The thirty-six-acre MacArthur Park, originally the site of a U.S. arsenal established in 1837, became a city park after the federal government gave the site to the City in 1893 in exchange for land north of the Arkansas River used for Fort Logan H. Roots (PU58). The 1840 Tower Building (PU23) is the only structure that remains from the arsenal complex. Landscape engineer Pittman of St. Louis redesigned the land in a picturesque manner and created a small lake. The WPA built the Arkansas Arts Center building in 1936 and a fishpond in 1933. In 1942 the park was named for General Douglas MacArthur, whose parents were in residence at the Tower Building when he was born in 1880. Renovations to the park in the 1980s included a lake and a small concert pavilion. The charming one-and-a-half-story Craftsman-styled firehouse (1917) in the southwest corner of the park was renovated in 2015 as the Firehouse Hostel and Museum.
The historic district that surrounds the park is roughly bounded by E. Capitol Avenue, S. Scott and E. 15th streets, and I-30. Its buildings illustrate the 1860s and 1870s economic booms that brought the southward expansion of the city, and the district’s architecture encompasses the wide variety of forms and styles from that period, as well as including several pre–Civil War buildings. Although some limited development occurred in the district during the twentieth century, much of the neighborhood continues to reflect its nineteenth-century appearance.