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Little Rock Renaissance
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Exterior of Clinton Library. Photo by James Hyde.

On November 18th, 2004, Little Rock capped a seven-year effort to bring the Clinton Presidential Center to Little Rock with the largest celebration ever hosted in the state of Arkansas. There were 40,000 invited guests, a performance by Bono and The Edge, and a gigantic fireworks display over six bridges spanning the Arkansas River. Foreign dignitaries, politicians, and celebrities came for the Library dedication ceremony, and all but one of the living United States presidents were in attendance.

The Clinton Library opening brought in an additional investment of $1 billion into the historic River Market and Argenta districts, as well as vast throngs of visitors from around the world. Citizens, business leaders, and government officials have worked tirelessly to restore the luster of our downtowns on both sides of the river, adding beautiful streetscapes, waterfront attractions, urban lifestyle choices, and safe living spaces.

But how exactly did this library come to Little Rock? Who contributed to the downtown revitalization effort, and what challenges did they face? How have these changes contributed to the economic well-being of Central Arkansas generally? In January 2006 students in the Honors College at the University of Central Arkansas began a project to find out. This experimental wiki democratizes our heritage by preserving and reflecting on the memories of the people who made it happen, as well as important places, events, and signposts along the way.

Little Rock Renaissance needs your help in developing this electronic textbook ("e-text"). We want you to make public knowledge by making knowledge public. Sharing on the wiki is easy. The only thing you need to do is create a login. We’ll approve you as an editor. Consider using your real name as a username; we want to credit your contributions on the front page, and we want you to see the pictures. Or simply browse through the wiki and be amazed at what you didn't know about the rebirth of the Little Rock metro area.

Where to start exercising your curiosity? We recommend the pages on the Clinton Presidential Center, the Little Rock River Market, and the Argenta Historic District. Then surf over to pages on specific attractions like the Arkansas Arts Center, Historic Arkansas Museum, or Little Rock Zoo. Check out the subject page on restaurants, and then make a reservation at one of the many local hotels to attend Riverfest or the Arkansas Literary Festival, watch the Arkansas Travelers play ball, or see the Inland Maritime Museum. Let's get connected with our community and our heritage and enrich our experience of the Little Rock Metro area in this collaborative enterprise!

Featured article

Ceilings Plus created environmentally friendly metal and bamboo ceilings for the Clinton Library. The perforated and non-perforated aluminum ceiling panels are made primarily from recycled soda cans (~75 percent). The custom-made Arboreal® carbonized bamboo ceiling covers 9,000 square feet. Polshek Partnership selected bamboo for the ceilings as it is a "rapidly renewable" building material. The aluminum and bamboo ceilings helped the Library achieve LEED certification by the U.S. Green Building Council.

Did you know?

The Arkansas Museum of Discovery is a children's science and history museum in the heart of the Little Rock River Market. The museum was founded on Main Street in 1927 by Julia Burnell (Bernie) Smade Babcock under the name of the Museum of Natural History and Antiquities. The original artifacts were donated by missionaries. One of the most popular artifacts on display was the so-called "Head of a Chicago Criminal."

In the news

Acxiom Corp. of Little Rock recently won the 2008 American Architecture Award for the design of its Data Center. According to Reese Rowland of Polk Stanley Rowland Curzon Porter Architects LTD, the company that designed the building, it is the second American Architecture Award the Little Rock firm has received in the past two years. The first was for the design of Heifer International's headquarters. Read more

This month in history

1999 - ALLTEL Arena, an 18,000 seat multi-purpose facility, opens in October 1999 at a cost of $71 million.

2007 - In October 2007 Metroplan begings studying the possibility of extending the River Rail streetcar line from the eastern terminus on the grounds of the Clinton Presidential Center to the Little Rock National Airport. More from the timeline

Little Rock panorama, looking west from Clinton Presidential Center and Park. Photo by Nima Kasraie.

Project Collaborators

  • Team Leader, Oral History Methods: Phil Frana [pfrana at uca dot edu]
  • Administration, Grantmaking, Professional Best Practices: Amanda Allen
  • Video Production: Eric Deitz
  • Administrative Assistant: Blake Bowman
  • Production Assistant: Allison Yocum
  • Photography: James Hyde, Casey Gambill, Megan Davari, Amanda Allen, Allison Hogue, Nathan Smith, Katy Simers, Wade Fuqua, Nathan Scarborough, Spencer Smith, Austin Keaster, Elizabeth Youngblood, Caroline Borden, Elizabeth Housley
  • Interviews: Courtney Bennett, Ben Dobbs, John Greene, James Hyde, Adam Lucas, Ryan Morrow, Fabia Bertram, Blake Bowman, Nicholas Coelho, Megan Davari, Casey Gambill, John Lenehan, Jeremy Morgan, Allison Yocum
  • Wiki Administration: Thomas Bertram
  • Knowledge Engineer: Megan Davari
  • Wiki authors: Fabia Bertram, Blake Bowman, Nicholas Coelho, Megan Davari, Casey Gambill, John Lenehan, Jeremy Morgan, Maegan Murphy, Micah Ray, Allison Yocum

Other links of interest

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