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Prescott Arizona, Voted Best Place to Raise a Family!

That’s right! And voted by whom, may I ask?


Prescott is continually being lauded by magazines and statistical polls as one of the top retirement destinations in the U.S. Although easy to understand with its 4-season climate and exercise potential, Prescott is also a wonderful town to raise your kids. How do I know? Because along with my siblings, I was raised here.

Prescott was and is a town of adventure. Sitting on the edge of the wild western frontier, Prescott has deep routes carrying back to the days of Wyatt Earp, Doc Holiday and more. Prescott has seen many changes over the years from a tiny mall (Ponderosa Plaza) to the newer Gateway Mall and shopping district where Bullwhacker hill once stood. Once a seriously dangerous road, Bullwhacker hill was revered by locals for its steep and curvy grade into town. During heavy snow, Bullwhacker hill was a death-trap. When the city decided finally to allow the “Bull’s Whip” to be straightened out, it was to some relief. The remnants of the old road are still visible to north side of Highway 69 as a ghostly reminder…a reminder to long-time residents of where Prescott truly began when entering town. Nowadays, there’s just a mall and a huge hotel blocking the view.

Bullwhacker Hill Prescott AZ Views

©2017 Matt White The above photo was imaged during two different times a day then blended it in Photoshop. This was some years before Lightroom and bracketing capabilities on digital cameras.

I personally remember when Prescott finally had a “mall”. Back in the 70’s & 80’s, Prescott was bustling on the west side of town. Prescott High School was in full form and industry was finally popping up. As a kid, Prescott was both a super-boring place to live, but also had the formula for adventure. We more-than-welcomed the “mall”, which wasn’t much of a mall at all. Anchored by Sears and J.C. Penny’s (previously located in downtown Prescott where the Bashford Courts are now) the Ponderosa Plaza was a tiny strip mall which inlcuded T.G.&Y, AJ Bayless Grocery, an Ice Cream shop, B-Dalton Book Store, one sports store, a jewelry store, several local clothing and antique shops, and of course the arcade. The mall became a wonderful hangout destination and sort of odyssey in the trek to get there. We personally liked the path behind the newly built K-Mart plaza, through the graveyard, into the mall parking lot. Back then, there was no Gail Gardner Road to cross, just a ditch and a parking lot.

View of Prescott during the 70's

©2017 Matt White – A view of Prescott during the late 70’s from what appears to be the top of Washington St where the water tanks used to sit. To the left, Senator Highway is visible and the dirt road that turns into Virginia St. You can see the end of the pavement as the street heads up to the graveyard. This is also where Prescott’s Drive-In Theater was located. The little “S” curve from Mt. Vernon St/Senator Highway was frequented by us on bikes. We would start our descent from the top of the hill (now known as Palmer Hill), shoot across Mt. Vernon, and hit this very steep dirt trail. The drop to Virginia St was about 10′ from the clearing. It was quite the thrill-ride. The “Y” shaped road to the left of the photo toward the bottom was to accommodate the entrance to the graveyard (left) and the drive-in (right)

A view of Prescott AZ during the 70's

©2017 Matt White – This view from the same location takes in Virginia St. Washington School is on the far right with the large roof.

View of Prescott AZ during the 70's

©2017 Matt White – An even better view of Washington School. Goodwin Street can be seen slightly. Hard to believe it was dirt once.

View of downtown Prescott during the 70's-80's

©2017 Matt White

Yavpai College shot during the 1970's

©2017 Matt White – Interesting shot of Yavapai College in the distance. This shot makes no sense to me now as I can’t place the angle.

Back in the day, downtown Prescott was also very different, although no so much as to not recognize it. One of these days, I’ll get ambitious and dig through my parent’s old photo books with a scanner in hand.

4th of July Parade Downtown Prescott AZ 1978

©2017 Matt White Downtown Montezuma St across from the Salvation Army. Today, Radio Shack is still next door. The sign next to the Liquor store reads “Natural Foods”

Downtown Prescott AZ during the late 70's

©2017 Matt White Radio Shack is still on the same site today. Tandy Leather, however, is gone.

Downtown Prescott during the 70's

©2017 Matt White A local Cantina and Tuneup Masters on the corner of Goodwin and Montezuma St in Prescott, AZ

Downtown Prescott Arizona during the 1970's

©2017 Matt White Today during the fourth of July parade, onlookers are lucky to get a seat at all near the curb. Those were the days!

Downtown Prescott during the 70's

©2017 Matt White Rocco’s Liquors eventually became Rocco’s Pizza. Phil’s Collectables was also housed in this building where John Denny came back to town to sign autographs after winning the Cy Young award while pitching for the Phillies.

Prescott was certainly a fun town to grow up in! If you’re looking for quaint towns to move and raise a family, consider Prescott, AZ.