25 Things You Should Know About Little Rock

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The Natural State's capital city is home to a legendary WWII general, a First Daughter, and a retirement community for everyone's favorite singing fish. Below, a few more facts you might not know about Little Rock, Arkansas.  

1. Little Rock's own Finkbeiner Meat Packing Co. is the birthplace of the “cheese dog,” a hot dog with a molten cheese center, which was developed in 1956. 

2. This Thanksgiving, impress your guests with the fact that the brown-n-serve rolls you just put on the table were invented at Meyer’s Bakery in Little Rock in the 1930s [PDF], on the southwest corner of West Seventh and South Pulaski.

3. In MacArthur Park on Little Rock's McMath Avenue stands a little historic marker commemorating a somewhat strange event: the first human dissection in Arkansas. Doctors in Arkansas were originally forbidden from dissecting corpses in order to research human anatomy, due to the religious belief that bodies must be whole and intact in order to ascend to the afterlife. However, Drs. James H. Lenow and Richard S. Vickery finally broke the taboo in November 1874, and in 1927, the Arkansas Medical Society erected a monument in the spot where it happened, "to perpetuate the early history of medicine in the state.”

4. The only brick-and-mortar purse museum in the country is in Little Rock. Located in the South Main district of Little Rock, The Esse Purse Museum chronicles not only the kinds of bags American women carried through history, but also, perhaps more fascinatingly, the things they carried in them.

5. In 1821, the city of Little Rock was briefly renamed "Arkopolis" during a land dispute. The name can be seen on old maps from the era.

 

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6.There is no official demonym for residents of Little Rock. Some prefer "Little Rockian," while others use the slightly more adorable "Little Rocker." 

7. The Old Mill in North Little Rock, pictured in the iconic opening scene of the 1939’s Gone With The Wind,  is thought to be the only structure still standing from the film’s production. 

8. Speaking of which, The Old Mill was never actually a mill to begin with. Constructed out of treated concrete and deliberately made to look like old wood, it was a commissioned work by Mexican sculptor Dionicio Rodriguez in 1932, intended as a tourist attraction.

9. Taking nine years to build, Little Rock’s red brick Old State House Museum is the oldest standing state capitol building west of the Mississippi River. Construction began in 1833 and finished in 1842.

 

10. Produced by Little Rock native Harry Thomason, the TV series Designing Women contained two notable exterior shots that were filmed in Little Rock. Villa Marre, built in 1881, is the mansion where Sugarbaker Designs is located on the show; Suzanne Sugarbaker's home is also featured, although it's probably better known as the Arkansas Governor's Mansion. Both are found in the city's historic Quapaw Quarter.

11. After the 1954 Brown vs. Board of Education ruling deemed segregation in schools unconstitutional, a group of black students known today as The Little Rock Nine made history as they were escorted into Little Rock Central High School by the Arkansas National Guard per President Dwight D. Eisenhower's order.

12. A monument to the Little Rock Nine, "Testament," stands on the grounds of the state capitol. 

 

13. When the Little Rock Zoo opened in 1926, it had only two animals: a circus-trained bear and an abandoned timber wolf.

14. Arkansas' capital city is home to The Billy Bass Adoption Center, a gallery displaying hundreds of the singing plastic fish trophies of the 1990s, found inside the Flying Fish restaurant. Little Rock's center, interestingly, is not the world's only retirement community for Billy Basses, but it does claim to be the world's first. Each Billy Bass donor receives a free basket of catfish along with his or her name on a wall plaque.

15. For 11 years, until it was converted into a Marriott in the spring of 2015, the Peabody Hotel in downtown Little Rock held a daily "duck march" wherein a group of mallards were led into the lobby's fountain at 11 am. Then at 5 pm, the ducks, fielded by the hotel's red-jacketed duckmaster, were herded into the elevator and sent waddling back up to their ducky penthouse on the roof. 

16. "Little Rock" isn't just a cute nickname: It stems from an actual little rock. While leading a party of travelers, French explorer Bernard de la Harpe christened a certain small rock formation on the Arkansas River as La Petite Roche—“the little rock”—and the name stuck around once the area was settled. 

17. Little Rock's appropriately-named Big Dam Bridge is the longest pedestrian- and cyclist-only bridge in the U.S. Spanning .8 miles, it connects 14 miles of trails in Little Rock and nearby North Little Rock.

18. In 1885, when the town had a population of approximately 25,000, a Little Rock newspaper reportedly offered a free plow with each prepaid subscription of $12.

19. Little Rock is home to Heifer International, Dillard's department stores, and investment firm Stephens Inc., responsible for taking Walmart public back in the early 1970s.

20. Construction on Little Rock’s Arkansas State Capitol was completed in 1915. Because it was modeled closely after the United States Capitol in Washington, D.C., the Arkansas capitol has been used in several films as a stand-in for the real thing (such as in 1991’s Stone Cold, starring Brian Bosworth).

21. Although the Clintons' name is splashed all over the city, from the airport to the presidential library, neither Bill nor Hillary are actually from Little Rock. Hillary originally hails from Chicago, and Bill was born in tiny Hope, Ark., about 115 miles southwest of the state capital. (Their daughter, Chelsea, however, was born in Little Rock proper.)

22. Another famous former resident: General Douglas MacArthur, who was born there in 1880.

23. During the Civil War, when the Confederate Army suffered a serious defeat in the battle of Pea Ridge in March of 1862, the state was consequently left largely undefended. Seeing an opportunity, Union forces made their way to Searcy, meaning to advance on the Confederate city of Little Rock. As such, Governor Henry M. Rector temporarily moved the entire state government to nearby Hot Springs for safekeeping. Ultimately, Little Rock was not attacked by the Union army, and the seat of government was restored in Little Rock in July of the same year.

24. This wasn’t the only time that Arkansas’s governmental operations have been shifted around. In 1821, when it became apparent that the original capital of Arkansas Territory, Arkansas Post, was prone to frequent flooding, the seat of government was moved to Little Rock.

25. The Arkansas School for the Deaf is located in Little Rock. Its mascot: the leopard.

Paris Responds to Its Public Urination Problem By Installing Open-Air Urinals

Thomas Samson, AFP/Getty Images
Thomas Samson, AFP/Getty Images

In between stops at the Louvre and the Eiffel Tower, sightseers in Paris might notice some unusual new landmarks marking the city's streets: bright red, open-air urinals. As NPR reports, the so-called "Uritrottoir" (a mashup of the French words for urinal and pavement) have been installed in response to the city's public urination problem, and residents aren't happy about it.

Peeing openly on the streets has been an unofficial tradition in the French capital since the pre-Napoleon era. Relieving oneself on city property is a fineable offense, but that hasn't stopped both tourists and locals from continuing to do it, subjecting bystanders to both the unwelcome sight and the lingering smell.

Now, Paris is taking an if-you-can't-beat-'em-join-'em approach to the issue. Uritrottoir have popped up near some of the city's most famous spots, such as Île Saint-Louis, overlooking the Seine, and Notre-Dame Cathedral. They're about the height and size of trash cans, with a receptacle that's meant to catch pee, not litter. Inside the Uritrottoir, straw and other composting materials absorb the urine and its odors, eventually breaking down into a compost that will feed the plants growing from the top of the box. A conspicuous sign of a man peeing posted above the urinal lets passersby know exactly what the contraption is for.

The built-in planters are meant to present the public urinals as something beautiful and functional, but many of the people who have to look at them every day aren't buying it. Fabienne Bonnat, a local art gallery owner, told CBC Radio, "It's an open door to exhibitionism. Who likes to see that?"

Another Île Saint-Louis gallery owner, who didn't wish to be named, told Reuters, “We’re told we have to accept this but this is absolutely unacceptable. It’s destroying the legacy of the island. Can’t people behave?"

The first three toilets were installed in March with a fourth appearing in July. The city has plans to add a fifth urinal, despite the uproar they've already caused.

[h/t NPR]

After Seven Years, Melbourne Has Been Displaced as the World's Most Liveable City

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We should all move to Vienna. That's what the Economist Intelligence Unit recommends: In a new report, it ranked Austria's capital as the world's most liveable city. With a score of 99.1 out of 100, Vienna beat out Melbourne for the top spot, which the Australian city had held onto for the past seven consecutive years. This is the City of Music's first time being number one.

The survey ranks 140 cities worldwide based on five categories: stability (including crime and terrorism); healthcare; culture and environment (including level of censorship, temperature, and cultural offerings); education; and infrastructure (including public transportation, housing, energy, and water). Overall, there were improvements in safety and stability this year for the countries surveyed.

Vienna scored a perfect 100 in four out of five categories. The only area in which the city could use a tiny bit of improvement is in culture and environment—though its 96.3 score is still pretty impressive.

The cities that scored best on the list tend to be mid-sized with low population densities and located in wealthy countries. The world's biggest urban centers, such as New York, London, and Paris, may be popular places to live for their unbeatable food and culture, but high levels of crime, congestion, and public transportation issues make quality of life less desirable and drag them down in the rankings.

The top 10 most liveable cities are:

1. Vienna, Austria
2. Melbourne, Australia
3. Osaka, Japan
4. Calgary, Canada
5. Sydney, Australia
6. Vancouver, Canada
7. Toronto, Canada
8. Tokyo, Japan
9. Copenhagen, Denmark
10. Adelaide, Australia

And here are the 10 least liveable cities:

131. Dakar, Senegal
132. Algiers, Algeria
133. Douala, Cameroon
134. Tripoli, Libya
135. Harare, Zimbabwe
136. Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea
137. Karachi, Pakistan
138. Lagos, Nigeria
139. Dhaka, Bangladesh
140. Damascus, Syria

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