CityLove: Little Rock Edition

Posted on: March 25th, 2014 by Grant Stevens 1 Comment

The skyline of Little Rock, Ark., at night.

Last week, we gave you a small taste of Little Rock, Ark., with an Instagram tour, and this week we’re back with an overview of the city for our CityLove series. What struck me when talking with folks from Little Rock was that though they're cheerleaders for their own neighborhoods, they spent just as much time -- if not more -- promoting the work of other neighborhoods. So while we focus on three specific neighborhoods, there are many more.

Though it struggled in the 1980s and early '90s, the River Market District has seen a massive turnaround with hundreds of millions of dollars of investments in recent years.  

River Market District:  You can’t talk about Little Rock without mentioning the River Market District, which acts as the city’s unofficial cultural center. Many of Little Rock’s biggest attractions are in the area -- the William J. Clinton Presidential Library and Museum, the Arkansas Arts Center, the Arkansas Museum of Discovery, the Historic Arkansas Museum, and the Old State House Museum of Arkansas History.

The neighborhood has an array of restaurant options like the Ottenheimer Market Hall -- with 15 permanent merchants -- and outdoor farmers' markets overlooking Riverfront Park, open from April to October. A unique option to tour the city is by River Rail Streetcar.

Close to SoMa is Arkansas' newest nano-brewery Stone’s Throw Brewing, which used Kickstarter to revive a historic building as a brewery, complete with a tap room, walk-in cooler, and production space.

South Main (SoMa): Several people mentioned this as the neighborhood they felt had changed the most during the past year. SoMa has some of Little Rock’s most diverse shopping -- everything from the Green Corner Store & Soda Fountain to Piano Kraft -- great places to dine, and houses in some of the finest old neighborhoods. The latest addition to the neighborhood is South on Main, which is described as a “cultural experience that includes a restaurant and performance venue featuring the best of Southern cuisine and culture."

South on Main also plays host to musical performances, literary readings, film screenings, and content from the Oxford American.

North Little Rock is working to make Argenta a vibrant, walkable, mixed-use community that raises the standard of living and quality of life while alleviating strain on the environment.

North Little Rock & Argenta – Although it’s not technically in Little Rock -- the unincorporated community of Argenta was annexed by Little Rock, but eventually became part of the new town of North Little Rock -- Argenta is just across the Arkansas River. Connecting the two cities in the Junction Bridge, which spans the river between the River Market District of Little Rock and the Verizon Arena.

Other highlights include the Argenta Farmers Market, the Arkansas Inland Maritime Museum & USS Razorback, the Arkansas River Trail, and the Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame Museum. The Argenta Downtown Council and the Argenta Arts District coordinate many events, including the annual Arkansas Times Craft Beer Festival every October.

Curious about getting involved with the local preservation groups? That's great! We recommend starting with the Quapaw Quarter Association (which is gearing up for their 50th Spring Tour of Homes May 10 and 11, 2014) or the Historic Preservation Alliance of Arkansas. Let us know your Arkansas must-sees in the comments below!

The National Trust for Historic Preservation works to save America's historic places. Join us today to help protect the places that matter to you.

Grant Stevens

Grant Stevens

Grant is the Manager of Community Outreach at the National Trust. He's proud to be from a Main Street Community and the Black Dirt Capitol of the World – Conrad, Iowa! Growing up on a farm, he always loved going to town and looking at the historic buildings. Now a resident of DC, Grant enjoys reading, running, and anything rural.

Revitalization, Travel

One Response

  1. Kathleen Johns

    April 2, 2014

    While I enjoyed the article of LR/NLR historical areas & structures the article lacked the mention of the hiatorical “Old Mill”. I realize it’s not located in Downtown Argenta and that may be the reason for the lack of mention, but what about the 1939 Patriot Tug Boat and the 1962 Mark Twain authentic paddle wheel riverboat, the penned name sake of Samuel Clemmons? Both vessels are located in the Argenta district and the location of those vessels provides the LR skyline view in your photo. Not everything historical that should be preserved is essentially brick & mortar. Mention was made of the Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame, but not of the Dickey-Stephens Ballpark, home of the Arkansas Travelers. As a proud lifetime resident of NLR, it would have been nice to have read of the mention of all of these.