Little Rock City Beautiful Commission
According to the City's website, this rock formation known to explorers as the "Little Rock" to distinguish it from the "Big Rock" upstream is one of the most important landmarks in Arkansas. Early travelers on their way up the river noticed that this rock marked the transition from the alluvial lands of the East to the rugged hills of the Ozark and Ouachita mountains. The rock afforded a natural landing for boats. Travelers along the Southwest Trail which passed through Arkansas from the Northeast to Southwest crossed the river at or near this "Point of Rocks."
Bernard de la Harpe, a Frenchman, leading an exploration party up the Arkansas River in 1722, reportedly noted the first outcropping of the rock he had seen along the banks since leaving New Orleans. He reportedly called it "la petite roche" (the little rock) to distinguish it from a larger cliff across the river, "la Grande Roche" (the big rock). The area was largely wilderness, inhabited by the Quapaw or Arkansas Indians, and had been explored by Spanish gold hunters and by itinerant hunter-trappers. The country became a part of the Territory of Louisiana, owned by Spain and then by France, from who it was purchased in 1803 under President Thomas Jefferson's leadership.
"La petite roche" was near a Quapaw Indian settlement, which La Harpe made his trading post. The "little rock" later became the abutment for a railway bridge. The "big rock," two miles further upstream, was the site of an army post (now known as Fort Roots) and, later, the North Little Rock Veterans (VA) Hospital.
When Louisiana became a State in 1812, Arkansas became part of the Missouri Territory, changing to the Arkansas Territory in 1819, when Missouri was accepted as a State. It is estimated that the first permanent settlers began to move into the county in 1806-07. In 1806, eight North Carolina families settled twelve miles upstream from the 'little rock formation' and called their village Crystal Hill. In addition, there were several other families scattered throughout the area.
In 1812, William Lewis, a hunter-trapper, came up the Arkansas River with his family and became the City's first settler. He built a clapboard shack, which was the first house in the present City of Little Rock. Lewis stayed for three months, and then sold his pre-emption claim to Elisha White in 1814, who in turn sold the claim in 1820 to William Russell, a St. Louis land speculator.
Until 1820, there were no permanent settlers at 'little rock formation. When the British traveler and naturalist Thomas Nuttall visited the area in the spring of 1819, he met Colonel Edmund Hogan, who was operating a ferry at the 'little rock formation,' and on his return visit in January 1820, he discovered a group of men contemplating the establishment of a town on the site. In March 1820, a Post Office was established at the 'little rock formation' with the name 'Little Rock' and Amos Wheeler was appointed as the Postmaster of the new community. Fewer than 2,000 lived in the area in 1820. The 'little rock formation' was the starting point for all the early surveys of the city. After the establishment of the town in 1821, the area around the rock became the landing point for commercial river vessels.
The City's namesake rock outcropping on the banks of the Arkansas River, reportedly referred to as "La Petite Roche" by French explorer Bernard de la Harpe in 1722, became a landmark for the best north-south river crossing during low water levels and the logical site of La Harpe's Trading Post. The rock formation was a landmark for American Indians, Europeans and settlers. The original 'little rock formation' is located at the end of present-day Rock Street. It was later dynamited and used as a foundation for the south pier for the Valley Route (Junction) railroad bridge (1884). As a result, the rock formation is not as large as it originally was. Besides being the City's namesake, the rock formation marked the beginning of primary trail route to the southwest known as the Southwest Trail. The rock formation was also used as a boundary marker for the Quapaw Indian lands in their 1818 treaty.
The actual rock formation is located in the present-day Julius Breckling Riverfront Park in the downtown River Market District near the foot of the old Junction Railroad Bridge with an overlook. There is a city interpretive marker at the top of the rock formation. Originally, a bronze plaque was placed in 1949 near the rock formation by the Little Rock Civitan Club but the plaque has been stolen many times (1949, 1960 and 1986).
The first historic plaque (duplicate to the stolen bronze plaque at the rock formation) was mounted on a piece of the original rock (left after the dynamite) in 1932 and is located at the southeast corner on the grounds of Little Rock City Hall (to the left of the entry steps), at Markham and Broadway streets. The inscription on the historic marker reads:
"The Little Rock - 1722. A section of the Little Rock located at the foot of Rock Street, forming the south pier of the railroad bridge over the Arkansas River, being the first rock seen by the French explorer Bernard de la Harpe on his voyage from the mouth of the Mississippi River up the Arkansas in 1722.
For 100 years prior to the founding of the town, this rock marked the crossing of the north and south trail of the early settlers, the river being fordable at this point, and was known as 'the Little Rock.' In 1821, Little Rock was made the capital of Arkansas Territory, and later, when the territory became the state and admitted to the Union in 1836, the capital.
The "Little Rock" is the northwest corner of the Quapaw line surveyed after the signing of the Treaty of Cession between the Quapaw tribe and the United States, June 24, 1818.
Erected with the aid of officials of Little Rock by the Civitan Club, June 3, 1932."
- Submitted from the Historic American Landscapes Survey (HALS) Report for Arkansas as priority item #3 for Congressional District #2 by Lynn Mittelstaedt Warren for the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA), February 2007
For a quick summary, see the comparison paper between the two groups
In 2004, the City Beautiful Commission (CBC) was asked by Keep Arkansas Beautiful (KArB), with the Board of Directors support (our Commission Liaison was City Director Stacy Hurst at the time and very support of addressing litter in the city as were the CBC leadership, especially past chair Nash Abrams, litter advocate) and the City Manager's office to help form a task group to start an affiliate in the capitol city. Pulaski County held the affiliate status at the time and KArB wanted to include the various communities that were interested within the county, i.e., NLR, Benton, Maumelle, LR.
CBC worked hard to gather together business, civic, environmental and educational leaders to form this task force group under KArB's and CBC's leadership. Chair Tim Heiple coordinated the efforts and Vice-Chair Karol Zoeller agreed to supervise the new Task Force Group until the group was organized to elect a chair. From the beginning, the group decided to pursue non-profit status as an entity apart from city government. KArB's ad agency volunteered to work on its logo and the group began gathering membership.
By 2005, this new task force group was regularly meeting and was led by CBC Vice-Chair Karol Zoeller along with support from CBC representative, Lynn M. Warren. The City Manager's office provided secretarial support and paid the affiliate fee. In the summer of 2005, this task force group was trained by Keep America Beautiful (KAB) and officially named "Keep Little Rock Beautiful" (KLRB) with other group requirements under development. The logo and a mission statement were completed. Since KLRB decided to pursue non-profit status to work independent of the city government, KLRB applied for non-profit status and started work on their by-laws in 2005. Per CBC request, we asked that one of the board members be a CBC representative to keep up our connection with KLRB and continue our partnership. This was included in the by-laws and CBC provided a representative each year.
By 2006, this task force group focused on other group requirements under development such as organizing the city's litter index, clean-up events, sponsors, etc. The group conducted its first litter index in spring of 2006. The by-laws were finalized by 2007 to include a representative from CBC on the board to to continue the continuity between the groups. Commissioner Jan Baker and later Commissioner Mary Jane Rebick were our representatives in 2006 and Commissioner Jessica Watts represented our commission to KLRB in 2007. Commissioner Walter Jennings is our representative in 2008.
In 2006, active committees were formed and were meeting regularly on potential projects. Per the KAB requirements, they were required to participate in certain activities - they organized a community cleanup (such as the clean-up event in conjunction with the 2007 Earth Day celebration at the Clinton Library in partnership with the organizing group), performed a litter index/evaluation of the city, etc. A volunteer executive director began as the KLRB coordinator. By late 2006, they opened a checking account to receive funds, asked for all the board members to pay for membership (CBC paid for our representative's membership) and continued to look for donors.
In November 2006, CBC invited KLRB to share our booth at the 2007 Arkansas Home and Garden Show (March 2007) to help promote their group to that audience which they accepted. On April 17, 2007, Mayor Stodola and the Board of Directors presented a proclamation in behalf of KLRB. Since KLRB is a non-profit, neither the city nor the commission can give any financial backing to them due to the city's legal stand on contributing to non-profit groups. At this time, KLRB is pursuing sponsorships.
Since many people were unsure of the difference between CBC and KLRB the commission discussed this issue at our February 2007 Planning Retreat (as did KLRB at their respective retreat the month before & we used their same facilitator for continuity). Part of why we wanted CBC representation on the KLRB Board is to make sure CBC and KLRB work together, not compete (or have the perception of competition) and continue our partnership on similar activities. Above is a comparison paper that Chair Lynn M. Warren developed between the groups resulting from the discussion at our February 2007 Retreat to help people see the similarities and differences between the groups. It has proven to be very useful for interested groups. When group inquires with the commission for involvement in litter, recycling or beautification activities, the commission directs them to KLRB where they can be actively involved. CBC and KLRB continue to work on similar projects to help promote the beauty of the city.
City Beautiful Commission Goal
CBC Mission Statement
City Beautiful Commission Duties
1 REVIEW VARIANCE REQUESTS TO THE LANDSCAPE ORDINANCE
This is a requirement per the Tree City USA registration (2001). CBC was assigned to serve as the governing Tree Board which was added to their duties at that time.
2 PROMOTE THE BEAUTIFUL LANDSCAPE IN LITTLE ROCK
3 PROVIDE ENVIRONMENTAL POLICY DIRECTIONS AND GUIDANCE TO THE BOARD OF DIRECTORS
4 PROVIDE AESTHETIC IMPROVEMENT GUIDELINES TO THE BOARD OF DIRECTORS
In April 1947, the City Beautification Forum, consisting of eighteen members, was organized by Mrs. Raymond Gesell. From this group, the Little Rock City Beautiful Commission (CBC) was created on January 12, 1948 by Ordinance No. 7494. It is one of the oldest city commissions.
On September 21, 1976, the Little Rock Board of Directors passed Ordinance No. 13,204, which repealed Article III of Chapter 26 of the Little Rock Code or Ordinances and abolished the City Beautiful Commission as then constituted. The current City Beautiful Commission of Little Rock was created by Little Rock Code 15-26, 27 and new members were appointed the the Board of Directors (BOD) on October 19, 1976. Each commissioner can serve two terms that last three years each and each year, commissioners leave, reapply or new members join the commission. The BOD is still responsible for appointing all the commissioners each year.
"City of Roses"
Planting roses in Little Rock dates back to the city's beginnings in the early 1800s. The commission embraced this notion and promoted planting red roses throughout the city. The red rose was incorporated into the CBC logo to remember the city's history of beautifying its surroundings.
The early City Beautiful Commission came up with the idea of an official rose, in keeping with Little Rock's historical nickname, "City of Roses." The Joe T. Robinson rose was chosen as the official city rose.
In its early years, each spring, the commission sponsored a "Clean-up, Paint-up and Fix-up" Week and entered the annual national competition of the "Cleanest Town". As a result, CBC won several national awards in the years of 1957, 1958, 1960, and 1961. This slogan is still present as a current Keep Arkansas Beautiful program. In 1950, the Miss City Beautiful pageant began and continued through the 50s. In 1968, the City Beautiful Commission was responsible for the original plan to beautify the riverfront area and the "La Petite Roche" rock formation site.
Miss City Beautiful Pageant (1950s)
Commercial developments must comply with the Landscape Ordinance. Homeowners are not required to comply but the ordinance has some useful information for residential landscapes.
For more information, see the Landscape Award page
"Eye of the Beholder" Award (EOB)
Landscape Award: Top Three "Best of the Best"
Little Rock City Beautiful "Visionary Landmark" Award
Nominations: this award is a closed nomination but recommendations are accepted by the Board of Directors and the public.9. Where can I go to get involved in the City?
For more suggestions, see the "Resource Info" page on this website
Every year, commissioners may be finishing their terms, reapplying for another term or going off the commission and positions will open up for new members. To apply, check with the City Clerk's office for availability and how to apply. Terms run for three years starting in mid-October and you can serve two terms.
City Clerk's phone number: 244-5494
Where can I go to contact CBC?
For additional contact information (mailing address, phone/fax numbers, email address), see the "Contact Info" page.
This website or information on the City's website.
For complaints, see the "Who to Call" links under the Awareness Section on the "Resource Info" page or call 311.