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Pine Bluff, Arkansas

Pine Bluff
City of Pine Bluff
Downtown Pine Bluff
Downtown Pine Bluff
Official seal of Pine Bluff
Motto: City of Progress
Location in Jefferson county and the state of Arkansas
Location in Jefferson county and the state of Arkansas
Pine Bluff is located in USA
Pine Bluff
Location in the U.S.
Country  United States
State  Arkansas
County Jefferson
Township Vaugine
Incorporated January 8, 1839
 • Type Mayor–Council
 • Mayor Debe Hollingsworth (I)
 • Council Pine Bluff City Council
 • City 121.3 km2 (46.8 sq mi)
 • Land 118.1 km2 (45.6 sq mi)
 • Water 1.2 km2 (3.2 sq mi)
Elevation 67 m (220 ft)
Population (2010)
 • City 49,083
 • Density 404.6/km2 (1,048.8/sq mi)
 • Metro 100,258
Time zone CST (UTC-6)
 • Summer (DST) CDT (UTC-5)
ZIP code 71601, 71603, 71611, 71613
Area code(s) 870
FIPS code 05-55310
GNIS feature ID 0078006
Major airport Adams Field (LIT)

Pine Bluff is the largest city and county seat of Jefferson County,[1] Arkansas, United States. It is also the principal city of the Pine Bluff Metropolitan Statistical Area and part of the Little Rock-North Little Rock-Pine Bluff Combined Statistical Area. The population of the city was 49,083 in the 2010 Census,[2] however 2011 estimates show the population has since declined to 48,339.[3] Pine Bluff is the ninth largest city in the state of Arkansas.

The city is situated in the southeast section of the state in the Arkansas Delta with the Arkansas Timberlands region to its immediate west.[4] Its topography is flat with wide expanses of farmland consistent with other places in the Delta Lowlands. Pine Bluff is home to a number of creeks, streams, bayous (Bayou Bartholomew is the longest bayou in the world and is the second most diverse stream in the United States),[5] and larger bodies of water such as Lake Pine Bluff, Lake Langhofer (Slack Water Harbor) and the Arkansas River.


  • History 1
    • Pine Bluff's beginnings 1.1
    • Civil War and reconstruction (1861-1900) 1.2
    • Early 1900s and the Great Depression (1900-1941) 1.3
    • World War II & economic diversification (1941-1960) 1.4
    • The modern era (1960–present) 1.5
  • Geography 2
    • Metropolitan statistical area 2.1
    • Climate 2.2
  • Demographics 3
  • Economy 4
  • Government 5
  • Crime 6
  • Arts and culture 7
    • Annual cultural events 7.1
  • Education 8
    • Colleges and universities 8.1
    • Public schools 8.2
    • Private schools 8.3
  • Infrastructure 9
    • Highways 9.1
    • Water 9.2
    • Air 9.3
    • Buses 9.4
    • Railroad 9.5
    • Correctional facilities 9.6
    • Utilities 9.7
      • Water 9.7.1
      • Wastewater 9.7.2
  • Notable people 10
  • See also 11
  • References 12
  • Further reading 13
  • External links 14
    • Government & civic groups 14.1
    • Media 14.2
    • Community events 14.3
    • History 14.4


Pine Bluff is home to over three-quarters of the National Register of Historic Places listings in Jefferson County, Arkansas.

Pine Bluff's beginnings

The area along the Arkansas River had been inhabited for thousands of years by indigenous peoples of various cultures. They used the river for transportation like settlers after them, and for fishing. By the time of encounter with Europeans, the historical Quapaw were the chief people in the area, having migrated from the Ohio River valley centuries before.

The city of Pine Bluff was founded by Europeans on a high bank of the Arkansas River heavily forested with tall pine trees.[6] The high ground furnished settlers a safe haven from annual flooding.[6] Joseph Bonne, a fur trader and trapper of French and Quapaw ancestry, settled on this bluff in 1819.[6]

After the Quapaws signed a treaty with the United States in 1824 relinquishing their title to all the lands which they claimed in Arkansas, many other American settlers began to join Bonne on the bluff. In 1829 Thomas Phillips claimed a half section of land where Pine Bluff is located. Jefferson County was established by the Territorial Legislature, November 2, 1829 and began functioning as a county April 19, 1830.

At the August 13, 1832 county election, the pine bluff was chosen as the county seat. The Quorum Court voted to name the village "Pine Bluff Town" on October 16, 1832.[6] Pine Bluff was incorporated January 8, 1839, by the order of County Judge Taylor. At the time, the village had about 50 residents. Improved transportation facilities aided in the growth of Pine Bluff during the 1840s and 1850s.

The Arkansas River's proximity to Pine Bluff allowed the small town to serve as a port for travel and shipping. Steamships provided the primary mode of transport from areas as far away as New Orleans. From 1832-1838, Pine Bluff was situated on the Trail of Tears waterway as thousands of Native Americans were forcibly removed from the southeast United States to the state of Oklahoma.[7] From 1832-1858, Pine Bluff also served as a waterway route for hundreds of Indian Seminoles and Black Seminoles who were forcibly removed, including the legendary John Horse who landed in the city on the Steamboat Swan in 1842.[8][9][10]

Civil War and reconstruction (1861-1900)

Pine Bluff was prospering by the outbreak of the Civil War with wealth built on the commodity crop of cotton cultivated on large plantations by enslaved African-American laborers. The city had one of the largest slave populations in the state by 1860[11] and Jefferson County, Arkansas was second in cotton production in the state.[12] However, when Union forces occupied Little Rock, a group of Pine Bluff citizens requested Major General Frederick Steele send Union forces to occupy their town for their protection from bands of confederate bushwhackers who were terrorizing them.[13] Union troops under Colonel Powell Clayton arrived September 17, 1863 and stayed until the war was over.[13] Confederate General J.S. Marmaduke tried to expel the Union Army in the Battle of Pine Bluff October 25, 1863, but was repulsed by a combined effort of soldiers and former slaves.[14] In the final year of the war, the first African American regiment in the civil war to experience combat, the 1st Regiment Kansas Volunteer Infantry (Colored) (composed primarily of runaway slaves from Arkansas and Missouri)[15] was dispatched to guard Pine Bluff and was eventually mustered out there.[16]

Because of Union forces, Pine Bluff attracted many refugees and freedmen after the Emancipation Proclamation. In fact, Pine Bluff was the site of one of several Union contraband camps around the country which provided for the protection of runaway slaves and refugees behind Confederate lines.[17] After the war, freed slaves worked with the American Missionary Society to start schools for the education of blacks who had been prohibited from learning to read and write by southern laws. By September 1872, Professor Joseph C. Corbin opened the Branch Normal School of the Arkansas Industrial University, a historically black college. Founded as Arkansas's first black public college, today it is the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff.

As with many small and large towns in the South, Pine Bluff suffered lasting effects of defeat in the aftermath of the war. Recovery was slow at first. Construction of railroads improved access to markets, and with increased production of cotton as more plantations were reactivated, the economy began to recover. The first railroad reached Pine Bluff in December 1873. This same year Pine Bluff's first utility was formed when Pine Bluff Gas Company began furnishing manufactured gas from coke for lighting purposes.

As personal fortunes increased from the 1870s onward, community leaders constructed large Victorian-style homes west of Main Street. Meanwhile, the reconstruction era of the 1870s brought a stark mix of progress and challenge for African Americans. Blacks were elected to county offices and the state legislature for the first time in history as the heavily black Pine Bluff/Jefferson County electorate stretched its political muscles. Several black-owned businesses were also opened including banks, bars, barbershops, and other establishments. Conversely, in 1866, after an altercation in a refugee camp in Pine Bluff between blacks and whites, 24 black men, women and children were found hanging from trees in one of the worst mass lynchings in U.S. history.[18] With the lynchings of Armistad Johnson in 1889,[19] John Kelly and Gulbert Harris in 1892 in front of the Jefferson County Courthouse,[20] along with the formal adoption of Jim Crow laws by the state of Arkansas,[21] the atmosphere was grim toward the end of the 19th century for many African Americans . This made the appeal of Bishop Henry McNeal Turner's "Back to Africa" movement attractive to numbers of local African American residents who purchased tickets and/or sought information on emigration (Arkansas had 650 emigrants depart to the African nation of Liberia; more than any other state in the United States. The majority of these emigrants came from Jefferson, St. Francis, Pulaski, Pope, and Conway counties.).[22][23]

According to historian James Leslie, Pine Bluff entered its “Golden Era” in the 1880s, with cotton production and river commerce helping the city draw industries and public institutions to the area, making it by 1890 the state’s third-largest city. The first telephone system was placed in service March 31, 1883. Wiley Jones, a freedman who achieved wealth by his own business, built the first mule-drawn, street-car line in October 1886.[24] The first light, power and water plant was completed in 1887; a more dependable light and water system was put in place in 1912. Throughout the 1880s and 1890s, economic expansion was also fueled by the growing lumber industry in the region.

Early 1900s and the Great Depression (1900-1941)

Situated on the Arkansas River, Pine Bluff depended on river traffic and trade. Community leaders were concerned that the main channel would leave the city. The United States Army Corps of Engineers built a levee opposite Pine Bluff to try to keep the river flowing by the city. During a later flood, the main channel of the river moved away from the city, leaving a small oxbow lake (later expanded into Lake Pine Bluff). River traffic diminished, even as the river was a barrier separating one part of the county from the other. After many years of regional haggling, because the bond issue involved raised taxes, the county built the Free Bridge, which opened in 1914. For the first time, it united the county on a permanent basis.

Development in the city's business district grew rapidly. The Masonic Lodge, built by and for African Americans, was the tallest building in Pine Bluff when completed in 1904.[25] The Hotel Pines, constructed in 1912 with its intricate marble interior and classical design, was considered one of Arkansas' showcase hotels.[26] The 1,500 seat


  • Pine Bluff Festival Association, producers of city festivals such as the 4 July Celebration and The Enchanted Land of Lights & Legends, Arkansas's Largest Drive-thru Christmas Display.
  • Pine Bluff Film Festival, supporting restoration efforts at the city's Saenger Theater through exhibition of silent movies and other classic film works

Community events

  • Pine Bluff Commercial, the local newspaper serving Pine Bluff and southeast Arkansas
  • Pine, community information site compiled by the Pine Bluff Commercial


  • Official website of the City of Pine Bluff
  • The Alliance, official website serving the Greater Pine Bluff Chamber of Commerce, Jefferson County Industrial Foundation, and Pine Bluff-Jefferson County Port Authority
  • Pine Bluff/Jefferson County Library System
  • Junior League of Pine Bluff

Government & civic groups

External links

  • Biographical and Historical Memoirs of Pulaski, Jefferson, Lonoke, Faulkner, Grant, Saline, Perry, Garland and Hot Spring Counties, Arkansas. Chicago: The Goodspeed Publishing Co. 1889. Retrieved May 25, 2014. 
  • Leslie, James W. (1981). Pine Bluff and Jefferson County: A Pictorial History. Norfolk, Va.: Donning Co.  

Further reading

  1. ^ "Find a County". National Association of Counties. Retrieved 2011-06-07. 
  2. ^ "Profile of General Population and Housing Characteristics: 2010". 1 April 2010. Retrieved 9 November 2012. 
  3. ^ "Annual Estimates of the Resident Population for Incorporated Places: April 1, 2010 to July 1, 2011" (CSV). 1 July 2011. Retrieved 9 November 2012. 
  4. ^ "Ecoregions of the Mississippi Alluvial Plain" (PDF). Retrieved 2010-10-07. 
  5. ^ "Arkansas Lakes and Rivers". Retrieved September 6, 2010. 
  6. ^ a b c d "History of Pine Bluff". Retrieved 2010-10-01. 
  7. ^ "Arkansas City Listings". Retrieved 2010-09-06. 
  8. ^ "The Seminoles" (PDF). Retrieved 2009-10-20. 
  9. ^ "Rebellion: John Horse and the Black Seminoles". Retrieved 2010-09-06. 
  10. ^ "Sequoyah Research Center: A Chronicle, 1830-1849". Retrieved 2011-04-04. 
  11. ^ "Slavery In Arkansas".  
  12. ^ "Antioch Missionary Baptist Church Cemetery,Sherrill, Jefferson County". Retrieved 2010-09-07. 
  13. ^ a b "Pine Bluff (Jefferson County)". Retrieved 2010-09-07. 
  14. ^ "Pine Bluff, Ark". Retrieved 2010-09-07. 
  15. ^ "Facts About U.S. Colored Troops: American Civil War". Retrieved 2010-09-07. 
  16. ^ "1st Kansas Colored Volunteer Infantry". Retrieved 2010-09-06. 
  17. ^ "Action At Pine Bluff". Retrieved 2010-09-08. 
  18. ^ "Reconstruction Historiography: A Source of Ideas". Retrieved 2010-09-06. 
  19. ^ "A Partial List of Lynchings". Retrieved 2010-09-10. 
  20. ^ "Two Murderers Lynched". The New York Times. 1892-02-15. Retrieved 2010-09-06. 
  21. ^ "Separate Coach Law of 1891".  
  22. ^ "Back to Africa".  
  23. ^ Barnes, Kenneth C. Journey of Hope: The Back-to-Africa Movement in Arkansas in the Late 1800s. Chapel Hill, NC: The University of North Carolina Press, 2004. ISBN 0807828793. Google Books. Retrieved June 6, 2014.
  24. ^
  25. ^ "Things To Do: African American History". Archived from the original on February 5, 2010. Retrieved 2010-09-07. 
  26. ^ "Hotel Pines". Retrieved 2010-09-06. 
  27. ^ "Saenger Theater". Retrieved 2010-09-06. 
  28. ^ "Dollarway Road". Retrieved 2010-09-06. 
  29. ^ "WOK Radio Station". Retrieved 2010-09-06. 
  30. ^ a b "WPA Slave Narratives". Retrieved 2010-09-08. 
  31. ^ "Bearing Witness:Memories of Arkansas Slavery". Retrieved 2010-09-08. 
  32. ^ Streissguth, Michael (2006). Johnny Cash: The Biography. Da Capo Press. p. 15.  
  33. ^ "Grider Army Airfield". Retrieved 2010-11-30. 
  34. ^ "KATV". Retrieved 2010-09-06. 
  35. ^ "Geleve Grice:1922-2004" (PDF). Retrieved 2010-09-07. 
  36. ^ "Land of Unequal Opportunity". Retrieved 2010-09-06. 
  37. ^ "What Does it Mean to See a Black Church Burning". Archived from the original on November 17, 2009. Retrieved 2010-09-06. 
  38. ^ "Civil Rights Movement: 20th Century History".  
  39. ^ "Leaders call 72 Hour Truce" (PDF). Retrieved 2010-09-06. 
  40. ^ "Driving for Attorney C.B. King". Retrieved 2010-09-06. 
  41. ^ "Lights Not Out Yet at Pine Bluff". Retrieved 2010-09-06. 
  42. ^ "Arkansas Black History Quiz Bowl Association". Archived from the original on October 26, 2011. Retrieved 2010-09-06. 
  43. ^ "Hopes for Pine Bluff Pinned on Two Projects". Retrieved 2010-09-21. 
  44. ^ "Market on Lake Part of Revitalization Plan". Retrieved 2010-09-21. 
  45. ^ "Pine Bluff's mayor-elect Debe Hollingsworth speaks out". Retrieved 9 November 2012. 
  46. ^ "Hollingsworth is apparent winner". Retrieved 9 November 2012. 
  47. ^ "Artificial Levees". Archived from the original on May 23, 2009. Retrieved 2010-10-29. 
  48. ^ . Retrieved 2010-10-29. 
  49. ^
  50. ^ "Annual Estimates of the Resident Population for Incorporated Places: April 1, 2010 to July 1, 2014". Retrieved June 4, 2015. 
  51. ^ "Census of Population and Housing".  
  52. ^ Bearden, Russell E. "Pine Bluff (Jefferson County)".  
  53. ^ "American FactFinder".  
  54. ^ "Arkansas River Basin". Archived from the original on January 30, 2010. Retrieved 2010-10-04. 
  55. ^ "Pine Bluff.Com". Retrieved 2010-10-04. 
  56. ^ "Government". City of Pine Bluff. Retrieved January 25, 2015. 
  57. ^ "City Council Page". City of Pine Bluff. Retrieved January 25, 2015. 
  58. ^
  59. ^
  60. ^ a b "America's Most Impoverished Cities", Forbes, October 12, 2009.
  61. ^ "7 fastest shrinking cities",, April 5, 2013.
  62. ^ [2], "Pine Bluff Commercial, December 23, 2014
  63. ^ "University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff". Retrieved 2010-09-06. 
  64. ^ AirNav: KPBF - Grider Field Airport
  65. ^ Route Schedule from Pine Bluff Transit
  66. ^ "Prison History and Gallery." Arkansas Department of Correction. Retrieved on September 7, 2010.
  67. ^ "Pine Bluff city, Arkansas." U.S. Census Bureau. Retrieved on September 7, 2010.
  68. ^ "Central Office." Arkansas Department of Correction. Retrieved on June 28, 2010.
  69. ^ "2006 Facts Brochure." Arkansas Department of Correction. July 1, 2005-June 30, 2006. 25 (25/38). Retrieved on August 15, 2010.
  70. ^ "Facilities." Arkansas Department of Correction. Retrieved on June 28, 2010.
  71. ^ "Diagnostic Unit." Arkansas Department of Correction. Retrieved on June 28, 2010.
  72. ^ "Pine Bluff Unit/Randall L. Williams Correctional Facility." Arkansas Department of Correction. Retrieved on June 28, 2010.
  73. ^ a b "School Sites." Arkansas Correctional School. Retrieved on July 18, 2010.
  74. ^ "Contact Us." Arkansas Correctional School. Retrieved on July 18, 2010.
  75. ^ "Locations." Arkansas Department of Community Corrections. Retrieved on March 5, 2011. "7301 West 13th Street, Pine Bluff, Arkansas 71602"
  76. ^ "Community". Liberty Utilities. Retrieved January 25, 2015. 
  77. ^ "Water Quality Information" (PDF). United Water Arkansas. 2007. Retrieved January 25, 2015. 
  78. ^ "Water Quality Information" (PDF). United Water Arkansas. June 2011. Retrieved January 25, 2015. 
  79. ^ "Annual Drinking Water Quality Report" (PDF). Liberty Utilities. 2013. Retrieved January 25, 2015. 
  80. ^ "Boyd Point Treatment Facility" (PDF). NPDES Permit AR0033316. Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality. Retrieved January 25, 2015. 
  81. ^ "Enforcement Compliance Review" (PDF). NPDES Permit AR0033316. Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality. March 20, 2014. Retrieved January 25, 2015. 
  82. ^ "Vivian Flowers". Retrieved April 15, 2015. 


See also

Notable people

The utility has been awarded by the National Association of Clean Water Agencies for its performance. In an Enforcement Compliance review completed in March 2014, it was noted that zero permit violations had occurred within the past three years.[81]

The Pine Bluff Wastewater Utility provides operation and maintenance of the city's municipally owned sewage collection and conveyance system. This system includes over 450 miles (720 km) of pipe and 48 lift stations to collect municipal and industrial wastewater and convey it to the Boyd Point Treatment Facility (BPTF). This facility treats and discharges treated effluent in accordance with a permit issued by the Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality (ADEQ). The BPTF was most recently renovated in 2010 and is currently permitted to discharge a maximum daily flow of 30,000,000 US gallons (110,000,000 L).[80]


Water is pumped from 12 wells that pump from the Sparta Sand Aquifer to three water treatment plants capable of producing 20,000,000 US gallons (76,000,000 L) per day (total). Each plant uses a process of pre-chlorination, aeration, filtration, and chlorine residual. Hydrofluosilic acid and zinc orthophosphate are also added in addition to chlorine. The water is then distributed to approximately serving over 18,000 customers via 388 miles (624 km) of water distribution mains.[78] A Source Water Vulnerability Assessment was conducted by the Arkansas Department of Health in 2013; it concluded that Pine Bluff's water supply is at medium susceptibility to contamination[79]

Liberty Utilities (formerly United Water), a subsidiary of Algonquin Power & Utilities, a privately held company, treats potable water and operates the water distribution system in Pine Bluff, as well as Hardin, Ladd, Watson Chapel and White Hall.[76] This partnership began in 1942 between the City of Pine Bluff and Arkansas Municipal Water Company, which has been acquired and merged to become Liberty Utilities.[77]



The ADC Southeast Arkansas Community Corrections Center is in Pine Bluff.[75]

Since 1979 it has included the ADC state headquarters;[67][68][69] the administrative Annex East is on Harding Avenue south of city hall.[70] The Diagnostic Unit,[71] the Pine Bluff Unit, and the Randall L. Williams Correctional Facility are in the "Pine Bluff Complex," [72][73] as are the headquarters of the Arkansas Correctional School system.[73][74]

In 1972, the City of Pine Bluff and the "Fifty for the Future," a business leader group, donated 80 acres (32 ha) of land to the Arkansas Department of Correction (ADC). This parcel was developed as the Pine Bluff Complex.[66]

Correctional facilities

Current freight rail service to and through Pine Bluff is provided by the Union Pacific Railroad.

Union Station, listed on the NRHP


The city-owned Pine Bluff Transit operates six routes on a 12-hour/day, weekday basis, to various points including government, medical, educational and shopping centers.[65] Two of the buses have professional-quality murals advertising the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff.

Royal Coach Lines offers local access to intrastate, regional, and charter services.


Pine Bluff's municipal airport, Grider Field (PBF), is located four miles southeast of the city.[64] The airport serves as home base for corporate and general aviation aircraft. Charter, air ambulance and cargo airline services are also available.

Daily commercial air freight and passenger services, along with scheduled commuter flights, are available at the Clinton National Airport/Little Rock National Airport, Adams Field, (LIT), some 40 minutes driving time from Pine Bluff via Interstate 530 and interstate connectors. This airport is served by American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, Frontier Airlines, Southwest Airlines, United Airlines and US Airways.

Pilot preparing to dust crops near Pine Bluff


Located on the navigable Arkansas River, with a slackwater harbor, Pine Bluff is accessible by water via the Port of Pine Bluff, the anchor of the city's Harbor Industrial District.


Pine Bluff is served by a network of five U.S. and five state highways radiating from the city. Interstate 530, formerly part of US 65, connects Little Rock to southeast Pine Bluff. multiple Interstates can be accessed in approximately 40 minutes from any point in the city.



  • Ridgway Christian School
  • Maranatha Baptist Academy
  • Pine Bluff Christian Academy

Private schools

Public schools

Colleges and universities

The Main Library of the Pine Bluff/Jefferson County Library System contains an extensive genealogy collection, including the online obituary index of the Pine Bluff Commercial, Arkansas census records, and digital collections, which consists of many county and city records for much of southeast Arkansas. In addition to downtown Pine Bluff's Main Library, PBJCLS branch libraries can also be found in the city's Watson Chapel area, as well as in White Hall, Redfield, and Altheimer.

Pine Bluff has a full complement of educational facilities. The Pine Bluff School District includes elementary magnet schools to meet special interests in the fields of mathematics, science, foreign language, communications, and fine and performing arts. Watson Chapel School District, the Dollarway School District, as well as a number of private schools also serve the city.

The newly accredited Southeast Arkansas College features technical career programs as well as a 2-year college curriculum.

The University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff (UAPB) is the second oldest public educational institution in the state of Arkansas, and the oldest with a black heritage. It maintains one of the nation's few aquaculture research programs and the only one in the state of Arkansas.[63] It also houses the University Museum and Cultural Center dedicated to preserving the history of UAPB and the Arkansas Delta.


  • Harbor City Gumbo Festival
  • Smoke on the Water Barbecue Festival
  • Enchanted Land of Lights and Legends
  • UAPB Homecoming
  • Boo on the Bayou Halloween Celebration
  • King Cotton Classic- Running from 1982 to 1999, the King Cotton Classic was one of the premier high school basketball tournaments in the country. It featured many future NBA players, including Corliss Williamson and Jason Kidd.
UAPB's M4 marching band

Annual cultural events

Recreational opportunities in Pine Bluff range from water sports and some of the best bass fishing in the state on the Arkansas River, to golf or tennis. As host to 30-35 bass tournaments each year, Pine Bluff/Jefferson County Regional Park has earned Pine Bluff the nickname of "Bass Capital of the World". A hunting and fishing exhibit features dioramas of outdoor activities and collections of hunting, fishing and conservation memorabilia in the Governor Mike Huckabee Delta Rivers Nature Center at Regional Park and the Arkansas Entertainers Hall of Fame at the Pine Bluff Convention Center both of which will draw thousands to the area each year.

Pine Bluff retains a healthy, diverse cultural climate. The Pine Bluff Convention Center is one of the state's largest meeting facilities. The Arts and Science Center features theatrical performances and workshops for children and adults. Pine Bluff did also boast the only Band Museum in the country but it has closed. Other areas of interest include downtown murals depicting the history of Pine Bluff, the Pine Bluff/Jefferson County Historical Museum, Arkansas Entertainers Hall of Fame and the Arkansas Railroad Museum.

Arts and culture

As of October 2015; crime has decreased in the Pine Bluff to the point where it is no longer in the top ten deadliest cities in the U.S. or even Arkansas. The rate decrease began in 2014 [62]

In 2013, CNNMoney included Pine Bluff on a list of "7 fastest shrinking cities," saying almost a third of the metro area population lived below the poverty line and the city's crime rate was second only to Detroit.[61]

In 2009, Pine Bluff was ranked by Forbes list of America's ten most impoverished cities.[60]

Various publications have ranked Pine Bluff MSA as one of the most dangerous cities in America.[58] In 2013 it was rated second in overall crime per capita.[59] In 2009, Pine Bluff was ranked by Forbes list of America's ten most impoverished cities.[60]


As the county seat of Jefferson County, Pine Bluff also hosts all functions of county government at the Jefferson County Courthouse in downtown Pine Bluff.

The city also has ten commissions for citizens to serve upon, with approval required by both the mayor and city council. They are: Advertising and Promotion, Aviation, Civic Auditorium Complex, Civil Service, Historic District, Historical Railroad Preservation, Parks and Recreation, Pine Bluff / Jefferson County Port Authority, Planning and Wastewater Utility. The city also has four boards and one commission that fills their own vacancies: Arkansas River Regional Intermodal Facilities Board, Arts and Science Center for Southeast Arkansas Board of Trustees, Cemetery Committee, Library Board and Taylor Field Operations Facilities Board.

The City of Pine Bluff is governed by the mayor–council government system, with the mayor, city attorney, city clerk and treasurer are all elected at large. The Pine Bluff City Council is the legislative body of the city. This group is constituted of eight members, with two members representing each of the city's four wards.[56] Each council member serves a four-year term, and elections are staggered every two years. Meetings of the city council are held in the Pine Bluff City Council Chambers on the first and third Monday of every month unless otherwise scheduled.[57]

Jefferson County Courthouse in downtown Pine Bluff


Major area employers include Jefferson Regional Medical Center, Simmons First National Corp., Tyson Foods, Evergreen Packaging, the Pine Bluff Arsenal and the Union Pacific Railroad. It is the large number of paper mills in the area that give Pine Bluff its, at times, distinctive odor, a feature known prominently among Arkansans.[55]

Agriculture is a mainstay in Pine Bluff. Jefferson County is located in the heart of a rich agricultural area in the Arkansas River Basin.[54] The leading products include cotton, soybeans, cattle, rice, poultry, timber and catfish. Principal industries in the area are engaged in processing cotton; production of cottonseed oil, paper and wood products; the manufacture of wire products; poultry processing; the manufacture of electric transformers; and metal fabrication.


The median income for a household in the city was $27,247, and the median income for a family was $34,362. Males had a median income of $30,766 versus $21,009 for females. The per capita income for the city was $14,637. About 20.6% of families and 25.5% of the population were below the poverty line, including 37.0% of those under age 18 and 18.2% of those age 65 or over.

In the city the population was spread out with 27.4% under the age of 18, 12.2% from 18 to 24, 26.9% from 25 to 44, 19.7% from 45 to 64, and 13.7% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 33 years. For every 100 females there were 89.7 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 84.9 males.

There were 19,956 households out of which 32.9% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 38.7% were married couples living together, 23.8% had a female householder with no husband present, and 33.1% were non-families. There are 843 unmarried partner households: 734 heterosexual, 34 same-sex male, and 75 same-sex female. 29.2% of all households were made up of individuals and 11.8% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.57 and the average family size was 3.20.

As of the census[53] of 2000, there were 55,085 people, 19,956 households, and 13,350 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,207.6 people per square mile (466.3/km²). There were 22,484 housing units at an average density of 492.9 per square mile (190.3/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 75.6% Black or African American, 22% White, 0.17% Native American, 0.73% Asian, 0.04% Pacific Islander, 0.19% from other races, and 0.72% from two or more races. 0.82% of the population were Latino of any race.


Climate data for Pine Bluff
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Average high °F (°C) 51
Average low °F (°C) 30
Average precipitation inches (mm) 3.8
Source: [49]

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 46.8 square miles (121 km2), of which 45.6 square miles (118 km2) is land and 1.2 square miles (3.1 km2) (2.65%) is water.


Pine Bluff is the largest city in a three-county MSA as defined by the U.S. Census Bureau including Jefferson, Cleveland, and Lincoln counties. The Pine Bluff MSA population in 2000 was 107,341 people. The Pine Bluff MSA population in 2007 dropped to 101,484. Pine Bluff was the fastest-declining Arkansas MSA from 2000-2007. The Pine Bluff area is also a component of the Little Rock-North Little Rock-Pine Bluff Combined Statistical Area which had a population of 902,443 people in the 2014 U.S. census estimate.

Metropolitan statistical area

A series of levees and dams surrounds the area to provide for flood control and protect from channel shift. One of the world's longest individual levees at 380 miles runs from Pine Bluff to Venice, Louisiana.[47][48]

Pine Bluff is on the Arkansas River; the community was named for a bluff along that river. Both Lake Pine Bluff and Lake Langhofer are situated within the city limits, as these are bodies of water which are remnants of the historical Arkansas River channel. (The former is a man-made expansion of a natural oxbow; the latter was created by diking the old channel after a man-made diversion.) Consequently, the Mississippi Alluvial Plain (or the Arkansas Delta) runs well into the city with Bayou Bartholomew picking up the western border as a line of demarcation between the Delta and the Arkansas Timberlands.

Bayou Bartholomew


On November 6, 2012, Debe Hollingsworth was elected to be the next mayor of Pine Bluff, winning 49% of the vote. Mayor-elect Hollingsworth assumed office January 2, 2013.[45] She has said her administration plans to lead using a five-point plan; combating crime in the city, economic development and job creation, city government reform, improving education, and enhancing the image of Pine Bluff.[46]

In 2000, construction was completed on the 43,000-square-foot (4,000 m2) Donald W. Reynolds Community Services Center.[41] Carl Redus became the first African American mayor in the city's history in 2005.[42] The University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff recently opened a $3 million business incubator in downtown Pine Bluff.[43] Also, a new $2 million farmers market pavilion was recently opened on Lake Pine Bluff in downtown Pine Bluff.[44]

The most important construction project of the 1990s was completion of a southern bypass, designated part of Interstate 530. In addition, a highway and bridge across Lock and Dam #4 were completed, providing another link between farm areas in northeastern Jefferson County and the transportation system radiating from Pine Bluff. Through a private matching grant, a multimillion-dollar Arts and Science Center for Southeast Arkansas was completed downtown in 1994. Pine Bluff Downtown Development began an ongoing historical mural project, which has attracted increased tourism.

Mural in downtown Pine Bluff

The 1980s and 1990s brought a number of significant construction projects. Benny Scallion Park was created, named for the alderman who brought a Japanese garden to the Pine Bluff Civic Center. Sadly, the city has not maintained the garden, but a small plaque remains. In the late 1980s, The Pines, the first large, enclosed shopping center, was constructed on the east side of the city. The mall attracted increased shopping traffic from southeast Arkansas.

Major construction projects during the 1960s and 1970s were Jefferson Hospital (now Jefferson Regional Medical Center), the dams of the McClellan-Kerr Navigation System on the Arkansas River (which was diverted further away from the city to create Lake Langhofer), a Federal Building, the Pine Bluff Convention Center complex including The Royal Arkansas Hotel & Suites, Pine Bluff Regional Park, two industrial parks and several large churches. One project that had a tremendous effect on trade patterns in the city was the construction of Jefferson Square, the community's first major shopping center.

The decade of the 1960s brought with it boycotts and demonstrations demanding an end to segregated public facilities.[36] Violence directed at such social protests resulted in the fire bombing of one church and the shootings of civil rights demonstrators.[37][38] Local leaders worked tirelessly, at times, enlisting the support of national figures such as Dick Gregory and Stokely Carmichael to help bring about change over the period.[39][40] Voter registration drives increasing black political participation, selective buying campaigns, student protests, and a desire among white local business leaders to avoid indelible negative media portrayals of the community eventually led to reforms in public accommodations.

The modern era (1960–present)

In December 1953, KATV television station, then based in Pine Bluff, transmitted Arkansas' first VHF broadcast (though the first UHF broadcast had occurred a few months prior).[34] In 1957, Richard Anderson announced the construction of a kraft paper mill north of the city. International Paper Co. shortly afterward bought a plant site five miles east of Pine Bluff. Residential developments followed for expected workers. The next year a young minister, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., addressed students at the commencement program for Arkansas AM&N College (now the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff).[35]

The Army broke ground for the Pine Bluff Arsenal December 2, 1941, on 15,000 acres (61 km2) bought north of the city. The arsenal and Grider Field changed Pine Bluff to a more diversified economy with a mixture of industry and agriculture. The addition of small companies to the industrial base helped the economy remain steady in the late 1940s. Defense spending in association with the Korean War was a stabilizing factor after 1950.

World War II brought profound changes to Pine Bluff and its agriculture, timber and railroad-oriented economy. The Army built Grider Field Airport which housed the Pine Bluff School of Aviation and furnished flight training for air cadets for the Army Air Corps. At one time 275 aircraft were being used to train 758 pilots. All totaled approximately 9,000 pilots had been trained by the time the school closed in October 1944.[33]

Desegregated Freedom Train line in 1947

World War II & economic diversification (1941-1960)

During the 1933 Mississippi River flood, Country Singer Johnny Cash evacuated to Pine Bluff.[32]

From 1936-1938, the WPA through the Federal Writers Project initiated an effort whose results distinguished Pine Bluff. Writers were sent throughout the south to capture oral histories of former slaves still alive at the time.[30] When the project was complete, Arkansas residents had contributed more oral slave histories (approximately 780) than any other state even though Arkansas' slave population was generally smaller than most southern states.[30] Further, African American citizens of Pine Bluff/Jefferson County contributed more oral interviews of Arkansas born slaves than any other city/county in the state.[31] Hence, the city is one of the nation's valuable storehouses of oral slave narrative material.

The state's highway construction program in the later 1920s and early 1930s, facilitating trade between Pine Bluff and other communities throughout southeast Arkansas was of importance to Jefferson County, too. After the inauguration of President Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1933, he launched many government programs to benefit local communities. Through the Works Progress Administration (WPA) and public works funding, Pine Bluff built new schools and a football stadium, and developed Oakland Park as its first major recreation facility. To encourage diversification in agriculture, the county built a stockyard in 1936 to serve as a sales outlet for farmers' livestock.

Two natural disasters had devastating effects on the area's economy. The first of these was the Great Flood of 1927, a 100-year flood. Due to levee breaks, most of northern and southeastern Jefferson County were flooded. The severe drought of 1930 caused failure of crops, adding to the problems of economic conditions of The Great Depression. Pine Bluff residents scrambled to survive. In 1930, two of the larger banks failed.

[29] The first radio station (WOK) broadcast in Arkansas occurred in Pine Bluff on February 18, 1922.[28] was completed in 1914, it was the longest continuous stretch of concrete road in the United States.Dollarway Road Meanwhile, when [27]

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