On January 4, 1916, voters in Little Rock and Pulaski Heights voted overwhelmingly to annex the latter into the former.
First platted in 1890, Pulaski Heights had been incorporated as a city in August 1905. By 1915, Pulaski Heights was booming. It was growing so fast, that its infrastructure and public safety needs were far outpacing the city’s ability to pay for them. Though there was a ribbon of commercial businesses along Prospect Avenue (now Kavanaugh Boulevard), it did not produce enough sales tax revenue to pay for City services. Then, as now, property taxes were also an important part of city revenue sources but not sufficient without sales taxes.
The City of Little Rock, likewise, was looking for ways to grow physically. At the time, the City was hemmed in by a river to the north and low, marshy land to the east. Current development was to the south, but even that presented limits in the foreseeable future. The best option was to grow to the west, but Pulaski Heights was in the way. In 1915, Little Rock Mayor Charles Taylor (after failing in a previous attempt to re-annex North Little Rock into Little Rock), approached Pulaski Heights leadership about the possibility of annexation.
In November 1915, there were public meetings in Little Rock and Pulaski Heights to discuss the issue. As a part of the annexation, Little Rock promised to build a fire station in the area and to install traffic lights, sidewalks and pave more streets.
On January 4, 1916, Little Rock voters approved the annexation of Pulaski Heights by a ten-to-one margin. The majority of Pulaski Heights residents also approved the deal. The suburb became the city’s ninth ward.
Another special election was held in January 1916 to select the first two aldermen from the 9th Ward. L. H. Bradley, John P. Streepy and Tom Reaves ran for the two slots. Bradley and Streepy were the top two vote recipients. Streepy served until April 1921 and Bradley served until April 1928.
This established a couple of precedents for the City of Little Rock which are in effect to this day. The first is that Little Rock would not be a central city surrounded by a variety of small incorporated towns (in the manner that St. Louis and other cities are). It was this thought process which has led the City to continue to annex properties.