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History of Prescott

Early History

Once the capital of the Arizona territory, Prescott is rich in history enshrined in the renowned Whiskey Row and abundant historic sites.

Located in the west-central Arizona, Prescott’s early history is closely linked with gold mining. The first settlers came here around 1863; the same year, a new town appeared on Arizona’s map. Named in honor of the American historian William Hickling Prescott, the town became the capital of Arizona territory. In 1889, the capital was moved from Prescott to Tucson, as the latter gained more political and economic influence.

In late 19th and early 20st, Prescott saw dynamic development. Bashford-Burmister Company, Goldwater's and other retail companies emerged in Prescott; they were the major employers for the new settlers who were coming to the city. There was a courthouse that was addressing criminal matters and sustaining justice in the community. The Arizona Pioneers’ Home, a retirement home for disabled miners, opened its doors in February 1911.

The world-famous Whiskey Row was established in late 19th century; this was the area close to the city center that housed saloons (more than 40 at one point!), gambling sites, and numerous entertainment venues. There were three fires in Whiskey Row with the devastating third one that happened in 1900 and destroyed most of the city block. However, by 1901 Whiskey Row was rebuilt and continued to operate as the center of activities in Prescott and an essential tourist destination.

Between 1870 and 1930, 500 Chinese immigrants moved to Prescott; as a result, an ethnic enclave (“Chinatown”) emerged along Granite Street. Immigrants worked primarily as laundry workers and gardeners; many of them eventually returned to their home country.

Late History

In late 1920s, two historic sites were added to the Prescott downtown: Sharlot Hall Museum and the Hassayampa Inn. As the city was growing, two educational institutions – Prescott College and Yavapai College – were founded in Prescott, and this resulted in a huge number of young people coming to the city.

As of 2020, Prescott is a mid-size city with a total population of around 44 thousand people. Over the last decades, Prescott has become an important tourist destination in Arizona: the area around the city offers hiking trails, lakes for fishing and boating, as well as other outdoor recreational activities.