Located near the geographical center of the United States, according to the Little Rock Visitors Bureau
, Arkansas, the 25th state, also often found itself at the center of U.S. history. The Natural State's biggest cities are no different.
1. Little Rock.
Located on the banks of the Arkansas River, Little Rock, the capital and Arkansas' largest city, recorded a population of 197,357 in 2013, according to the United States Census Bureau.
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Little Rock was originally named "la petite roche" by French explorers, and it is located almost exactly in the center of the state.
The city's biggest moment in history came in September 1957, three years after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled on Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas, when U.S. Army troops escorted nine African-American students, the “Little Rock Nine,” into the previously segregated Central High School.
After weeks of turmoil and trying to keep up with their work without attending school, the students went to their classes guarded by soldiers.
Although the crisis eventually passed, the teenagers endured verbal and physical harassment from some of the other students for the rest of the school year.
2. Hot Springs.
When the U.S. bought the “Hot Springs of the Washita” as part of the Louisiana Purchase, the benefits of hot mineral spring water had been well known for thousands of years.
Local settlers worked to convert the springs into a privately owned resort, but others asked the federal government to make them available to the public; Congress agreed in 1832 to dedicate the area now called Hot Springs National Park as a federal reserve — 40 years before Yellowstone became the first U.S. national park.
The city now boasts 97,900 residents.
3. Fort Smith.
This city was once a vital base for outfitting "forty-niners" during the gold rush in late 1848 and early 1849, as well as soldiers during the Mexican War from 1846 to 1848.
In 2012, the city was home to 87,443 residents.
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Founded in 1828, the city is tucked into the Ozark Mountains in Arkansas's northwest corner.
Fayetteville is home to the University of Arkansas. Originally named Arkansas Industrial University, the school opened in 1872. Acting president Noah P. Gates welcomed eight students and one teacher that first year. By the end of the year, 101 students from throughout the state had been admitted.
Nearly 76,900 people called Fayetteville home in 2012.
Tyson Foods, Inc. is headquartered in this city of more than 73,000 people. Once called Shiloh, the city was renamed in the 1870s. It's home to the Shiloh Museum of Ozark History.
The city is a major industrial center, home to seven trucking companies and the poultry industry. In 2003, Forbes magazine ranked it third best in America for business and career opportunities.
Three colleges are located in Conway: Hendrix College, the University of Central Arkansas, and Central Baptist College. Conway attracted many businesses after World War II ended, including International Shoe Company and Allied Telephone Company, which is now Alltel.
By 2012, the city had 62,939 residents.
7. North Little Rock.
This city of more than 64,000 people has historical connections to the transportation industry and the military. The city was established in 1901, when businessman William C. Faucette tried to reclaim Argenta, which Little Rock called the Eighth Ward. His secret scheme was hatched because of resentment by north side residents who didn't want to be citizens of Little Rock.
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