Largest city and capital of Arkansas, USA, a port of entry on the Arkansas River, 215 km/133 mi west of Memphis, Tennessee; seat of Pulaski County; population (2000 est) 181,100. It is the centre of a rich agricultural, mining, timber, natural gas, and oil region; products include metal goods, oilfield and electronic equipment, valves and pipes, aircraft, ammunition, watches, chemicals, clothing, and processed food.
History A French trading post was built here in 1722, when it was named ‘La Petite Roche’ by French explorer Bernard de la Hoppe. In 1818 the local American Indian tribe, the Quapaw, ceded the land. In 1821 Little Rock became the territorial capital, and it was incorporated in 1836. By 1850 there were around 2,000 residents, mainly engaged in the cattle trade. Union forces captured the city in 1863, during the American Civil War.
In 1957, following US Supreme Court decisions regarding desegregation in schools, federal troops were sent to Little Rock to enforce the racial integration of the previously all-white Central High School; this was the first major incident in the struggle for ethnic equality in the South.
Features Little Rock has 204 entries on the national register of historic places. It was on the steps of the first State House, now the Old State House (1836–1842), that Bill Clinton accepted the US presidency in 1992. The State House's functions were later transferred to the State Capitol, begun in 1899. The first county courthouse was opened here in 1889. Educational institutions include Philander Smith College (1877), Arkansas Baptist College (1884), the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (1879), and the University of Arkansas at Little Rock (1927). Little Rock Air Force Base is nearby. Attractions include the Arkansas Arts Centre, the Museum of Discovery, the Little Rock Zoo, and Pinnacle Mountain State Park.
Eisenhower, Dwight: The Serious Situation in Little Rock