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Pine Bluff is the largest city and county seat of Jefferson Countymarker, Arkansasmarker, United Statesmarker. It is also the principal city of the Pine Bluff Metropolitan Statistical Area and part of the Little Rockmarker-North Little Rockmarker-Pine Bluff, Arkansas Combined Statistical Area. According to 2006 Census Bureau estimates, the population of the city is 52,693, ranking it as the seventh most populous city in the state. According to the 2007 US Census Estimate, Pine Bluff now has a population of 50,667

The University of Arkansas at Pine Bluffmarker is located here. Pine Bluff is also the home of the Pine Bluff Arsenal, a major site for the demolition of chemical weapons.


Pine Bluff's Beginnings (1819-1861)

Pine Bluff was founded by Europeans on a high bank of the Arkansas Rivermarker heavily forested with tall pine trees. The high ground furnished settlers a safe haven from annual flooding.Joseph Bonne, who was half Frenchmarker and half Quapaw Indian, is said to have settled on this bluff in 1819.

After the Quapaws signed a treaty with the United States in 1824, relinquishing their title to all the lands which they claimed in Arkansasmarker, other settlers began to join Bonne on the bluff. In 1829 Thomas Phillips claimed a half section of land where Pine Bluff is located. Jefferson Countymarker was established by the Territorial Legislature, November 2, 1829 and began functioning as a county April 19, 1830.

At the August 13, 1832 county election, the pine bluff was chosen as the county seat. The Quorum Court voted to name the village "Pine Bluff Town" on October 16, 1832. 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 facilities aided in the growth of Pine Bluff during the 1840s and 1850s. More and better steamboats increased river traffic.

Civil War & Reconstruction (1861-1900)

Pine Bluff was prospering at the outbreak of the Civil War. Although it was a slaveholding area, a surprising number of citizens were opposed to secession. When Union forces occupied Little Rockmarker, a group of Pine Bluff citizens requested Major General Frederick Steele to send Union forces to occupy their town for protection. Union troops under Colonel Powell Clayton arrived September 17, 1863, and stayed until the war was over. Confederate General J.S. Marmaduke tried to expel the Union Army from Pine Bluff October 25, 1863, but was repulsed.

Because of the presence of Union forces, Pine Bluff attracted many refugees and freedmen after the Emancipation Proclamation; freed slaves flocked to the city. The American Missionary Society started schools to begin education of the blacks, who had been prohibited from learning to read and write by southern laws. By September 1872, Professor Joseph C. Corbin opened the Branch Normal School of the Arkansas Industrial University. Founded as Arkansas's first black public college, supported by taxes, today it is the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluffmarker.

As with many small and large towns in the South, Pine Bluff suffered lasting effects of defeat in the aftermath of the war. Recovery was slow at first, but with construction of railroads and the increased production of cotton as more plantations were reactivated, the economy began to recover. The first railroad reached Pine Bluff in December 1873. This same year Pine Bluff's first utility was formed when Pine Bluff Gas Company began furnishing manufactured gas from coke for lighting purposes.

As personal fortunes increased from the 1870s onward, community leaders constructed large Victorian-style homes west of Main Street. The town and private businesses installed the latest conveniences. The first telephone system was placed in service March 31, 1883. Wiley Jones, a former slave who achieved wealthy by his work, built the first mule-drawn, street-car line in October 1886. 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.

Early 1900s and the Great Depression (1900-1941)

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.

During a later flood, the main channel of the river moved away from the city and formed what is now Lake Langhofer. 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.

Two natural disasters had devastating effects on the area's economy. The first of these 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 failure of crops, adding to the problems of economic conditions of 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 of importance 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 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.

World War II & economic diversification (1941-1960)

World War II brought profound changes to Pine Bluff and its agriculture, timber and railroad-oriented economy. The Army built an airport. Grider Field housed the Pine Bluff School of Aviation to furnish flight training for air cadets for the Army Air Corps. Approximately 10,000 pilots had been trained by the time the school closed in October 1944.

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

In 1957, Richard Anderson announced the construction of a kraft paper mill north of the city. International Paper Co. shortly afterward bought a plant site five miles east of Pine Bluff. Residential developments followed for expected workers.

The modern era (1960-present)

Major construction projects during the 1960s and 1970s were Jefferson Hospital (now Jefferson Regional Medical Center), the dams of the McClellan-Kerr Navigation System on the Arkansas River, a Federal Building, the Pine Bluff Convention Center complex including The Royal Arkansas Hotel & Suites [15737], Pine Bluff Regional Park, two industrial parks and several large churches. One project that had a tremendous effect on trade patterns in the city was the construction of Jefferson Square, the community's first major shopping center.

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. 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.

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 multi-million dollar Arts and Science Center for Southeast Arkansas was completed downtown in 1994. Pine Bluff Downtown Development began an on-going historical mural project, which has attracted increased tourism.

In 2004, a new Walmartmarker Supercenter opened in southern Pine Bluff on a patch of former farmland. It generated related growth in that area of town. The University of Arkansas at Pine Bluffmarker recently opened a business incubator in downtown Pine Bluff. The city has a semi-professional basketball team, the Arkansas Rivercatz, who kicked off their inauguaral season in 2006. They play at the Pine Bluff Convention Centermarker.

A new farmers market was recently opened on Lake Saracen in downtown Pine Bluff.


Pine Bluff is on the Arkansas Rivermarker; the community was named for a bluff along the Arkansas River.

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 46.8 square miles (121.3 km²), of which, 45.6 square miles (118.1 km²) of it is land and 1.2 square miles (3.2 km²) of it (2.65%) is water.


As of the census of 2000, there were 55,085 people, 19,956 households, and 13,350 families residing in the city. In 2005 the population of Jefferson County was 81,700. The population density was 1,207.6 people per square mile (466.3/km²). There were 22,484 housing units at an average density of 492.9/sq mi (190.3/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 32.30% White, 65.85% Black or African American, 0.17% Native American, 0.73% Asian, 0.04% Pacific Islander, 0.19% from other races, and 0.72% from two or more races. 0.82% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.

There were 19,956 households out of which 32.9% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 38.7% were married couples living together, 23.8% had a female householder with no husband present, and 33.1% were non-families. There are 843 unmarried partner households: 734 heterosexual, 34 same-sex male, and 75 same-sex female. 29.2% of all households were made up of individuals and 11.8% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.57 and the average family size was 3.20.

In the city the population was spread out with 27.4% under the age of 18, 12.2% from 18 to 24, 26.9% from 25 to 44, 19.7% from 45 to 64, and 13.7% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 33 years. For every 100 females there were 89.7 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 84.9 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $27,247, and the median income for a family was $34,362. Males had a median income of $30,766 versus $21,009 for females. The per capita income for the city was $14,637. About 20.6% of families and 25.5% of the population were below the poverty line, including 37.0% of those under age 18 and 18.2% of those age 65 or over.

Metropolitan Statistical Area

Pine Bluff is the largest city in a three-county MSA as defined by the U.S. Census Bureau including Jeffersonmarker, Clevelandmarker, and Lincolnmarker 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 785,024 people in the 2000 U.S. census. The 2008 census estimate was 850,561.


Morgan Quitno ranked Pine Bluff as the Most Dangerous Metropolitan Area of 2008. Also the city of Pine Bluff was named in 2009 to Forbes list of top ten most improverished doubt a reason for the widespread crime.


Major Shopping Areas

  • The Pines mall - in the years after its opening in 1986 many of Jefferson Square's stores have closed. Quite a few of the stores were moved to the mall. Now the mall is poorly run and majority of the stores are going back to Jefferson Square.

  • The Jefferson Square - an open-air shopping center first opened in the early 1960s on Olive Street, making Olive one of the city's busiest streets. It has about 15-20 stores.

  • Chapel Shoppes

  • Walmart Shopping Area

Notable people

Culture and Education

Pine Bluff retains a healthy, diverse cultural climate. 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, downtown murals depicting the history of Pine Bluff, the Pine Bluff/Jefferson County Historical Museum 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 to golf or tennis. As host to 30-35 bass tournaments each year, Pine Bluff/Jefferson County Regional Park has earned Pine Bluff the nickname of "Bass Capital of the World". A hunting and fishing in Arkansas 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.

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 math, science, foreign language, communications, and fine and performing arts. Watson Chapel School District and Dollarway School District also serve the city as well as a number of private schools. The University of Arkansas at Pine Bluffmarker is the second oldest public educational institution in the state of Arkansas, and the oldest with a black heritage. The newly accredited Southeast Arkansas College features technical career programs as well as a 2-year college curriculum.

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 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 Hallmarker, Redfieldmarker and Altheimermarker.

Pine Bluff Area Colleges and Universities

Pine Bluff Public Area Schools

Pine Bluff Area Private Schools


Agriculture is a mainstay in Pine Bluff. Jefferson County is located in the heart of a rich agricultural area in the Arkansas River Basin. 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. It is the large number of paper mills in the area that gives Pine Bluff its distinctive odor, a feature known prominently among Arkansans.Major area employers include Jefferson Regional Medical Center, Simmons First National Corp., Tyson Foods, Evergreen Packaging, the Pine Bluff Arsenal and Union Pacific Railroad.



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 Rockmarker to southeast Pine Bluff. Interstates 30 and 40 can be accessed in approximately 40 minutes from any point in the city.U.S. Highways include 63, 65, 79, 270, and 425; Arkansas State Highways include 15, 81, 54, 190, and 365.


Located on the navigable Arkansas Rivermarker, 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 Little Rock National Airportmarker, Adams Field, some 40 minutes driving time from Pine Bluff via Interstate 530 and interstate connectors. This airport is served by American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, Southwest Airlinesmarker, Northwest Airlines, Continental Airlines, Frontier Airlines, United Airlines and US Airways.

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


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

Within the city, the city-owned Pine Bluff Transit operates six routes to various points including government, medical, educational and shopping centers. As an innovation, two of the buses have professional quality murals advertising the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff.


  1. 2008 Metropolitan Crime Rate Rankings, CQ Press.
  2. AirNav: KPBF - Grider Field Airport
  3. Pine Bluff Transit

External links

Government & civic groups


Community events

  • Pine Bluff Festival Association, producers of city festivals such as the 4th of July Celebration and The Enchanted Land of Lights & Legends, Arkansas's Largest Drive-thru Christmas Display.
  • Pine Bluff Film Festival, supporting restoration efforts at the city's Saenger Theater through exhibition of silent movies and other classic film works


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