Hot Springs is the eleventh-largest city in Arkansas and the county seat of Garland County. The city is located deep within the Ouachita Mountains among the U.S. Interior Highlands, and is set among several natural hot springs for which the city is named. The center of Hot Springs is the oldest federal reserve in the United States, today preserved as Hot Springs National Park. The perceived healing properties of the hot spring water were discovered centuries ago, and the waters were legendary among several Native American tribes. Following federal protection in 1832, the city developed into a successful spa town. Incorporated in January 10, 1851, the city has been home to Major League Baseball spring training, illegal gambling, speakeasies and gangsters such as Al Capone, horse racing at Oaklawn Park, the Army and Navy Hospital, and 42nd President Bill Clinton. The city contains a population of 35,193 according to the 2010 United States Census.
Today, much of Hot Springs's history is preserved by various government entities. Hot Springs National Park is maintained by the National Park Service, including Bathhouse Row, which preserves the eight historic bathhouse buildings and gardens along Central Avenue. Downtown Hot Springs is preserved as Hot Springs Central Avenue Historic District, listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The city also contains dozens of historic hotels and motor courts, built during the Great Depression in the art deco style. Due to the popularity of the thermal waters, Hot Springs benefited from rapid growth during a period when many cities saw a sharp decline in building; much like Miami's art deco districts. As a result, Hot Spring's architecture is a key part of the city's blend of cultures; including a reputation as a tourist town and a Southern city. Also a destination for the arts, Hot Springs features the Hot Springs Music Festival, Hot Springs Documentary Film Festival, and the Valley of the Vapors Independent Music Festival annually.
Hot Springs is the principal city of the Hot Springs Metropolitan Statistical Area, which includes all of Garland County, registering a population of 96,024 in 2010 according to the United States Census Bureau. The metro was ranked by Forbes as one of the top "small places for business and careers", citing a low cost of doing business, high job growth and an educated workforce.