I'm old enough to remember when Arkansas Governor Orval E. Faubus tried to stop school integration. In 1957, I was attending Oberlin College which in the 1860s was one of the stops on the Underground Railroad that helped slaves escape from the south. I wasn't sure what we would see if we went to Central High School.
It was fairly difficult to find the High School which is an operating high school. as it was tucked away in a residential neighborhood. There is parking at the new (2007) Visitor's Center which is across the street diagonal from the actual school. The new visitor's center was a part of the 50th Anniversary Celebration. The old one had been at an old gas station across the street.
When we arrived there was a class of 6th graders there. The Visitor Center contained interactive exhibits on the 1957 desegregation crisis. Eisenhower was President then and when he used federal troops to ensure the rights of African-American children to attend the previously all-white school, he became the first president since the post-Civil War Reconstruction period to use federal troops in support of African-American civil rights. I was very impressed by the exhibits contain interactive oral history listening stations and how hard it must have been for the Little Rock Nine. In 1999 the Little Rock Nine each received the Congressional Gold Medal-our nation's highest civilian honor-for their efforts to desegregate Little Rock Central High School
The Visitor Center is open daily from 9:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., year round. The park is closed on Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year's Day. Reservations are necessary for groups to tour the actual school, but the visitor's center is free.
The friend we stayed with in Little Rock drove us all around the town the day before we went downtown on our own. One of the places she took us to was the Oakland Fraternal Cemetery. Adjacent to it is the Little Rock National Cemetery a place for Veterans.
There are quite a few old graves in Oakland Fraternal and some stones are very unique like The Weeping Angel stone that is displayed here. Click on it and look at all the details on this angel.
This is one of my favorite things to do - walk through and visit cemeteries.
Our main reason for a trip to Little Rock was for genealogy. One of the nice things about genealogy is that it takes you to so very many interesting places along the way or at the research place. That was true for this trip. The State Archives are in the side, along the back of the Capital Building. There is plenty of parking but we waited until about eleven o'clock in the morning to get there so that empty spots would be available as people left for lunch.
We went through security and up the elevator to the 4th floor.
There is a very good cafeteria there for the State employees or visitors like us. It closes at 2PM.
Just the outside appearance of this place is enough to invoke curiosity. Once inside, the exhibits and scenic views are great. We were impressed by the exhibits and displays that created a wonderful trip down memory lane. Of course, Bill Clinton's era of history is my era also, so it was quite poignant. There are many items displayed that were gifts to the Clintons from countries around the world. Once inside, there is a great view of the Little Rock City Skyline. Take time to visit the Oval Office room and The Cabinet Room. There are plenty of docents to answer questions and offer information.
The bridge that is beside the library is scheduled to be restored as part of a 13 acre park around the center. There is plenty of free parking here. Entrance price has a Senior's Discount.
Bill was at the library the day before we visited.
The Clinton Presidential Library is one of the more interesting museums of American history to date. Situated in downtown Little Rock's River Market District, the Library holds the National Archives records of Clinton's Presidency and a museum dedicated to his public service. Architecturally, it is a step forward for Arkansas' capital city. What would look like a bold and modern building on a river in Boston or New York comes across as a gigantic trailer park home in Little Rock. The exterior of the building aside, it is a must-see attraction for anyone visiting Little Rock.
Arkansas' calls itself "the natural state", and Little Rock demonstrates this motto with its abundance of parks. I visited two parks - War Memorial Park, located at Markham and Fair Park, and Allsopp Park, located at Cantrell and Cedar Park Road. War Memorial Park has a large golf course and walking paths as well as a small fishing pond. The Little Rock Zoo is nearby. Allsopp Park has trails for hiking and mountain bikes.
The locals I spoke to refer to the Clinton Library as "the trailer on stilts", and one look will tell you why. Don't let the outward appearance discourage you from going in. After going through the metal detector (sigh) and purchasing a ticket you can travel back through recent history. The library is very interactive and hands on. There is a room set up like the cabinet room where you'll learn the rationale for which cabinet member gets to sit closest to the President. Interestingly, the table in this room is actually the one that was used in the Nixon administration. There are displays set up for each year of the Clinton presidency. Yes, Monica is mentioned. No, the blue dress is not there. There is also an oval office set up like the oval office was set up when Clinton was President, as well as a lot of memorabilia from the childhoods of Bill and Hillary. The library is right beside the Arkansas River and area surrounding it is a park. There's a free shuttle that runs from several of the downtown hotels, and there is also some free parking available.
Admission to the galleries at the museum is free and the
Admission for tour of historic homes:
Adults - $2.50
Children (under 18) - $1
Seniors (over 65) - $1.50
I'd say it is well worth the $2.50 for the tour!
Monday - Saturday: 9 a.m. - 5 p.m.
Sunday: 1 p.m. - 5 p.m.
(Tours depart hourly except noon; last tour is at 4 p.m. daily)
Closed Christmas Eve, Christmas, New Year's Day, Easter and Thanksgiving
One of my best friends works part time at the museum. Sometimes she is dressed in period clothes and is working in the kitchen on the tour. I visited in March and got to see her in action. She baked a cake in the morning using a dutch oven and hot coals over and under the oven. In the afternoon she was demonstrating how to spin wool. She was also discussing how the wool is dyed. I learned something interesting which is that most colors were made using various plants just boiled in water - and the color would come out in the water. But the color blue was special. The plant used for blue required an acid to pull the color out, so they usually mixed urine in to make blue!! haha!! I don't think I'd be wanting any blue clothes! :D
The galleries I walked thru which are part of the free part of the museum were interesting. There was an exhibition up about various women's purses. :)
If you are in the River Market area with some free time on your hands, stop by the museum and spend the $2.50 for the tour! :)
On the morning of September 23, 1957, nine African-American teenagers held the line against an angry mob protesting integration in front of Little Rock's Central High School. As the students met their new classmates for the first time inside the school, outside violence escalated and the Little Rock police removed the Nine from the school for their safety. The next day, President Dwight D. Eisenhower ordered the U.S. Army’s 101st Airborne Division into Little Rock to escort the nine students into the school. One of the nine later remembered, “After three full days inside Central, I knew that integration is a much bigger word than I thought.”
Take a self guided tour of the state capitol building. This is something I do in every state capitol city that I am in. THey usually have beautiful architecture and a great sense of history. Best of all they are free! You can spend as little or as much time you like wandering around, and some lucky times there are legislatures debating things inside.
Personally guided tours of the Capitol may be scheduled with the Tour Director, at (501) 682-5080. The free scheduled tours of the Capitol Building are offered weekdays between 9 am and 4 pm. Walk-in visitors requesting personally guided tours will be assisted if the Capitol Tour Director is available.
The State Capitol Building is open to the public Monday through Friday from 7 am to 5 pm., and on weekends and holidays from 10 am to 3 pm.
"In September 1957, Little Rock's Central HS became a crucial battleground in the struggle for civil rights. The nation sat transfixed as nine black students attempted to enter the previously all-white school. While a hostile crowd watched, Arkansas Nationa Guard troops blocked their entrance.
Three weeks later, after negotiations between the Arkansas Governor and President Eisenhower failed to resolved the stalemate, Eisenhower called the U.S. Army's 101st Airborne Division to escort and protect the nine students entering the school. The conflict was only beginning...
...Come to Central H.S. and see first-hand how Little Rock came to symbolize the federal government's commitment to eliminating separate systems of education for blacks and whites.
The Museum and Visitor's Center occupies a former Mobil service station now restored, that is located across the street from Central H.S."
~ Museum Brochure
Unfortunately the museum was closed when I tried to visit, but I was utterly amazed at the enormous size of Central H.S. It really is a sight to see!! It is open Monday - Saturday 9am - 4:30pm and on Sunday from 1pm - 4:30pm. Closed Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years Day.
The Clinton Presidential Library is full of one of the most fascinating time periods of history. Even those who aren't Clinton fans can find something to enjoy. There is an exact replica of the Oval Office and the Cabinet Room, as they appeared during the Clinton administrations. The library is jam packed with technology; in the Cabinet room you sit at the Cabinet table with touch screens and can go through details of the various positions in the administration and their respective functions or through policies enacted during the 8 years of the Clinton administration.
On the lower level of the library you'll also find a timeline with major events of the respective year and the administration's accomplishments of that year (i.e. the Belfast Peace Accords), going year by year down the center with alcoves on each side with a central theme such as Healthcare, Disarmament, or Education.
The second floor exhibits focus more upon the personal and social aspect of the Clinton's life in the White House. You'll find an exhibit with two mannequins dressed in formal attire that President and Mrs. Clinton wore to a state dinner next to a table with the setting that was used at formal state dinners. There are also displays with President Clinton's sports memorabilia and paintings of Socks, the cat, and Buddy, the dog. You'll also find TVs showing tapes of "The Clinton Humor."
I spent about 7 hrs in the library and still did not read and see everything! This museum/library is full of information and you need at least a day to do it justice. The building itself is a wonderful work of architecture and the employees are wonderfully accommodating and helpful. They have truly made this Presidential Library a wonderful place to visit and not a stuffy, dry archaic tomb. I highly recommend it to anyone. It's also very affordable, $5 with a student discount! I'm in the process of building a website with some of the 500 pictures I took during the Globecoming Week and will add the URL once I've completed it, so check back!
Not knowing what exactly to expect, I visited the Clinton Library and was very impressed, especially given that I'm a Democrat but did not know too much about Pres. Clinton. In here you will find a thorough story of his life, from childhood to presidency. The first thing you do is watch a short introductory film narrated by the President himself, which is a great way to become oriented with him and the library.
The upstairs contains many personal items and momentos and tells the story of his and Hillary's lives. There is a replica of the Oval Office that looks exactly as it did when Clinton was in office. Perhaps one of my favorite things on this floor was the exhibition of gifts given to the President from foreign leaders and dignitaries, as well as ordinary Americans. I will not tell just what is showcased though.
The lower level has a replica of the Cabinet Room with an interactive table you can sit down at and see what its like to be one of the President's top advisors. The rest of the floor gives a detailed look at Pres. Clinton's two terms in office. Exhibits showcase landmark events that took place during his Presidency on a yearly basis. Other exhibits look at particular subjects of interest in detail, such as the economy, environment, national security, science and technology, foreign relations, and much more. There is also a few letters on display that were written to Pres. Clinton during his time in office by ordinary Americans and his responses to them.
Regular adult admission is only $7. Please see the website to see who gets discounted tickets, for hours, and directions.
This tour takes 2 to 4 hours depending on how extensive you want that tour to be. I was with my mom and dad and they're the type who'll read everything... if there was a quiz, they would have aced it.
The tour basically starts with a short film with Pres. Clinton as the "host". It was funny and informative. The best "film" though can be found showing in front of the personal pics exhibit on the second floor. It was hilarious! Just video clips of Bill Clinton's (and Hilary) funny side. Only bad thing about it is there was so much traffic in the area that I felt uncomfortable blocking the way! But it is worth it to stand 30mins - 1 hr (?) and watch all of the clips.
The old state house museum is a National Historic Landmark itself but it has also exhibits some are permanent and others are travelling exhibits.
One of the permanent exhibits is "Pillars of Power" telling about the history of the museum itself. You can also take a look at many Arkansas First Lady Gowns going back to 1942. The museum overlooks the Arkansas River houses.
The museum also played a role in recent history a the place for Bill Clintons election night celebrations.
Admission is free..