Helena–West Helena, Arkansas

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Helena–West Helena, Arkansas
Helena-West Helena collage.png
Phillips County Arkansas Incorporated and Unincorporated areas Helena-West Helena Highlighted 0531190.svg
Location of Helena-West Helena in Phillips County, Arkansas.
Country United States
State Arkansas
County Phillips
Founded2006 (Helena established 1833)
Incorporated 2006
Government
   Mayor Kevin Smith
Area
[1]
  Total13.09 sq mi (33.91 km2)
  Land13.09 sq mi (33.91 km2)
  Water0.00 sq mi (0.00 km2)
Population
  Total12,282
  Estimate 
(2017) [2]
10,701
  Density817.31/sq mi (315.56/km2)
Time zone UTC-6 (CST)
  Summer (DST) UTC-5 (CDT)
FIPS code 05-31190
Website www.cityofhelenawesthelena.com

Helena–West Helena is the county seat of and the largest city within Phillips County, Arkansas, United States. [3] The current city was consolidated, effective January 1, 2006, from the two Arkansas cities of Helena and West Helena. Helena is sited on lowlands between the Mississippi River and the eastern side of Crowley's Ridge. West Helena is located on the western side of Crowley's Ridge, a geographic anomaly in the typically flat Arkansas Delta. The Helena Bridge, one of Arkansas' four Mississippi River bridges, carries U.S. Route 49 across to Mississippi. The combined population of the two cities was 15,012 at the 2000 census and at the 2010 census, the official population was 12,282. [4]

A county seat is an administrative center, seat of government, or capital city of a county or civil parish. The term is used in Canada, China, Romania, Taiwan and the United States. County towns have a similar function in the United Kingdom and Republic of Ireland, and historically in Jamaica.

Phillips County, Arkansas County in the United States

Phillips County is a county located in the eastern part of the U.S. state of Arkansas, in what is known as the Arkansas Delta along the Mississippi River. As of the 2010 census, the population was 21,757. The county seat is Helena-West Helena. Phillips County is Arkansas's seventh county, formed on May 1, 1820, and named for Sylvanus Phillips, the area's first-known white settler and representative to the first Territorial Legislature of the Arkansas Territory. This lowland area was developed for cotton plantations in the antebellum area and is still largely rural.

Arkansas State of the United States of America

Arkansas is a state in the southern region of the United States, home to over 3 million people as of 2018. Its name is of Siouan derivation from the language of the Osage denoting their related kin, the Quapaw Indians. The state's diverse geography ranges from the mountainous regions of the Ozark and the Ouachita Mountains, which make up the U.S. Interior Highlands, to the densely forested land in the south known as the Arkansas Timberlands, to the eastern lowlands along the Mississippi River and the Arkansas Delta.

Contents

The municipality traces its historical roots to the founding of the port town of Helena on the Mississippi River by European Americans in 1833. As the county seat, Helena was the center of a prosperous cotton plantation region in the antebellum years. Helena was occupied by the Union Army early in the American Civil War. The city was the site of the Battle of Helena fought in 1863. Confederate forces unsuccessfully tried to expel Union forces from Helena in order to help relieve pressure on the strategic river town of Vicksburg, Mississippi. Later in the year, Helena served as the launching point for the Union Army in the capture of Little Rock, the state capital.

Battle of Helena battle of the American Civil War

The Battle of Helena was a land battle of the American Civil War fought on July 4, 1863, at Helena, Arkansas. The battle was a Confederate attempt to relieve pressure on the besieged city of Vicksburg. The victory secured eastern Arkansas for the United States.

Vicksburg, Mississippi City in Mississippi, United States

Vicksburg is the only city in, and county seat of, Warren County, Mississippi, United States. It is located 234 miles (377 km) northwest of New Orleans at the confluence of the Mississippi and Yazoo rivers, and 40 miles (64 km) due west of Jackson, the state capital. It is located on the east bank of the Mississippi River across from the state of Louisiana.

Little Rock, Arkansas Capital of Arkansas

Little Rock is the capital and most populous city of the U.S. state of Arkansas. It is also the county seat of Pulaski County. It was incorporated on November 7, 1831, on the south bank of the Arkansas River close to the state's geographic center. The city derives its name from a rock formation along the river, named the "Little Rock" by the French explorer Jean-Baptiste Bénard de la Harpe in the 1720s. The capital of the Arkansas Territory was moved to Little Rock from Arkansas Post in 1821. The city's population was 198,541 in 2016 according to the United States Census Bureau. The six-county Little Rock-North Little Rock-Conway, AR Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) is ranked 78th in terms of population in the United States with 738,344 residents according to the 2017 estimate by the United States Census Bureau.

A thriving blues community developed here in the 1940s and 1950s as rural musicians relocated for city jobs. Mechanization had reduced the need for farm workers. The city continued to grow until the closing of the Mohawk Rubber Company, a subsidiary of Yokohama Rubber Company, in the 1970s. Unemployment surged shortly after. [5]

Blues is a music genre and musical form which was originated in the Deep South of the United States around the 1870s by African Americans from roots in African musical traditions, African-American work songs, spirituals, and the folk music of white Americans of European heritage. Blues incorporated spirituals, work songs, field hollers, shouts, chants, and rhymed simple narrative ballads. The blues form, ubiquitous in jazz, rhythm and blues and rock and roll, is characterized by the call-and-response pattern, the blues scale and specific chord progressions, of which the twelve-bar blues is the most common. Blue notes, usually thirds or fifths flattened in pitch, are also an essential part of the sound. Blues shuffles or walking bass reinforce the trance-like rhythm and form a repetitive effect known as the groove.

Yokohama Rubber Company company

The Yokohama Rubber Company, Limited is a tire company based in Tokyo, Japan. The company was founded and started Oct 13, 1917 in a joint venture between Yokohama Cable Manufacturing and B.F. Goodrich. In 1969 the company expanded to the United States as Yokohama Tire Corporation. The Aspec A300 was the driving force behind its tremendous rise. Branding, especially in Japan, will often use "ADVAN" instead of Yokohama. ADVAN wheels and tires have a strong presence in the aftermarket scene worldwide.

Among the attractions in Helena–West Helena are the Delta Cultural Center, the Pillow-Thompson House (owned and operated by the Phillips Community College of the University of Arkansas), and the Helena Confederate Cemetery, which holds the remains of seven Confederate Army generals. [6] The city holds an annual King Biscuit Blues Festival each October. It has been held under this name since 2010, when it was renamed at a 25th-anniversary performance by musician B.B. King.

Delta Cultural Center History museum in Helena, Arkansas

The Delta Cultural Center in downtown Helena, Arkansas, is a cultural center and museum of the Department of Arkansas Heritage. It is dedicated to preserving and interpreting the culture of the Arkansas Delta.

Jerome Bonaparte Pillow House

The Jerome Bonaparte Pillow House is a historic house at 718 Perry Street in Helena, Arkansas. Architect George Barber designed the house, and it was built by Jerome B. Pillow in 1896. The building was donated to the Phillips Community College of the University of Arkansas Foundation and was restored by that body as well as several members of the community who were successful in restoring the property to its original Queen Anne beauty. The Thompson-Pillow House was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1973 and was opened after restoration in 1997.

Phillips Community College of the University of Arkansas

Phillips Community College of the University of Arkansas (PCC) is a two-year institution of higher learning located in Helena-West Helena, Arkansas. The college enrolls 2,350 students and has been accredited by The Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools the since 1970. As of 2009, the college has three campuses: the Helena-West Helena Campus, the DeWitt Campus, and the Stuttgart Campus.

History

The view from the Battery C park over downtown Helena. Battery C was a station in the Battle of Helena. BatteryCView.jpg
The view from the Battery C park over downtown Helena. Battery C was a station in the Battle of Helena.
Barges traveling north on the Mississippi River pass the Helena river park MississippiRiverActivityfromHelena.jpg
Barges traveling north on the Mississippi River pass the Helena river park
The U.S. Route 49 Bridge that connects Helena, Arkansas with Lula, Mississippi Helenabridge.jpg
The U.S. Route 49 Bridge that connects Helena, Arkansas with Lula, Mississippi
The Pillow Thompson House in Helena. An example of Queen Anne-style architecture Thompsonpillowhouse.JPG
The Pillow Thompson House in Helena. An example of Queen Anne-style architecture
The Delta Cultural Center in downtown Helena Helenadeltaculturalcenter.JPG
The Delta Cultural Center in downtown Helena
The view from the Helena, Arkansas Confederate Cemetery of the area of the Battle of Helena HelenaConfederateCemetary.jpg
The view from the Helena, Arkansas Confederate Cemetery of the area of the Battle of Helena
The historical Confederate graveyard placard from the Battle of Helena ConfederateCemeteryHelena.jpg
The historical Confederate graveyard placard from the Battle of Helena

The city of Helena was founded by European Americans in 1833, as a port along the Mississippi River. Crowleys Ridge provided elevation and some protection against flooding, a rare feature along the right/west bank of the lower Mississippi River.

Mississippi River largest river system in North America

The Mississippi River is the second-longest river and chief river of the second-largest drainage system on the North American continent, second only to the Hudson Bay drainage system. Its source is Lake Itasca in northern Minnesota and it flows generally south for 2,320 miles (3,730 km) to the Mississippi River Delta in the Gulf of Mexico. With its many tributaries, the Mississippi's watershed drains all or parts of 32 U.S. states and two Canadian provinces between the Rocky and Appalachian mountains. The main stem is entirely within the United States; the total drainage basin is 1,151,000 sq mi (2,980,000 km2), of which only about one percent is in Canada. The Mississippi ranks as the fourth-longest and fifteenth-largest river by discharge in the world. The river either borders or passes through the states of Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa, Illinois, Missouri, Kentucky, Tennessee, Arkansas, Mississippi, and Louisiana.

During the Civil War, the Union Army occupied Helena prior to the Battle of Helena in 1863. In the early morning hours of July 4, 1863, Confederate forces attempted to retake Helena in order to help relieve pressure on the strategic river town of Vicksburg, Mississippi. Confederate forces in Vicksburg had already arranged to surrender to General U.S. Grant on the morning of July 4. Many of the former battle sites are still intact. Helena may benefit from developing and protecting these historic areas for destination tourism.

Prior to consolidation, Helena contained 6,323 people within 23.1 km². Neighboring West Helena had 8,689 people in 11.5 km². Merger proposals began as early as 2002, and a March 2005 vote among citizens of both cities approved the merger. The surrounding rural county is one of the poorest of Arkansas' 75 counties. Proponents of the consolidation said that combining the cities would strengthen their bargaining power for the surrounding region in competing for projects to improve the overall economy and standard of living. Among the combined city's council's first tasks was the hiring of a new police chief. They chose Vincent Bell.

Demographics

Based on U.S. Census reports for both cities prior to the merger, the 2000 population of the area comprising Helena–West Helena was 15,012. There were 5,516 households, and 3,765 families residing in the city. The racial makeup of the city was 31.85% White, 66.63% African American, 0.19% Native American, 0.47% Asian, 0.01% Pacific Islander, 0.27% from other races, and 0.58% from two or more races. Hispanics or Latinos of any race were 0.89% of the population.

The median income for a household in the city was $19,896, and the median income for a family was $23,274. Males had a median income of $25,087 versus $17,238 for females. The per capita income for the city was $12,131.

Helena

Historical population
CensusPop.
1850 614
1860 1,551152.6%
1870 2,24945.0%
1880 3,65262.4%
1890 5,18942.1%
1900 5,5527.0%
1910 8,77258.0%
1920 9,1123.9%
1930 8,316−8.7%
1940 8,5462.8%
1950 11,23631.5%
1960 11,5002.3%
1970 10,415−9.4%
1980 9,598−7.8%
1990 7,491−22.0%
2000 6,323−15.6%
2010 12,28294.2%
Est. 201710,701 [2] −12.9%
U.S. Decennial Census

As of the census [4] of 2000, there were 6,323 people, 2,312 households, and 1,542 families residing in the city of Helena. The population density was 710.7 people per square mile (274.3/km²). There were 2,710 housing units at an average density of 304.6/sq mi (117.6/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 30.59% White, 67.93% Black or African American, 0.13% Native American, 0.60% Asian, 0.17% from other races, and 0.59% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 0.73% of the population.

There were 2,312 households out of which 32.7% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 33.8% were married couples living together, 28.5% had a female householder with no husband present, and 33.3% were non-families. 30.0% of all households were made up of individuals and 13.4% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.62 and the average family size was 3.28.

In the city, the population was spread out with 32.5% under the age of 18, 10.0% from 18 to 24, 22.1% from 25 to 44, 20.0% from 45 to 64, and 15.5% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 32 years. For every 100 females there were 83.3 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 75.5 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $18,662, and the median income for a family was $21,534. Males had a median income of $27,203 versus $17,250 for females. The per capita income for the city was $13,028. About 38.4% of families and 41.4% of the population were below the poverty line, including 54.9% of those under age 18 and 24.1% of those age 65 or over.

West Helena

As of the census [4] of 2000, there were 8,689 people, 3,204 households, and 2,223 families residing in the city of West Helena. The population density was 1,956.6 people per square mile (755.6/km²). There were 3,518 housing units at an average density of 792.2/sq mi (305.9/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 32.77% White, 65.69% Black or African American, 0.23% Native American, 0.38% Asian, 0.02% Pacific Islander, 0.33% from other races, and 0.58% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 1.01% of the population.

There were 3,204 households out of which 36.0% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 36.8% were married couples living together, 29.2% had a female householder with no husband present, and 30.6% were non-families. 27.6% of all households were made up of individuals and 11.5% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.71 and the average family size was 3.32.

In the city, the population was spread out with 34.1% under the age of 18, 10.1% from 18 to 24, 23.9% from 25 to 44, 19.6% from 45 to 64, and 12.3% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 30 years. For every 100 females there were 80.7 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 71.5 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $21,130, and the median income for a family was $25,014. Males had a median income of $22,971 versus $17,225 for females. The per capita income for the city was $11,234. About 30.9% of families and 35.4% of the population were below the poverty line, including 49.5% of those under age 18 and 27.2% of those age 65 or over.

Economy

With a median income of $19,896 for a household, the city is one of the poorest in the nation. One potential advance for the combined city, as reported by the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette on July 12, 2006, [7] is an ethanol fuel refinery to be built by Las Vegas-based E-Fuels. Whether the consolidation had any bearing on the decision is not certain. If the project is developed, it is expected to bring several new jobs and a significant increase in traffic to the region's port on the Mississippi River.

In 2006, the city announced plans to reopen the regional landfill, from which Helena–West Helena could earn fees. [8]

Helena–West Helena's chief economic base continues to be agriculture, specifically cotton cultivation. Mechanization and large industrial farms have reduced the need for farm labor since the first half of the 20th century. Barge traffic at the city's port on the Mississippi River is another source of jobs and revenues, in addition to retail and tourism.

Arts and culture

Musical history

In the 1940s and 1950s, Helena attracted blacks from rural Arkansas and the Mississippi Delta, who came for the jobs. Some also worked full time as musicians. By then Helena was 70% black, and juke joints employed such blues pianist as Sunnyland Slim, Memphis Slim and Roosevelt Sykes. [9]

In November 1941, a white businessman put together the staff for the town's first radio station KFFA. A group of blues musicians were given a one-hour radio spot on the condition that they gain a sponsor. King Biscuit Flour agreed to do. The King Biscuit Entertainers were sponsored, as well as the show King Biscuit Time, featuring blues musicians.

The King Biscuit Blues Festival was organized in the late 20th century as an annual October event. It was renamed as the Arkansas Blues and Heritage Festival in 2005, and is one of the largest blues festivals in the world. The celebration is held in downtown Helena on Cherry Street in early October. [10] It was renamed in 2010 as the King Biscuit Blues Festival at a 25th anniversary performance of renowned musician B.B. King.

Education

Higher education

Public education

KIPP Delta College Prep School in Downtown Helena KIPPdcps.JPG
KIPP Delta College Prep School in Downtown Helena

The Helena–West Helena School District operates public schools.

KIPP: Delta Public Schools operates an independent, open enrollment, charter school district in Helena–West Helena that serves more than 500 students, at no cost to families, in grades K–12 from Helena–West Helena, Elaine, Marvell and Marianna.

Private education

Helena previously had a Catholic grade school for black children, St. Cyprian School; it closed in 1963. [12]

Notable people


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References

  1. "2017 U.S. Gazetteer Files". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved Aug 22, 2018.
  2. 1 2 "Population and Housing Unit Estimates" . Retrieved March 24, 2018.
  3. "Phillips County, Arkansas." National Association of Counties. retrieved May 10, 2017.
  4. 1 2 3 "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau . Retrieved 2008-01-31.
  5. "Delta Dreams." www.aetn.org. Retrieved May 10, 2017.
  6. "Confederate Cemetery." www.argenweb.net. Retrieved May 10, 2017.
  7. "Ethanol refiner sets sights on Delta". Delta Regional Authority. Archived from the original on 2006-10-13. Retrieved 2006-10-31.
  8. Palmer, Robert (1981). Deep Blues. Penguin Books Ltd. ISBN   0-14-006223-8.
  9. "King Biscuit Time Radio". Archived from the original on 2006-11-01. Retrieved 2006-11-06.
  10. Hargett, Malea (2012-05-12). "State's last black Catholic school to close". Arkansas Catholic . Retrieved 2017-07-31.
  11. Reichler, Joseph L., ed. (1979) [1969]. The Baseball Encyclopedia (4th ed.). New York: Macmillan Publishing. ISBN   0-02-578970-8.
  12. Woodward, Colin. "Eliza Ann Ross Miller." Arkansas Encyclopedia of History, 2017

Coordinates: 34°31′45″N90°35′24″W / 34.52917°N 90.59000°W / 34.52917; -90.59000