El Dorado, AR
Visitor InformationP.O. Box 1325
El Dorado, Arkansas 71730
Today, thousands of residents and downtown workers consider El Dorado, Ark., a city of 23,000, to be a shopping, cultural, and entertainment destination. With its 65+ specialty shops, restaurants, and accommodations, a busy nightlife and a live music venue that is the envy of the state, it is easy to see why. This is the town, after all, whose successful downtown caused the deminse of its shopping mall--the only city in Arkansas that can make that claim.
A boomtown in the 1920s, El Dorado fed off its rich oil reserves. This wealth dried up in the Great Depression and El Dorado faded to a ghost town. Shopping developments on the outskirts of town in the 1960s and '70s created even greater economic hardships for the community. By 1979, the downtown's building occupancy rate was a meager 35 percent.
El Dorado's steady decline made a sharp U-turn when a downtown property owner attended a revitalization conference held by the statewide Main Street organization in Arkansas. He returned home with the message that revitalizing El Dorado's commercial district was possible and in fact, key to the city's revival. In 1987, Main Street El Dorado was incorporated. Through a unified effort involving a pre-existing merchant association, a historical foundation, an improvement district and both private and public financial support, El Dorado is once again the pride of south Arkansas.
Downtown El Dorado has much to offer Union County residents and tourists alike. Fourteen National Register structures are located in Historic Downtown El Dorado including the Rialto Theatre, which was built in 1929. Main Street El Dorado produces several annual events throughout the year, which attract thousands. Primary among these is the Bugs, Bands and Bikes festival each May which features hundreds of pounds of the best crawfish around, a "Battle of the Bands", a Bike show, a motorcycle parade, and a pool tournament.
With all this activity, it is plain to see, as Main Street El Dorado executive director says, “place matters in El Dorado.”
Revitalization By the Numbers
- Population: 21,530
- District Size: 20 blocks
- Year of Incorporation: 1987
- Net jobs gained: 566
- Net new businesses: 87
- Number of rehabilitation projects:134
- Number of new buildings: 3
- Vacancy rate when program began: 20%
- Vacancy rate today: 0%
- Public investment: $20,000,000
- Private investment: $90,000,000
If you go...
Want to see for yourself? Check out all El Dorado has to offer.