We stayed for a week in the city of Little Rock, capitol of Arkansas. One of the main attractions here is the Clinton Presidential Library, an unusual rectangular shaped building projecting towards the shore of the Arkansas River. Clinton served two terms as governor in Little Rock, so he definitely has a big presence in this city.
Visiting this Presidential library was quite a bit different than our visit to the Truman Library in Independence. The Truman library is a more conservative building with smaller space, one floor and is of course older than the Clinton library. The Clinton library has more high tech exhibits and the building is very modern with three floors of viewing. The building also features lots of open space between the floors. Since I am afraid of heights, it made me feel a little uneasy walking around on the top floor that looks down on the floors below and outside. Above is a picture of the Clinton Presidential Park Bridge as seen from the museum.
The design for this building was inspired by the Long Room at Trinity College in Dublin, Ireland. In the picture below, you can see many blue boxes displayed in cabinets. The museum has 4,536 blue boxes containing presidential records from the Clinton White House. You can get a glimpse of the boxes in the pictures both above and below. On the righthand side of the picture above is also a Chihuly glass sculpture. Below is a picture of the first floor with Mark standing at the end of the room, probably waiting for me. There were lots of exhibits!
The museum has a replica of the cabinet room at the White House where one can sit at the long oval table. The cabinet room has been the center of presidential decision making since 1902 when it was added to the West Wing of the White House by Theodore Roosevelt.
I decided to sit in the chair of the Secretary of Health and Human Services since I worked in the field of human services (hee, hee).
There is also a replica of the Oval Office. I had to take the picture a little to the side, because there was a photographer in the middle of the room. You can take pictures in the room, but not a picture of someone sitting at the desk unless you pay to have your photo taken, sigh.
We found the library and museum to be really quite interesting. There was lots to read and see about Clinton’s time as president, as well as many exhibits about Bill and Hillary’s personal lives, both in and out of office. I enjoyed seeing the variety of gifts he received from other countries while president. I read that Clinton was the most traveled president as during eight years in office he visited 74 countries on six continents.
We took a break for lunch at Cafe 42 downstairs in the library. Mark and I are still getting used to the presidents being referred to by their numbers. It is a beautiful spot with big glass windows looking out on the bridge and river. Though the cafe had a sophisticated feel and a trendy menu, the prices were surprisingly reasonable, the food delicious and the service very attentive. This was one of the nicest places we have eaten on the trip.
We finished up our visit with an eye opening look at the Mandela exhibit. I am often reminded in my travels how little I know about the world. I appreciated the exhibit as I learned a lot more about Nelson Mandela and his life. Above is a replica of the 8 x 7 foot prison cell where Mandela was held for 18 of the 27 years he was a political prisoner. He was an amazing man for all the work he did to end apartheid In South Africa!
Across the street from the library is the Heifer Village main headquarters. Heifer is a charity organization that provides animals and financial support to people in poor countries so they can build businesses and a means of support for their families. Some of you might have received their booklet in the mail, asking for donations. Often the requests are donations that will pay for a certain animal; for example, a llama for $150, water buffalo for $250, or a goat for $120. Besides the large headquarters building there is a visitor center with exhibits on the work they do.
We most enjoyed seeing the Village’s large garden areas and greenhouses. Vegetables grown here are distributed to local organizations to help the needy. A variety of farm animals are kept here including alpacas (above), one of my favorite animals.
Little Rock has a very nice river walk that passes several bridges, parks and sculptures. I liked the origami bird sculpture seen above.
The Junction Bridge is a popular pedestrian and biking bridge that connects Little Rock with the city of North Little Rock.
Along the river front is an area dedicated to La Petite Roche or a “Little Rock.” Historically, there was not actually one little rock but an outcropping on the Arkansas River used as a navigation point during early exploration of what would become the state of Arkansas. Much of the rock had to be removed in 1872 to support the Junction Bridge and have an adequate channel for river traffic. This rock is part of the area dedicated to the spot and explorers that gave the city its name.
I thought these yellow street cars that tour around the downtown and travel across the bridge to North Little Rock were very cute. We hopped on board for a free ride and had the car to ourselves with a driver that pointed out interesting sights. One of the more interesting things he noted was that Bill and Hillary Clinton stay in a residence on top of the presidential library when they come to town.
I will close with pictures of two of Little Rock’s bridges at night taken across the Arkansas river on the North Little Rock side. The picture below is the Junction Bridge with the downtown Little Rock skyline.
Thanks for reading – next time I will be talking about a famous high school.