Ask Liz:

“The White Way”

The Sentinel-Record - HER - Hot Springs - - Contents - Just ask Liz. El­iz­a­beth Robbins and the staff of the Gar­land County His­tor­i­cal So­ci­ety are ready to tackle your ques­tions about Hot Springs’ rich his­tory each month. Just write Ask Liz, P.O. Box 580, Hot Springs, AR 71902, or email ed­i­tor@hot­spring­son­theg

The hol­i­day sea­son is al­ways fes­tive in Hot Springs, but De­cem­ber 1914 was ex­tra spe­cial. Why? That De­cem­ber we cre­ated our own “White Way.” By 1900, New York City’s the­ater dis­trict had been chris­tened “The Great White Way” be­cause of the many white elec­tric lights that il­lu­mi­nated Broad­way. On Dec. 23, 1914, Cen­tral and Oua­chita av­enues were dubbed our “White Way” as a new light­ing sys­tem bathed our streets in a flood of light. Gone were the weak, old-fash­ioned sin­gle lamps on wooden poles. In their place Cit­i­zens Elec­tric Co. had erected new iron poles with closely spaced lus­ters, a street light­ing sys­tem that was re­garded as the best in Arkansas at that time. The city cel­e­brated the achieve­ment with a “White Way” ex­trav­a­ganza. Thou­sands crowded down­town. They could get “White Way” con­fetti at the Cit­i­zens Na­tional Bank Cigar Store af­ter en­joy­ing a 35-cent hol­i­day meal of roast Vermont tur­key, oys­ter dress­ing, baked goose, as­para­gus on toast, English plum pud­ding, and le­mon cream pies at Ful­ton’s Cage at 808 Cen­tral. Many other mer­chants of­fered White Way spe­cials, such as a bushel of pota­toes from the Puck­ett Pro­duce Co. for 85 cents. Hot Springs post of­fice (which pressed six ex­tra clerks into ser­vice) had the big­gest day in its his­tory, han­dling 10,000 pieces of mail. Juanita Gil­liam won the White Way Queen con­test, beat­ing out 28 oth­ers for the crown, which was, of course, elec­tri­fied. From an elec­tri­cally dec­o­rated speak­ers’ plat­form in Como Square, the “cer­e­mony of light” took place. Ge­orge Beld-

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