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Remembering a historic landmark: Little Rock's Harlem | News

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Remembering a historic landmark: Little Rock's Harlem

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KTHV) - "This place here is full of history," Emmett White explained as he looked around.

It is Little Rock's Ninth Street, also known as "The End of the Line" and "Little Rock's Harlem." "It's just, wow," White continues. Through the eyes of someone who lived, ate, walked, and breathed here, White remembers it all. He recalled, "Black tailors, you know everybody down here was a black business."

Tameka Lee explained, "The early 1900s probably to about the 1960s, 70s I guess you would say were the peak times." Tameka Lee and Chris Hancock work at the Mosaic Templars Cultural Center, one of the last two book ends of the historic street remaining.

Hancock described, "People of all races, creeds, religious backgrounds flock to this area because the restaurants were great, the clubs were great. It was a cultural center for really the entire city."

As you walk along 9th street you can see most of these buildings are no longer in use but these blocks are still filled with dozens of memories. Kerry McCoy took us inside Taborian Hall and on a tour of the other bookend. "Here is the Dreamland Ballroom," McCoy illustrated.

At one point the seats inside the Dreamland Ballroom were filled with people who came from miles away to hear some of the greatest performers in American history. Performers like the queen of Jazz, Ella Fitzgerald, Nat "King" Cole and Louie "Satchmo"Armstrong. Now, paint chips away but the spotlights still shine on the stage where the greats once performed.

"It just kind of keeps that sense of pride going to know this is what 9th street was, this is what Little Rock had to offer and maybe what we can have to offer again," Lee says. The museum keeps the memories alive. Lee continues, "It is actually our exhibit that focuses on a city within a city." Telling the stories of the historic Little Harlem District, in hopes that one day the sounds that once resonated in the ballroom, and pictures that hang in this museum - will come alive again on 9th street.