At the turn of the century, the average city-dweller in Little Rock could not afford to buy and maintain a horse and carriage. Consequently, most people lived within walking distance of downtown, where they worked and shopped. Little Rock’s first streetcars – pulled by mules – began running in 1877 and were replaced in 1891 by electric streetcars. Once this means of relatively cheap transportation was introduced, people soon found they could live a little farther out from downtown and escape the heat, congestion, and noise of the city.
Not coincidentally, 1891 was also the year when a group of land developers purchased 800 acres in “the highlands northwest of the city” for $80,000. The purchase of the land was the beginning of Pulaski Heights, Little Rock’s oldest suburb. Eventually, the streetcar line tied Little Rock, Hillcrest and Forest Park together. A Little Rock newspaper claimed the opening of Forest Park “marked an epoch in the city’s march to metropolitanism.” For many years Forest Park was also the site of the Pulaski County Fair until the fair grew into the State Fair and became too large for the grounds at Forest Park. “When night fell on the hillside around (Forest Park), the eerie scream of panthers could be heard, so the old-timers declare,” reported the Arkansas Democrat.
The trolley line traveled via Markham Street to Stifft’s Station, where it branched off to begin a zig-zagging course up Kavanaugh (originally called Prospect Avenue). It brought with it a period of growth and expansion that made Hillcrest one of the city’s most popular neighborhoods. The streetcar line played an integral part of neighborhood life until 1947, when post-war suburban development began catering to the automobile. Some of the steel electrical poles used by the trolley cars are still in place along Kavanaugh today with their hooks and cords intact.
Hidden away from traffic, congestion, and the hectic pace of a major city is Historic Hillcrest. By taking a short 5-minute drive from Downtown, you enter Little Rock’s first suburban neighborhood, authentically preserved and beautifully maintained. Our neighborhood is wonderfully historic in atmosphere, yet thoroughly modern in convenience. We hope you will take a moment to explore all that Hillcrest has to offer.
Hillcrest’s development began in the late 1890s with the introduction of the city’s first electric trolley system and hit its building heyday at the turn of the last century. Stately homes built by Little Rock’s first suburbanites, Arts and Crafts bungalows and post-war cottages all blend together giving Hillcrest an eclectic flavor.
Today it’s a vital neighborhood with a mix of commercial and residential so pleasantly prevalent in earlier times. Charming shops & antique stores, filled with abundant and diverse merchandise, are nestled in alongside salons, art galleries, a Post Office, and other useful services.
Locally owned restaurants offer an eclectic range of palette pleasures. You can take your pleasure with stylish or casual indoor dining plus the added option of being outdoors enjoying the quiet, seasonal beauty of the neighborhood. From family eateries to fine dining, our restaurants have something for every occasion and age. Stop for a special brew coffee at one of our coffee houses, or while away the night listening to live music.
The fun of strolling the sidewalks, window shopping, browsing the stores or relaxing on the promenade, watching the world go by …
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