Conway is a city in the U.S. state of Arkansas and the county seat of Faulkner County, located in the state's most populous Metropolitan Statistical Area, Central Arkansas. Although considered a suburb of Little Rock, Conway is unusual in that the majority of its residents do not commute out of the city to work. The city also serves as a regional shopping, educational, work, healthcare, sports, and cultural hub for Faulkner County and surrounding areas. Conway's growth can be attributed to its jobs in technology and higher education; among its largest employers being Acxiom, the University of Central Arkansas, Hendrix College, Insight Enterprises, and many technology start up companies. Conway is home to three post-secondary educational institutions, earning it the nickname "The City of Colleges".
As of the 2010 census, the city proper had a total population of 58,908, making Conway the eighth-largest city in Arkansas. Central Arkansas, the Little Rock–North Little Rock–Conway, AR Metropolitan Statistical Area, is ranked 75th largest in the United States with 734,622 people in 2016. Conway is part of the larger Little Rock–North Little Rock, AR Combined Statistical Area, which in 2016 had a population of 905,847, and ranked the country's 60th largest CSA.
The city of Conway was founded by Asa P. Robinson, who came to the area shortly after the Civil War. Robinson was the chief engineer for the Little Rock-Fort Smith Railroad (now the Union Pacific). Part of his compensation was the deed to a tract of land, one square mile, located near the old settlement of Cadron. When the railroad came through, Robinson deeded a small tract of his land back to the railroad for a depot site. He laid off a town site around the depot and named it "Conway Station", in honor of a famous Arkansas family. Conway Station contained two small stores, two saloons, a depot, some temporary housing and a post office. Despite being founded as a railroad town, there currently exists no passenger service. The disappearance of passenger rail service in the region is attributed to the emphasis placed on the automobile.
In 1878, Father Joseph Strub, a priest in the Roman Catholic Holy Ghost Fathers, arrived in Arkansas. A native of Alsace-Lorraine, Strub was expelled from Prussia during the Kulturkampf in 1872. He moved to the United States, settling in Pittsburgh, where he founded Duquesne University in October 1878. Difficulties with Bishop John Tuigg led Strub to leave Pittsburgh in late October 1878 to travel to Conway. In 1879, Strub convinced the Little Rock and Fort Smith Railroad to deed along the northern side of the Arkansas River to the Holy Ghost Fathers in order to found the St. Joseph Colony. This included land on which Father Strub founded and built St. Joseph Catholic Church of Conway. As part of the land deal, the railroad offered land at 20 cents per acre to every German immigrant. In order to attract Roman Catholic Germans to Conway and the surrounding areas, Father Strub wrote The Guiding Star for the St. Joseph Colony. In addition to extolling the qualities of Conway and the surrounding area, Father Strub provided information on how best to travel from Europe to Conway. By 1889, over 100 German families had settled in Conway, giving the town many of its distinctively German street and business names.
On April 10, 1965, an F4 tornado struck Conway, causing six deaths and 200 injuries.
Conway is located in southwestern Faulkner County. Interstate 40 passes through the north and east sides of the city, with access from Exits 124 through 132. Via I-40, Little Rock is to the south, and Russellville is to the west.
According to the United States Census Bureau, Conway has a total area of , of which is land and , or 0.54%, is water.
The climate in this area is characterized by hot, humid summers and generally mild to cool winters. According to the Köppen Climate Classification system, Conway has a humid subtropical climate, abbreviated "Cfa" on climate maps.
As of the 2020 United States census, there were 64,134 people, 26,319 households, and 14,609 families residing in the city.
As of the census of 2010, there were 58,908 people, 23,205 households, and 13,969 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,299.2 people per square mile (501.6/km2). There were 24,402 housing units at an average density of 538.2 per square mile (207.8/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 77.4% White, 15.6% Black or African American, 0.4% Native American, 1.9% Asian, 0.1% Pacific Islander, 2.4% from other races, and 2.2% from two or more races. 5.1% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.
There were 23,205 households, out of which 33.1% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 43.2% were married couples living together, 12.8% had a female householder with no husband present, and 39.8% were non-families. 27.0% of all households were made up of individuals, and 7.0% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.45 and the average family size was 3.01.
In the city, the population was spread out, with 22.7% under the age of 18, 22.9% from 18 to 24, 27.2% from 25 to 44, 18.5% from 45 to 64, and 8.7% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 27.3 years. There were 51.7% females and 48.3% males. For ages under 18, there were 49.2% females and 50.8% males.
The median income for a household in the city was $42,640, and the median income for a family was $63,860. The per capita income for the city was $42,582. About 9.3% of families and 16.3% of the population were below the poverty line, including 15.0% of those under age 18 and 10.8% of those age 65 or over.
47.6% of Conway's population describes themselves as religious, slightly below the national average of 48.8%. 44.5% of people in Conway who describe themselves as having a religion are Baptist (21.7% of the city's total population). 9.2% of people holding a religion are Catholic (4.5% of the city's total population). The proportions of Methodists and Pentecostals are higher than the national average.
Conway was home to one of the world's largest school bus manufacturers, IC Corporation. The Conway plant was one of only two IC manufacturing plants; the other is located in Tulsa, Oklahoma. IC Corporation is a wholly owned subsidiary of Navistar International Corporation of Lisle, Illinois. IC was previously known as American Transportation (AmTran) Corporation and Ward Body Works. The company was founded in 1933. IC Corporation closed its plant and moved all bus manufacturing operations to their Tulsa plant in 2010, largely due to incentives offered by the city of Tulsa.
R. D. "Bob" Nabholz founded Nabholz Construction in Conway in 1949. It currently employs over 800 people and has been listed by Engineering News-Record (ENR) magazine as one of the Top 400 General Contractors every year since 1986. Currently the company is ranked #161.
Conway Corporation handles the local utilities (cable TV, Internet, and telephone services, in addition to electricity and water) for the city of Conway.
Acxiom Corporation, an interactive marketing services company, was founded in 1969 in Conway.
On June 19, 2008, Hewlett-Packard announced it would be opening a facility with 1,200 employees in 2009. The building, built by Nabholz Construction and located in the Meadows Office and Technology Park, has since been abandoned by HP and is now leased to Gainwell Technologies.
Updated March 2016
Arts and culture
The Conway Symphony Orchestra performs many times throughout the year, and the Conway Community Arts Association has been presenting theatre and other art opportunities to the community for over 40 years. The Arkansas Shakespeare Theatre, based in Conway, is the state's only professional Shakespeare theater. It holds an annual summer festival in June.
There are also art, music and theater opportunities provided by Conway's three colleges. The University of Central Arkansas's Public Appearances program provides dance, music, and theater offerings each year.
The national award-winning community theatre, The Lantern Theatre, is located downtown and offers a wide variety of plays and musicals year round.
Conway Public Schools has theater and music programs, with large concert and marching bands that consistently receive high marks in regional competitions.
One of the city's largest annual events, Toad Suck Daze, has been held since 1982. The three-day community festival incorporates live music, food and craft vendors, and amusement rides during the first weekend of May. Proceeds from the festival fund college scholarships for local students.
The Faulkner County Museum focuses on the prehistory, history, and culture of Faulkner County. Located inside the former Faulkner County Jail, it displays photos, artifacts, equipment, household items, clothing, and arts and crafts by local artists. The museum also holds an annual open house which showcases interactive demonstrations and various crafts.
Conway is a popular sport-fishing destination and is home to largest man-made Game and Fish commission lake in the United States. Lake Conway, home to largemouth bass, crappie, gar, catfish, bream, bowfin, etc. The Arkansas Crappie Masters state tournament is held here every year.
The city held its first ever EcoFest September 12, 2009, in Laurel Park. EcoFest included exhibits and events relating to "green" and sustainable initiatives, including a cardboard car derby and an alleycat bicycle ride. According to organizers led by Debbie Plopper, the event was a success. Mayor Tab Townsell said the event indicated to him that "interest in sustainability is flourishing in this community."
The city is served by the Faulkner-Van Buren Regional Library System, a two county library system formed in 1954. Originally the city was served by the Conway Library from 1935 until the merger into the current system. Today the Conway Library serves as the headquarters for the eight library regional system.
In addition to this, the students of the University of Central Arkansas and Hendrix College have free access to both the Torreyson Library at UCA, and the Bailey Library at Hendrix by showing a current student ID from their respective college.
Parks and recreation
There are the 15 parks located within Conway.
College and Universities
Conway is home to three institutions of higher learning, earning it the nickname City of Colleges. The University of Central Arkansas is a public research university with an enrollment of approximately 12,000 students. It is well known for its Norbert O. Schedler Honors College, being one of the first and most-modeled-after honor colleges in the United States. Hendrix College is a nationally recognized private liberal arts college with an enrollment just over 1,300 students. With an average composite ACT score of 29, it is the highest of any college in the state. Central Baptist College is a four-year private liberal arts college with an enrollment of nearly 900 students. These colleges together contribute to over 40 percent of Conway's adult workforce having a bachelor's degree or higher, making it one of the most-educated cities in the state.
Primary and secondary education
The Conway Public School District serves the city. It is overseen by the Conway Board of Education, made up of seven citizens that are elected every third Tuesday in September annually in a citywide vote. Operating with a $88 million budget, the district enrolls approximately 10,000 students, making it the eighth largest in the state. The district consists of 16 schools: 1 pre-school, 9 elementary schools, 4 middle schools, 1 junior high school, and 1 high school. Over 65 percent of teachers in Conway Public Schools hold a master's degree or higher, and 67 are National Board Certified.
Conway is also served by two private religious schools, Conway Christian School and St. Joseph Catholic School. Conway Christian has an approximate enrollment of 400 students, while St. Joseph School enrolls about 500 students. Conway previously had a Catholic grade school for black children, Good Shepherd School; it closed in 1965.
Conway has one official sister city agreement with the city of Quakenbrueck, Germany. In 1986, the first exchange of visitors occurred between the cities. Starting in 1992, Dr. Oudekerk, a professor from Hendrix College, has taken several groups to the sister city in Germany. Since then, the high schools of each city have exchanged students to experience the different cultures. The 25-year anniversary of the relationship was recently celebrated with a festival in Quakenbrueck with the theme of building bridges across the Atlantic.
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