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tennreb

My Visit to Little Rock

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I took the trip to Little Rock from Memphis today to see the Clinton Library and explore downtown. My first observation was the Arkansas has one of the worst interestate systems in the country. While the road is smoother than it was previously, it was poorly designed from the beginning. I've never been through West Memphis without going through construction, but they never seem to accomplish anything. The rural interstate is smooth enough, but there is little space between opposing lanes. In Mississippi, there is a broad expanse between each side. Much of it is even seperated by a wooded embankment. In Arkansas, it looks as if a truck is going to hit you head on at any moment. Also, what's the deal with the toxic waste barrels at the overpasses? A guard rail wouldn't do? My biggest complaint is that the signage is horrible. Signs displaying mileage are few and far between, and small when they exist. In downtown LR, there were almost no directional signs to help you find the entrance ramps. However, I was impressed with LR's interstate system. It is a very easy town to get around if you know where you're going.

Enough complaining. I loved the Clinton Library. The building is beautiful and inspiring. I spent more time staring at it and enjoying the views from it than anything. The staff there were so helpful it was almost annoying. The service is better there than at Neiman Marcus. LR has a very attractive downtown with lots of interesting restaurants, most of which were closed since it was Sunday. Downtown did seem a little dead, but I expect it is more lively on weekdays and Friday and Saturday night. I'd like to come back and try more of the restaurants. Has the trolley started running yet? I noticed an extensive track system, but no streetcars. I like that downtown is focusing more on independents rather than chains. Also, I think the hotels and residential components need to do a better job of addressing the river in the way that the Clinton library and rivermarket have. While I didn't explore the riverfront park, I think it could be expanded a bit towards the river. There seemed to be a lot of inaccessible land in the river. Perhaps the park could be tiered down the the edge of the water. The unused rail bridge next the the library could be turned into some type of public art. While it doesn't appear that downtown has reached critical mass yet, the seeds are there for something great. It reminds me of downtown Memphis 10 to 15 years ago, except the undeveloped areas of downtown and the surrounding neighborhoods don't seem to be as bad as the undeveloped parts of Memphis' downtown.

The Capitol area really needs some work. While I think LR's downtown is superior to that of Baton Rouge (despite their casinos), Louisiana has done a much better job with their capitol area. Instead a beautiful park surrounding the Capitol, there is a parking lot. The Capitol grounds look like a mediocre community college campus. Where are all the beautiful state office buildings? The mass of random soviet-era buildings surrounding the Capitol need to go, along with the parking lots, and a beautiful park needs to be constructed. State office buildings should surround this park, and the park should somehow be linked to the river park. Surely legislators would be willing to fork over some money to improve the environment they work in. The Capitol should be showcased.

I drove over to North Little Rock, and I was disappointed that the renaissance hasn't spilled over the river. With Alltel arena and the proximity to downtown and the trolley, this is the perfect area to build a community for young professionals and students. The arena needs some exterior clean-up, and a place for large outdoor festivals should be constructed between it and the river, and this should be linked to the riverpark. Inexpensive urban apartments and townhomes should fill the area around main and the arena. Main is perfect for a party scene with coffee shops, bars and clubs, art houses, and unique restaurants. Students and recent graduates don't want to live in the suburbs anymore, and they can't afford $300,000 condos.

I drove around UAMS, and this is a real gem. I think it could be better connected with downtown, though. It was nearly impossible to figure out what happened to Markham at union station. It took me 20 minutes of driving around to figure out it continues again at 3rd street, which turns back into Markham. Also, this corridor could really be a highlight for a city. I was suprised there weren't more restaurants and shops along here considering the quality and uniqueness of the neighborhood and the thousands of employees at the medical center. I think some simple street improvements would really help.

Overall, I was very impressed with Little Rock. It is a beautiful place with tons of potential. I can't wait to see what it looks like in a few years.

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I took the trip to Little Rock from Memphis today to see the Clinton Library and explore downtown. My first observation was the Arkansas has one of the worst interestate systems in the country. While the road is smoother than it was previously, it was poorly designed from the beginning. I've never been through West Memphis without going through construction, but they never seem to accomplish anything. The rural interstate is smooth enough, but there is little space between opposing lanes. In Mississippi, there is a broad expanse between each side. Much of it is even seperated by a wooded embankment. In Arkansas, it looks as if a truck is going to hit you head on at any moment. Also, what's the deal with the toxic waste barrels at the overpasses? A guard rail wouldn't do? My biggest complaint is that the signage is horrible. Signs displaying mileage are few and far between, and small when they exist. In downtown LR, there were almost no directional signs to help you find the entrance ramps. However, I was impressed with LR's interstate system. It is a very easy town to get around if you know where you're going.

Enough complaining. I loved the Clinton Library. The building is beautiful and inspiring. I spent more time staring at it and enjoying the views from it than anything. The staff there were so helpful it was almost annoying. The service is better there than at Neiman Marcus. LR has a very attractive downtown with lots of interesting restaurants, most of which were closed since it was Sunday. Downtown did seem a little dead, but I expect it is more lively on weekdays and Friday and Saturday night. I'd like to come back and try more of the restaurants. Has the trolley started running yet? I noticed an extensive track system, but no streetcars. I like that downtown is focusing more on independents rather than chains. Also, I think the hotels and residential components need to do a better job of addressing the river in the way that the Clinton library and rivermarket have. While I didn't explore the riverfront park, I think it could be expanded a bit towards the river. There seemed to be a lot of inaccessible land in the river. Perhaps the park could be tiered down the the edge of the water. The unused rail bridge next the the library could be turned into some type of public art. While it doesn't appear that downtown has reached critical mass yet, the seeds are there for something great. It reminds me of downtown Memphis 10 to 15 years ago, except the undeveloped areas of downtown and the surrounding neighborhoods don't seem to be as bad as the undeveloped parts of Memphis' downtown.

The Capitol area really needs some work. While I think LR's downtown is superior to that of Baton Rouge (despite their casinos), Louisiana has done a much better job with their capitol area. Instead a beautiful park surrounding the Capitol, there is a parking lot. The Capitol grounds look like a mediocre community college campus. Where are all the beautiful state office buildings? The mass of random soviet-era buildings surrounding the Capitol need to go, along with the parking lots, and a beautiful park needs to be constructed. State office buildings should surround this park, and the park should somehow be linked to the river park. Surely legislators would be willing to fork over some money to improve the environment they work in. The Capitol should be showcased.

I drove over to North Little Rock, and I was disappointed that the renaissance hasn't spilled over the river. With Alltel arena and the proximity to downtown and the trolley, this is the perfect area to build a community for young professionals and students. The arena needs some exterior clean-up, and a place for large outdoor festivals should be constructed between it and the river, and this should be linked to the riverpark. Inexpensive urban apartments and townhomes should fill the area around main and the arena. Main is perfect for a party scene with coffee shops, bars and clubs, art houses, and unique restaurants. Students and recent graduates don't want to live in the suburbs anymore, and they can't afford $300,000 condos.

I drove around UAMS, and this is a real gem. I think it could be better connected with downtown, though. It was nearly impossible to figure out what happened to Markham at union station. It took me 20 minutes of driving around to figure out it continues again at 3rd street, which turns back into Markham. Also, this corridor could really be a highlight for a city. I was suprised there weren't more restaurants and shops along here considering the quality and uniqueness of the neighborhood and the thousands of employees at the medical center. I think some simple street improvements would really help.

Overall, I was very impressed with Little Rock. It is a beautiful place with tons of potential. I can't wait to see what it looks like in a few years.

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I took the trip to Little Rock from Memphis today to see the Clinton Library and explore downtown. My first observation was the Arkansas has one of the worst interestate systems in the country. While the road is smoother than it was previously, it was poorly designed from the beginning. I've never been through West Memphis without going through construction, but they never seem to accomplish anything. The rural interstate is smooth enough, but there is little space between opposing lanes. In Mississippi, there is a broad expanse between each side. Much of it is even seperated by a wooded embankment. In Arkansas, it looks as if a truck is going to hit you head on at any moment. Also, what's the deal with the toxic waste barrels at the overpasses? A guard rail wouldn't do? My biggest complaint is that the signage is horrible. Signs displaying mileage are few and far between, and small when they exist. In downtown LR, there were almost no directional signs to help you find the entrance ramps. However, I was impressed with LR's interstate system. It is a very easy town to get around if you know where you're going.

Enough complaining. I loved the Clinton Library. The building is beautiful and inspiring. I spent more time staring at it and enjoying the views from it than anything. The staff there were so helpful it was almost annoying. The service is better there than at Neiman Marcus. LR has a very attractive downtown with lots of interesting restaurants, most of which were closed since it was Sunday. Downtown did seem a little dead, but I expect it is more lively on weekdays and Friday and Saturday night. I'd like to come back and try more of the restaurants. Has the trolley started running yet? I noticed an extensive track system, but no streetcars. I like that downtown is focusing more on independents rather than chains. Also, I think the hotels and residential components need to do a better job of addressing the river in the way that the Clinton library and rivermarket have. While I didn't explore the riverfront park, I think it could be expanded a bit towards the river. There seemed to be a lot of inaccessible land in the river. Perhaps the park could be tiered down the the edge of the water. The unused rail bridge next the the library could be turned into some type of public art. While it doesn't appear that downtown has reached critical mass yet, the seeds are there for something great. It reminds me of downtown Memphis 10 to 15 years ago, except the undeveloped areas of downtown and the surrounding neighborhoods don't seem to be as bad as the undeveloped parts of Memphis' downtown.

The Capitol area really needs some work. While I think LR's downtown is superior to that of Baton Rouge (despite their casinos), Louisiana has done a much better job with their capitol area. Instead a beautiful park surrounding the Capitol, there is a parking lot. The Capitol grounds look like a mediocre community college campus. Where are all the beautiful state office buildings? The mass of random soviet-era buildings surrounding the Capitol need to go, along with the parking lots, and a beautiful park needs to be constructed. State office buildings should surround this park, and the park should somehow be linked to the river park. Surely legislators would be willing to fork over some money to improve the environment they work in. The Capitol should be showcased.

I drove over to North Little Rock, and I was disappointed that the renaissance hasn't spilled over the river. With Alltel arena and the proximity to downtown and the trolley, this is the perfect area to build a community for young professionals and students. The arena needs some exterior clean-up, and a place for large outdoor festivals should be constructed between it and the river, and this should be linked to the riverpark. Inexpensive urban apartments and townhomes should fill the area around main and the arena. Main is perfect for a party scene with coffee shops, bars and clubs, art houses, and unique restaurants. Students and recent graduates don't want to live in the suburbs anymore, and they can't afford $300,000 condos.

I drove around UAMS, and this is a real gem. I think it could be better connected with downtown, though. It was nearly impossible to figure out what happened to Markham at union station. It took me 20 minutes of driving around to figure out it continues again at 3rd street, which turns back into Markham. Also, this corridor could really be a highlight for a city. I was suprised there weren't more restaurants and shops along here considering the quality and uniqueness of the neighborhood and the thousands of employees at the medical center. I think some simple street improvements would really help.

Overall, I was very impressed with Little Rock. It is a beautiful place with tons of potential. I can't wait to see what it looks like in a few years.

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Also, what's the deal with the toxic waste barrels at the overpasses? A guard rail wouldn't do?

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Cool. Thanks for your thoughts tennreb. Its always enlightening to hear from others who are 'exploring' for the first time.

But I gotta tell ya...last time I was in Memphis, and rode the trolley, its downtown was worse than dead (at least the CBD). Little Rock's CBD may be inactive on weekends, but it isn't boarded up like my family witnessed in Memphis. By the way, our trolley's are air-conditioned. The Memphis ride was complete torture with no A/C. HOWEVER, aside from the CBD, the area down Beale and around FedEx Forum is obviously nice, and we were pleasantly surprised about the cool cotten/warehouse district being completely rehabed into residential.

Memphis is at a REAL disadvantage in that its downtown is not in the center of the city - its at the extreme opposite end of the growth in east Memphis. Its an unfortunate hurddle that they've done a remarkable job in attempting to overcome.

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I agree with the use of Riverfront Park you mentioned. Some sort of piers/decks over the river accessed by the park would be nice. It's a dangerous, turbulent river and such operations have to be rather carefully undertaken. You said "place for large outdoor festivals should be constructed between it and the river", I guess you missed the 5000 seat ampitheater there. Construction will also be expensive. Plans exist for both old railroad bridges. The Clinton Foundation is going to renovate the one you mentioned and turn it into a pedestrian walkway with access to North LR.

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By "large festival," I meant 20-30k, although the amphitheater is very nice and is better for providing ongoing entertainment in the downtown area.

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By "large festival," I meant 20-30k, although the amphitheater is very nice and is better for providing ongoing entertainment in the downtown area.

They should just build a large parking garage and turn all the area around the Capitol into a state park with several memorials. Bicentenial park in Nashville is a good example. The park around the Louisiana capitol is beautiful, even with a gigantic Exxon refinery on one side.

Today it seems that downtown LR has about the same offerings as downtown Memphis did 10-15 years ago, although downtown Memphis is considerably larger. Today downtown Memphis has over a hundred restaurants, including most of the top restaurants in the city. There are clubs everywhere and tons of hotel rooms. Thousands of condo units are being built or have been built. Downtown LR will never be as big as Memphis, but what is going on in the Rivermarket area can spread throughout the rest of downtown. LR may even make the progress in five years what it took 10-15 for Memphis.

I wanted to check out those neighborhoods, but I didn't have time. I did notice a nice little spot where Cantrell splits from Markham. It was something like the Cooper-Young area of Memphis was a few years ago, now there are trendy restaurants all over the place in that area. I think the same thing will happen to this intersection.

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The barrels are filled with sand (some areas use water). Their purpose is to dissipate the energy of a vehicle about to hit fixed and immovable objects along the interstate -- mostly overpass supports. I've seen the barrels do their job. They literally save lives.

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