10 Great American Public Spaces
Courtesy of Mike Bacon
What the APA Says: It “exemplifies how citizen support, planning and design, and grounds management and maintenance can create a treasured urban space that is the center—both geographically and spiritually—of the community.”
Why They’re Right: As a 1900 fire engulfed the saloons and brothels of Prescott (Arizona’s Whisky Row), patrons carried their bottles, glasses, and the monumental 24-foot-long oak bar out of the Palace Saloon and set it across the street in Yavapai County Courthouse Plaza to create a makeshift bar. That was not the first spirited event to take place in Courthouse Plaza’s history, nor was it the last. Prescott holds almost all community events—craft fairs, concerts, political speeches, art exhibits, antique shows, and seasonal celebrations—at Courthouse Plaza, just as it has since city planners mapped the square in 1864. The 4.1-acre square, with the 1916 granite courthouse at its center, anchors the town’s still-lively historic district of shops, cafes, bookstores, and art galleries.