West Rock Community

Privacy Level: Open (White)
Date: About 1870 to 1959
Location: Little Rock, Pulaski, Arkansas, United Statesmap
Surnames/tags: Black_Heritage Arkansas
This page has been accessed 83 times.

West Rock was the name of an historical community of mostly African-American farming families in Pulaski County from the 1870s to 1950s. During the last half of the 19th century, Arkansas had a reputation for being slightly more tolerant than other southern states as well as offering farmers better opportunity to advance and someday own their own land. The many rivers and streams meant that farmers rarely had to purchase fertilizers for their crops, so farming paid a bit better in Arkansas than elsewhere, even under tenant farming and sharecropping systems. Like other farming communities such as Pyeatt Township, Worthen Township, Eagle and elsewhere, the West Rock Community became established in an area of fertile soil near the Arkansas River. An agricultural depression in the last half of the century made it difficult to make a living or survive by farming, not to mention the difficulties under the tenant farming and sharecropping system, so people began moving into industrial and domestic employment at the turn of the century. In the early 1900s, a planned suburb named Pulaski Heights was being developed on the western outskirts of Little Rock near West Rock. It was to be an affluent residential area for Little Rock's (white) middle class. In 1906, local postmaster and member of the Board of Trace, Winfield S. Holt, platted West Rock Addition in Pulaski Heights as a means to provide affordable, residential lots to the farming families of the West Rock Community, who would otherwise leave the area. In reality, the lots were unimproved, vacant lots that required buyers to clear the trees, dig wells and a septic pits, and provide any other improvements.

For real estate developers, West Rock Addition provided housing for keeping employees in the area -- employees of white households, the Country Club, stave companies, railroad yards, water works, and factories located in this area and near the Arkansas River.

West Rock occupied roughly 55 acres in the northeast part of Pulaski Heights after the addition was platted. By the 1950s, nearly 250 people lived in the area, 83% of whom were all related to each other by either blood or marriage. In the 1940s, the local housing agency and real estate developers began looking in earnest for ways to obtain the land from West Rock residents so it could be redeveloped for middle class (mostly white) homeowners and businesses. The area was red-lined (designated as "slum") in housing surveys and slated for removal. The last resident of West Rock was relocated in 1959.

Memories: 1
Enter a personal reminiscence or story.
This one, me, has no personal reminiscence of West Rock even though I would have been able to see it from where I grew up on top of the hill. It was completely wiped off the face of the map 2 years before I was born.

This page is for West Rock descendants, today's Hillcrest residents, and Little Rock.

posted 27 Oct 2021 by Frances Carner   [thank Frances]
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