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Conway, Arkansas
City of Conway
Part of Conway's Downtown
University of Central Arkansas Hendrix College
Hendrix Village Donaghey Hall
College of Business Southwestern Energy Offices
Clockwise from top: Toad Suck Square, Hendrix College, Donaghey Hall, SWN Offices, College of Business, Hendrix Village, University of Central Arkansas
Official seal of Conway, Arkansas
City of Colleges
Unto the Whole Person
Location of Faulkner County in the state of Arkansas
Location of Faulkner County in the state of Arkansas
Country  United States
State  Arkansas
County Faulkner
Township Cadron
MSA Little Rock-North Little Rock-Conway
CSA Little Rock-North Little Rock
Founded 1872
Incorporated October 16, 1875
 • Type Mayor-Council
 • City 118.07 km2 (45.59 sq mi)
 • Land 117.43 km2 (45.34 sq mi)
 • Water 0.64 km2 (0.25 sq mi)  0.54%
95 m (312 ft)
 (2015 Estimate)
 • City 64,980
 • Rank 7th in Arkansas
 • Density 553.35/km2 (1,433.2/sq mi)
 • Metro
731,612 (US: 76th)
 • CSA
904,469 (US: 60th)
Demonym(s) Conwegian
Time zone UTC-6 (CST)
 • Summer (DST) UTC-5 (CDT)
ZIP codes
Area code(s) 501
FIPS code 05-15190
GNIS feature ID 0076661
Major airport Clinton National Airport (LIT)
Website City of Conway

Conway is a city in the American state of Arkansas and the county seat of Faulkner County, located in the state's most populous Metropolitan Statistical Area, Central Arkansas. Although sometimes considered a suburb of Little Rock, Conway is unique in that the majority of its residents do not commute out of the city to work. The city also serves as a regional shopping, educational, work, healthcare, sports, and cultural hub for Faulkner County and surrounding areas. Conway's growth can be attributed to its jobs in technology and higher education with its largest employers being Acxiom, the University of Central Arkansas, Hewlett Packard, Hendrix College, Insight Enterprises, and many technology start up companies. Conway is home to three post-secondary educational institutions, earning it the nickname "The City of Colleges".

As of the 2015 Census Estimate, the city proper had a total population of 64,980, making Conway the seventh largest city in Arkansas. Central Arkansas, the Little Rock–North Little Rock–Conway, AR Metropolitan Statistical Area, is ranked 75th largest in the United States with 731,612 people in 2015. Conway is part of the larger Little Rock–North Little Rock, AR Combined Statistical Area, which in 2015 had a population of 904,469, and ranked the country's 60th largest CSA.


The city of Conway was founded by Asa P. Robinson, who came to the area shortly after the Civil War. Robinson was the chief engineer for the Little Rock-Fort Smith Railroad (now the Union Pacific). Part of his compensation was the deed to a tract of land, one square mile, located near the old settlement of Cadron. When the railroad came through, Robinson deeded a small tract of his land back to the railroad for a depot site. He laid off a town site around the depot and named it "Conway Station", in honor of a famous Arkansas family. Conway Station contained two small stores, two saloons, a depot, some temporary housing and a post office. Despite being founded as a railroad town, there currently exists no passenger service. The disappearance of passenger rail service in the region is attributed to the emphasis placed on the automobile.

In 1878, Father Joseph Strub, a priest in the Roman Catholic Holy Ghost Fathers, arrived in Arkansas. A native of Alsace-Lorraine, Strub was expelled from Prussia during the Kulturkampf in 1872. He moved to the United States, settling in Pittsburgh, where he founded Duquesne University in October 1878. Difficulties with Bishop John Tuigg led Strub to leave Pittsburgh in late October 1878 to travel to Conway. In 1879, Strub convinced the Little Rock and Fort Smith Railroad to deed 200,000 acres (810 km2) along the northern side of the Arkansas River to the Holy Ghost Fathers in order to found the St. Joseph Colony. This included land on which Father Strub founded and built St. Joseph Catholic Church of Conway. As part of the land deal, the railroad offered land at 20 cents per acre to every German immigrant. In order to attract Roman Catholic Germans to Conway and the surrounding areas, Father Strub wrote The Guiding Star for the St. Joseph Colony. In addition to extolling the qualities of Conway and the surrounding area, Father Strub provided information on how best to travel from Europe to Conway. By 1889, over 100 German families had settled in Conway, giving the town many of its distinctively German street and business names.

Conway was long the home of the late Arkansas Supreme Court Associate Justice James D. Johnson (1924– 2010), who ran unsuccessful races for governor in 1956 against then fellow Democrat Orval Eugene Faubus and in 1966 against the Republican Winthrop Rockefeller. Johnson, a leading segregation activist during the confrontation over forced integration at Little Rock Central High School, went on to switch affiliation to the Republican Party in the 1980s, after the death of his nemesis Rockefeller. Johnson also lost an important race in 1968 for the United States Senate against the incumbent James William Fulbright. His wife, the late Virginia Johnson (1928– 2007), ran for governor in 1968, while he was running for U.S. Senate.


Conway is located in southwestern Faulkner County at 35°05′14″N 92°27′12″W / 35.087336°N 92.453315°W / 35.087336; -92.453315. Interstate 40 passes through the north and east sides of the city, with access from Exits 124 through 129. Via I-40, Little Rock is 30 miles (48 km) to the south, and Russellville is 47 miles (76 km) to the west.

According to the United States Census Bureau, Conway has a total area of 45.6 square miles (118.1 km2), of which 45.3 square miles (117.4 km2) is land and 0.2 square miles (0.6 km2), or 0.54%, is water.


The climate in this area is characterized by hot, humid summers and generally mild to cool winters. According to the Köppen Climate Classification system, Conway has a humid subtropical climate, abbreviated "Cfa" on climate maps.

Weather chart for Conway
temperatures in °F
precipitation totals in inches
source: The Weather Channel


Conway has two designated historic districts: the Asa P. Robinson Historic District and the Hendrix Addition Historic District.

Since 2000, downtown Conway has seen tens of millions of dollars in public and private investment. The revitalization has brought new retail, office, restaurant and residential construction to the historic downtown.

EM Downtown shot
Downtown Conway at the intersection of Oak and Chestnut


Historical population
Census Pop.
1880 1,028
1890 1,207 17.4%
1900 2,003 65.9%
1910 2,794 39.5%
1920 4,564 63.4%
1930 5,534 21.3%
1940 5,782 4.5%
1950 8,610 48.9%
1960 9,791 13.7%
1970 15,510 58.4%
1980 20,375 31.4%
1990 26,481 30.0%
2000 43,167 63.0%
2010 58,908 36.5%
2015 (est.) 64,980 10.3%
U.S. Decennial Census
2015 Estimate
Racial composition 2010 2000 1990 1980 1970
Non-Hispanic White 77.4% 84.1% 90.5% 90.9% 92.0%
Black or African American 15.6% 12.0% 8.5% 8.3% 8.0%
Native Hawaiian and
other Pacific Islander
0.05% 0.03% 0.02%
American Indian and Alaskan Native 0.44% 0.36% 0.34%
Hispanic or Latino 5.09% 2.26% 0.43% 0.5%
Asian 1.9% 1.24% 0.46%
Other race or multiracial 4.6% 2.2% 0.12% 0.17%

As of the census of 2010, there were 58,908 people, 23,205 households, and 13,969 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,299.2 people per square mile (501.6/km²). There were 24,402 housing units at an average density of 538.2 per square mile (207.8/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 77.4% White, 15.6% Black or African American, 0.4% Native American, 1.9% Asian, 0.1% Pacific Islander, 2.4% from other races, and 2.2% from two or more races. 5.1% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.

There were 23,205 households out of which 33.1% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 43.2% were married couples living together, 12.8% had a female householder with no husband present, and 39.8% were non-families. 27.0% of all households were made up of individuals and 7.0% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.45 and the average family size was 3.01.

In the city, the population was spread out with 22.7% under the age of 18, 22.9% from 18 to 24, 27.2% from 25 to 44, 18.5% from 45 to 64, and 8.7% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 27.3 years. There were 51.7% females and 48.3% males. For ages under 18, there were 49.2% females and 50.8% males.

The median income for a household in the city was $42,640, and the median income for a family was $63,860. The per capita income for the city was $18,509. About 9.3% of families and 16.3% of the population were below the poverty line, including 15.0% of those under age 18 and 10.8% of those age 65 or over.

47.6% of Conway's population describes themselves as religious, slightly below the national average of 48.8%. 44.5% of people in Conway who describe themselves as having a religion are Baptist (21.7% of the city's total population). 9.2% of people holding a religion are Catholic (4.5% of the city's total population). The proportions of Methodists and Pentecostals are higher than the national average.

Cultural activities

Conway AR - downtown
Part of Conway's historic downtown

The Conway Symphony Orchestra performs many times throughout the year, and the Conway Community Arts Association has been presenting theatre and other art opportunities to the community for over 40 years. The Arkansas Shakespeare Theatre, based in Conway, is the state's only professional Shakespeare theater. It holds an annual summer festival in June.

There are also art, music and theater opportunities provided by Conway's three colleges. The University of Central Arkansas's Public Appearances program provides dance, music, and theater offerings each year.

The national award-winning community theatre, The Lantern Theatre, is located downtown and offers a wide variety of plays and musicals year round.

Conway Public Schools has theater and music programs, with large concert and marching bands that consistently receive high marks in regional competitions.

One of the city's largest annual events, Toad Suck Daze, has been held since 1982. The three-day community festival incorporates live music, food and craft vendors, and amusement rides during the first weekend of May. Proceeds from the festival fund college scholarships for local students.

Conway is a popular sport-fishing destination and is home to largest man-made Game and Fish commission lake in the United States. Lake Conway, home to largemouth bass, crappie, gar, catfish, bream, bowfin, etc. The Arkansas Crappie Masters state tournament is held here every year.

The city held its first ever EcoFest September 12, 2009, in Laurel Park. EcoFest included exhibits and events relating to "green" and sustainable initiatives, including a cardboard car derby and an alleycat bicycle ride. According to organizers led by Debbie Plopper, the event was a success. Mayor Tab Townsell said the event indicated to him that "interest in sustainability is flourishing in this community."

National recognition

Conway and the surrounding MSA has been recognized nationally for its quality of life and growing economy.

  • Named a Bicycle Friendly Community by the League of American Bicyclists (2011)
  • 7th Best Value for a City for 2011 – Kiplinger (2011)
  • 14th Best City for Young Professionals – Forbes (2011)
  • 6th "Geekiest" City in America – (2011)
  • 14th Cheapest City in the U.S. – Forbes (2011)
  • 25 Best Places to Retire – CNNMoney (2011)
  • 100 Leading Locations: Desirable Places for Doing Business – Area Development Online (2011)
  • 40 Strongest Metro Economies – Bloomberg BusinessWeek (2012)
  • 10 Cheapest Cities in the Country – Yahoo! Homes (2012)
  • Best Places for Business and Careers, Metro Areas – Forbes (2012)
  • 13 Highest Percentage of Job Growth in the United States, county – CNNMoney (2012)
  • 25 Best Places to Retire – CNNMoney (2012)

Sister cities

Conway has one official sister city agreement with the city of Quakenbrueck, Germany. In 1986, the first exchange of visitors occurred between the cities. Starting in 1992, Dr. Oudekerk, a professor from Hendrix College, has taken several groups to the sister city in Germany. Since then, the high schools of each city have exchanged students to experience the different cultures. The 25 year anniversary of the relationship was recently celebrated with a festival in Quakenbrueck with the theme of building bridges across the Atlantic.

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