The American Cyclopædia (1879)/Little Rock
LITTLE ROCK, the capital and chief city of Arkansas, county seat of Pulaski co., situated near the centre of the state, on the S. bank of the Arkansas river, about 250 m. above its mouth, and 125 m. W. S. W. of Memphis, Tenn.; lat. 34° 40′ N., lon. 92° 12′ W.; pop. in 1850, 2,167; in 1860, 3,727; in 1870, 12,380, of whom 5,274 were colored; in 1874, estimated by local authorities at 20,000. It is built upon the first bed of rocks that is met with in ascending the Arkansas. Its elevation is not more than 40 or 50 ft.; but about 2 m. above the opposite bank of the river rises abruptly into a precipitous range of cliffs, 400 or 500 ft. high, known as the Big Rock. The name Little Rock is antithetical to this. The situation is dry and generally healthful. A brook, forming a considerable valley, flows through the city. The streets are wide, laid out at right angles with each other, and lighted with gas. The business houses are principally of brick, and the residences are surrounded by gardens adorned with shade trees and shrubbery, presenting a handsome appearance. The principal public buildings are the state house and St. John's college, of brick; several of the school houses and churches are handsome structures. Water works, to cost $150,000, were in process of construction in 1874. Street cars accommodate local travel. The adjacent country is generally poor, except in the Arkansas bottom or lowlands. The river is navigable to this point at all times by steamers, and communication is furnished by the Cairo and Fulton, the Memphis and Little Rock, and the Little Rock and Fort Smith railroads. The Cairo and Fulton railroad has large passenger and freight depots, and this company is constructing an iron drawbridge across the Arkansas. The Arkansas Central railroad is in progress from Helena, and the Little Rock, Pine Bluff, and New Orleans line toward the Louisiana boundary. The trade of Little Rock is extensive, and there are several important manufactories, embracing two of carriages and wagons, three of sash, doors, and blinds, two founderies, and two flouring mills. There are two national banks, with a capital of $205,000, and a branch of the freedmen's savings bank and trust company. Little Rock is the seat of a United States arsenal and land office, of the state prison, and of the state institutions for deaf mutes and the blind. The United States courts for the E. district of Arkansas are held here. St. John's college (masonic), established in 1857, is essentially a military institute. It was discontinued during the civil war, and reopened in 1867. In 1872 it had 6 instructors and 102 students. St. Mary's academy for young ladies is under the charge of the sisters of the convent of mercy. The public schools embrace the various grades from primary to high school, and in 1872 had 23 teachers and 1,650 pupils. The mercantile library contains 1,800 volumes, and the state library 12,500. Three daily and three weekly newspapers and one monthly periodical are published. There are nine churches, viz.: Baptist (two), Christian, Episcopal, Lutheran, Methodist (two), Presbyterian, and Roman Catholic.—Little Rock was founded about 1820, and in that year became the seat of the territorial government. During the civil war it was in the possession of the confederates until Sept. 10, 1863, when it was captured by Gen. Steele.