War Memorial Park

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War Memorial Park is a city-owned park at 5511 West Markham Street in Little Rock, Arkansas. The park contains the Little Rock Zoo, War Memorial Stadium, and Ray Winder Field. Ray Winder is the former home of the Arkansas Travelers baseball team. The Spillman Engineering Over the Jumps Carousel (also known as the Herschell-Spillman Carousel) is located on the grounds of the zoo. Other facilities at the park include golfing and fishing. There is also a playground in War Memorial Park. The recreational area is sometimes referred to as Little Rock's "Central Park."

History of War Memorial Park

War Memorial Park was originally at the western edge of the city and called Fair Park. It was the site of the Pulaski County Fair (Arkansas State Fair) beginning in 1916. The park was bounded on the east by the Arkansas State Hospital for Nervous Diseases. The north boundary was Markham Avenue. The south boundary was West Eighth Avenue. The park abutted the corporate limits to the west at Hayes Street (University Avenue) in the middle of the twentieth century.

The park was renamed "World War Memorial Park," at a dedication ceremony on June 11, 1949. President Harry S. Truman gave an address at the dedication ceremony. Said Truman in his address, "We are here to dedicate this beautiful park to the dead of two world wars, whose memory we should always hold dear. The brave men who lost their lives in those wars would approve of the way you have chosen to honor them. This park will be a place of rest and recreation. It is fitting that a war memorial should be something that can be used and enjoyed by the people. Nothing could be more appropriate than to devote a war memorial to those values of human life which our soldiers died to preserve - the values of freedom and peace."

By the 1950s the park contained the Fair Park Golf Course, War Memorial Stadium, the Little Rock Zoo, Little Rock Technical High School, Travelers Field, the Naval Reserves Training Center, Marine Corps Reserve Training Center, Fair Park Swimming Pool, a roller skating rink, and War Memorial Amusement Park which held the Herschell-Spillman Carousel, carnival attractions, and concessions.


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