Getting to Know Little Rock
Little Rock was a riverside clearing with 14 people in 1819 when Arkansas became a US territory. It was a landmark used by bargemen, traders and trappers on the Arkansas River and was called the “little rock” to distinguish it from the “big rock” just upstream. The first seat of government was the Old State House in downtown Little Rock. It is the oldest surviving state capitol west of the Mississippi River, and at one point, it served as the medical center.
The Greater Little Rock (MSA) area, population 699,757, is located in the center of the state and is the second fastest-growing region of the United States, with 40 percent of the nation’s population and buying power within a 550-mile radius. Little Rock is where “America Comes Together” – located at the crossroad of Interstate 30 and the most heavily traveled Interstate in the nation, Interstate 40. Twenty-eight Fortune 500 companies operate within the Little Rock Metropolitan Statistical Area.
The average temperatures are: summer – 81.4, winter – 39.5 and annual – 62 degrees. The median family income in Little Rock is $41,826 (Los Angeles- $55,452, Boston, $45,100, US average – $49,777). The median home cost in Little Rock is $135,050 (LA – $464,333, Boston – $339,900, US average – $221,800). The cost of living index in Little Rock is 87 (LA – 142.3, Boston – 129, US average – 100). Little Rock was recently ranked second in the country for economic diversity by Moody’s Investors Service and the 15th “most livable city” by Forbes Magazine. The ranking takes into consideration the city’s living expenses, including housing and transportation costs, as well as job and income growth.
The Little Rock National Airport, less than three miles from downtown, is Arkansas’ largest commercial service airport. There are more than 116 flight arrivals and departures at Little Rock each day, with non-stop jet service to 17 national and international gateway cities, making Little Rock truly one stop away from
The William J. Clinton Presidential Center is an addition that has turned eyes toward Little Rock and central Arkansas. Located in the heart of Little Rock’s River Market District, the Clinton Library houses the largest presidential archive and 20,000 square feet of exhibit space. The Clinton Library and museum provide an exciting and educational experience for visitors of all ages. The Arkansas Symphony Orchestra River Rhapsodies Concert Series is held in the Great Hall (www.arkansassymphony.org).
The adjacent Clinton School of Public Service offers a Master’s Degree in Public Service to prepare individuals who are captivated and energized by understanding and delivering public service of the highest order. Both the Library and the School have special events, guest speakers and celebrations, as well as a highly respected and well-attended monthly lecture series that present a variety of fascinating guest speakers to which the public is invited.
The Little Rock Rail System sports two bright yellow vintage trolleys on a 3.5 mile route linking some of the most vibrant destinations in the River Cities of Little Rock and North Little Rock. The two street cars are powered by overhead electric wires and cost $1.00 per boarding (www.cat.org/rrail/).
The River Market in downtown Little Rock is a carefully crafted, international and diverse medley of owner operated shops, stalls, and/or day tables that fills a public purpose and reflects distinctive shopping and dining.
The Junction Railroad Bridge recently opened as a new pedestrian/bicycle route. It links the riverfront parks on both sides of the Arkansas River. The bridge leads up to the front lawn of Verizon Arena on the NLR shore and to the Riverfront Amphitheater on the Little Rock side. The Junction Bridge is the fifth component of the Six Bridges Plan.
The Big Dam Bridge is a bridge to health and fitness, to friendship and community. It spans the Arkansas River and is the longest pedestrian/biking bridge in the country, connecting 15 miles of scenic riverside trails in Little Rock and North Little Rock.
The Arkansas River Trail reaches from downtown Little Rock to Two Rivers Park on the southern shore and from downtown North Little Rock to Cook’s Landing on the northern shore. Bicycling, skating, walking, jogging and birding are very popular activities.