In 1974, the Arkansas Times surveyed regional planners to get a picture of Little Rock 26 years down the line, in 1990. Among the predictions: Little Rock’s population would reach 500,000, 75% of all new construction would be apartments and other multifamily units, and the Metrocentre Mall would revitalize downtown. “Freeways do not divide the city racially,” one planning official said in the course of discussing a massive expansion of expressways and freeways through North Little Rock and Little Rock, which thankfully never materialized. 

Predicting the future is hard and perhaps foolhardy, but with the decennial Census results in hand and as we (fingers-crossed) begin to emerge from a devastating, way-of-life-altering pandemic, it seemed like a fine time to get local experts to gaze in the crystal ball and predict what life in the Little Rock metro will be like in the year 2050. Some forecasts are hopeful. Some are prescriptive. Some are zany. (We’re never getting an NBA team, but goats may indeed replace our lawnmowers.) Read on, and let us know what we’re wrong about.

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Central Arkansas 2050
Informed predictions from a Metroplan planner.
By Jonathan Lupton

When teachers lead
A hopeful future for education.
By Stacey McAdoo

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Mid-century politics in the Little Rock metro
The evolution of the suburbs will be key for Central Arkansas.
By Jay Barth

The future of the library
Already more than a place to check out books, CALS will become a community hub in the future.
By Eliza Borné

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Our health care future
Remote mental health therapy, the end to employer-based health care and more.
By Craig Wilson

Battling climate disruption
To tackle the global problem, we must prioritize it locally.
By Glen Hooks

The shift to delivery and drive-thru continues
Restaurants will also be forced to reckon with sustainability.
By Jason Alley

Predicting tornadoes hours in advance
Metrological modeling will dramatically improve.
By Todd Yakoubian

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Little Rock’s commercial real estate future
More mixed use, less parking.
By Hank Kelley

Growth and improvement
A host of hopeful predictions.
By Antwan Phillips

Money via an app
Also, no fossil fuels and Elvis lives
By Wayne Miller

We’ll be dead
Or own fun goats.
By Ashley Jones

Musicians will take charge
Of venues and recording.
By Chris Terry

The impact of Ford Next Generation Learning
Career-focused education pays dividends.
By Buckley O’Mell and James Reddish

Fold up this fortune teller to see your future in Little Rock 2050