Montezuma St, west of Courthouse Plaza, was once the infamous Whiskey Row, where 40 drinking establishments supplied suds to rough-hewn cowboys, miners and wastrels. In 1900 a devastating fire destroyed 25 saloons, five hotels and the red-light district, although several early buildings remain. Many are still bars to this day, mixed in with boutiques, galleries and restaurants.
In the infamous Palace Saloon, rebuilt in 1901, a museum's worth of photographs and artifacts (including the Brunswick Bar, which survived the fire) are scattered throughout the bar and restaurant. A scene from the 1972 Steve McQueen movie Junior Bonner was filmed here, and a mural honoring the film covers an inside wall.
Whiskey Row has taken on a second identity as Gallery Row. Standouts include Arts Prescott Gallery, a collective of 24 local artists working in all media, and Van Gogh's Ear, where you can snap up metal art, fine woodwork and handmade leather shoes by nationally known artists, many living in the Prescott area. Sample Prescott's gallery scene during the monthly 4th Friday Art Walk.
Dating from 1916 and anchoring the elm-shaded plaza, the columned County Courthouse is particularly pretty when sporting its lavish Christmas decorations. Cortez St runs along the east side of the plaza and is a hive of antique and collectible stores; visit Ogg's Hogan, with its excellent selection of American Indian crafts and jewelry, mostly from Arizona tribes.
Buildings east and south of the plaza escaped the 1900 fire. Some are Victorian houses built by East Coast settlers and are markedly different from Southwestern adobe buildings. Look for the fanciest digs on Union St; No 217 is the ancestral Goldwater family mansion (of Senator Barry Goldwater fame).