MacArthur Park


In 1836, the Federal Government appropriated $14,000 for the building of an arsenal in Little Rock to ensure protection against possible Indian conflicts. The land which comprises present day MacArthur Park was selected as the site for the Little Rock Arsenal and in 1840 the headquarters building, the “Tower Building”, was constructed. (Today, the Tower Building houses the Museum of Science and History) The Little Rock Arsenal served as a U.S. Military Post until October, 1890, when it was abandoned for a new location on the north side of the Arkansas River. In 1892, the site of the abandoned arsenal was designated by an Act of Congress to be “forever exclusively devoted to the uses and purposes of the public park” of Little Rock. J.H. Pittman, a landscape designer from St. Louis, was hired in 1893 to landscape the new park. Pittman’s plan included the creation of bridle trails, sidewalks, the bandstand, and a small lake situated in the southwest part of the park. The lake was later filled as it became a health nuisance. The park was simply known as “City Park” until 1942 when its name was changed in honor of General Douglas MacArthur. MacArthur was born in the Tower Building on January 26, 1880, his father being the Post Commander of the Arsenal. During the 1930’s, the Works Progress Administration carried out extensive repair work in the park and built the Museum of Fine Arts building which later expanded to become the Arkansas Arts Center.