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Greyhound Bus Station

Located in historic downtown, the Greyhound Bus Station, home to Main Street Blytheville, poses a crucial reflection of the area’s heritage. The only free-standing deco-moderne Greyhound station remaining, the site is restored to its original state, recalling the time when it was a vital spot on the Dixie Line that connected the South to the North and transported Southern music to Chicago. It also provided the last goodbye for many soldiers as they left for three wars, and its structure preserves even some less honorable aspects of area history, with separate entrances for “coloreds” and “whites.”

Located on the corner of Main and North 5th Streets in Blytheville, the depot was designed by Memphis architect Norland Van Powell, and constructed in 1939. Though abandoned some years ago as a bus station, it still stands as a landmark building within the community, characterized by its unique Art Deco style with a curved facade of smooth blue panels and stepped massing of elements throughout. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, it also remains as among the only Art Deco style stations in the U.S.

The building, however, is not valuable just for its structural individuality. Its influence in history bears importance. Most significantly, Blytheville was a pivotal point in the Greyhound bus route that spread “the Blues” northward from the Mississippi Delta, as African American musicians migrated north to the world of big-band jazz. The Blytheville bus station was a hub on The Blues Highway, where such blues greats as Howlin’ Wolf, Elmore James, and Muddy Waters traveled. The blues has since been forged in history as the first true American native musical form, and holds strong sociological implications for the entire country.

The Greyhound bus also was once the only means of transportation to other towns for many people, particularly after the Great Depression, when the economic downturn sent southerners onward to what they perceived as better economic opportunities. And in terms of the history of the US, the Greyhound Bus Station again plays a role — Its lobby holds historic memories for those who said what turned out to be their last goodbyes to outbound soldiers in World War II, and in the Korean and Viet Nam conflicts.

One more link in the rich history of the Arkansas Delta, the gleaming blue Greyhound Bus Station is now a visitor’s center as well as an entertainment venue and a general point of interest. For instance, one recent spring, the bus station was the site for a grand antique bus reunion, when the “Ghosts of Highway 61” festival brought over 200 buses to town.

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