Prescott (; or ) is a city in Yavapai County, Arizona, USA. According to 2010 Census, the population of the city is 39,843. 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 Tucson in 1867. Prescott again became the Territorial Capital in 1877, until Phoenix became the capital in 1889.
The towns of Prescott Valley (7 miles east) and Chino Valley (16 miles north), Dewey-Humboldt (13 miles east) and Prescott, together comprise what is locally known as the "Quad-City" area. This also sometimes refers to central Yavapai County in general, which would include the towns of: Mayer, Paulden, Wilhoit, and Williamson Valley. Combined with these smaller communities the area had a population of 103,260 as of 2007. Prescott is the center of the Prescott Metropolitan Area, defined by the U.S. Census Bureau as all of Yavapai County . In 2010 Yavapai County had 211,073 residents according to the U.S. Census Bureau, making Metro Prescott the third-largest metropolitan area in Arizona, after Phoenix (4.2 million) and Tucson (1 million). Metro Prescott will eventually become part of the Arizona Sun Corridor megaregion, with a total estimated megapolitan population of 7.4 million people in 2025.
The Yavapai-Prescott Indian Tribe reservation is located adjacent to and partially within the borders of Prescott.
Arizona Territorial 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 east 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 was officially incorporated in 1883.
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 Museum 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 was named after author William H. Prescott, whose writings were popular during the Civil War.
Prescott also has a place in western folklore with the fact that Virgil Earp, Wyatt Earp's older brother lived in Prescott in 1879 and told him of the boom town in Tombstone, Arizona. It is also rumored that Doc Holliday spent some time in Prescott just before heading to Tombstone.
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 gathering and meeting place. Cultural events and performances take place on many nights in the summer on the plaza.
Barry Goldwater, the 1964 Republican nominee for president, launched his presidential campaign from the steps of Prescott's Yavapai County Courthouse.
Prescott received national media attention in 2010 after local talk-radio host and city councilman Steve Blair criticized a mural depicting children of different ethnicities on a Miller Valley Elementary School (Prescott Unified School District #1) building. Blair was temporarily removed from the radio show due to the ensuing controversy, which was stirred up by political archrival, former Mayor Jack Wilson.
Prescott was designated "Arizona's Christmas City" by Arizona Governor Rose Mofford in 1989. Other notable designations include:
2000. Downtown Historic Preservation District (which includes "Whiskey Row") —one of 12 such National Register Historic Districts within the City.
2004. A “Preserve American Community” in 2004 by First Lady Laura Bush.
2006. One of a “Dozen Distinctive Destinations” by the National Trust for Historic Preservation.
2008. Yavapai Courthouse Plaza recognized as one of the first ten “Great Public Places” in America by the American Planning Association. The plaza enjoys the select company of such iconic places as New York City’s Central Park and Santa Monica Beach in California. The historic courthouse stands in an oasis of green grass in a gothic cathedral of 170+ trees including 127 American elms. More than 130 activities occur annually including arts and crafts shows, concerts, dancing, outdoor movies, and other special events. People are always seen on the plaza. Walking (3 laps = 1 mile) around the plaza is quite popular with the locals.