by Ray Hanley and Steven Hanley

Main Streets of Arkansas Celebrated in New Book

Main Streets in cities and towns all over Arkansas virtually spring to life in a collection of historic postcards and photos that brothers Ray and Steven Hanley have woven together in their new book, Main Street Arkansas, released in September 2009 from Butler Center Books.

Featuring 233 images, Main Street Arkansas is a visual history that traces the development and evolution of downtown life in cities such as Walnut Ridge, Bentonville, Little Rock, and Lake Village, as well as remote hamlets like Black Rock and Ponca. The humble beginnings of many towns are evident in postcards showing wooden-frame buildings along dirt streets that teem with horses, mules, and wagons. Scenes from the 1950s show such Main Street mainstays as the OTASCO, Ben Franklin, and Western Auto stores. Also featured are the success stories of modern-day Main Street preservation work in El Dorado, Siloam Springs, Conway, and Harrison.

"There is little that provides more of a window into Arkansas history than Main Street," said co-author Ray Hanley. “And it’s rapidly slipping away in many towns. I hope this book will help reawaken an awareness of the heritage treasure of this state.”

The Hanley brothers have published more than a dozen books of postcards on Arkansas. Their popular feature, “Arkansas Postcard Past,” first appeared in the Arkansas Gazette in 1986 and continues to be published in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. Ray Hanley said that more images have appeared over the life of the feature than in all Arkansas history books combined. Bill Worthen, director of the Historic Arkansas Museum, said that Main Street Arkansas includes images from every corner of the state. “It’s a real treasure for travelers and celebrants of Arkansas and American history.”

Main Street Arkansas is available from local and national book sellers (including River Market Books & Gifts) or through the University of Arkansas Press in Fayetteville. Butler Center Books is part of the Butler Center for Arkansas Studies, a division of the Central Arkansas Library System.

8.5 x 10, index, 224 pages, 233 b/w photos (many never before published)
$33.95, hardcover, ISBN 978-1-935106-13-5 | 1-935106-12-0
$19.95, paperback, ISBN 978-1-935105-13-5 | 1-935106-13-9