On Saturday I drove down to Hot Springs for the opening reception for the 2009 Small Works on Paper - the traveling art exhibition that has one of my photos in it. I planned on getting into town early enough to be able to take a few pictures before the reception, and ended up only taking two shots. One of them was of this view of a fountain in front of the Fordyce Bathhouse.
The reception was held at the Fine Arts Center, which sits along Central Avenue. I wasn't sure exactly where it was, only having a vague idea of where it was located. I drove up and down the street a few times, gave up and then walked back and forth trying to find it. Still not seeing the building, I went inside the city Visitor's Center to ask directions. Turns out the Arts Center was almost literally right across the street from the Visitor's Center. That made me feel smart.
But I ended up leaving the reception a bit early, there were some more pictures I wanted to take. I love Hot Springs, it is an interesting city with some great old buildings. The land that is now Hot Springs National Park was set aside in 1832, making it technically the oldest national park in the country. The city that grew up around the springs was designed to accommodate those who thought the waters would heal them. The bathhouses then specialized in some bizarre treatments. For example, people suffering from syphilis could get a treatment where mercury was applied right to the, um, "infected" regions. The eight bathhouses in the Park were built between 1892 and 1923. By the 1980's, all but one of the bathhouses had closed down, since people realized that sitting in hot water (or have mercury applied to their privates) wasn't going to cure them. The bathhouses are being renovated, with one already opened up as a spa. Sorry to head off into this tangent, but I think the history of that place is fascinating.
Anyways, one spot along the Promenade in the National Park offers a good view of downtown. The view is actually right above the spot where one of the springs gurgles and tumbles out of the hillside. Although it was unseasonably warm that night (77 degrees), steam was rising up towards where I was taking pictures.
From there I went and walked along Bathhouse Row, feeling like a bit of a tourist. This is the Fordyce Bathhouse again:
And the same fountain which was in the first picture in this post:
One more shot of a fountain. The National Park headquarters is the building on the left. The spooky looking building in the background is the old Army and Navy Hospital.
It was a warm Saturday night and the sidewalk was busy with people and tourists. I quickly got this shot of the Ozark Bathhouse before I got in anyone else's way. The streetlights shining on the building gave it an odd yellow tint, so I converted this to black and white instead.
And finally I made one last stop, an overlook on a hill above the city. In this view, part of Bathhouse Row can be seen, along with the old Army and Navy Hospital. The Hot Springs Convention Center is the brightly lit building in the top right.
I didn't think to take pictures that could be put together for a panoramic shot at the time. I'll try that next time I'm down there. Here is one last shot, with a view looking down at Hot Springs: