Over burgers at Stickyz in August 2011, my friend Tom Peterson remarked that Little Rock had changed in the 20 years he had lived here and in some ways now resembled his hometown of Chicago.
"Little Rock and North Little Rock have neighborhoods now," he told me. "With the exception of Heights and Hillcrest, Little Rock was nothing but a collection of subdivisions and big malls when I moved here. Now you have real neighborhoods with their own feel and with restaurants and shops that are dedicated to that area."
Looking at where we live every day and noticing fundamental change is a little like looking into the mirror every morning. It looks the same as yesterday, but over the last two decades, it's become a different face and a different city.
So we've set out to document that change. Reading through these essays, I think you will be struck by the incredible diversity we have for an urban area of no more than 250,000 people. For example, we have new "creative class" neighborhoods like Argenta and South Main, affluent suburban neighborhoods such as Northwest Little Rock and Chenal, historic middle-class black neighborhoods such as the Central High neighborhood and the newly Latinized neighborhoods of Southwest City and Levy. Where people once looked for the perfect house, now they are finding the perfect neighborhood. And here there is a neighborhood for every lifestyle.
In addition to this section, we have turned these essays into a hardbound book that includes more color photography as well as all of the essays. It is available from the Arkansas Times, local bookstores and our sponsors.
I hope you enjoy these essays. Many of them are highly personal and highly subjective, written by people who feel a special connection to where they live. When you read the essay on your neighborhood, if you think to yourself, "Yes, that's who lives here, that's what it feel like," then we will have been successful with this issue.