Before there was a Clinton Library 

There was plenty of excitement.

The vision of a Little Rock injected with new life by a presidential library was first dreamt years ago, at least as early as the magical night in November 1992 when a throng celebrated Bill Clinton’s first election as president. The dreams multiplied over the succeeding years, particularly when the president chose Little Rock as the home of his presidential center. A long-time advocate for the project — through lawsuit, daily newspaper editorial derision, fund-raising travails and other obstacles — believes the library has already fulfilled many dreams. His list of “but fors,” things that would not have happened or changed had not Clinton chosen Little Rock as home for his library: • Heifer International would not be building a new world headquarters next door on land that was once a dreary, disused and polluted warehouse district. • The Belz family would not have bought the Excelsior Hotel and renovated it as a Peabody Hotel. • Acxiom wouldn’t have built its office tower down the street. • The Moses-Tucker real estate firm likely wouldn’t have built either the Capital Commerce Center or the First Security Bank tower, not to mention the Tuf-Nut Lofts and a variety of other smaller projects in the River Market neighborhood. • The Holiday Inn Presidential Center would likely still be a closed former Sheraton. • The Comfort Inn might still be in business, as the cheap flop house known as the Masters Inn. • The old Dailey building would likely be vacant, not a new loft development. • There wouldn’t be talk of new apartments on East Sixth Street and a marina and apartment development on the Arkansas River near the library site. • Downtown tourism wouldn’t have been jumpstarted by a series of library preview exhibits at the Cox Center of the Central Arkansas Library System. • There’d be no talk of not one, but two pedestrian bridges over the Arkansas River on former railroad bridges — the Junction Bridge in Riverfront Park and the old Rock Island Bridge linking the presidential park to North Little Rock. • Former Democrat-Gazette columnists would have been fully justified in referring to the land immediately east of Interstate 30 as Murky Bottoms. • Little Rock wouldn’t have an international marketing hook. • 1,100 library construction jobs wouldn’t have been created. • There wouldn’t be a new graduate school campus of the University of Arkansas. And on it goes, with the talk now about what an open library could mean, for expansion of redevelopment of the riverfront and eastern Little Rock and even sympathetic development of Little Rock’s Main Street, all with the library as a catalyst.

From the ArkTimes store


Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

More by Max Brantley

  • But what about the Clintons? Last refuge of Trump, New York Times

    Trying to compare Donald Trump's reaction to the Russia investigation with Bill Clinton's dealings with Kenneth Starr should be a non-starter if the facts mattered. But these days — and to the New York Times — it ain't necessarily so.
    • Jul 23, 2017
  • Football is king, Bentonville edition

    Good analysis in the Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette of an unannounced Bentonville School Board vote last week to put $2 million into a football stadium for West High School despite board assurances in last May's tax election that no money would go to a football stadium.
    • Jul 23, 2017
  • Dinner and dancing in Dogtown

    A good night out in Argenta. Looking for the theater? Consider "Sweet Charity."
    • Jul 23, 2017
  • More »

Readers also liked…

  • The ballad of Fred and Yoko

    How one of the world's foremost Beatles collectors died homeless on the streets of Little Rock.
    • Mar 31, 2016
  • Big ideas for Arkansas 2015

    Readers and experts suggest ways to change Arkansas for the better.
    • Dec 17, 2015
  • 2016 Best of Arkansas editors' picks

    A few of our favorite things.
    • Jul 28, 2016

Most Shared

  • So much for a school settlement in Pulaski County

    The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette's Cynthia Howell got the scoop on what appears to be coming upheaval in the Pulaski County School District along with the likely end of any chance of a speedy resolution of school desegregation issues in Pulaski County.
  • Riverfest calls it quits

    The board of directors of Riverfest, Arkansas's largest and longest running music festival, announced today that the festival will no longer be held. Riverfest celebrated its 40th anniversary in June. A press release blamed competition from other festivals and the rising cost of performers fees for the decision.
  • Football for UA Little Rock

    Andrew Rogerson, the new chancellor at UA Little Rock, has decided to study the cost of starting a major college football team on campus (plus a marching band). Technically, it would be a revival of football, dropped more than 60 years ago when the school was a junior college.
  • Turn to baseball

    When the world threatens to get you down, there is always baseball — an absorbing refuge, an alternate reality entirely unto itself.

Latest in Cover Stories

Event Calendar

« »


2 3 4 5 6 7 8
9 10 11 12 13 14 15
16 17 18 19 20 21 22
23 24 25 26 27 28 29
30 31  

Most Viewed

Most Recent Comments


© 2017 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation