1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Little Rock

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LITTLE ROCK, the capital of Arkansas, U.S.A., and the county-seat of Pulaski county, situated near the centre of the state and on the S. bank of the Arkansas river, at the E. edge of the Ozark foothills. Pop. (1890) 25,874; (1900) 38,307, of whom 14,694 were of negro blood, and 2099 were foreign-born; (1910 census) 45,941. Little Rock is served by the Chicago, Rock Island & Pacific, the St Louis South Western, and the St Louis, Iron Mountain & Southern railways and by river boats. It occupies a comparatively level site of 11 sq. m. at an altitude of 250 to 400 ft. above sea-level and 50 ft. or more above the river, which is crossed here by three railway bridges and by a county bridge. The city derived its name (originally “le Petit Roche” and “The Little Rock”) from a rocky peninsula in the Arkansas, distinguished from the “Big Rock” (the site of the army post, Fort Logan H. Roots), 1 m. W. of the city, across the river. The Big Rock is said to have been first discovered and named “Le Rocher Français” in 1722 by Sieur Bernard de la Harpe, who was in search of an emerald mountain; the Little Rock is now used as an abutment for a railway bridge. The state capitol, the state insane asylum, the state deaf mute institute, the state school for the blind, a state reform school, the penitentiary, the state library and the medical and law departments of the state university are at Little Rock; and the city is also the seat of the United States court for the eastern district of Arkansas, of a United States land office, of Little Rock College, of the St Mary’s Academy, of a Roman Catholic orphanage and a Roman Catholic convent, and of two schools for negroes—the Philander Smith College (Methodist Episcopal, 1877), co-educational, and the Arkansas Baptist College. The city is the seat of Protestant Episcopal and Roman Catholic bishops. Little Rock has a Carnegie library (1908), an old ladies’ home, a Florence Crittenton rescue home, a children’s home, St Vincent’s infirmary, a city hospital, a Catholic hospital, a physicians’ and surgeons’ hospital and the Arkansas hospital for nervous diseases. A municipal park system includes City, Forest, Wonderland and West End parks. Immigration from the northern states has been encouraged, and northern men control much of the business of the city. In 1905 the value of factory products was $4,689,787, being 38.8% greater than the value in 1900. Cotton and lumber industries are the leading interests; the value of cotton-seed oil and cake manufactured in 1905 was $967,043, of planing mill products $835,049, and of lumber and timber products $342,134. Printing and publishing and the manufacture of foundry and machine shop products and of furniture are other important industries. Valuable deposits of bauxite are found in Pulaski county, and the mines are the most important in the United States.

Originally the site of the city was occupied by the Quapaw Indians. The earliest permanent settlement by the whites was about 1813–1814; the county was organized in 1818 while still a part of Missouri Territory; Little Rock was surveyed in 1821, was incorporated as a town and became the capital of Arkansas in 1821, and was chartered as a city in 1836. In 1850 its population was only 2167, and in 1860 3727; but in 1870 it was 12,380. Little Rock was enthusiastically anti-Union at the outbreak of the Civil War. In February 1861, the United States Arsenal was seized by the state authorities. In September 1863 the Federal generals William Steele (1819–1885) and John W. Davidson (1824–1881), operating against General Sterling Price, captured the city, and it remained throughout the rest of the war under Federal control. Constitutional conventions met at Little Rock in 1836, 1864, 1868 and 1874, and also the Secession Convention of 1861. The Arkansas Gazette, established at Arkansas Post in 1819 and soon afterwards removed to the new capital, was the first newspaper published in Arkansas and one of the first published west of the Mississippi.