201 years of the Quapaw Line

Stones placed in Riverfront Park denote where there Quapaw Line started from La Petite Roche

On August 24, 1818, the Quapaw Line was drawn.  Starting at La Petite Roche and heading due south, this line formed the boundary between the Quapaw tribal lands and public lands available for settlement.  (In the 1810s and 1820s, the Quapaw alternated between Central Arkansas and Northwest Louisiana depending on preferences of the tribal leadership.)

Though by 1824, the Quapaw were forced by the federal government to give up all of their lands in the area, the line continued serve as an important marker.   In the ensuing six years, the first permanent settlement of Little Rock took place and streets were planned.

The 1818 treaty referred to La Petite Roche as the Little Rock.  Some have speculated that this is the first official use of “Little Rock” to designate the outcropping and to name the area.  When the U.S. Post Office was established in March 1820, it was given the name Little Rock.

There is a marker commemorating the beginning of the Quapaw Line located at La Petite Roche in Riverfront Park.  The first segment of the line is also noted in the park.  There are also sunken markers place along the line at various points.  In MacArthur Park, at the corner of 9th and Commerce Streets, there is a marker noting that the line passed through at that location.  A few years ago, engineers from Garver retraced the line using modern technology. They found the original surveyors’ work to be extremely accurate.

A good account of walking the Quapaw Line through downtown Little Rock can be found on this website.

Most of what is now called the Quapaw Quarter was located to the west of the Quapaw Line.  However, it did take its name from the fact that the tribe had once lived in that area and was later sequestered to lands near it.  The name for the area was chosen by a committee composed of David D. Terry, Peg Newton Smith, Mrs. Walter Riddick Sr., Dr. John L. Ferguson, and James Hatcher. They had been appointed to a Significant Structures Technical Advisory Committee to advocate for preservation of important structures as a component of the City of Little Rock’s urban renewal efforts.

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Farewell Party at the Arkansas Arts Center today

No photo description available.

The Arkansas Arts Center is celebrating the end of an era!

After 56 years, it is time to say goodbye to the current MacArthur Park space with a party that takes over the whole building.

They have filled the galleries with a carnival of activities – karaoke, giant yard games, a beach party, photo booth, and inflatable fun zone. Don’t miss music, dancing, food, drinks and much more!

Join the AAC for family-focused fun and activities for all ages from 2–5 p.m. Starting at 5 p.m., the Farewell Festival will be 21+.

The Farewell Festival is free for Arkansas Arts Center members, with special perks available for members of ’22&You.

Membership Card Required for Entry

PS – Stay tuned for announcements of upcoming events! Just because the facility in MacArthur Park will be closed for reconstruction does not mean the AAC is ceasing having events.

Help the Little Rock Zoo name the new baby organutan

The Little Rock Zoo is asking the public to help choose a name for the new baby orangutan born to Berani and father Bandar on July 29, 2019. The young female is the first infant born to Berani and the fifth born to Bandar.

The public is invited to vote by online poll available at the Zoo’s website and Facebook page.  The voting will end Friday, August 30, 2019, when the winning name will be announced. The Zoo keepers have selected four names from which to choose.

The choices are:

  • Kasih (pronounced KAH-see)  (Malay), which means love
  • Markisa (pronounced Mark-KEE-suh) (Malay), which means passion fruit
  • Sabah (pronounced SA-bah  (Malay), which is the name of the state in northern Borneo where orangutans are found
  • Madu (MAH-do) (Malay) which means honey.

The baby orangutan’s birth came at the recommendation of the Orangutan Species Survival Plan® (SSP), a program that cooperatively manages orangutan species in zoos accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) to further conservation goals. This SSP Program coordinates species conservation, research, husbandry, management and educational initiatives. The Little Rock Zoo also participates in the AZA SAFE (Saving Animals From Extinction) program for orangutans. AZA SAFE programs combine the collective strength of AZA organizations to help save species in the wild.

Men & Women of Distinction: Mike Beebe will be shown by Arkansas Cinema Society tonight at CALS Ron Robinson Theater

Tonight the Arkansas Cinema Society is getting things started with a documentary about the 45th Governor of Arkansas, Mike Beebe.  

In 2010, a red tide swept Arkansas, flipping many federal and state offices to Republican control. But Democratic Governor Mike Beebe not only won re-election, he carried all 75 counties in Arkansas, an unprecedented feat. How did he do that?

Watch AETN: Men & Women of Distinction’s biography of Governor Mike Beebe.  In this uplifting one-hour documentary, commissioned in 2015 and directed by Kathryn Tucker, the former Governor reflects on his 32 years in elected office, with added perspectives from his wife Ginger, former Governor’s Chief of Staff – Morril Harriman, former Governor’s Director of Communications – Matt DeCample, columnist – John Brummett,  ASU fraternity brother & longtime friend – Johnny Allison, and former Attorney General’s Chief of Staff – Colette Honorable.

Matt DeCample, who served on Governor Beebe’s staff was instrumental in working with the Arkansas Cinema Society during its first two years. Today (August 21) is Matt’s birthday. Though he died earlier this year after a valiant battle with cancer, Matt’s presence continues with the Arkansas Cinema Society (not just through his appearance in this film). A special tribute to Matt will also be part of the program.

The program is at the CALS Ron Robinson Theatre.  Doors open at 5:00pm with the screening starting at 6:30pm.

RESERVE TICKETS here.

Little Rock Look Back: Roller Rink and Auditorium approved by LR City Council

Following the court decision which forbade the City of Little Rock from using public dollars to construct a municipal auditorium, a temporary solution was sought.  On August 20, 1906, the City Council approved plans for such a structure.

After the September 10, 1906, City Council meeting, the mayor told the Gazette that the Board of Public Affairs had leased part of the City’s land at Markham and Arch Streets to A. C. Read to construct the rink and auditorium.  The lease also allowed the building to extend out into Arch Street (the 1913 Sanborn Map shows it covering approximately two-thirds of the width of the street).  The mayor noted that, “It is stipulated in our lease to Mr. Read that the city shall have the use of the auditorium which he shall erect at any time.”

According to the Democrat, by September the building was already under construction.  That paper also noted that “after three years it passes into the hands of the city, when it can be repaired or remodeled to suit convention purposes.”  In the story about the new plans, the Democrat also gave the facility a very optimistic seating capacity of 9,000 people.

On August 13, 1906, A. C. Read, a businessman and real estate developer, petitioned the City for the right to construct a skating rink.  The matter was referred to the Street & Fire Committee, the Superintendent of Public Works and Aldermen Louis Volmer and Benjamin S. Thalheimer, who represented the Sixth Ward, in which the structure would be located.

By the next Council meeting a week later, the committee had reported back with a recommendation for approval.  Resolution 288 was adopted giving Mr. Read the right to build the skating rink.  Interestingly, the resolution did not contain the words “skating rink” though the original petition had.  Instead it permitted Mr. Read to construct a building “suitable for purposes as defined by the Board of Public Affairs.”

The resolution also stated that within three years the building would become property of the City.  The unnamed Gazette reporter at the August 21, 1906, City Council meeting did note in a story the day after the meeting that Mr. Read’s structure would probably be used as an auditorium in three years when the lease was up and the land use reverted back to the City.

Matters often languished in committees of the City Council for weeks; the one week turnaround of Mr. Read’s petition was highly uncommon.  It was also rare for the City Council to meet two weeks in a row.  The fact that it was reported back so quickly would be an indication that this was no standard petition from a citizen.

Civic observers might also have noted that the resolution contained language that a private citizen had been given permission to construct a building on City-owned property to the specifications of the City’s Board of Public Affairs.

August 20, 1961 – Groundbreaking for Arkansas Arts Center

On a warm Sunday afternoon, ten golden shovels turned dirt to mark the start of construction for the new Arkansas Arts Center.  The activity followed a series of speeches that day, August 20, 1961.

The speakers and dignitaries sat on the front portico of the original Museum of Fine Arts in MacArthur Park. That building would be incorporated into the new structure.

Among those who took part in the speeches and groundbreaking were Winthrop Rockefeller, Jeannette Edris Rockefeller, Gov. Orval Faubus, Congressman Dale Alford, and Little Rock Mayor Werner Knoop.

The efforts to create the Arkansas Arts Center started in the mid-1950s when the Junior League of Little Rock started an effort to establish a new art museum.  Next, the business community founded a Committee for a Center of Art and Science to accept funds donated.

When a suitable location within Little Rock could not be found, the decision was made to join with the Fine Arts Club and the Museum of Fine Arts.  Under the leadership of the Rockefellers, the drive to form the Arkansas Arts Center was launched. In September 1960, the City of Little Rock formally established the Arkansas Arts Center.