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A Place Apart

Ray Hanley

Published Date: April 1, 2011

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A Pictorial History of Hot Springs, Arkansas
190 pages
181 photographs
6 1/2" x 9 1/4"

About this book

Hot Springs National Park was recognized nationally in 2010 when the U.S. Mint unveiled the design of the first quarter of 56 in a series called the America the Beautiful Quarters Program. In 1903 a Chicago magazine, The 400, told its upscale readers about Hot Springs, Arkansas. The article’s author wrote, “I also perceive a Chicago–Hot Springs air line of macadamized highway, lined with meteoric automobiles ribboning off the 750 miles between the cities in a thousand or less minutes. The perspective is almost delirious.” Such exuberant words are testimony to what Hot Springs, “a place apart,” has been to the nation since the early European explorers found vapors rising from the thermal springs—47 of them from which a million gallons of 143-degree water flow each day.


A Place Apart offers readers a balanced history in words and historic photographs of a unique locale in the state of Arkansas. The hot springs of what the Native Americans called Washita were on the national map of Pres. Thomas Jefferson when the United States acquired what would become Arkansas in the Louisiana Purchase of 1804. Congress
created the Hot Springs Reservation in 1832—the first land that the federal government set aside for preservation—granting federal protection of the thermal waters, and renamed it Hot Springs National Park in 1921. This book provides a fascinating visual history of pioneers, wealthy barons, scoundrels, gamblers (including such frequent visitors as Al Capone and Lucky Luciano), colorful politicians, and the hundreds of thousands of people who came to the spa city in hopes of regaining their fleeting health. Also covered are such famous attractions as Oaklawn Park, a thoroughbred horse-racing track, and Bathhouse Row, with its eight turn-of-the-century historic buildings.

About the author

Ray Hanley has published extensively from his research of Arkansas history as told through postcards. Some of his books include “Wish You Were Here”: Arkansas Postcard Past, 1900–1925 and Main Street Arkansas (with Steven Hanley). He lives in Little Rock, Arkansas.


“Hanley provides a fine introduction to readers wanting a rapid but in-depth narrative of Hot Springs’ physical and political growth as it evolved into a national park, recreational resort, and one of Arkansas’s preeminent cities. The facts are treated conscientiously, though the book’s title proposes a mainly a pictorial account. Both text and photographs supply information and cultural history corroborating or dispelling prodigious myths about a city of notable and notorious characters.”

—Judy Byrd Brittenum, Arkansas Historical Quarterly, Spring 2012


“The reader of Ray Hanley’s new book on Hot Springs will find it both entertaining and informative. The author has carefully researched and selected items of interest in the spa’s political and social development which will refresh the memories of the older generation and arouse the imagination of the younger. Mr. Hanley is to be commended on the
accuracy of his research and his writing.”

—Orval Allbritton, Garland County Historical Society

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