Pine Bluff, Arkansas

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Pine Bluff
City of Pine Bluff
Pine Bluff AR - main street and courthouse.jpg
Pine Bluff AR city seal.png
"City of Progress"
Jefferson County Arkansas Incorporated and Unincorporated areas Pine Bluff Highlighted 0555310.svg
Location of Pine Bluff in Jefferson County, Arkansas.
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Pine Bluff
Location of Pine Bluff in the US
Coordinates: 34°12′41.7″N92°1′04.0″W / 34.211583°N 92.017778°W / 34.211583; -92.017778 Coordinates: 34°12′41.7″N92°1′04.0″W / 34.211583°N 92.017778°W / 34.211583; -92.017778
CountryFlag of the United States.svg  United States
State Flag of Arkansas.svg  Arkansas
County Jefferson
Township Vaugine
Incorporated January 8, 1839
(180 years ago)
  Type Mayor–Council
   Mayor Shirley Washington (D)
   Council Pine Bluff City Council
   City 45.97 sq mi (119.07 km2)
  Land43.77 sq mi (113.37 km2)
  Water2.20 sq mi (5.69 km2)
220 ft (67 m)
   City 49,083
(2017) [2]
  Density981.95/sq mi (379.14/km2)
Time zone UTC−6 (CST)
  Summer (DST) UTC−5 (CDT)
ZIP code(s)
71601, 71602, 71603
Area code(s) 870
FIPS code 05-55310
GNIS feature ID0078006
Major airport Clinton National (LIT)

Pine Bluff is the tenth-largest city in the state of Arkansas and the county seat of Jefferson County. [3] It is 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 [4] with 2017 estimates showing a decline to 42,984. [5]

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.

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.

Jefferson County, Arkansas County in the United States

Jefferson County, Arkansas is a county located in the U.S. state of Arkansas in the area known as the Arkansas Delta, that extends west of the Mississippi River. As of the 2010 census, the population was 77,435. Its county seat and largest city is Pine Bluff. Jefferson County is Arkansas's 21st county, formed on November 2, 1829, from portions of Arkansas and Pulaski counties, and named for Thomas Jefferson, third President of the United States. Jefferson County is included in the Pine Bluff, Arkansas Metropolitan Statistical Area. The county is bisected by the Arkansas River, which was critical to its development and long the chief transportation byway.


The city is situated in the Southeast section of the Arkansas Delta and straddles the Arkansas Timberlands region to its west. [6] Its topography is flat with wide expanses of farmland, consistent with other places in the Delta Lowlands. Pine Bluff has numerous creeks, streams, and bayous. (Bayou Bartholomew is the longest bayou in the world and is the second most-diverse stream in the United States). [7] Large bodies of water include Lake Pine Bluff, Lake Langhofer (Slack Water Harbor), and the Arkansas River.

Arkansas Delta

The Arkansas Delta is one of the six natural regions of the state of Arkansas. Willard B. Gatewood Jr., author of The Arkansas Delta: Land of Paradox, says that rich cotton lands of the Arkansas Delta make that area "The Deepest of the Deep South."

Arkansas Timberlands forested region

The Arkansas Timberlands is a region of the U.S. state of Arkansas generally encompassing the area south of the Ouachita Mountains, south of Central Arkansas and west of the Arkansas Delta. With several different definitions in use by various state agencies, the Arkansas Timberlands is essentially a region known for dense pine and cypress forests covering hilly terrain and lining numerous rivers. Modern settlement created a significant logging industry and subsequent clearance agriculture which provided the basis of the local economy until the discovery of petroleum. Local tourism is largely based on the popularity of deer hunting and bass fishing. Attractions there include Marks' Mills Battleground Historical Monument, Jenkins' Ferry Battleground Historical Monument, Overflow National Wildlife Refuge, Felsenthal National Wildlife Refuge, South Arkansas Arboretum, Arkansas Museum of Natural Resources, White Oak Lake State Park, Poison Springs Battleground State Park, Millwood State Park, and Pond Creek National Wildlife Refuge. The Arkansas Timberlands is the birthplace of former President of the United States Bill Clinton.

Bayou Bartholomew bayou in Arkansas and Louisiana, United States of America

Bayou Bartholomew is the longest bayou in the world meandering approximately 364 miles (586 km) between the U.S. states of Arkansas and Louisiana. It contains over 100 aquatic species making it the second most diverse stream in North America. Known for its excellent bream, catfish, and crappie fishing, portions of the bayou are considered some of the best kept secrets of Arkansas anglers. It starts northwest of the city of Pine Bluff, Arkansas, in the Hardin community, winds through parts of Jefferson, Lincoln, Desha, Drew, Chicot, and Ashley counties in Arkansas, and Morehouse Parish, Louisiana, and eventually dumps into the Ouachita River after passing by the northernmost tip of Ouachita Parish, near Sterlington, Louisiana. The bayou serves as the primary border separating the Arkansas Delta from the Arkansas Timberlands.


Pre-Columbian era to colonial era

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 as did European 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. [ citation needed ]

Arkansas River major tributary of the Mississippi River, United States

The Arkansas River is a major tributary of the Mississippi River. It generally flows to the east and southeast as it traverses the U.S. states of Colorado, Kansas, Oklahoma, and Arkansas. The river's source basin lies in the western United States in Colorado, specifically the Arkansas River Valley, where the headwaters derive from the snowpack in the Sawatch and Mosquito mountain ranges. It then flows east into the Midwest via Kansas, and finally into the South through Oklahoma and Arkansas.

Indigenous peoples Ethnic group descended from and identified with the original inhabitants of a given region

Indigenous peoples, also known as first peoples, aboriginal peoples or native peoples, are ethnic groups who are the original settlers of a given region, in contrast to groups that have settled, occupied or colonized the area more recently. Groups are usually described as indigenous when they maintain traditions or other aspects of an early culture that is associated with a given region. Not all indigenous peoples share this characteristic, as many have adopted substantial elements of a colonizing culture, such as dress, religion or language. Indigenous peoples may be settled in a given region (sedentary) or exhibit a nomadic lifestyle across a large territory, but they are generally historically associated with a specific territory on which they depend. Indigenous societies are found in every inhabited climate zone and continent of the world.

Quapaw ethnic group

The Quapaw people are a tribe of Native Americans that coalesced in the Midwest and Ohio Valley. The Dhegiha Siouan-speaking tribe historically migrated from the Ohio Valley area to the west side of the Mississippi River and resettled in what is now the state of Arkansas; their name for themselves refers to this migration and traveling downriver.

The city of Pine Bluff was founded on a high bank of the Arkansas River heavily forested with tall pine trees. [8] The high ground furnished settlers a safe haven from annual flooding. [8] Joseph Bonne, a Métis fur trader and trapper of mixed Quapaw and colonial French ancestry, settled on this bluff in 1819. [8]

Métis Indigenous ethnic group

The Métis are members of ethnic groups native to Canada and parts of the United States that trace their descent to both indigenous North Americans and European settlers. Originally the term applied to French-speaking mixed-race families, especially in the Red River area of what became Manitoba, Canada; in the late 19th century in Canada, those of mixed English descent were classified separately as Mixed Bloods.

Fur trade Worldwide industry dealing in the acquisition and sale of animal fur

The fur trade is a worldwide industry dealing in the acquisition and sale of animal fur. Since the establishment of a world fur market in the early modern period, furs of boreal, polar and cold temperate mammalian animals have been the most valued. Historically the trade stimulated the exploration and colonization of Siberia, northern North America, and the South Shetland and South Sandwich Islands.

The French are an ethnic group and nation who are identified with the country of France. This connection may be ethnic, legal, historical, or cultural.

1824–1860: Antebellum era

After the Quapaw 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 on November 2, 1829 and began functioning as a county April 19, 1830.

At the August 13, 1832 county election, the pine bluff settlement was chosen as the county seat. The Quorum Court voted to name the village "Pine Bluff Town" on October 16, 1832. [8] 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 aided in the growth of Pine Bluff during the 1840s and 1850s.

With its proximity to the Arkansas River, the small town served as a port for travel and shipping. Steamships provided the primary mode of transport, arriving from downriver ports such as New Orleans. From 1832–1838, Pine Bluff residents would see Native American migrants on the Trail of Tears waterway who were being forcibly removed by the US Army from the American Southeast to Indian Territory west of the Mississippi River. [9] From 1832–1858, Pine Bluff was also a station on the passage of Seminole and Black Seminoles, who were forcibly removed from Florida to the Territory. They included the legendary Black Seminole leader John Horse, who arrived in the city via the steamboat Swan in 1842. [10] [11] [12]

1861–1900: Civil War, Reconstruction and beyond

Pine Bluff was prospering by the outbreak of the Civil War; most of its wealth was based on the commodity crop of cotton. This was cultivated on large plantations by hundreds and thousands of enslaved Africans throughout the state, but especially in the Delta. The city had one of the largest slave populations in the state by 1860, [13] and Jefferson County, Arkansas was second in cotton production in the state. [14] When Union forces occupied Little Rock, a group of Pine Bluff residents asked commanding Major General Frederick Steele to send Union forces to occupy their town to protect them from bands of Confederate bushwhackers. [15] Union troops under Colonel Powell Clayton arrived September 17, 1863 and stayed until the war was over. [15]

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 freedmen (former slaves freed by the Emancipation Proclamation). [16] In the final year of the war, the 1st Regiment Kansas Volunteer Infantry (Colored) (composed primarily of escaped slaves from Arkansas and Missouri), [17] was the first African-American regiment in the civil war to go into combat. It was dispatched to guard Pine Bluff and was eventually mustered out there. [18]

Because of the Union forces, Pine Bluff attracted many refugees and freedmen after the Emancipation Proclamation was issued in early 1863. The Union forces set up a contraband camp there to house the runaway slaves and refugees behind Confederate lines. [19] After the war, freed slaves worked with the American Missionary Association to start schools for the education of blacks, who had been prohibited from learning to read and write by southern laws. Both adults and children eagerly started learning. 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.

Pine Bluff and the region suffered lasting effects from defeat, the aftermath of war, and the trauma of slavery and exploitation. 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.[ citation needed ] This same year Pine Bluff's first utility was formed when Pine Bluff Gas Company began furnishing manufactured gas from coke fuel for lighting purposes. The state's economy remained highly dependent on cotton and agriculture, which suffered a decline through the 19th century.

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. Most blacks joined the Republican Party, and several were elected in Pine Bluff to county offices and the state legislature for the first time in history. Several black-owned businesses were also opened, including banks, bars, barbershops, and other establishments. But in postwar violence in 1866, an altercation with whites ensued at a refugee camp, and 24 black men, women and children were found hanging from trees in one of the worst mass lynchings in U.S. history. [20]

The rate of lynchings of black males was high across the South during this period of social tensions and white resistance to Reconstruction. Armistad Johnson was lynched in 1889, [21] and John Kelly and Gulbert Harris in 1892 in front of the Jefferson County Courthouse, after a mob of hundreds rapidly escalated to thousands of whites vehemently demanding execution, despite Kelly's pleas of innocence and lack of trial. The angry mob eventually forced over his custody from an Officer adamantly attempting to deliver the suspect to the jail house, then the crowd watched enthusiastically as he was hung and riddled with bullets. [22] That same year the state adopted a poll tax amendment that disenfranchised many African-American and poor white voters. The Election Law of 1891 had already made voting more difficult and also caused voter rolls to decrease. With the Democratic Party consolidating its power in what became a one-party state, [23] the atmosphere was grim toward the end of the 19th century for many African Americans. Democrats imposed legal segregation and other Jim Crow laws.

Bishop Henry McNeal Turner's "Back to Africa" movement attracted numbers of local African-American residents who purchased tickets and/or sought information on emigration (Arkansas had 650 emigrants depart to the colony of Liberia in West Africa; more than from any other state in the United States. The majority of these emigrants came from the black-majority Jefferson, St. Francis, Pulaski, Pope, and Conway counties. [24] [25]

According to historian James Leslie, Pine Bluff entered its "Golden Era" in the 1880s. [26] Cotton production and river commerce helped the city draw industries, public institutions and residents 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. [27] 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.

1900–1941: 1900 through the Great Depression

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. [ citation needed ]

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). [ citation needed ] 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. [ citation needed ]

African Americans in Pine Bluff were damaged by the state's disfranchisement in 1891–1892 and exclusion from the political system. But they continued to work for their rights; they joined activists in Little Rock and Hot Springs in a sustained boycott of streetcars, protesting passage in 1903 of the Segregated Streetcar Act, part of a series of Jim Crow laws passed by the white-dominated legislature. They did not achieve change then. [28]

Development in the city's business district grew rapidly. The Masonic Lodge, built by and for the African-American chapter in the city, was the tallest building in Pine Bluff when completed in 1904. [29] The Hotel Pines, constructed in 1912, had an intricate marble interior and classical design, and was considered one of Arkansas' showcase hotels. [30] The 1,500-seat Saenger Theater, built in 1924, was one of the largest such facilities in the state; it operated the state's largest pipe organ. [31] When Dollarway Road was completed in 1914, it was the longest continuous stretch of concrete road in the United States. [32] The first radio station (WOK) broadcast in Arkansas occurred in Pine Bluff on February 18, 1922. [33]

Two natural disasters had devastating effects on the area's economy. The first 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 another failure of crops, adding to the problems of economic conditions during the Great Depression. Pine Bluff residents scrambled to survive. In 1930, two of the larger banks failed.

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 critical 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.[ citation needed ]

From 1936–1938, the WPA through the Federal Writers Project initiated a project to collect and publish oral histories of former slaves. Writers were sent throughout the South to interview former slaves, most of whom had been children before the Civil War. [34] When the project was complete, Arkansas residents had contributed more oral slave histories (approximately 780) than any other state, although Arkansas' slave population was less than those of neighboring Deep South states. [34] African-American residents of Pine Bluff/Jefferson County contributed more oral interviews of Arkansas-born slaves than any other city/county in the state. [35] The city served to compile a valuable storehouse of oral slave narrative material.

During the 1933 Mississippi River flood, country singer Johnny Cash evacuated to Pine Bluff. [36]

1941–1960: World War II and economic diversification

Desegregated Freedom Train line in 1947 Desegregated Freedom Train Line in Pine Bluff Arkansas.png
Desegregated Freedom Train line in 1947

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. Approximately 9,000 pilots had been trained by the time the school closed in October 1944. [37]

The Army broke ground for the Pine Bluff Arsenal on 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. [ citation needed ] Defense spending in association with the Korean War was a stabilizing factor after 1950.

In December 1953, KATV television station, then based in Pine Bluff, transmitted Arkansas' first VHF broadcast (the first UHF broadcast had occurred a few months prior).[ citation needed ] In 1957, Richard Anderson announced the construction of a kraft paper mill north of the city.[ citation needed ] International Paper Co. shortly afterward bought a plant site five miles east of Pine Bluff. Residential developments followed for expected workers. The next year 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). [38]

1960–present: The modern era

The decade of the 1960s brought heightened activism in the civil rights movement: through boycotts and demonstrations, African Americans demanded an end to segregated public facilities and jobs. [39] Some whites responded with violence, attacking demonstrators, and bombing a black church in Pine Bluff in 1963. [40] Some civil rights demonstrators were shot. [41] 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. [42] [43] Voter registration drives that enabled increased black political participation, selective buying campaigns, student protests, and a desire among white local business leaders to avoid damaging negative media portrayals in the national media led to reforms in public accommodations.

During the 1960s and 1970s, major construction projects in the region included private and public sponsors: Jefferson Hospital (now Jefferson Regional Medical Center), the dams of the McClellan-Kerr Navigation System on the Arkansas River (which was diverted 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.

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. [ citation needed ] 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. [ citation needed ]

Mural in downtown Pine Bluff Main street, pine bluff, arkansas 002.jpg
Mural in downtown Pine Bluff

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. [44]

In 2000, construction was completed on the 43,000-square-foot (4,000 m2) Donald W. Reynolds Community Services Center. [45] Carl Redus became the first African American mayor in the city's history in 2005. [46] The University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff recently opened a $3 million business incubator in downtown Pine Bluff. [47] Also, a new $2 million farmers market pavilion was opened in 2010 on Lake Pine Bluff in downtown Pine Bluff. [48]

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. [49] 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. [50]


Bayou Bartholomew Bayou Bartholomew near Pine Bluff, AR.jpg
Bayou Bartholomew

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 Arkansas Delta and the Arkansas Timberlands.

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. [51]

Metropolitan statistical area

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.


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.

Climate data for Pine Bluff
Average high °F (°C)51
Average low °F (°C)30
Average precipitation inches (mm)3.8
Source: [52]


Historical population
1850 460
1860 1,396203.5%
1870 2,08149.1%
1880 3,20353.9%
1890 9,952210.7%
1900 11,49615.5%
1910 15,10031.4%
1920 19,30027.8%
1930 20,8007.8%
1940 21,3002.4%
1950 37,20074.6%
1960 44,00018.3%
1970 57,40030.5%
1980 56,600−1.4%
1990 57,1000.9%
2000 55,085−3.5%
2010 49,083−10.9%
Est. 201742,984 [2] −12.4%
sources: [53] [54]

As of the census [55] of 2010, there were 49,083 people, 18,071 households, and 11,594 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,048.8 people per square mile (404.6/km²). There were 20,923 housing units at an average density of 447.1 per square mile (172.5/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 75.6% Black or African American, 21.8% White, 0.2% Native American, 0.63% Asian, 0.01% Pacific Islander, 0.68% from other races, and 1.1% from two or more races. 1.5% of the population were Latino of any race.

There were 18,071 households out of which 28.8% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 31.3% were married couples living together, 27.7% had a female householder with no husband present, and 35.8% were non-families. 31.3% of all households were made up of individuals and 10.6% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.49 and the average family size was 3.14.

In the city, the population was spread out with 25.5% under the age of 18, 13.4% from 18 to 24, 24.3% from 25 to 44, 24.4% from 45 to 64, and 12.4% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 33.4 years. For every 100 females, there were 90.6 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 85.6 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $30,415, and the median income for a family was $39,993. Males had a median income of $38,333 versus $28,936 for females. The per capita income for the city was $17,334. About 24.3% of families and 30.6% of the population were below the poverty line, including 45.6% of those under age 18 and 13.7% of those age 65 or over.


Agriculture is a mainstay in Pine Bluff. Jefferson County is located in the heart of a rich agricultural area in the Arkansas River Basin. [56] 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.

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. [57]

In 2009, Pine Bluff was included on the Forbes list of America's 10 most impoverished cities. [58]


Jefferson County Courthouse in downtown Pine Bluff Jefferson County Courthouse.jpg
Jefferson County Courthouse in downtown Pine Bluff

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. [59] 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. [60]

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.

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.

Arts and culture

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.

Recreational opportunities in Pine Bluff range from water sports and some of the best bass fishing in the state on the Arkansas River [ citation needed ], to golf or tennis. As host to 30–35 bass tournaments each year [ citation needed ], 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.

Annual cultural events

UAPB's M4 marching band UAPB Band, 2013 Krewe of Harambee MLK Day Mardi Gras Parade 001.jpg
UAPB's M4 marching band


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. [61] It also houses the University Museum and Cultural Center dedicated to preserving the history of UAPB and the Arkansas Delta.

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

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, White Hall School District, and Dollarway School District, as well as a number of charter schools and the Ridgeway Christian School also serve the city.

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.

Colleges and universities

Public schools

Prior to integration, black students attended separate, segregated schools. These included Merrill High School, Townsend Park High School, Coleman High School, and Southeast High School.

Private schools

There are two private schools in Pine Bluff, Ridgway Christian School (K3–12th) and Maranatha Baptist Academy K3-12.

The city formerly hosted Catholic schools:

Public libraries

The Pine Bluff-Jefferson County Library System maintains its main library in the Civic Center in downtown. The city received its first library in 1913. [66] The library system also operates the Watson Chapel Dave Burdick Library in the Watson Chapel neighborhood. [67]



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.


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.


Daily commercial air freight and passenger services, along with scheduled commuter flights, are available at the Clinton National Airport (formerly Little Rock National Airport), Adams Field, (LIT), some 40 minutes driving time from Pine Bluff via Interstate 530 and interstate connectors.

Pine Bluff's municipal airport, Grider Field (PBF), is located four miles southeast of the city. [68] The airport serves as home base for corporate and general aviation aircraft. Charter, air ambulance and cargo airline services are also available.


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

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. [69] Two of the buses have professional-quality murals advertising the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff.


Union Station, listed on the NRHP Union Station Pine Bluff Arkansas.jpg
Union Station, listed on the NRHP

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

Correctional facilities

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. [70]

Since 1979 it has included the ADC state headquarters; [71] [72] [73] the administrative Annex East is on Harding Avenue south of city hall. [74] The Ester Unit (formerly the Diagnostic Unit), [75] the Pine Bluff Unit, and the Randall L. Williams Correctional Facility are in the "Pine Bluff Complex," [76] [77] as are the headquarters of the Arkansas Correctional School system. [77] [78]

The ADC Southeast Arkansas Community Corrections Center is in Pine Bluff. [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 (including Watson Chapel), as well as Hardin, Ladd, and White Hall. [80] 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. [81]

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. [82] 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 [83]


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). [84]

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. [85]

Notable people

Sister city

See also

Related Research Articles

Lincoln County, Arkansas County in the United States

Lincoln County is located between the Arkansas Timberlands and Arkansas Delta in the U.S. state of Arkansas. It is also within the Pine Bluff metro area, and on the outer edge of the Central Arkansas region. The county is named for Abraham Lincoln, the 16th President of the United States. Created as Arkansas's 65th county on March 28, 1871, Lincoln County has three incorporated cities, including Star City, the county seat and most populous city. The county contains 46 unincorporated communities and ghost towns, Cane Creek State Park at the confluence of Cane Creek and Bayou Bartholomew, and nine listings on the National Register of Historic Places to preserve the history and culture of the county.

Altheimer, Arkansas City in Arkansas, United States

Altheimer is a city in Plum Bayou Township, Jefferson County, Arkansas. It is situated on the Union Pacific Railway, 11 miles (18 km) northeast of Pine Bluff. As of the 2010 census it had a population of 984, down from 1,192 at the 2000 census. As of 2016 the estimated population was 869.

Redfield, Arkansas City in Arkansas, United States

Redfield is a small city in the Pine Bluff metropolitan area of northwestern Jefferson county in the U.S. state of Arkansas. The city is situated on the Union Pacific Railway and is approximately 24 miles (39 km) south of Little Rock, the state capital. As of the 2010 census, Redfield has a population of 1,297.

Sherrill, Arkansas Town in Arkansas, United States

Sherrill is a town in Plum Bayou Township, Jefferson County, Arkansas, United States. Its population was 84 at the 2010 U.S. census. It is included in the Pine Bluff, Arkansas Metropolitan Statistical Area.

Wabbaseka, Arkansas Town in Arkansas, United States

Wabbaseka is a town in Dunnington Township, Jefferson County, Arkansas, United States. Its population was 255 at the 2010 U.S. census. It is included in the Pine Bluff, Arkansas Metropolitan Statistical Area.

White Hall, Arkansas City in Arkansas, United States

White Hall is a city in Washington Township, Jefferson County, Arkansas, with a population of 5,526 in the 2010 census. It is included in the Pine Bluff Metropolitan Statistical Area and the greater Little Rock-North Little Rock-Pine Bluff Combined Statistical Area. The city is home to the Pine Bluff Arsenal.

Arkansas Department of Correction

The Arkansas Department of Correction (ADC) is a state agency that operates state prisons. The agency has its headquarters in the Pine Bluff Complex in Pine Bluff, Arkansas.

White Hall School District (WHSD) is a public school district in northwest Jefferson County, Arkansas, United States. The district employs approximately 400 faculty members and staff to provide educational programs for students ranging from kindergarten through twelve grade. It currently serves more than 3,000 students. All schools in the White Hall School District are accredited by AdvancED.

Dollarway School District is a school district headquartered in Pine Bluff, Arkansas, United States. With over 1,600 students and employing more than 300 educators and staff, the district currently has three active school campuses.

Geography of Arkansas

The geography of Arkansas varies widely. The state is covered by mountains, river valleys, forests, lakes, and bayous in addition to the cities of Arkansas. Hot Springs National Park features bubbling springs of hot water, formerly sought across the country for their healing properties. Crowley's Ridge is a geological anomaly rising above the surrounding lowlands of the Mississippi embayment.

Arkansas Highway 365 state highway in Arkansas, U.S.

Arkansas Highway 365 is a north–south state highway in Central Arkansas. The route of 69.31 miles (111.54 km) runs from US 65B/US 79B in Pine Bluff north through Little Rock to US 65B/AR 60 in Conway. The route is a redesignation of former U.S. Route 65, which has since been rerouted onto various Interstate highways through the area. Portions of Highway 365 in Jefferson County are former alignments of the Dollarway Road, which was the longest paved concrete road upon completion in 1913.

Dollarway Road historic road in Redfield, Arkansas

The Dollarway Road is a historic road in Redfield, Arkansas that was built in 1913. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1974.

Andree Layton Roaf was an Arkansas lawyer and jurist. She was the first African-American woman to serve on the Arkansas Supreme Court, and is the mother of former NFL offensive lineman Willie Roaf.

Tucker, Arkansas Unincorporated community in Arkansas, United States

Tucker is an Unincorporated community in Jefferson County, Arkansas. It has an elevation of 226 ft and is located 30 miles (48 km) southeast of Little Rock.

Sulphur Springs, Jefferson County, Arkansas Census-designated place in Arkansas, United States

Sulphur Springs, also known as White Sulphur Springs, is a census-designated place (CDP) in Spring Township, Jefferson County, Arkansas, United States. Its population was 1,101 as of the 2010 census.

Dollarway High School comprehensive public high school in Pine Bluff, Arkansas

Dollarway High School is a comprehensive public high school in Pine Bluff, Arkansas that serves grades 9 through 12. It is one of three public high schools in Pine Bluff and the only high school managed by the Dollarway School District. Within the state, the school is often referred to as Pine Bluff Dollarway.

Altheimer Unified School District No. 22, previously the Altheimer-Sherrill School District, was a school district headquartered in Altheimer, Arkansas. It served Altheimer, Sherrill, Wabbaseka, and other portions of Jefferson County, including the unincorporated areas of Tucker, Plum Bayou, Pastoria, and Wright.

Altheimer-Sherrill High School was a junior and senior high school in Altheimer, Arkansas, operated by the Altheimer-Sherrill School District, and later the Altheimer Unified School District. At the time of its closing it served Altheimer, Sherrill, Wabbaseka, and other portions of Jefferson County, including the unincorporated areas of Tucker, Plum Bayou, Pastoria, and Wright.


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Further reading