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Jonesboro, Arkansas
City of Jonesboro
Clockwise from top: Craighead County Courthouse, a house in the West Washington Avenue Historic District, downtown Jonesboro, and the Dean B. Ellis Library at Arkansas State University
Clockwise from top: Craighead County Courthouse, a house in the West Washington Avenue Historic District, downtown Jonesboro, and the Dean B. Ellis Library at Arkansas State University
Official seal of Jonesboro, Arkansas
"People, Pride, Progress"
Location of Jonesboro in Craighead County, Arkansas.
Location of Jonesboro in Craighead County, Arkansas.
Jonesboro, Arkansas is located in Arkansas
Jonesboro, Arkansas
Jonesboro, Arkansas
Location in Arkansas
Jonesboro, Arkansas is located in the United States
Jonesboro, Arkansas
Jonesboro, Arkansas
Location in the United States
Country  United States
State  Arkansas
County Craighead
Incorporated February 19, 1859
 • City 80.73 sq mi (209.09 km2)
 • Land 80.18 sq mi (207.66 km2)
 • Water 0.55 sq mi (1.43 km2)
259 ft (79 m)
 • City 78,576
 • Density 980.02/sq mi (378.39/km2)
 • Metro
Time zone UTC−06:00 (CST)
 • Summer (DST) UTC−05:00 (CDT)
ZIP Codes
Area code(s) 870
FIPS code 05-35710
GNIS feature ID 0077389

Jonesboro is a city located on Crowley's Ridge in the northeastern corner of the U.S. State of Arkansas. Jonesboro is one of two county seats of Craighead County. According to the 2020 Census, the city had a population of 78,576 and is the fifth-largest city in Arkansas. In 2020, the Jonesboro metropolitan area had a population of 133,860 and a population of 179,932 in the Jonesboro-Paragould Combined Statistical Area.

Jonesboro is the home of Arkansas State University and the cultural and economic center of Northeast Arkansas.


The Jonesboro area was first inhabited for thousands of years by indigenous peoples. At the time of European encounter, historic tribes included the Osage, the Caddo, and the Quapaw. The name of the state of Arkansas comes from the Quapaw language. French and Spanish traders and trappers had relations with these groups.

After the United States acquired this territory in the Louisiana Purchase of 1803, American settlers eventually made their way to the area where Jonesboro is located. They began exploring, hunting, trapping, and trading with the local Indian tribes. A permanent settlement of Jonesboro was set up shortly after 1815.

In 1859, land was taken from nearby Greene, Mississippi, and Poinsett counties and was used to form Craighead County. Jonesboro was designated as the original county seat. As the population increased in the west of the county, Lake City was named as the second seat. In 1859 Jonesboro had 150 residents. It was named after State Senator William A. Jones in recognition of his support for the formation of Craighead County. Originally spelled Jonesborough, the city name was later shortened to its present-day spelling.

Jonesboro AR historic Bell House 303 Cherry St
The Bell House is one of twelve Jonesboro sites listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

During the late 19th century, the city tried to develop its court system and downtown infrastructure. Shortly after being named county seat, the highest point in Jonesboro was identified and a court house was planned for construction. This was delayed for several years as the locals did not want to ruin their deer hunting. The first court house was finally completed but was destroyed by a fire in 1869. A store across from this site was rented and used as a court house. It was destroyed in an 1876 fire. Another building was constructed on the same site, but it fell to a fire in 1878, a major one that destroyed most of downtown Jonesboro. Soon afterward, another court house was constructed, and it still stands.

The St. Louis Southwestern Railway, known as the Cotton Belt Railroad was constructed through Jonesboro, with its tracks passing just north of the center of the city. During the first train's journey, it became stuck and supplies had to be carried into town. It connected St. Louis to points in Arkansas and Texas. Other major railways began to construct tracks to and from Jonesboro, including the St. Louis–San Francisco Railway and Missouri Pacific Railroad. Some of the rail companies still own and use the tracks that run through Jonesboro.

The city set up the Jonesboro School District in 1899. In 1900, St. Bernard's Regional Medical Center was established by the Olivetan Benedictine Sisters. The Grand Leader Department Store, the first department store in the city, was opened in 1900. Woodland College and two schools within the Jonesboro School District were opened in 1904. Arkansas State College (now Arkansas State University) was established in 1909, a year in which the first horseless carriages were driven in the city. The two oldest churches of the city were started in the 1910s. First Baptist Church was founded in 1911, and First Methodist Church in 1916.

On September 10, 1931, Governor Harvey Parnell authorized the Arkansas National Guard to be deployed in Jonesboro to quell the Church War, a clash between the followers of Joe Jeffers and Dow H. Heard, the pastor of the First Baptist Church of Jonesboro. Jeffers' supporters also attacked the mayor and police chief, resulting in front page coverage of the incident in The New York Times.

During the 20th century, Jonesboro began to diversify its economy, with industrial businesses that allowed it to grow beyond the cotton culture. The university attracts educated residents.

In the 2007-2008 school year the Jonesboro Public School District elementary schools were reclassified as magnet schools.


Jonesboro is located at 35°49′41″N 90°41′39″W / 35.82806°N 90.69417°W / 35.82806; -90.69417 (35.828067, -90.694048) atop Crowley's Ridge in northeastern Arkansas.

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 80.5 square miles (208.4 km2), of which 79.9 square miles (206.9 km2) is land and 0.58 square miles (1.5 km2), or 0.72%, is water.


Jonesboro has a humid subtropical climate (Köppen climate classification Cfa).

Climate data for Jonesboro
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Average high °F (°C) 46
Average low °F (°C) 26
Average precipitation inches (mm) 3.29


Historical population
Census Pop.
1890 2,065
1900 4,508 118.3%
1910 7,123 58.0%
1920 9,384 31.7%
1930 10,326 10.0%
1940 11,729 13.6%
1950 16,310 39.1%
1960 21,418 31.3%
1970 27,050 26.3%
1980 31,530 16.6%
1990 46,534 47.6%
2000 55,515 19.3%
2010 67,263 21.2%
2020 78,576 16.8%
U.S. Decennial Census
Craighead Forest Park
A flock of Canada geese at Craighead Forest Park

It is the principal city of the Jonesboro, Arkansas Metropolitan Statistical Area.

2020 census

Jonesboro racial composition
Race Number Percentage
White (non-Hispanic) 49,502 63.0%
Black or African American (non-Hispanic) 17,756 22.6%
Native American 186 0.24%
Asian 1,627 2.07%
Pacific Islander 49 0.06%
Other/Mixed 3,740 4.76%
Hispanic or Latino 5,716 7.27%

As of the 2020 United States census, there were 78,576 people, 29,688 households, and 19,637 families residing in the city.


As of the census of 2013, there were 71,551 people, 26,111 households, and 16,637 families residing in the city. The population density was 697.1 people per square mile (269.1/km2). There were 28,321 housing units at an average density of 304.7 per square mile (117.6/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 74.7% White, 18.4% Black, 0.4% Native American, 1.5% Asian, 0.03% Pacific Islander, 1.0% from other races, and 2.0% from two or more races. 5.2% of the population were Hispanic.

There were 26,111 households, out of which 30.1% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 48.9% were married couples living together, 12.2% had a female householder with no husband present, and 35.4% were non-families. There are 878 unmarried partner households: 776 heterosexual, 50 same-sex male, and 52 same-sex female households. 27.5% of all households were made up of individuals, and 9.0% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.47 and the average family size was 2.93.

In the city, the population was spread out, with 22.9% under the age of 18, 16.6% from 18 to 24, 28.1% from 25 to 44, 20.5% from 45 to 64, and 11.8% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 32 years. For every 100 females, there were 92.1 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 88.8 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $32,196, and the median income for a family was $42,082. Males had a median income of $21,633 versus $31,633 for females. The per capita income for the city was $17,884. About 12.9% of families and 23.1% of the population were below the poverty line, including 22.4% of those under age 18 and 12.3% of those age 65 or over.


Air service

The region is served by the Jonesboro Municipal Airport. Scheduled commercial flights between Jonesboro and both St. Louis Lambert International Airport and Nashville International Airport are offered daily by Air Choice One.

Public transport

The city is served by the Jonesboro Economic Transit System (JETS). As of 2011, JETS operates three fixed routes, as well as para-transit service for disabled persons.

List of highways

  • I-555 (AR 1961).svg Interstate 555
  • US 49
  • US 63
  • Arkansas 1.svg Highway 1
  • Arkansas 1B.svg Highway 1B
  • Arkansas 18.svg Highway 18
  • Arkansas 18S.svg Highway 18S
  • Arkansas 91.svg Highway 91
  • Arkansas 141.svg Highway 141
  • Arkansas 226.svg Highway 226
  • Arkansas 351.svg Highway 351
  • Arkansas 463.svg Highway 463
  • Arkansas 877.svg Highway 877


Mall at Turtle Creek Entrance
Entrance into The Mall at Turtle Creek

The Mall at Turtle Creek, opened in 2006, is the largest mall in northeast Arkansas. It was the only enclosed mall opened in the United States that year On March 28, 2020, much of the mall was destroyed during an EF-3 tornado. Before the opening of the mall, Indian Mall was the primary shopping destination in northeast Arkansas. In 2012, Indian Mall, named for the former mascot of Arkansas State University, was demolished. The only store to remain in its original location was Sears.

In 2012, Kiplinger's Personal Finance ranked Jonesboro ninth of the "10 Best Cities for Cheapskates".


Higher education

Arkansas State University is located in Jonesboro. New York Institute of Technology College of Osteopathic Medicine maintains a second location on Arkansas State University's campus in Wilson Hall.

The North East Arkansas Career & Tech Center is also located in Jonesboro.

Elementary and secondary education

Dean B. Ellis Library, Arkansas State University (3 September 2005)
The Dean B. Ellis Library at Arkansas State University's main campus

Prior to School integration in the United States, a separate set of schools was maintained for White and Black children. Jonesboro was a leader in educating African-American Children, providing education for Black children from surrounding areas under contract at Booker T. Washington High School until the schools were finally integrated.

There are six public school districts operating within the city limits of Jonesboro:

  • Jonesboro School District
  • Valley View School District
  • Nettleton School District
  • Westside Consolidated School District
  • Bay School District
  • Brookland School District

Notable people

  • Blake Anderson, football head coach, Arkansas State
  • David Auburn, playwright and screenwriter, known for the award-winning play Proof (and the adapted screenplay for film)
  • Earl Bell, former pole vault champion and current coach of top US men and women vaulters
  • Wes Bentley, actor, known for his role as Ricky in American Beauty and American Horror Story
  • Jerry Bookout, funeral director and state politician
  • Paul Bookout, former state senator for District 21; state Senate President, 2011 to 2013
  • Gene Bradley, football player
  • Al Bramlet, labor union leader
  • Rodger Bumpass, voice of Squidward Tentacles on SpongeBob SquarePants
  • Hattie Caraway, first woman elected to United States Senate
  • Paul Caraway, son of Hattie Caraway; High Commissioner of United States Civil Administration of the Ryukyu Islands
  • Matt Cavenaugh, Broadway actor
  • Francis Cherry, Governor of Arkansas from 1953 to 1955
  • Austin Cook, PGA Tour Professional
  • John Cooper, Republican state senator for District 21 since 2014
  • Harold Copenhaver, former representative from the Arkansas House of Representatives from 2013 to 2015, current mayor of Jonesboro
  • Rick Crawford, U.S. Congressman from Arkansas
  • Fred Dreher, football player
  • Woody Freeman, businessman; Republican gubernatorial nominee in 1984
  • Michelle Gray, state representative since 2013 from Melbourne; former resident of Jonesboro
  • John Grisham, best-selling novelist of The Firm, A Time to Kill, The Pelican Brief and more; born in Jonesboro
  • Jeff Hartwig, pole vaulter
  • Julia Butterfly Hill, environmental activist
  • Jon Hubbard, former state representative
  • Larry Lacewell, former director of scouting for Dallas Cowboys and adoptive father of Super Bowl champion Barry Switzer's children.
  • Jack Ladyman, mechanical engineer and Republican member of Arkansas House of Representatives from a part of Craighead County
  • Evan Lindquist, artist and first Artist Laureate of Arkansas
  • Kyle Dean Massey, Broadway actor
  • Dustin McDaniel, former Arkansas Attorney General
  • Malik Monk, basketball player
  • Ben Murphy, actor, formerly of ABC's Alias Smith and Jones
  • Jon Olsen, Olympic gold medalist swimmer
  • Billy Lee Riley, rockabilly musician, best known for his recordings of "Flyin' Saucers Rock 'n' Roll" and "Red Hot"
  • David Ring, motivational speaker
  • Jeremy Sivits, United States Army soldier
  • Brandt Smith, Republican member of Arkansas House of Representatives for District 58 in Craighead County
  • W. Stephen Smith, voice teacher and author, Northwestern University professor of voice and opera
  • John W. Snyder, U.S. Secretary of the Treasury under President Harry S. Truman
  • Charley Thornton, college sports administrator and executive
  • Dwight Tosh, Republican member of Arkansas House of Representatives from since 2015
  • Bobby Lee Trammell, rockabilly musician
  • Debbye Turner, Miss America 1990
  • Frederick C. Turner, Jr., one of first 3 Black students, first Black faculty member at ASU, Commander of SHAPE
  • Zach Williams, Christian rock, Southern rock, Christian pop, worship artist

See also

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