PULASKI COUNTY FACTS
||Three of Arkansas's six natural divisions converge in Pulaski County: Ouachita Mountains, Delta, and Coastal Plain|
||December 15, 1818|
|Population (2000 Census):
||771 Square miles|
|Historical population as per the U.S. Census:|
Pulaski County has a diverse population, economy, natural setting and social structure. Its population mirrors the State's racial, ethnic, age and gender makeup. Its balanced economy derives from state and local government, business and industry, finance and nonprofit sectors. Three of Arkansas's natural divisions converge in Pulaski County presenting a cross section of the state's flora, fauna and geological diversity. It derives its urban/suburban character from a widespread network of community organizations, neighborhood associations, civic clubs, recreational and sports groups, cultural centers and churches. Located in the geographic center of Arkansas, Pulaski County is one of the state's five original counties and has been at the center of Arkansas government, politics, business, art and culture for almost 2 centuries.
|Area Historical Background|
|Prehistory. One thousand years ago indigenous "Mound People" thrived in the lower Arkansas Delta region, developing settlements and a network of trails and trade routes. Evidence that these people flourished in Pulaski County can be found at the Toltec State Park in Scott, Arkansas. European explorers described three Indian tribes living in Arkansas in 1690: the Osage in the Ozark Mountain area; the Caddo in the Ouachita and Coastal Plains area; and the Quapaw in the Delta Area. The three natural divisions converge in Pulaski County, and indigenous peoples traversed the area using a manmade trail system bordering the Ozark and Ouachita Mountains, running diagonally from northeast Arkansas to southwest Arkansas and intersecting with the Arkansas River. The area now bounded by Pulaski County became a central point for the movement of people and goods long before European explorers traversed the state.|
|European Exploration and Settlement. Spanish explorer Hernando DeSoto led an expedition through Arkansas between 1540 and 1542, reaching the Pulaski County area during these two years. Two centuries later, French explorer Bernard de La Harpe, traversed the lower Arkansas River between 1721 and 1722, reaching the Pulaski County area during the expedition. No organized expeditionary groups traveled the area between DeSoto and de La Harpe. Historians estimate that European settlers began to move into Pulaski County in 1807 and that fewer than 2,000 settlers resided in the county by 1820.|
|Territorial Years and Early Statehood. In 1812, Congress established the Missouri Territory which reached south to the northern boundary of Louisiana. Two of the Missouri Territory's southern counties (Arkansas and Lawrence) included much of the area that would become Arkansas. When Congress established the Arkansas Territory in 1818, these two counties were divided into the five original Arkansas counties. Pulaski County was established at that time and named for Count Casimir Pulaski, a Polish nobleman who fought and died in 1779 in the Battle of Savannah during the American Revolutionary War. The Arkansas Territorial legislature voted in 1821 to move the territorial capital from Arkansas Post to Little Rock. The Territorial legislature had in 1820 established Cadron, a fur trapping post on the Arkansas River, as the seat of Pulaski County Government, but moved the county seat to Little Rock in 1821 when they chose to move the territorial capital to Little Rock. Pulaski County had a population of 3,513 when Congress accepted Arkansas as a state in 1836. The newly formed state government constructed a State Capitol in Little Rock on the Arkansas River bank between 1833 and 1842 and Arkansas State Government operated out of the Statehouse until the present state capitol was constructed in 1915. Pulaski County government also operated out of the Statehouse until 1883 when the growing needs of state government required the full building and displaced county government to a temporary location. Pulaski County officials began immediately planning and building the Pulaski County Courthouse which was completed in 1889.|
|Civil War and Reconstruction. The secessionist movement dominated Arkansas and Pulaski County politics in 1860 and 1861. The Secession Convention Delegates, chosen to represent the interest of the people, voted almost unanimously on May 6, 1861 to secede from the Union. Arkansas formally joined the Confederate States of America on May 20, 1861. Little Rock remained the state capital; however, in 1863 as the Union army approached, the Confederate State Capital was moved to Washington, Arkansas, in Hempstead County. Union forces led by General Frederick Steele prevailed in the Battle of Little Rock in September, 1863, defeating the Confederate Army units led by General Sterling Price. Union forces occupied Pulaski County for the duration of the Civil War, and at the conclusion of the War, state officials moved the state capital back to Little Rock. The 1860 Census of the City of Little Rock reported that were 3,727 people living in the City, including 2,874 white persons and 853 African Americans.|
In an early attempt to make education available to freedmen (former African-American slaves), Philander Smith College was established in Little Rock in 1877. Affiliated with the United Methodist Church, Philander Smith College has an enrollment of 845 in 2005. The University of Arkansas assumed management of a Little Rock-based privately established not-for-profit medical school in 1879 and merged it into the public university in 1911. The medical school developed into the University of Arkansas Medical Sciences campus in Little Rock with an overall enrollment of 2,328 in 2005.
|Pre World War II. Pulaski County population surged in the late 19th and early 20th centuries from the figure of 63,179 in 1900, to 109,464 in 1920, and increasing to 156,085 in 1940. While Little Rock and North Little Rock's population increased significantly, several small crossroad settlements in the county grew into communities of Mabelvale, Alexander, Scott, Roland, Levy and Jacksonville. In 1904 the City of Little Rock's 8th ward split from Little Rock to become Argenta, a separately municipality. Argenta changed its name to North Little Rock in 1917. Other major local events that occurred included the construction of Lake Winona completed in 1938 as the principal municipal water supply for Little Rock; and, the establishment of the Little Rock Housing Authority on October 5, 1940, which provided low cost rental housing for many families moving to Little Rock during and after World War II. Educational services began to flourish during the Pre-World War II era. The State established the Schools for the Deaf and Blind in 1939 which still operate at the same Little Rock location. In 1927 local leaders established the Little Rock Junior College which began offering four-year degree programs as Little Rock University in 1957. Little Rock University was added to the University of Arkansas System in 1969. Also, during the pre-World War II period, Shorter College (1895) and Arkansas Baptist College (1884) were established to serve predominately African American student bodies. Today, Shorter College has an enrollment of 120, while Arkansas Baptist College serves 187 students.|
|Post World War II. News agencies report that the crisis over the racial integration of Central High School in 1957 was the most significant news event in Little Rock and Pulaski County in the 20th century. Considered the first major test of the U. S. Supreme Court's 1954 Brown vs. Board of Education decision, the crisis foreshadowed the civil rights turmoil that the nation faced throughout the 1960s. The crisis also revealed deep division among local and state leaders, adversely affecting their capacity to grow the local economy. During the last three decades of the 20th century, Pulaski County's population growth stagnated while surrounding county's population growth exploded. Local population analysts attribute much of this dramatic change to "white flight" as families moved from Pulaski County to avoid attending public schools under federal court supervision. This dynamic coupled with movement to private schools and home schooling has severely impacted the three public school districts within Pulaski County.|
In spite of these trends, Pulaski County developed as a "multimodal" transportation hub. The Interstate Highway system was completed in Arkansas with Interstate 30 and Interstate 40 intersecting in North Little Rock. In the 1970s, cross town Interstate I-630 was completed in Little Rock and the I-430/I-440 interstate loops were completed around Little Rock and North Little Rock. The completion of the McClellan-Kerr Arkansas River Navigation System project on December 3, 1970 opened the Arkansas River to barge traffic and Little Rock and North Little Rock both developed port facilities on each side of the river. During the last half of the 20th century, the Adams Field airport facility in Little Rock grew to 640 acre development renamed the Little Rock National Airport with more than $170 million in capital improvements being made to the airport facility. Several other major development projects occurred during the mid to late 20th century. These include Pulaski County being chosen in 1952 as the site for a Strategic Air Command Base which was constructed in Jacksonville and opened as the Little Rock Air Force Base on September 10, 1955. Other development events of note include: the construction of the Arkansas Governor's Mansion, completed 1950; Little Rock Municipal Waterworks construction of Lake Maumelle completed in June 1958; and the establishment, in Pulaski County, of the global headquarters of non-profit organizations, Lions World Services for the Blind (1947) and Heifer Project International (1971).
|Modern era: 21st Century. At the beginning of the 21st century, Pulaski County has a population of 361,474 and anchors a four county metropolitan area with a population of 583,845. The demographic profile mirrors that of the State of Arkansas with 62.9 percent white, non-Hispanic; 31.9 percent African-American; 2.4 percent Hispanic; and 2.8 percent other racial or ethnic groups. There are 147,942 households at 2.39 persons per household, with a median household income of $38,120.|
- Economy. Pulaski County's workforce numbers 186,483 (66.5 percent of the total population) and consists of 69.3 percent private wage and salary workers; 19.5 percent Government workers; 5.4 percent self-employed and unpaid family workers. Of the total population, 75.3 percent are high school or equivalency graduates, while 16.7 percent hold a bachelors degree, and 5.7% possess a graduate or professional degree. Three large publicly traded companies have located their corporate headquarters in Pulaski County: Alltel; Acxiom, and Dillards Department Stores. Stephens, Inc., one of the largest off-wall street investment banking companies has its corporate headquarters in Little Rock. Two major nonprofit organizations, Heifer Project International and World Services for the Blind have located their corporate headquarters in Pulaski County, and in November, 2004, the William Jefferson Clinton Presidential Library, located on the bank of the Arkansas River in Pulaski County, completed construction and opened its doors.
- Medical Facilities. Major health facilities such as the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS), Baptist Medical Center, John McClelland Veteran's Affairs Hospital, St. Vincent Infirmary Center, and the Arkansas Heart Hospital are all located in Little Rock. These institutions are considered to be among the finest the state, and receive national recognition in trade and business journals. Medical facilities and practices in Pulaski County employ approximately 34,665 persons. While their principal service area incorporates most of the State of Arkansas, they also attract patients and researchers worldwide.
- Pulaski County Government. In Arkansas, county governments traditionally administer the property tax system, record and manage public documents, support the physical operation of the state criminal justice system, provide law enforcement services to unincorporated areas, operate the county jail and build and maintain road and drainage infrastructure in the unincorporated areas. Pulaski County performs all of these functions as well as cooperates with state and municipal governments to establish and support various intergovernmental programs and agencies. The Pulaski County Assessor keeps valuation records on 182,100 parcels of real estate properties within the county. The Pulaski County Collector/Treasurer distributes 334,700 real and personal property tax bills annually and in 2004, collected and distributed $239 million in property taxes to the taxing entities within Pulaski County. The Pulaski County Clerk's office records all real estate documents of record as well as manages the documents generated by the state circuit courts and the county district court. The Pulaski County Sheriff provides patrol services to the 580 square mile unincorporated area and operates the Pulaski County Regional Detention Facility. The Pulaski County Judge serves as the Chief Executive Officer of the county government and directly oversees the county road and bridge program and the administrative systems of county government, including Juvenile Detention. Pulaski County also provides many services not traditionally performed by Arkansas county governments including housing, community and economic development in unincorporated areas and youth development programs for at risk children. In 2005, the Pulaski County Government's budget totaled $98 million in various special funds and the county general fund and county government employed approximately 1,200 full time workers.
- Municipal Governments. Approximately 85% of Pulaski County's population lives within the incorporated areas of its eight cities. The cities in alphabetical order are Jacksonville with a population of 29,916; Little Rock, with 184,055 in population; Maumelle with a 10,557 population; North Little Rock with a 60,433 population; Sherwood with a population of 21,511; and, smaller cities of Alexander, population 614; Cammack Village with an 831 population; Wrightsville with a population of 1,368.
- Intergovernmental Arrangements. Most local government issues transcend local boundaries. Consequently, the municipal and county governments in Pulaski County have formed a number of cooperative governmental service organizations through inter-local agreements. These organizations include the Central Arkansas Transit Authority (CATA), which provides public transportation services; Central Arkansas Library System (CALS), which provides comprehensive library services for Pulaski and Perry Counties; Central Arkansas Water (CAW), which provides municipal water services to all of the municipalities of Pulaski County and portions of Saline County; Metroplan, which serves as the Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) for federal highway appropriations and programs; The Multi-Purpose Civic Center Facilities Board, which owns and operates the 18,000 seat Alltel Arena; and the Pulaski County Bridge Public Facilities Board, which is developing the Junction Railroad Bridge into a pedestrian/bicycle bridge in the River Project area of downtown Little Rock and North Little Rock.
- Elementary, Secondary and Higher Education. Three public school districts located within Pulaski County's jurisdiction. Little Rock School District with its 24,424 students is the largest, followed by the Pulaski County Special School District's 17,961 students, and then the North Little Rock School District and its 9,110 students. In addition to the public school systems, several post secondary institutions are located in Pulaski County. The University of Arkansas at Little Rock (UALR) with its student body of approximately 11,896 during the 2005-06 school year, provides both undergraduate and graduate level study. With 2,328 students enrolled for the 2005-2006 academic year, UAMS provides graduate- and professional-level education. Other major institutions with their 2005-2006 enrollment numbers include Philander Smith College, with 845 students, and the two-year Pulaski Technical College, with 7,949 students.