Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Big Rock and Little Rock

Now is the time of year when most landscape photographers go into a state of hibernation. The fall colors have faded away and are mostly now just laying all along the ground. I haven't managed to make it out into the woods for a few weeks now, and all of my picture taking have been around downtown Little Rock. After work yesterday, I met up again with Windy Richardson for some shots downtown.

We first decided to make a few stops at the Big Rock, which is a low hill along the Arkansas River in North Little Rock. The Big Rock was noticed by French explorer Jean-Baptiste Bénard de La Harpe in 1722, who called the hill “Le Rocher Français” or "French Rock" (or I guess Freedom Rock nowadays). Le Harpe is also the guy who called a nearby smaller outcrop along the Arkansas River "little rock," a name that stuck around. And here's an amusing story (and sorry this is becoming a history lesson), but when the French explorers were sailing up the Arkansas River, Native Americans told them of a massive green rock along the river. The explorers thought that it must be a massive jewel-encrusted rock (which makes them seem a bit gullible). They must have been dissapointed to make it to the Big Rock to find that the large green rock they had been dreaming about was just a bluff with trees on it. But that story is the basis for the name of Emerald Park, atop Big Rock in North Little Rock.

The hill, which has a 200-foot tall bluff along the river, eventually became known as Big Rock. Settlers moved into the area in the early 1800s, but there weren't many since the north side of the river is lower than the Little Rock side and flooded often. A quarry began operation in 1849, which cut out a huge chunk of the Big Rock. The area where the quarry worked is now part of Emerald Park. In 1870, an orchard and vineyard were in operation on Big Rock, and then in 1887 the Mountain Park Hotel opened as a summer resort. All of this land was taken over by the federal government in 1893, and Fort Roots would officially open in 1897.

Many of the century-old buildings still stand at Fort Roots, which is now boringly called the "North Little Rock Regional Office of the Central Arkansas Veterans Healthcare System." It's the home of the VA hospital, but it is also home to one of the best views of downtown Little Rock. It can be a bit tricky getting shots, since security guards will quickly kick you out if you're caught. Since it is now a hospital, no photography is allowed out of concern for patient privacy.

So we kinda snuck up there to get some shots, and luckily weren't busted by security. It is a beautiful spot to overlook the city, with dusk quickly and silently settling in.
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After that we drove into downtown Little Rock. I had an idea for a shot involving the Robinson Center Music Hall, but it didn't quite work out right. On the way back to the car, we walked by the Pulaski County Courthouse and decided to stop for a few shots. This is a view looking up at the courthouse and the Stephens Building. The streaks in the road are actually from a Little Rock police car, the driver studying us as he drove by to determine if we were up to no good. He must not have been sure or not, since he circled the block and drove by us one more time...
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5 comments:

jeremy said...

isn't that crap about not being able to shoot in places like that? i can't stand it......

Windy Richardson said...

LOL, I'm really amazed the only person that did seem to give us a second glance was that cop. The streets were empty that night!

margar said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Windy Richardson said...

Wait, wait...are you gonna post the spaceship Capitol picture??? Please?

Martha Anne Lucas said...

Ok so I have been trying to find a way to get on top of the Big Rock in Emerald park but the only way i can find is to go up to the VA hospital and they obviously wont let me in there. Do you know of any way that i can get up there. I want to take some pictures for my photo journaling class