The Good, the Ugly, and a Happy EndingOn the Road Again, Day 3: Little Rock, AR to Oklahoma City, OK
Having arrived yesterday with just enough time to explore the Arkansas State Capitol, we wanted to stop by a few other Little Rock sites before moving on west today. Searching for letterboxes led us to the city's Riverfront Park, a vibrant 33-acre green space stretching eleven blocks along the southern bank of the Arkansas River in downtown Little Rock. The park provides large spaces for group events, creative play areas for kids, walking trails, sculptures, and a glimpse of the city's history. The "little rock" which gave the city its name has even been put on display here.
Another site we were eager to see before leaving the city was the Central High School National Historic Site. Little Rock Central High was the center of world attention in 1957 when America's commitment to its founding principles of equality was put to the test as nine black students attempted to desegregate the school in accordance with the Supreme Court's 1954 ruling in Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, the epic decision that struck down all laws in the nation which established segregated schools.
Our first surprise when we arrived at Central High was the massive size of the school. We wondered how the National Park Service could afford to maintain such a large facility. Making the official visitor center diagonally across from the school our first stop, we found our next surprise. Central High School is still very much an active school facility, the educational home of 2,600 Little Rock students in grades 9 through 12.
|Little Rock Central High School|
|Visitor Center exhibits|
Though Central High is still a vital, and now multicultural, part of the city's school district, its immediate neighborhood has become the victim of urban decay. Dozens of houses in the vicinity have been boarded up and many others have fallen into disrepair. The school itself appears to be well maintained, and we were surprised to see no security in view. Visitors are allowed to visit the school grounds, but not the building itself.
With only a mild interest in visiting the Clinton Presidential Center and Park, we decided to foreo it and head west on I-40 toward Oklahoma City, which we decided this morning would be our destination for the evening. On the way, we contacted our cousin Ann, hoping their schedule would allow for a short-notice get together for lunch tomorrow. We were delighted when she accepted for lunch and also invited us to attend services at their local synagogue, where she would be leading the music for tonight's service.
|The stunning Temple B'nai Israel Chapel (photo from Bockus Paine Architects)|
- Miles: 367
- Letterboxes: 2 found, 2 attempted
- States: 2 (AR, OK)
- Weather: 41° to 66°, clear to partly cloudy
- Cousins visited: 2