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Forrest City, Arkansas
20160414 132253570 iOS.jpg
Motto(s): 
One Forrest City, moving forward, one step at a time
Location of Forrest City in St. Francis County, Arkansas.
Location of Forrest City in St. Francis County, Arkansas.
Country United States
State Arkansas
County St. Francis
Area
 • Total 20.31 sq mi (52.60 km2)
 • Land 20.25 sq mi (52.43 km2)
 • Water 0.07 sq mi (0.17 km2)
Elevation
253 ft (77 m)
Population
 (2020)
 • Total 13,015
 • Density 642.87/sq mi (248.22/km2)
Time zone UTC-6 (Central (CST))
 • Summer (DST) UTC-5 (CDT)
ZIP code
72335
FIPS code 05-24430
GNIS feature ID 0083152

Forrest City is a city in St. Francis County, Arkansas, United States, and the county seat. It was named for General Nathan Bedford Forrest, who used the location as a campsite for a construction crew completing a railroad between Memphis and Little Rock, shortly after the Civil War. The population was 15,371 at the 2010 census, an increase from 14,774 in 2000. The city refers to itself as the "Jewel of the Delta".

History

On October 13, 1827, St. Francis County, located in the east central part of Arkansas, was officially organized by the Arkansas Territorial Legislature in Little Rock. Confederate general Nathan Bedford Forrest became interested in the area around Crowley's Ridge during the Civil War. In 1866 General Forrest and C. C. McCreanor contracted to finish the Memphis & Little Rock Railroad from Madison located on the St. Francis River to DeValls Bluff on the west bank of the White River. The route traversed the challenging Crowley's Ridge and L'Anguille River bottoms. The first trains came through in 1868.

General Forrest later built a commissary on Front Street. Colonel V.B. Izard began the task of designing the town at the same time. Most residents were calling the area "Forrest's Town," later to be known as Forrest City, incorporated May 11, 1870. The county seat was initially located in the now defunct town of Franklin until 1840 when it was moved to Madison. In 1855 it was moved to Mount Vernon where the court house burned in 1856 destroying county records prompting a move back to Madison. The county seat was moved to a wooden structure in Forrest City in 1874, which burned shortly thereafter, again destroying county records.

In 1940, Forrest City was a stop for the Choctaw Rocket, a passenger train operated by the Chicago, Rock Island and Pacific Railroad. Service was discontinued in 1964.

Evidence that giant mastodons roamed the slope was revealed in 1949 when workmen excavating for sewer improvements found bones of the massive beasts within the city limits.

Forrest City High School held its first integrated prom in 1988. After school integration was ordered in the mid-1960s, Forrest City eliminated school-sponsored dances and social activities. For 23 years, social clubs and individual families had organized a racially segregated prom.

Geography

Forrest City is located at 35°0′36″N 90°47′19″W / 35.01000°N 90.78861°W / 35.01000; -90.78861 (35.010131, -90.788716). Technically Forrest City is in northeast Arkansas using standard navigational methods.. According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 16.3 square miles (42 km2), of which 16.2 square miles (42 km2) is land and 0.1 square miles (0.26 km2) (0.37%) is water.

Forrest City is located on Crowley's Ridge, a geological phenomenon that rises above the flat Mississippi Delta terrain that surrounds it. This north-south running highland is some three miles wide and 300 feet above sea level. Several species of trees not indigenous to Arkansas are found here, including beech, butternut, sugar maple, and cucumber trees.

Demographics

Historical population
Census Pop.
1880 903
1890 1,021 13.1%
1900 1,361 33.3%
1910 2,484 82.5%
1920 3,377 36.0%
1930 4,594 36.0%
1940 5,699 24.1%
1950 7,607 33.5%
1960 10,544 38.6%
1970 12,521 18.8%
1980 13,803 10.2%
1990 13,364 −3.2%
2000 14,774 10.6%
2010 15,371 4.0%
2020 13,015 −15.3%
U.S. Decennial Census

2020 census

Forrest City Racial Composition
Race Num. Perc.
White 3,046 23.4%
Black or African American 9,184 70.56%
Native American 42 0.32%
Asian 78 0.6%
Other/Mixed 219 1.68%
Hispanic or Latino 446 3.43%

As of the 2020 United States Census, there were 13,015 people, 4,358 households, and 2,655 families residing in the city.

Local landmarks

The Forrest City Chamber of Commerce is located in the 100-year-old Becker House. This house has served a variety of functions since being sold by the Becker family. It was an antique store and later a home furnishings boutique before being occupied by the Chamber.

Forrest City had five sites listed on the National Register of Historic Places including:

  • Campbell House
  • First United Methodist
  • Forrest City High School (aka, "Old Central")
  • Mann House
  • Stuart Springs

Education

Forrest City School District operates public schools, including Forrest City High School.

Circa 2014 KIPP Delta established the grade 5-8 KIPP Forrest City College Preparatory School in Forrest City, which occupied several temporary buildings and a portion of a Catholic church which had a lease agreement with KIPP. In 2018 KIPP Delta asked the State of Arkansas for permission to close KIPP Forest City and send students to the Helena-West Helena facility.

Notable people

  • Little Buddy Doyle, blues guitarist, singer and songwriter.
  • Lewis P. Featherstone, Labor Party U.S. Representative from Arkansas.
  • Al Green, singer and minister.
  • Willie Hale, Rhythm and Blues guitarist, singer and songwriter.
  • John W. Henry, principal owner of the Boston Red Sox.
  • Mark W. Izard, 3rd Governor of the Nebraska Territory; moved to Forrest City.
  • Jason Jones, professional football player.
  • Don Kessinger, born in Forrest City, professional baseball player and manager.
  • Albert King, blues artist who spent much of childhood and early professional career in Forrest City.
  • Henry Loeb, mayor of Memphis, Tennessee; moved to Forrest City.
  • Cara McCollum, 2013 Miss New Jersey.
  • Gilbert Morris, award-winning Christian author.
  • King Perry, jazz saxophonist, clarinetist, arranger, and bandleader.
  • Jimmy Rogers, football player.
  • Cal Slayton, comic book artist; grew up in Forrest City.
  • Vernon Sykes, member of the Ohio House of Representatives.
  • Dwight Tosh, Republican member of the Arkansas House of Representatives from Jonesboro; former Forrest City resident
  • Winston P. Wilson, U.S. Air Force Major General and Chief of the National Guard Bureau; moved to Forrest City.
  • Dennis Winston, NFL player.
  • G. Wood, one of four actors to appear in both the 1970 film M*A*S*H and the television series M*A*S*H.
  • Marshall Wright, Forrest City lawyer and Democratic member of the Arkansas House of Representatives for Monroe County and portions of St. Francis, Woodruff, and Lee counties, since 2011
  • Sara Menefee Harris, 2000 Miss Arkansas
  • Barrett Astin, former professional baseball player
  • Chris Hicky, music video director
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