Academic journal article The Arkansas Historical Quarterly

A Place Apart: A Pictorial History of Hot Springs, Arkansas

Academic journal article The Arkansas Historical Quarterly

A Place Apart: A Pictorial History of Hot Springs, Arkansas

Article excerpt

A Place Apart: A Pictorial History of Hot Springs, Arkansas. By Ray Hanley. (Fayetteville: University of Arkansas Press, 2011. Pp. xii, 169. Illustrations, notes, index. $22.50, paper.)

In his now-famous 1895 New York Times article, Red Badge of Courage author Stephen Crane reported that visitors to Hot Springs were in one of three conditions: "about to take a bath. . . taking a bath . . .or [had] taken a bath" (p. x). A Place Apart: A Pictorial History of Hot Springs, Arkansas dispels the notion that bathing is the only story there is to tell about Hot Springs' development. Hanley provides a fine introduction to readers wanting a rapid but in-depth narrative of Hot Springs' physical and political growth as it evolved into a national park, recreational resort, and one of Arkansas's preeminent cities. The facts are treated conscientiously, though the book's title proposes mainly a pictorial account. Both text and photographs supply information and cultural history corroborating or dispelling prodigious myths about a city of notable and notorious characters.

Much has been written about Hot Springs in the past forty years, especially about the peak and demise of the gambling industry. This book does not seek to displace these previous nuggets of storytelling. Neither does it contest Dr. Francis J. Scully's ambitious, although sometimes flawed, history of the city, Hot Springs, Arkansas and Hot Springs National Park: The Story of a City and the Nation's Health Resort (1966). Instead, Hanley provides a much needed update, adding photographs not often seen. Unlike Charles Cutter's late nineteenthcentury pictorial guides that featured romanticized images targeted at potential tourists, Hanley's extensive collection of personal postcards testifies to his long fascination with his birth city. …

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