Originally called Alta Villa (the “high place”), Little Italy was settled in 1915 by a group of northern Italian immigrants who came to Arkansas looking for an opportunity to achieve the American dream. Though smaller than other Italian colonies in the state, like Tontitown or Lake Village, Little Italy’s centralized location and skilled winemakers created the perfect atmosphere for a Prohibition-era oasis where central Arkansans could purchase clean, safe alcohol at a time when thousands throughout the nation had died because of poisonous, alcoholic brews. Recognizing the value of this operation, regional politicians allowed the residents of Little Italy to continue producing wine and cognac, thus establishing the community as a regional curiosity and a popular weekend travel destination.
Little Italy by Chris Dorer
Chris Dorer is the history department chair at historic Little Rock Central High School. A native of Little Italy, he has written a book and journal articles on the area’s history. Dorer garnered knowledge from years of research and countless hours of documenting the community’s oral histories. Images of America: Little Italy weaves riveting insight into images graciously donated by Little Italy’s founding families and serves as a visual reminder of the joy, pain, and hard work necessary to make a positive impact on history.