all of Yavapai County. In 2007, Yavapai County was estimated to have 212,635 residents by the U.S. Census Bureau, making Prescott the third-largest metropolitan area in Arizona, after Phoenix (4.2 million) and Tucson (1 million).

The Yavapai-Prescott Indian Tribe reservation is located next to, and partially within, the borders of Prescott. The weather conditions are favorable owing to the altitude of , being significantly cooler than the lower southern areas of the state and yet without the harsher winters found at higher altitudes.


Governor John Noble Goodwin selected the original site of Prescott following his first tour of the new territory. Goodwin replaced Governor John A. Gurley, appointed by Abraham Lincoln, who died before taking office. Downtown streets in Prescott are named in honor of each of them. Goodwin selected a site south of the temporary capital on the west side of Granite Creek near a number of mining camps. The territorial capital was later moved to the new site along with Fort Whipple, with the new town named in honor of historian William H. Prescott during a public meeting on May 30, 1864. Robert W. Groom surveyed the new community, and an initial auction sold 73 lots on June 4, 1864. By July 4, 1864 a total of 232 lots had been sold within the new community.

Prescott served as capital of Arizona Territory until November 1, 1867 when the capital was moved to Tucson by act of the 4th Arizona Territorial Legislature. The capital was returned to Prescott in 1877 by the 9th Arizona Territorial Legislature. The capital was finally moved to Phoenix on February 4, 1889 by the 15th Arizona Territorial Legislature.

The Sharlot Hall Museummarker houses much of Prescott's territorial history, and the Smoki and Phippen museums also maintain local collections. Whiskey Row in downtown Prescott boasts many historic buildings, including The Palace, Arizona's oldest restaurant and bar, and many other buildings that have been converted to boutiques, art galleries, bookstores, and restaurants. The City is named after author William H. Prescott, whose writings were popular during the Civil War.

After several major fires in the early part of the century, downtown Prescott was rebuilt with brick. The central courthouse plaza, a lawn under huge old elm trees, is a good gathering and meeting place. Cultural events and performances take place on many nights in the summer on the plaza.

Sister Cities


Prescott has many Victorian style homes and, perhaps because of that, has been remarked to be the most Midwestern-appearing city in the Southwest. Prescott has 525 buildings on the National Register of Historic Places.

Prescott is home to the historical area known as "Whiskey Row", until 1956 a notorious red-light district. In 1900, a great fire destroyed most of the buildings on Whiskey Row. As legend has it, the patrons of the various bars simply took their drinks across the street to the Courthouse square and watched it burn. At the time of the fire, the entire bar and back-bar of the Palace Hotel was removed to the square by the patrons as the fire approached, re-installing it after the gutted brick structure was rebuilt. (The size of the back-bar is impressive, and appears not easily moved, even by many hands.) Whiskey Row runs north and south on N. Montezuma St. between Gurley and Goodwin St., directly west of the county courthouse. This single city block has been the home of the St. Michael's Hotel and the Palace Hotel since the late 1800s along with other colorful purveyors of night-life. Merchant Sam Hill's hardware store was located near Whiskey Row, famous for its extensive stock in its downtown location and out of town warehouse.

There are six golf courses within the city limits: Antelope Hills Golf Course, City of Prescott South Course, City of Prescott North Course, Hassayampa Golf Club, Prescott Lakes Golf Club, Talking Rock Golf Club. More courses are located nearby in surrounding towns.

Prescott is home to The Arizona Pioneers’ Home, a continuing care retirement home, operated and funded by the State of Arizona, originally intended for impoverished Arizona founders from Territorial days. Initially the home was built to house 40 men, but in 1916 an addition of a women’s wing was completed to provide for 20 women. Later, in 1929, the home again expanded to include Arizona’s Hospital for Disabled Miners (current total capacity is 150 beds). Scenes from the 2008 movie Jolene were filmed in the Pioneer's Home in 2006. The Home has had many colorful residents, including a John Miller who had claimed to be Billy the Kid, and who was exhumed from the Pioneer's Home Cemetery in 2005, in an attempt to identify DNA evidence. Another resident was "Big Nose Kate" Elder, who would also be laid to rest in the Pioneer's Home Cemetery, though not without controversy.

Prescott hosts annual events such as Frontier Days, The World's Oldest Rodeo (1888), the Bluegrass Festival, Earth Day, Tsunami on the Square, art festivals, a Cinco de Mayo celebration, Shakespeare Festival, Navajo Rug Auction, World’s Largest Gingerbread Village (actually on the Yavapai-Prescott Indian Tribe reservation), Prescott Film Fest, Folk Art Fair, parades, the Acker Music Festival, The Cowboy Poets Gathering, the Prescott Highland Games and several marathons. Also located in Prescott is the Heritage Park Zoomarker.


Thumb Butte over downtown Prescott.

Prescott is located at (34.568210, -112.461482) . Prescott is WNW of the State of Arizona's geographic center.

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 37.3 square miles (96.6 km²), of which, 37.1 square miles (96.0 km²) of it is land and 0.2 square miles (0.6 km²) of it (0.64%) is water.

Prescott is considered part of North Central Arizona. It is located just south of the Granite Dells.


Prescott is located in the Bradshaw Mountains of central Arizona, at an altitude of . The town has a four-season climate with relatively mild winters. Historical average annual precipitation is ; average snowfall is . The largest portion of precipitation falls during the summer, with August averaging of rain. Precipitation is seasonal, with, for an average year, the most precipitation falling in July and August and the least in April, May, and June.

There has been a severe drought from 1999 to present (2009); precipitation has dropped dramatically. Some evidence of this is the lack of snowpack in the Bradshaw mountains. Local creeks do not contain water except immediately after the rare rains. Nevertheless, at the start of 2007, lakes were reported as full. The winter of 2005-2006 had less than 3" of snow, compared to an average snowfall of 24".


Sculpture at the Prescott Public Library
Prescott is the main site of Yavapai College's campuses in the county. Yavapai College was established as a community college in 1965 and held its first classes in 1969.

Prescott College is "an independent, liberal arts college offering bachelor's and master's degrees, as well as teacher certification. This colleges educational programs reflect the College's commitment to the environment and social justice. Prescott College is also one of the few colleges in the United States that offers adventure education as a major."

The western campus of Embry-Riddle Aeronautical Universitymarker is located here. ERAU teaches "the science, practice, and business of the world of aviation and aerospace."

Northern Arizona Universitymarker and Old Dominion Universitymarker also have specialty campuses here as well as the online university, Northcentral University.

There are 20 public schools in grades K-12, four private schools, and five charter schools. Prescott High School, is home of the Prescott Badgers.

Tri-City College Prep High School, a charter school, is rated as "Excelling" by the Department of Education. Abia Judd Elementary, Granite Mountain Middle School, Prescott High School, Taylor Hicks Elementary, and Washington Traditional School, all of Prescott Unified School District, also rate "Excelling." Lincoln Elementary and Mile High Middle School are considered "Highly Performing."


As of the census of 2000, there were 33,938 people, 15,098 households, and 8,968 families residing in the city. The population density was 915.6 people per square mile (353.5/km²). There were 17,144 housing units at an average density of 462.5/sq mi (178.6/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 92.93% White, 0.50% Black or African American, 1.27% Native American, 0.83% Asian, 0.06% Pacific Islander, 2.77% from other races, and 1.63% from two or more races. 8.17% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.

There were 15,098 households out of which 18.1% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 48.7% were married couples living together, 7.9% had a female householder with no husband present, and 40.6% were non-families. 32.1% of all households were made up of individuals and 15.2% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.11 and the average family size was 2.62.

In the city the population was spread out with 15.9% under the age of 18, 11.2% from 18 to 24, 18.9% from 25 to 44, 27.3% from 45 to 64, and 26.8% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 48 years. For every 100 females there were 96.9 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 94.3 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $35,446, and the median income for a family was $46,481. Males had a median income of $31,834 versus $22,982 for females. The per capita income for the city was $22,565. About 7.4% of families and 13.1% of the population were below the poverty line, including 14.4% of those under age 18 and 6.4% of those age 65 or over.


The city has a municipal airport, Ernest A.marker Love Fieldmarker, located seven miles (11 km) north of the downtown courthouse.

The two main thoroughfares in and around Prescott are Arizona State Route 69 and Arizona State Route 89. Route 69 connects Prescott with Prescott Valley to the east, eventually curving southeast before reaching Interstate 17 at mile marker 262. Route 89 travels mostly north-south and connects Prescott with Chino Valley to the north, continuing northward until it joins Interstate 40 at mile marker 146.

Notable residents

Notes and references

  2. A volunteer docent statement from the free official downtown Prescott guided historical and architectural tour claims this is the origin of the phrase, "Where in the Sam Hill did you get that?". This may not be accurate since "Sam Hill" is also a euphemistic reference to Hell predating Prescott, being a polite way of saying "Where in the Hell did you get that?". However, there was indeed a Sam Hill Hardware store, attested to by the bronze letters embedded in the concrete sidewalk spelling out "SAM HILL" inset in the sidewalk at each boundary of the property. The courthouse square is also home to historic Bashfrod mall.
  3. [1]
  4. Microsoft Word - CLIMATE_PRC_07.doc
  5. Arizona Department of Education.

External links

Detail, old National Guard Armory

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