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West Memphis is the largest city in Crittenden Countymarker, Arkansasmarker, United Statesmarker. The population was 27,666 at the 2000 census, with an estimated population of 28,181 in 2005, ranking it as the state's 12th largest city, behind Bentonville. It is considered part of the Memphismarker metropolitan area, and is located directly across the Mississippi River from Memphis.


The first known inhabitants of the West Memphis area was a tribe of Native Americans known as Mound Builders. However, the first European to come this far inland was Hernando Desoto and a group of his followers. Records indicate that the original site of West Memphis came from a Spanish land grant.

In a whole, Crittenden County was established by an act of legislation during 1825 while Arkansas was still a territory. The county was named after Robert Crittenden, the first secretary of the Arkansas Territory. In the first census of 1830, a total of 1,272 inhabitants were recorded. Among the first citizens in this area were two brothers, William and Robert Vance. They built a log cabin on 600 acres purchased by their father. At this time the only structures were their home and the railroad station, which were both built on stilts because of floodwaters.

In 1884, the sons of Robert and Hope Vance mapped out the town of West Memphis and upon the appointment of Robert Vance Jr. as postmaster in 1885; the town had a population of approximately 200. By 1888, three stores had been established on the river site: Winchester Brothers, Richard Brothers, and C.B. Givin.

The lumber industry played a large role in the founding of West Memphis. Zack Bragg came to this region around 1904. He established the Bragg Mill believing the best opportunity because the logging end of the lumber industry lay in the timber of Eastern Arkansas. Bragg used the Mississippi River and the new railroads as transportation for his logs.

Although the mill and its surroundings were known as Bragg they were later referred to as West Memphis because of the higher prices it would bring for lumber. Another man who realized the potential of the lumber industry was P.T Bolz of St. Louis. In 1914, he sent William Hundhausen to survey the area. This resulted in the Bolz Slack Barrel Cooperage Plant. Its location near the intersection of the Missouri Pacific Railroad and Rock Island allowed for easy transportation by rail or by river.

What was once the town of Hulbert also played a large part in the settlement of West Memphis. This small town was a railroad center, with a general store, motel, and boarding house. A Memphis attorney owned the town of Hulbert and its surrounding farmlands. In 1910, when the Rock Island Railroad stops were built, Hulbert was established as a permanent community.

West Memphis was incorporated in 1923. It was preceded by settlements at Hopefield, on the banks of the Mississippi River since before the Civic War until it was destroyed by flood in 1912, and Hulbert, founded in the late 1800s and annexed to West Memphis in 1955.


West Memphis is located at (35.150294, -90.178831) .

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 26.6 square miles (68.8 km²), of which, 26.5 square miles (68.6 km²) of it is land and 0.1 square miles (0.2 km²) of it (0.26%) is water.



Primarily because of its central location and transportation infrastructure, West Memphis has become a hub for distribution and assembly operations.

The city lies at the point where two of the nation's most heavily travelled interstate highways, Interstate 40 and Interstate 55, intersect with the Mississippi River (a major cargo waterway) and large rail-lines operated by BNSF and Union Pacific.


Broadway is the downtown district for the city of West Memphis. This downtown area has more than 84 stores and restraunts lining the street and is still growing. Broadway is the host of the city's "Blues on Broadway," hosting famous blues singers. City officials are still finding ways to renovate this area.

Distribution centers

Major operations include distribution centers for retailers such as Family Dollar Stores and manufacturers such as Ciba Chemicals.

Continuing nearly $40 million in expenditures in West Memphis since 1998, Ciba Specialty Chemicals began construction of a new $1.3 million, laboratory facility in December 2003, which was completed in June 2004.


West Memphis is one of only two cities in Arkansas (along with Hot Springsmarker) with a venue for parimutuel gambling, pre-dating the casino developments in nearby Tunica County, Mississippimarker by many years.

In the 1990s, Southland Greyhound Parkmarker, one of West Memphis's largest employers, saw its attendance and revenues decline drastically, with a corresponding economic impact on both the town and state. This was largely attributed to the rise of casino gambling in nearby Tunica, Mississippimarker. By 2002, Southland struggled to survive.

Following an estimated $40 million investment by the park's owner and the addition since 2006 of electronic games of skill and video poker machines, Southland has added more than 300 new employees, making it the third largest employer in West Memphis with 660 employees.


In a pattern typical of urban areas of the Southern United States, West Memphis tends to have crime levels considerably above the national average. For the year of 2006, the violent crime index was 1989.3 violent crimes committed per 100,000 residents. The national average was 553.5 crimes committed per 100,000 residents. The same applied to all forms of property crime in the city. For 2008, the total murder risk for the city was over two and a half times the United Statesmarker average, the same applied when compared to the Arkansasmarker state average. Other forms of crime were roughly the same with the exception of larceny which was slightly above the national average. While the crime within West Memphis is typically high, it is relatively average when compared with its far larger neighboring city Memphismarker, the same applies to other cities throughout the same region of the Southern United States.


As of the census of 2000, there were 27,666 people, 10,051 households, and 7,136 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,044.3 people per square mile (403.2/km²). There were 11,022 housing units at an average density of 416.1/sq mi (160.6/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 55.93% Black or African American, 42.16% White, 0.21% Native American, 0.53% Asian, 0.02% Pacific Islander, 0.51% from other races, and 0.64% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 1.01% of the population.

There were 10,051 households out of which 36.7% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 40.4% were married couples living together, 25.1% had a female householder with no husband present, and 29.0% were non-families. There were 553 unmarried partner households: 475 of both sexes, 52 same-sex male, and 26 same-sex female. 24.8% of all households were made up of individuals and 8.6% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.70 and the average family size was 3.23.

In the city the population was spread out with 31.5% under the age of 18, 9.8% from 18 to 24, 28.2% from 25 to 44, 20.1% from 45 to 64, and 10.5% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 31 years. For every 100 females there were 86.6 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 79.9 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $27,399, and the median income for a family was $32,465. Males had a median income of $29,977 versus $21,007 for females. The per capita income for the city was $13,679. About 23.7% of families and 28.3% of the population were below the poverty line, including 40.9% of those under age 18 and 22.3% of those age 65 or over.



Public schools

  • West Memphis High School, 10-12
  • West Junior High School, 7-9
  • Bragg Elementary School, K-6
  • Richland Elementary School, K-6
  • Faulk Elementary School, K-6
  • East Junior High School, 7-9
  • Jackson Elementary School, PK-6
  • Maddux Elementary School, K-6
  • Weaver Elementary School, K-6
  • Wedlock Elementary School, K-6
  • Wonder Elementary School, K-6
  • Wonder Junior High School, 7-9
  • Avondale Elementary School, PK-1
  • Wedlock Elementary School, K-6

Private schools

Notable residents


External links

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