The heart of a city can often be found via brick streets and winding avenues. Across Arkansas, these streets serve as a pathway to bustling downtowns. You’ll find attractive store fronts filled with antiques and gifts, dining opportunities, historic sites, museums and more. Let these walking paths be your entry to unique spots across the state.
In downtown Little Rock, a cobblestone section of pavement known as the Block 35 Cobblestone Alley is on the National Register of Historic Places. This piece of history, which was laid in 1889 and is 300 feet long, can be seen between Rock Street and La Harpe Boulevard. According to information from the Arkansas Historic Preservation Program, the alley preserves an intact sample of early street construction and “illustrates early efforts in the nineteenth century to upgrade Little Rock’s streets and make them easier to travel.”
The alley is in the River Market District, one of the oldest sections of the city and a hub of downtown. The district houses attractions like the Old State House Museum, the Witt Stephens Jr. Central Arkansas Nature Center, the Museum of Discovery, Riverfront Park, the Clinton Presidential Library, and Heifer International Headquarters. Visitors to the district also have access to a market hall, trolley line, art galleries, restaurants and bars, the main library, and more.
After years of debate about which materials to use and who would pay for paving the dusty dirt streets of Rogers, the job was finally completed in December 1924. City leaders initially hoped the brick streets would last for 10 years. Ninety-one years later, the brick streets continue to route residents to a still-thriving arena for shopping, entertainment, dining and business in downtown Rogers.
Rogers’ downtown historic district is about eight square blocks of preserved brick streets, though downtown as a whole encompasses about 48 square blocks. Head east on Walnut Street until you hit the brick streets. The brick layer laid the brick in rows, except where the streets intersect. There, the bricks are woven together in an intricate basket-weave pattern for a perfect junction.
Twenty-two houses, some 150 years old, have been restored along with a few patches of brick-paved streets in downtown Fort Smith’s Bell Grove Historic District. Several notable residences, such as the Darby House, the Vaughn-Schaap House and the Clayton House, are located in this 22-square-block area that was added to the National Register of Historic Places in the early 1970s. It is bounded by North 5th, North H, North 8th and North C streets, and is a logical area to begin a tour of Fort Smith’s unique place in history regarding the westward expansion of the American frontier.
Historic Helena is one of the oldest communities in The Natural State, founded in 1833, three years before Arkansas became a state. The town’s history is expansive. As a booming river town, Helena was home to a variety of merchants, farming barons and immigrants seeking a better life. The Beech Street Historic District, mere blocks from the Mississippi River, is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Here you’ll find the remaining exposed brick streets of the historic town, mostly along Beech Street, which features a variety of beautiful homes dating back to the community’s early years.
The architecture in the historic district ranges from Colonial Revival, Queen Anne (the Pillow-Thompson is considered one of the best examples of Queen Anne in the region), and Craftsman. Historic Cherry Street offers visitors a variety of great shops and restaurants. Delta Gypsy, Handworks, Bella, J.W. Hall and Company, and Haute Pare offer shoppers a plethora of unique gift items. When you’re hungry, head to Southbound Pizza or Bailee Mae’s for yummy, hand-prepared fare. For history buffs, a trip to historic Helena is not complete without visits to the Delta Cultural Center, the Helena Museum of Phillips County, Freedom Park and Fort Curtis.
Hot Springs is Arkansas’s original spa town and walking down Bathhouse Row is a popular avenue to explore the many sights of the city. Located behind Bathhouse Row on Central Avenue in Hot Springs National Park is a path known as the Grand Promenade. This half-mile brick promenade also lays title to being a National Recreation Trail. The street, which was built in the 1930s and completed in the late 1950s, was a result of a Public Works Administration project.
Visitors to the picturesque promenade can walk to many attractions including the Gangster Museum of America, restaurants like the Ohio Club, which houses the oldest bar in Arkansas, multiple art galleries, and the eight bathhouses along Bathhouse Row. The Superior Bathhouse Brewery, which makes its own brew on site using thermal spring water, holds title as the first brewery located inside a national park. The Fordyce Bathhouse serves as the park’s visitor center. Many of the park’s hiking trails can also be accessed from the promenade.
In Texarkana, the Arkansas-Texas boundary runs down the middle of State Line Avenue. The town is a Preserve America community and Beech Street Brick Street, which is located between 14th and 24th streets on Beech Street, is the largest intact sample of a brick street in the town. The brick has been dated as being from 1904 and this section of street, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, includes a little over half a mile of brick pavement. According to information from the AHPP, “the street illustrates the improvements that were undertaken to better cope with automobile traffic in the early twentieth century.”
The area of Texarkana where Beech Street is at now is a residential section of town that is both a National Register district and a local Historic District. Some of the attractions visitors can see nearby include the Four States Auto Museum at 217 Laurel Street (which is open on the weekends and for special tours), the P.J. Ahern House (Patrick Ahern House) open by appointment for tours and located at 403 Laurel Street across from the Miller County Courthouse, the Museum of Regional History at 219 N. State Line Ave, the Lindsey Railroad Museum at 202 East Broad Street, the State Line Post Office at 500 State Line Avenue, which is the only U.S. post office situated in two states, and the Scott Joplin Mural at 311 Main Street. Joplin (1868-1917) was a composer from Texarkana noted for his ragtime music and is known as the “King of Ragtime.” Visitors might also notice that a stretch of street on Front Street in front of the Union Station train depot is also paved in brick. The train depot was built in1929 on the state line between Arkansas and Texas and the building extends across the state line.
Warren is known as the “Pink Tomato Capital of the World,” hosting the Bradley County Pink Tomato Festival each summer. The Warren Brick Streets in Warren are listed on the National Register of Historic Places and include around a one mile section of brick pavement from 1927. This is the largest intact section of brick street in the city and the sections can be found in the downtown area around the Bradley County Courthouse Square and portions of Cedar, Myrtle, Chestnut, 1st, Walnut, Elm and Cypress Streets. The sections preserve a sample of early street design and construction and a peek at early roadway travel. According to information from the AHPP, they are “a rare surviving example of a once common paving type for city streets throughout the early twentieth century.”
Attractions visitors can see nearby include the Bradley County Historical Museum at 200 West Ash Street. This museum is housed in the historic Dr. John Wilson Martin House, which is the oldest standing structure in the county. The museum is open by appointment and both it and the Bradley County Courthouse, which was built in 1903 and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, recently received restoration grants from AHPP.