Hot Springs, Arkansas

Hot Springs, Arkansas

Infobox Settlement
official_name = Hot Springs, Arkansas
settlement_type = City

imagesize =
image_caption =

imagesize =
image_caption =

mapsize = 250px
map_caption = Location in Garland County and the state of Arkansas

mapsize1 =
map_caption1 =
subdivision_type = Country
subdivision_type1 = State
subdivision_type2 = County
subdivision_name = United States
subdivision_name1 = Arkansas
subdivision_name2 = Garland
government_type =
leader_title =
leader_name =
established_date = 1851
area_magnitude =
area_total_km2 = 85.5
area_total_sq_mi = 33
area_land_km2 = 85.2
area_land_sq_mi = 32.9
area_water_km2 = 0.3
area_water_sq_mi = 0.1
elevation_ft = 597
elevation_m = 182
population_as_of = 2007
population_footnotes =
population_total = 39,064
population_metro =
population_density_km2 = 418.1
population_density_sq_mi = 1083.3
timezone = Central (CST)
utc_offset = -6
latd = 34 |latm = 29 |lats = 50 |latNS = N
longd = 93 |longm = 3 |longs = 19 |longEW = W
timezone_DST = CDT
utc_offset_DST = -5
postal_code_type =
postal_code =
area_code = 501
blank_name = FIPS code
blank_info = 05-33400
blank1_name = GNIS feature ID
blank1_info = 0077237
footnotes =
website =

Hot Springs is the 10th most populous city in the U.S. state of Arkansas, the county seat of Garland County,GR|6 and the principal city of the Hot Springs Metropolitan Statistical Area encompassing all of Garland County. According to 2005 Census Bureau estimates, the population of the city was 37,847.cite web | date = June 21 2006 | url = | title = Annual Estimates of the Population for All Incorporated Places in Arkansas | format = CSV | work = 2005 Population Estimates | publisher = "U.S. Census Bureau, Population Division" | accessdate = November 16 | accessyear = 2006] . According to the 2007 US Census, Hot Springs has a population of 39,064.Fact|date=August 2008

Hot Springs is traditionally best known for the natural spring water that gives it its name, flowing out of the ground at a temperature of 147 degrees Fahrenheit (64 degrees Celsius). Hot Springs National Park is the oldest federal reserve in the USA, and the tourist trade brought by the famous springs make it a very successful spa town.

History and culture

Natural springs

The city takes its name from the natural thermal water that flows from 47 springs on the western slope of Hot Springs Mountain in the historic downtown district of the city. About a million gallons of 143-degree water flow from the springs each day. The rate of flow is not affected by fluctuations in the rainfall in the area. Studies by National Park Service scientists have determined through carbon dating that the water that reaches the surface in Hot Springs fell as rainfall in an as-yet undetermined watershed 4,000 years earlier. The water percolates very slowly down through the earth’s surface until it reaches superheated areas deep in the crust and then rushes rapidly to the surface to emerge from the 47 hot springs.

Discovery and settlement

Members of many Native American tribes had been gathering in the valley for untold numbers of years to enjoy the healing properties of the thermal springs.

In 1673, Father Marquette and Joliet explored the area and claimed it for France. The Treaty of Paris 1763 ceded the land back to Spain; however, in 1800 control was returned to France until the Louisiana Purchase of 1803.

In December 1804, Dr. George Hunter and William Dunbar made an expedition to the springs, finding a lone log cabin and a few rudimentary shelters used by people visiting the springs for their healing properties. In 1807, a man named Prudhomme became the first settler of modern Hot Springs, and he was soon joined by John Perciful and Isaac Cates.

On August 24,1818, the Quapaw Indians ceded the land around the hot springs to the United States in a treaty. After Arkansas became its own territory in 1819, the Arkansas Territorial Legislature requested in 1820 that the springs and adjoining mountains be set aside as a federal reservation. Twelve years later, in 1832, the Hot Springs Reservation was created by the US Congress, granting federal protection of the thermal waters. The Reservation was renamed Hot Springs National Park in 1921.

Civil War

The outbreak of the Civil War left Hot Springs with a declining bathing population. After the Confederate forces suffered defeat in the Battle of Pea Ridge in March 1862, the Union troops advanced toward the Confederate city of Little Rock. Confederate Governor Henry M. Rector moved his staff and state records to Hot Springs. Union forces did not attack Little Rock, and the government returned to the capital city on July 14, 1862.

Many residents of Hot Springs fled to Texas or Louisiana and remained there until the end of the war. In September 1863, Union forces occupied Little Rock. During this period, Hot Springs became the prey of guerrilla bands loosely associated with either Union or Confederate forces. They pillaged and burned the near-deserted town, leaving only a few buildings standing at the end of the Civil War.cite book | last = Paige | first = John C | authorlink = | coauthors = Laura Woulliere Harrison | title = Out of the Vapors: A Social and Architectural History of Bathouse Row, Hot Springs National Park | publisher = U.S. Department of the Interior | year = 1987 | location = | pages = | url = | doi = | id = | isbn = |format=PDF]


After the Civil War, an extensive rebuilding of bathhouses and hotels took place at Hot Springs. The year-round population soared to 1,200 inhabitants by 1870. By 1873 six bathhouses and 24 hotels and boardinghouses stood near the springs. In 1874, Joseph Reynolds announced his decision to construct a narrow gauge railroad from Malvern to Hot Springs; completion in 1875 resulted in the growth of visitation to the springs. Samuel W. Fordyce and two other entrepreneurs financed the construction of the first luxury hotel in the area, the first Arlington Hotel which opened in 1875.

During the Reconstruction period, several conflicting land claims reached the U.S. Congress and resulted in an April 24, 1876 United States Supreme Court ruling that the land title of Hot Springs belonged to the federal government. To deal with the situation, Congress formed the Hot Springs Commission to lay out streets in the town of Hot Springs, deal with land claims, define property lines, condemn buildings illegally on the permanent reservation (now the national park) and define a process for claimants to purchase land. The commission surveyed and set aside convert|264.93|acre|km2 encompassing the hot springs and Hot Springs Mountain to be a permanent government reservation. Another convert|1200|acre|km2 became the Hot Springs townsite, with convert|700|acre|km2 awarded to claimants. The townsite consisted of 196 blocks and convert|50|mi|km of streets and alleys. The remaining portion of the original four sections of government land consisted of hills and mountains which were mostly unoccupied, and Congress acted on the commission's recommendation in June of 1880 by adding those lands to the permanent reservation.

1913 fire

On September 6, 1913, a fire broke out on Church Street a few blocks southeast of Bathhouse Row, near the Army and Navy Hospital. The fire burned southeast, away from the hospital, until the wind reversed an hour later. Racing toward the business section, it destroyed the Ozark Sanitarium, and the high school on its way across Malvern Avenue. Along the way it consumed the Public Utilities plant, which destroyed the firefighter's water supply. A wide front then was blown toward Ouachita Avenue which destroyed the Garland County Court House. The Hot Springs Fire Department fought alongside the Little Rock Fire Department, which had rushed over on a special train. Despite their efforts numerous homes, at least a hundred businesses, four hotels, the Iron Mountain Railroad facilities, and the Crystal Theater were destroyed. A rainstorm finally quenched the blaze at Hazel Street. Although Central Avenue was ultimately protected (primarily by desperate use of dynamite), much of the southern part of the city was destroyed. Damage was estimated at $10,000,000 across 60 blocks. [ cite web|url= |title=Hot Springs Again Hit by Fire |accessdate=2008-03-30 |date=1984 Fall |work=The Arkansas News |publisher=Old State House Museum ] [cite news | first= | last= | coauthors= | title=$6,000,000 DAMAGE IN HOT SPRINGS FIRE; Thirty Blocks of Arkansas Resort Swept Away Within a Few Hours. | date=1913-09-06 | publisher="The New York Times Company" | url = | work ="The New York Times" | pages = | accessdate = 2008-03-30 | language = ]

Gangsters and illegal gambling

Illegal gambling became firmly established in Hot Springs during the decades following the Civil War, with two factions, the Flynns and the Dorans, fighting one another throughout the 1880s for control of the town. Frank Flynn, leader of the Flynn Faction, had effectively begun paying local law enforcement officers employed by both the Hot Springs Police Department and the Garland County Sheriff's Office to collect unpaid debts, as well as to intimidate gambling rivals. This contributed to the March 16th, 1899 Hot Springs Gunfight. Of the seven Hot Springs police officers that have been killed while in service of the department, three died during that gunfight, killed by deputies of the Garland County Sheriff's Office. One part-time deputy sheriff was killed also, by the Hot Springs officers.

Along with its Bathhouse Row, one of downtown Hot Springs' most noted landmarks is the Arlington Hotel, a favored retreat for Al Capone.

Hot Springs eventually became a national gambling mecca, led by Owney Madden and his Hotel Arkansas casino. The period 1927-1947 was its wagering pinnacle, with no fewer than ten major casinos and numerous smaller houses running wide open, the largest such operation in the United States at the time. Hotels advertised the availability of prostitutes and off-track booking was available for virtually any horse race in North America.

Local law enforcement was controlled by a political machine run by long-serving mayor, Leo P. McLaughlin. The McLaughlin organization purchased hundreds of poll tax receipts, many in the names of deceased or fictitious persons, which would sometimes be voted in different precincts. A former sheriff who attempted to have the state's anti-gambling laws enforced and to secure honest elections was murdered in 1937. No one was ever charged with his killing. Machine domination of city and county government was abruptly ended in 1946 with the election of a "Government Improvement" slate of returning World War II veterans led by Marine Lt. Col. Sid McMath, who was elected prosecuting attorney. A 1947 grand jury indicted several owners and promoters, as well as McLaughlin, for public servant bribery. Although the former mayor and most of the others were acquitted, the machine's power was broken and gambling came to a halt as McMath led a statewide "GI Revolt" into the governor's office in 1948. Illegal casino gambling resumed, however, with the election of Orval Faubus as governor in 1954. Buoyed into 12 years in office by his popular defiance of federal court desegregation orders, Faubus turned a blind eye to gambling in Hot Springs. cite web|title = The Five Families|publisher = MacMillan|url =|accessdate = 2008-06-22]

Gambling was finally closed down permanently in 1967 by two Republican officeholders, Governor Winthrop Rockefeller and Circuit Judge Henry M. Britt. Rockefeller sent in a company of state troopers to shutter the casinos and burn their gaming equipment.

World War II

The military took over the enormous Eastman Hotel across the street from the Army and Navy Hospital in 1942 because the hospital was not nearly large enough to hold the sick and wounded coming in. In 1944, the Army began redeploying returning overseas soldiers; officials inspected hotels in 20 cities before selecting Hot Springs as a redistribution center for returning soldiers. In August 1944 the Army took over most of the hotels in Hot Springs. The soldiers from the west-central states received a 21-day furlough before reporting to the redistribution station. They spent 14 days updating their military records and obtaining physical and dental treatment. The soldiers had time to enjoy the baths at a reduced rate and other recreational activities. The redistribution center closed down in December 1945 after processing more than 32,000 members of the military. In 1946, after the war, the Eastman was demolished when the federal government no longer needed it.

Notable residents

Hot Springs is also noted as the boyhood home of former U.S. President Bill Clinton and famed American actors Alan Ladd and Billy Bob Thornton. Metropolitan diva Marjorie Lawrence was a resident for many years. Decorated World War II combat aviators Earl T. Ricks and I.G. Brown were Hot Springs natives who served as reform mayor and sheriff, respectively (1947-1949), before resuming their Air Force careers. The town was a haven for gangsters in the 1930s, including longtime resident Owney Madden and Lucky Luciano.Hot Springs was the home of prominent Democratic attorney Q. Byrum Hurst, a member of the Arkansas State Senate from 1950-1972 and the Garland County administrative judge from 1947-1950.


Bathhouse Row, consisting of eight turn-of-the century historic buildings, lies within Hot Springs National Park and is managed by the National Park Service, Department of the Interior. Only one of the bathhouses, The Buckstaff, remains in operation. However, another bathhouse, the Fordyce, has been converted into a museum to give tourists a glimpse into the fascinating past of the city. The federally-protected natural thermal waters are also used for thermal bathing at several downtown hotels and a hospital. The water is available free for drinking at several fountains in the downtown area.

The city has been a tourist mecca for generations due to the thermal waters and attractions such as Oaklawn Park, a thoroughbred racing facility; Magic Springs & Crystal Falls theme parks; a fine arts community that has earned the city the No. 4 position among “America’s Top 100 Small Arts Towns”; the Hot Springs Music Festival; and the Hot Springs Documentary Film Festival, held each October at the historic Malco Theater, one of the top documentary festivals in the world,Fact|date=June 2008 attracting numerous Academy Award-winning films and producers.

Hot Springs is also home to Oaklawn Park, a thoroughbred racetrack which has been in operation since 1904. The meet which is annually held from January through mid-April each year is sometimes referred to as the "Fifth Season" and features the "Racing Festival of the South" during the last week of the racing season each April. Many Triple Crown contenders compete in the Arkansas Derby, which is the big finale each year of the meet. Former U.S. President Clinton, his brother Roger, and Billy Bob Thornton, all Hot Springs natives, have been known to frequent Oaklawn Park in the past.

Other annual events in town include the free Hot Springs Jazz Festival in September, [ [ Hot Springs Jazz Fest 2008 - Welcome ] ] , the free Hot Springs Blues Festival in September, the downtown Bathtub Races in the spring, the Big Barbecue Cook off in spring and fall, the World's Shortest St. Patrick's Day Parade every March 17th, and the outdoor skating rink November through January.

Educational institutes and conventions are also important events in the spa city. Perhaps the most popular of these events is the Hot Springs Technology Institute (HSTI), drawing over 1300 participants each June. Hot Springs is also home to the annual alternate reality game " Midnight Madness", based on the movie from which it gets its name. Teams race throughout the city at night, solving clues based on difficult puzzle and physical challenges. Games last 12 hours or more, with the winning team designing next year's game.


The Hot Springs newspaper is the "Sentinel-Record", originally part of the Clyde E. Palmer chain, since renamed WEHCO.


Hot Springs is located at coor dms|34|29|50|N|93|3|19|W|city (34.497138, -93.055393)GR|1.

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 33.0 square miles (85.5 km²), of which, 32.9 square miles (85.2 km²) of it is land and 0.1 square miles (0.3 km²) of it (0.36%) is water. Hot Springs is now a Metropolitan Statistical Area.


As of the censusGR|2 of 2000, there were 35,750 people, 16,096 households, and 9,062 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,086.9 people per square mile (419.7/km²). There were 18,813 housing units at an average density of 572.0/sq mi (220.8/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 78.86% White, 16.87% Black or African American, 0.55% Native American, 0.79% Asian, 0.05% Pacific Islander, 1.02% from other races, and 1.86% from two or more races. 3.80% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.

There were 16,096 households out of which 22.0% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 40.2% were married couples living together, 12.4% had a female householder with no husband present, and 43.7% are classified as non-families by the United States Census Bureau.Of 16,096 households, 690 are unmarried partner households: 580 heterosexual, 78 same-sex male, and 32 same-sex female. 38.4% of all households were made up of individuals and 18.3% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.12 and the average family size was 2.80.

In the city the population was spread out with 20.2% under the age of 18, 8.2% from 18 to 24, 25.4% from 25 to 44, 23.0% from 45 to 64, and 23.2% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 42 years. For every 100 females there were 88.4 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 84.6 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $26,040, and the median income for a family was $32,819. Males had a median income of $25,861 versus $20,155 for females. The per capita income for the city was $17,961. About 13.7% of families and 19.2% of the population were below the poverty line, including 30.7% of those under age 18 and 11.7% of those age 65 or over.


Advanced residential statewide high school

* Arkansas School for Mathematics, Sciences, and the Arts

Private schools

* Hot Springs Christian School, K-12 []
* St. John Elementary School, K-8
* St. Luke's Day School, PK-2
* Lighthouse Christian School, K-12
* Gospel Light Baptist School, PK-12
* Hot Springs SDA School, PK-9
* Christian Ministries Academy, K-12

Public schools

* Cutter-Morning Star Elementary School, PK-6
* Cutter-Morning Star High School, 7-12
* Fountain Lake Elementary School, K-6
* Fountain Lake High School, 7-12
* Gardner Magnet School, K-5
* Hot Springs Middle School, 6-8
* Hot Springs High School, 9-12
* Jessieville Elementary School, PK-5
* Jessieville Middle School, 6-8
* Jessieville High School, 9-12
* Langston Magnet School, PK-5
* Lakeside Primary School, K-1
* Lakeside Intermediate School, 2-4
* Lakeside Middle School, 5-7
* Lakeside Junior High School, 8-9
* Lakeside High School, 10-12
* Lake Hamilton Primary School, K-1
* Lake Hamilton Elementary School, 2-3
* Lake Hamilton Intermediate School, 4-5
* Lake Hamilton Middle School, 6-7
* Lake Hamilton Junior High, 8-9
* Lake Hamilton High School, 10-12
* Oaklawn Magnet School, K-5
* Park Magnet School, K-5

Higher education

* The [ National Park Community College] is located about convert|6|mi|km from central Hot Springs.

Other Education

* [ Champion Baptist College] , a four-year Christian vocational college associated with Gospel Light Baptist Church

Points of interest

* The Attic Rock Club
* Arkansas Alligator Farm and Petting Zoo
* Dryden Pottery []
* Garvan Woodland Gardens
* Hot Springs Mall
* Hot Springs Mountain Tower
* Hot Springs National Park
* Magic Springs and Crystal Falls
* Mid-America Science Museum []
* The Gangster Museum of America []
* Oaklawn Park
* Hickory Hill Quilts and Sewing Center []
* Three Sisters Springs
* Mount Ida crystal mines
* Our House Pub


The Hot Springs Metropolitan Statistical area is rated as the 13th most dangerous MSA of the 344 MSA in the U.S.A. The ranking is based on actual 2005 felony statistics tabulated by [ Morgan-Quitno] . The average city in the top 25 most dangerous MSA has a population in excess of 1.27 million. Hot Springs is the only MSA on the most dangerous list with a population of under 100,000.

kateboarding Incident

On June 21st, 2007, Officer Joey Williams of the Hot Springs, Arkansas police department arrested 6 skaters for violating the city's no skating law. The skaters also committed violations which included fleeing, resisting arrest, obstruction of justice, disorderly conduct and battery. This was posted on Youtube, and the video received over 2.5 million views. [ [ YouTube - go skateboarding day: cop v.s. skaters ] ] The arrested skateboarders were charged with a variety of crimes. The two adult skaters did not deny the charges against them. [ [ Arkansas cop cleared of choking skateboarder | Thrasher Magazine | Find Articles at BNET ] ] [cite news|url=|title=Hot Springs officer put on leave as investigation opens into skateboarder video|date=2007-06-26|publisher=Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, Inc.|accessdate=2008-07-14] [cite news|url=|title=Police Officer Cleared in Skateboard Choking Case|last=GAMBRELL|first=JON|date=2007-07-03|publisher=WPVI TV Philadelphia|accessdate=2008-07-14] Two young men later pleaded no contest to their misdemeanor charges. [cite news|url=|title=Two plead no contest in videotaped Hot Springs skateboa|date=2007-08-16|publisher=Newport Television LLC|accessdate=2008-07-14] [cite news|url=|title=2 Ark. skateboarders plead no contest|date=2007-08-16|publisher=USA Today|accessdate=2008-07-14]


External links

* [ City of Hot Springs] • City of Hot Springs Official Website
* [ Discussion of political matters in City of Hot Springs] • Local Grassroots watchdog group discussion
* [ Hot Springs Chamber of Commerce] • The Greater Hot Springs Chamber of Commerce
* [ History of Hot Springs' Jewish community] (from the Institute of Southern Jewish Life)
* [ Hot Springs Convention and Visitor's Bureau] • Hot Springs National Park tourism & vacation information
* [ National Park Service, Hot Springs National Park] • U.S. National Park Service website
* [ Hot Springs, Arkansas Community Guides] • What to do and where to find it in Hot Springs, Arkansas.
* [ Hot Springs Arkansas Local News]
* [ Hot Springs Travel Guide]
* [ The Sentinel-Record] • Local newspaper published in Hot Springs National Park

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