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New cultural district coming to Pine Bluff highlighting the city's rich history

A fitness and blues park along with a civil rights trail can be expected for phase one of the Delta Rhythm and Bayous Cultural District in Pine Bluff.

PINE BLUFF, Ark — City officials kicked off their public presentation of the first and second phases of a new cultural district for the city Thursday evening. It'll serve as a local and tourist attraction highlighting the city's historic legacy.

The Delta Rhythm and Bayous Cultural District project was presented by the Pine Bluff Advertising and Promotion Commission, the Delta Rhythm & Bayous Alliance, and the Pine Bluff/Jefferson County National Heritage Trails Task Force.

The district will be featured along 3rd street.

"We held focus groups with a diverse group of people. We looked at what Pine Bluff was missing, and we really realized then that what Pine Bluff has never done is promote its history and culture," said Sheri Storie, the director for Pine Bluff Advertising and Promotion Commission.

She says the district will be a 12 year project. 

Phase one will cost between $2.5 to $3 million. 

A fitness and blues park along with a civil rights trail can be expected for phase one. 

City native Jimmy Cunningham Jr. is the executive director for the new district and says Pine Bluff is a gold mine of history. 

"You wouldn't have the Nielsen ratings if it were not for Freeman Harrison Owens. The western genre in Hollywood would not be there for Bronco Billy Anderson. Pine Bluff for instance was a civil war battle ground. It's one of about maybe four urban battle grounds in the United States," said Cunningham. 

He says they want to interpret their stories for others to appreciate them.

Cunningham cites Memphis, Nashville and New Orleans as being historic tourism inspiration for Pine Bluff.

He said Pine Bluff's roots are strong, and he and his team are focused on taking the city to the next level of its rich history.

"All of this rich history helps to define a town. When you feel better about a town and you know it's got some rich history, you go to it," said Cunningham.