Clockwise from top: Little Rock skyline,William J. Clinton Presidential Library, War Memorial Stadium, the River Market District, and the Arkansas State Capitol
|Nickname(s): The Rock, Rock Town, LR|
Little Rock is the capital and the most populous city of the U.S. state ofArkansas. It is also the county seat of Pulaski County. It was incorporated on November 7, 1831 on the south bank of the Arkansas River very near the geographic center of the state. The city derives its name from a small rock formation along the river, named "le Petit Rocher" by the French in 1799. The capital of the Arkansas Territory was moved to Little Rock fromArkansas Post in 1821. The city's population was 193,524 at the 2010 census. The five-county Little Rock-North Little Rock-Conway, AR Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) is ranked 75th in terms of population in the United States with 724,385 residents according to the 2013 estimate by the United States Census Bureau.
Little Rock is a major cultural, economic, government and transportation center within Arkansas, the South and the nation. Amenities such asArkansas Arts Center, Arkansas Repertory Theatre, Arkansas Symphony Orchestra are available in addition to the hiking, boating, and other outdoor recreational opportunities available to residents and visitors. Little Rock's history is also available to residents and visitors in a variety of ways; history museums, historic districts or neighborhoods like the Quapaw Quarter, and historic sites like Little Rock Central High School. The city is the headquarters of Dillards, Windstream Communications, Acxiom, Stephens Inc., University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, Heifer International, theClinton Foundation, and the Rose Law Firm. Other large corporations, including Dassault Falcon Jet and LM Wind Power have large operations in the city. State government is also a large employer, with most offices being located in downtown Little Rock. Two major Interstate highways, Interstate 30 and Interstate 40 meet in Little Rock, with the Port of Little Rock serving as a major shipping hub.
Archeological artifacts provide evidence of Native Americans inhabiting Central Arkansas for thousands of years before Europeans arrived. The early inhabitants may have included the Folsom people, Bluff Dwellers, and Mississippian culturepeoples who built earthwork mounds recorded in 1541 by Spanish explorer Hernando de Soto. Historical tribes of the area included the Caddo, Quapaw, Osage, Choctaw, and Cherokee.
Little Rock was named for a stone outcropping on the bank of the Arkansas River used by early travelers as a landmark.La Petite Roche (French for "the Little Rock"), named in 1722 by French explorer and trader Jean-Baptiste Bénard de la Harpe, marked the transition from the flat Mississippi Delta region to the Ouachita Mountain foothills. Travelers referred to the area as "the Little Rock," and the landmark name stuck.
Major corporations headquartered in Little Rock include Dillard's Department Stores,Windstream Communications and Acxiom.
Additional large companies headquartered in Little Rock include Metropolitan National Bank, Bank of the Ozarks, Rose Law Firm, Nuvell Financial Services,Central Flying Service and large brokerage Stephens Inc.
Large companies headquartered in other cities but with a large presence in Little Rock include Dassault Falcon Jet near Little Rock National Airport in the eastern part of the city, and Fidelity National Information Services in northwestern Little Rock.
Despite its size, Little Rock and its surroundings are the headquarters for some of the largest and most recognizable non-profit organizations in the world, including Winrock International, Heifer International, the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, Clinton Foundation, Lions World Services for the Blind, Clinton Presidential Center, Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation, FamilyLife, Audubon Arkansas, and The Nature Conservancy.
Associations include the American Taekwondo Association, Arkansas Hospital Association, and the Quapaw QuarterAssociation.
Major employers throughout Little Rock include Arkansas Blue Cross and Blue Shield, Baptist Health Medical Center,Entergy, Dassault Falcon Jet, Siemens, AT&T Mobility, Kroger, Euronet Worldwide, L'Oréal Paris, Timex, and UAMS.
One of the largest public employers in the state with over 10,552 employees, the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS) and its healthcare partners — Arkansas Children's Hospital and the Central Arkansas Veterans Healthcare System—have a total economic impact in Arkansas of about $5 billion per year. UAMS receives less than 11% of its funding from the state. Its operation is funded by payments for clinical services (64%), grants and contracts (18%), philanthropy and other (5%), and tuition and fees (2%).
The Little Rock port is an intermodal river port with a large industrial business complex. It is designated as Foreign Trade Zone 14. International corporations such as Danish manufacturer LM Glasfiber have established new facilities adjacent to the port in recent years.
Along with Louisville and Memphis, Little Rock has a branch of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis.
Kiplinger names Little Rock as the #1 place to live among metropolitan areas under one million people in July 2013.
Little Rock offers many cultural amenities to residents and tourists, including the following:
Founded in 1976, the Arkansas Repertory Theatre is the state's largest nonprofit professional theatre company. A member of the League of Resident Theatres (LORT D), The Rep has produced more than 300 productions, including 40 world premieres, in its historic building located in downtown Little Rock. Producing Artistic Director, Robert Hupp leads a resident staff of designers, technicians and administrators in the creation of eight to ten productions for an annual audience in excess of 70,000 for MainStage productions, educational programming and touring. The Rep produces works that range from contemporary comedies and dramas to world premiers and the classics of dramatic literature.
Outside magazine named Little Rock one of its 2013 Best Towns. The city offers many outdoor recreational opportunities, including dozens of parks and Pinnacle Mountain State Park.
The city has two major universities that are part of the University of Arkansas System. The campuses of the University of Arkansas at Little Rock and the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences are located within Little Rock. The city also is home to a pair of smaller, historically black colleges, Philander Smith College, affiliated with the United Methodist Church, and Arkansas Baptist College.
The University of Arkansas at Little Rock was founded in 1927 as Little Rock Junior College, under the supervision of the city Board of Education. The first semester open, there were eight instructors and about 100 students. The college is currently accredited by the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools, a status it has kept since 1929. Housed originally in public school buildings, the college moved in 1949 to its present location between University Ave and Fair Park Blvd, North of Asher Ave., on land donated by Raymond Rebsamen, a Little Rock businessman. The college was also the sole beneficiary of a continuing trust established by former Governor George W. Donaghey at the time. In 1957, the institution began a four-year degree program, became independent and privately supported under a separate board of trustees, and took the name Little Rock University.
In September 1969, The Little Rock University merged into the University of Arkansas System, to create the University of Arkansas at Little Rock. The University of Arkansas System merger began a period of steady growth, which saw UALR go from about 3,500 students and 75 full-time faculty members in 1969 to about 10,000 students and over 400 full-time faculty members in the 1998 academic year. The University's expanded offerings now include 54 undergraduate major programs, an extensive schedule of night, weekend, and off-campus classes, and a wide range of community educational services. UALR began offering graduate and professional work in 1975. Besides the juris doctor offered at the William H. Bowen School of Law, UALR now has three doctoral programs and 29 graduate and professional programs, as well as joint programs with other campuses of the University of Arkansas System.
The University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS) is part of the University of Arkansas System. UAMS has about 2,200 students in six academic units: the Colleges of Medicine, Pharmacy, Nursing, Health Related Professions, and Public Health and the Graduate School. UAMS also has more than 660 resident physicians completing their training at UAMS or at one of the seven Area Health Education Centers around the state. UAMS combines the patient care resources of a state-of-the art hospital and outpatient center with the Winthrop P. Rockefeller Cancer Institute, Harvey and Bernice Jones Eye Institute, Donald W. Reynolds Institute on Aging, Myeloma Institute for Research and Therapy, and Jackson T. Stephens Spine and Neurosciences Institute. Arkansas Children's Hospital and the Central Arkansas Veterans Healthcare System are affiliates of UAMS.
The outreach efforts of UAMS include seven Area Health Education Centers (AHECs) in Fayetteville, Pine Bluff, El Dorado,Texarkana, Fort Smith, Jonesboro, and Helena, Arkansas; networks of senior health centers and centers for young children with special health care needs; and interactive video education and medical consultation services to community hospitals around the state. UAMS is the state's largest basic and applied research institution with internationally renowned programs in multiple melanoma, aging, and other areas.
Located in downtown is the specialized Clinton School of Public Service, a branch of the University of Arkansas System, which offers a master's degree in public service.
Pulaski Technical College has two locations in Little Rock. The Pulaski Technical College Little Rock-South site is located at 13000 Interstate 30 in the former Little Rock Expo building near the Pulaski and Saline County line.
Almost half of the building's 159,000 square feet houses the Pulaski Technical College Transportation Technology Center programs in automotive technology, collision repair technology, commercial driver training, diesel technology, small engine repair technology and motorcycle/all-terrain vehicle repair technology.
Little Rock-South also houses the Pulaski Technical College Arkansas Culinary School and its The Finish Line Cafe, which is operated by culinary school staff, culinary arts instructors and students. Breakfast and lunch are offered weekdays.
Pulaski Tech offers a variety of general and developmental education courses at its Little Rock-South location. In addition, students have access to services they enjoy at the main campus—a library, computer labs, tutoring services, student services, all housed in an attractive new location with cutting-edge technology.
At the Little Rock-West location, the college offers both day and evening courses in areas such as business, English, fine arts, health sciences, history, mathematics, social sciences and developmental education.
Several full-time faculty, a student services representative and several adjunct faculty members are housed at the site. Tutoring services and an open computer lab are available at Little Rock-West. In addition, the location houses the Pulaski Technical College Office of Governmental Relations and the Career Pathways program.
There is a Missionary Baptist Seminary in Little Rock associated with the American Baptist Association. The school began as Missionary Baptist College in Sheridan in Grant County.
Little Rock is home to both the Arkansas School for the Blind (ASB) and the Arkansas School for the Deaf (ASD), which are state-run schools operated by the Board of Trustees of the ASB–ASD. In addition, eStem Public Charter High Schooland LISA Academy provide tuition-free public education as charter schools.
The city's comprehensive public school system is operated by the Little Rock School District (LRSD). As of 2012, the district includes 64 schools with more schools being built. As of the 2009–2010 school year, the district has enrollment of 25,685. It has 5 high schools, 8 middle schools, 31 elementary schools, 1 early childhood (pre-kindergarten) center, 2 alternative schools, 1 adult education center, 1 accelerated learning center, 1 career-technical center, and about 3,800 employees.
LRSD public high schools include:
The Pulaski County Special School District (PCSSD) serves parts of Little Rock as well. PCSSD high schools in the city include:
The city is home to a variety of private schools, including:
The Central Arkansas Library System includes the main building downtown and numerous branches throughout the city as well as branches in Jacksonville, Maumelle, Perryville, and Sherwood. The Pulaski County Law Library is located at theWilliam H. Bowen School of Law.