University Avenue is a major north-south thoroughfare in Little Rock, Arkansas. The avenue runs from the bluff overlooking the Arkansas River in the north to its intersection with Chicot Road in the southern part of the city. The southern half of University Avenue is marked as U.S. Highway 67/U.S. Highway 70. Notable places along the avenue include Park Plaza Mall, the defunct University Mall, War Memorial Park Golf Course, and the University of Arkansas at Little Rock,
University Avenue was originally known as Hayes Street, named for President Rutherford B. Hayes. Hayes remained unpaved into the 1950s, but by February 1961 -- when it was widened to a paved boulevard with four lanes, mercury vapor lights, and six traffic signals -- it had achieved the second-highest traffic counts in the city. Only Broadway, with four designated state highway routes, was more traveled.
The decision to pave the road with asphalt in 1955 was made by County Judge Arch Campbell. The road was widened to four lanes for $743,000 in 1960. The road almost immediately thereafter became characterized by what local leaders called "sprawl" and "blight" due to unplanned and uncontrolled development of four shopping centers and many other stand-alone businesses. Road use jumped from 11,000 vehicles per day in 1959 to 26,000 per day in 1962.
The paving of Hayes Street is often cited as one factor in the decline of downtown Little Rock's Main Street retail district in the 1960s. The paved street soon came to be called "The Great White Way" and "Miracle Mile."
- "Avenue Woes Laid to Lack of Planning," Arkansas Gazette, February 2, 1961.
- Jimmy Jones, "Downtown Plight: Only Big Business Can Afford Land," Arkansas Gazette, April 12, 1970.
- Matilda Tuohey, "University Avenue Has Developed into Cinderella Street of Little Rock," Arkansas Gazette, December 30, 1962.