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Introducing Little Rock

Downtown Little Rock resembles a friendly small town with some dynamic big-city characteristics, and it’s as multicultural as Arkansas gets. The burgeoning River Market district brings a level of sophistication to the staid city center. Across the river, North Little Rock, a growing enclave of shops and restaurants, stretches alongside the extensive riverfront park.

Established in 1814, Little Rock became the state capital in 1836 and boomed as the commercial and administrative center of a growing state. Development was sporadic in the 20th century, dogged by political corruption and racial segregation. In 1957, the town shot to infamy when the governor and irate whites tried to prevent nine African American students from attending Central High School. The federal government finally intervened, sending in the army.

The town’s visitor center (501-371-0075, 877-220-2568; www.littlerock.com; 615 E Capitol Ave; 7:30am-6:30pm) is housed in 1842 Curran Hall. You can check email at the public library (501-918-3000; 100 Rock St; 9am-8pm Mon-Thu, to 6pm Fri & Sat, 1-5pm Sun).