Jackson, Mississippi

This article is about the city and related subjects within the city. For the Jackson metro area, see Jackson, Mississippi metropolitan area. For the county on the Mississippi Gulf Coast, see Jackson County, Mississippi. For the Kid Rock song, see Jackson, Mississippi (song).
Jackson, Mississippi


Nickname(s): "Crossroads of the South"
Motto: "City with Soul"

Located primarily in Hinds County, Mississippi
Jackson, Mississippi

Location in the United States

Coordinates: 32°17′56″N 90°11′05″W / 32.29889°N 90.18472°W / 32.29889; -90.18472Coordinates: 32°17′56″N 90°11′05″W / 32.29889°N 90.18472°W / 32.29889; -90.18472
Country  United States
State  Mississippi
Counties Hinds, Madison, Rankin
Incorporated 1821
Named for Andrew Jackson
  Type Mayor–Council
  Mayor Tony Yarber (D)
  City 276.7 km2 (106.8 sq mi)
  Land 271.7 km2 (104.9 sq mi)
  Water 5.0 km2 (1.9 sq mi)
Elevation 85 m (279 ft)
Population (2010)[1]
  City 173,514
  Estimate (2013)[2] 172,638
  Rank US: 138th
  Urban 351,478 (US: 107th)
  Metro 576,382 (US: 93rd)
Demonym(s) Jacksonian
Time zone CST (UTC-6)
  Summer (DST) CDT (UTC-5)
ZIP codes 39200-39299
Area code(s) 601, 769
FIPS code 28-36000
GNIS feature ID 0711543[3]
Website City of Jackson
For additional city data see City-Data

Jackson is the capital and largest city of the U.S. state of Mississippi. It is located primarily in Hinds County, serving as one of its two county seats. Segments of the city overlap Madison County and Rankin County. Jackson is on the Pearl River, which drains into the Gulf of Mexico, and it is part of the Jackson Prairie region of the state.[4][5] The city is named after General Andrew Jackson, who was honored for his role in the Battle of New Orleans during the War of 1812 and later served as U.S. President.

The current slogan for the city is "Jackson, Mississippi: City with Soul."[6] It has had numerous musicians prominent in blues, gospel and jazz, and was known for decades for its illegal nightclubs on the Gold Coast; one site has been designated for the Mississippi Blues Trail.

The city is the anchor for the metro area. While its population declined from 184,256 at the 2000 census to 173,514 at the 2010 census, the metropolitan region grew. The 2010 census ascribed a population of 539,057 to the five-county Jackson metropolitan area.[7]

The city was ranked third as the best "Bang For Your Buck" among the United States' 100 largest metro areas in 2009, according to Forbes magazine.[8] The study measured overall affordability in living costs, housing rates, and more.

In 2011 USS Jackson (LCS-6) was the first ship of the United States Navy to be named in honor of the city.[9]


The entire Choctaw Nation's location and size compared to the U.S. state of Mississippi.

American Indians

The region that is now the city of Jackson was historically part of the large territory occupied by the Choctaw Nation, the historic culture of the Muskogean-speaking indigenous peoples who had inhabited the area for thousands of years before European encounter. The Choctaw name for the locale was "Chisha Foka".[10] The area now called Jackson was obtained by the United States under the terms of the Treaty of Doak's Stand in 1820, by which the Choctaw ceded some of their land. After the treaty was ratified, European-American settlers began to move into the area, so many that they encroached on remaining Choctaw communal lands.

Under pressure from the U.S. government, the Choctaw Native Americans agreed to removal after 1830 from all their lands east of the Mississippi River under the terms of several treaties.[11] Although most of the Choctaw moved to Indian Territory in present-day Oklahoma, along with the other of the Five Civilized Tribes, a significant number chose to stay in their homeland, citing Article XIV of the Treaty of Dancing Rabbit Creek. They gave up their tribal membership and became state and United States citizens at the time.[12] Today, most Choctaw in Mississippi have reorganized and are part of the federally recognized Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians. They live in several majority-Indian communities located throughout the state. The largest community is located in Choctaw 100 mi (160 km) northeast of Jackson.

Founding and antebellum period (to 1860)

Located on the historic Natchez Trace trade route, created by Native Americans and used by European-American settlers, and the Pearl River, the city's first European-American settler was Louis LeFleur, a French Canadian trader. The village became known as LeFleur's Bluff.[13] During the late 18th century and early 19th century, this site had a trading post. It was connected to markets in Tennessee. Tennessee soldiers returning from the military campaigns near New Orleans in 1815 built a public road that connected Lake Pontchartrain in Louisiana to this district.[14] A United States treaty with the Choctaw, the Treaty of Doak's Stand in 1820, formally opened the area for non-Native American settlers.

LeFleur's Bluff was developed when it was chosen as the site for the new state's capital city. The Mississippi General Assembly decided in 1821 that the state needed a centrally located capital (the legislature was then located in Natchez). They commissioned Thomas Hinds, James Patton, and William Lattimore to look for a suitable site. The absolute center of the state was a swamp, so the group had to widen their search.

After surveying areas north and east of Jackson, they proceeded southwest along the Pearl River until they reached LeFleur's Bluff in today's Hinds County.[13] Their report to the General Assembly stated that this location had beautiful and healthful surroundings, good water, abundant timber, navigable waters, and proximity to the trading route Natchez Trace. The Assembly passed an act on November 28, 1821, authorizing the site as the permanent seat of the government of the state of Mississippi.[13] On the same day, it passed a resolution to instruct the Washington delegation to press Congress for a donation of public lands on the river for the purpose of improved navigation to the Gulf of Mexico.[15] One Whig politician lamented the new capital as a "serious violation of principle" because it was not at the absolute center of the state.[16]

The capital was named for General Andrew Jackson, to honor his (January 1815) victory at the Battle of New Orleans during the War of 1812. He was later elected as the seventh President of the United States.

The city of Jackson was originally planned, in April 1822, by Peter Aaron Van Dorn in a "checkerboard" pattern advocated by Thomas Jefferson.[17] City blocks alternated with parks and other open spaces. Over time, many of the park squares have been developed rather than maintained as green space. The state legislature first met in Jackson on December 23, 1822. In 1839, the Mississippi Legislature passed the first state law in the U.S. to permit married women to own and administer their own property.

Jackson was connected by public road to Vicksburg and Clinton in 1826.[18] Jackson was first connected by railroad to other cities in 1840. An 1844 map shows Jackson linked by an east-west rail line running between Vicksburg, Raymond, and Brandon. Unlike Vicksburg, Greenville, and Natchez, Jackson is not located on the Mississippi River, and it did not develop during the antebellum era as those cities did from major river commerce. Construction of railroad lines to the city sparked its growth in the decades following the American Civil War.

American Civil War and late nineteenth century (1861–1900)

"Raising the Stars and Stripes Over the Capitol of the State of Mississippi", engraving from Harper's Weekly, 20 June 1863, after the capture of Jackson by Union forces during the American Civil War.
September 1863 map of the Siege of Jackson.

Despite its small population, during the Civil War, Jackson became a strategic center of manufacturing for the Confederate States of America. In 1863, during the campaign which ended in the capture of Vicksburg, Union forces captured Jackson during two battles—once before the fall of Vicksburg and once after the fall of Vicksburg.

On May 13, 1863, Union forces won the first Battle of Jackson, forcing Confederate forces to flee northward towards Canton. On May 15, Union troops under the command of William Tecumseh Sherman burned and looted key facilities in Jackson, a strategic manufacturing and railroad center for the Confederacy. After driving the Confederate forces out of Jackson, Union forces turned west and engaged the Vicksburg defenders at the Battle of Champion Hill in nearby Edwards. The Union forces began their siege of Vicksburg soon after their victory at Champion Hill. Confederate forces began to reassemble in Jackson in preparation for an attempt to break through the Union lines surrounding Vicksburg and end the siege. The Confederate forces in Jackson built defensive fortifications encircling the city while preparing to march west to Vicksburg.

Confederate forces marched out of Jackson in early July 1863 to break the siege of Vicksburg. But, unknown to them, Vicksburg had already surrendered on July 4, 1863. General Ulysses S. Grant dispatched General Sherman to meet the Confederate forces heading west from Jackson. Upon learning that Vicksburg had already surrendered, the Confederates retreated into Jackson. Union forces began the Siege of Jackson, which lasted for approximately one week. Union forces encircled the city and began an artillery bombardment. One of the Union artillery emplacements has been preserved on the grounds of the University of Mississippi Medical Center in Jackson. Another Federal position is preserved on the campus of Millsaps College. John C. Breckenridge, former United States Vice President, served as one of the Confederate generals defending Jackson. On July 16, 1863, Confederate forces slipped out of Jackson during the night and retreated across the Pearl River.

Union forces completely burned the city after its capture this second time. The city was called "Chimneyville" because only the chimneys of houses were left standing. The northern line of Confederate defenses in Jackson during the siege was located along a road near downtown Jackson, now known as Fortification Street.

Mississippi Old Capitol, downtown Jackson

Because of the siege and following destruction, few antebellum structures have survived in Jackson. The Governor's Mansion, built in 1842, served as Sherman's headquarters and has been preserved. Another is the Old Capitol building, which served as the home of the Mississippi state legislature from 1839 to 1903. The Mississippi legislature passed the ordinance of secession from the Union on January 9, 1861 there, becoming the second state to secede from the United States. The Jackson City Hall, built in 1846 for less than $8,000, also survived. It is said that Sherman, a Mason, spared it because it housed a Masonic Lodge, though a more likely reason is that it housed an army hospital.

During Reconstruction, Mississippi had considerable insurgent action, as whites struggled to maintain supremacy. In 1875 the Red Shirts were formed, one of a second wave of insurgent paramilitary organizations that essentially operated as "the military arm of the Democratic Party" to take back political power from the Republicans and to drive blacks from the polls.[19] Democrats regained control of the state legislature in 1876. The constitutional convention of 1890, which produced Mississippi's Constitution of 1890, was also held at the capitol.

This was the first of new constitutions or amendments ratified in each Southern state through 1908 that effectively disenfranchised most African Americans and many poor whites, through provisions making voter registration more difficult: such as poll taxes, residency requirements, and literacy tests. These provisions survived a Supreme Court challenge in 1898.[20][21] As 20th-century Supreme Court decisions later ruled such provisions were unconstitutional, Mississippi and other Southern states rapidly devised new methods to continue disfranchisement of most blacks, who comprised a majority in the state until the 1930s. Their exclusion from politics was maintained into the late 1960s.

The economic recovery from the Civil War was slow through the start of the 20th century, but there were some developments in transportation. In 1871, the city introduced mule-drawn streetcars which ran on State Street, which were replaced by electric ones in 1899.[22]

The so-called New Capitol replaced the older structure upon its completion in 1903. Today the Old Capitol is operated as a historical museum.

Early twentieth century (1901–1960)

Panorama of downtown Jackson in 1910. The Old Capitol and Capitol Street can be seen at the center of the photo. The New Capitol is at the left.

Author Eudora Welty was born in Jackson in 1909, lived most of her life in the Belhaven section of the city, and died there in 2001. Her memoir of development as a writer, One Writer's Beginnings (1984), presented a picture of the city in the early twentieth century. She won the Pulitzer Prize in 1973 for her novel, The Optimist's Daughter, and is best known for her novels and short stories. The main Jackson Public Library was named in her honor, and her home has been designated as a National Historic Landmark.

Standard Life Building, downtown Jackson.

Richard Wright, a highly acclaimed African-American author, lived in Jackson as an adolescent and young man in the 1910s and 1920s. He related his experience in his memoir Black Boy (1945). He described the harsh and largely terror-filled life most African Americans experienced in the South and Northern ghettos such as Chicago under segregation in the early twentieth century.

April 16, 1921 flood on Town Creek tributary stream at Jackson. The photo is a view of East Capitol Street looking east from North Farish Street.

Jackson had significant growth in the early twentieth century, which produced dramatic changes in the city's skyline. Jackson's new Union Station downtown reflected the city's service by multiple rail lines, including the Illinois Central. The railroads were among the new work opportunities for African Americans, who moved into the city from rural areas for such industrial-type jobs.

Across the street, the new, luxurious King Edward Hotel opened its doors in 1923, having been built according to a design by New Orleans architect William T. Nolan. It became a center for prestigious events held by Jackson society and Mississippi politicians. Nearby, the 18-story Standard Life Building, designed in 1929 by Claude Lindsley, was the largest reinforced concrete structure in the world upon its completion.

Jackson's economic growth was further stimulated in the 1930s by the discovery of natural gas fields nearby. Speculators had begun searching for oil and natural gas in Jackson beginning in 1920. The initial drilling attempts came up empty. This failure did not stop Ella Render from obtaining a lease from the state's insane asylum to begin a well on its grounds in 1924, where he found natural gas. (Render eventually lost the rights when courts determined that the asylum did not have the right to lease the state's property.) Businessmen jumped on the opportunity and dug wells in the Jackson area. The continued success of these ventures attracted further investment. By 1930, there were 14 derricks in the Jackson skyline.

Mississippi Governor Theodore Bilbo stated,

it is no idle dream to prophecy that the state's share [of the oil and natural gas profits] properly safe-guarded would soon pay the state's entire bonded indebtedness and even be great enough to defray all the state's expenses and make our state tax free so long as obligations are concerned.

This enthusiasm was subdued when the first wells failed to produce oil of a sufficiently high gravity for commercial success. The barrels of oil had considerable amounts of salt water, which lessened the quality. The governor's prediction is wrong in hindsight, but the oil and natural gas industry did provide an economic boost for the city and state. The effects of the Great Depression were mitigated by the industry's success. At its height in 1934, there were 113 producing wells in the state. The overwhelming majority were closed by 1955.[23]

Due to provisions in the federal Rivers and Harbors Act, on October 25, 1930 city leaders met with U.S. Army engineers to ask for federal help to alleviate Jackson flooding.[24] J.J. Halbert, city engineer, proposed a straightening and dredging of the Pearl River below Jackson.[25]

Jackson's Gold Coast

During Mississippi's extended Prohibition period, from the 1920s until the 1960s, illegal drinking and gambling casinos flourished on the east side of the Pearl River, in Flowood along the original U.S. Route 80 just across from the city of Jackson. Those illegal casinos, bootleg liquor stores, and nightclubs made up the Gold Coast, a strip of mostly black-market businesses that operated for decades along Flowood Road. Although outside the law, the Gold Coast was a thriving center of nightlife and music, with many local blues musicians appearing regularly in the clubs.

The Gold Coast declined and businesses disappeared after Mississippi's prohibition laws were repealed in 1966, allowing Hinds County, including Jackson, to go "wet".[26] In addition, integration drew off business from establishments that earlier had catered to African Americans, such as the Summers Hotel. When it opened in 1943 on Pearl Street, it was one of two hotels in the city that served black clients. For years its Subway Lounge was a prime performance spot for black musicians playing jazz and blues.

In another major change, in 1990 the state approved gaming on riverboats. Numerous casinos have been developed on riverboats, mostly in Mississippi Delta towns such as Tunica Resorts, Greenville and Vicksburg and Biloxi on the Gulf Coast. Before the damage and losses due to Hurricane Katrina in 2005, the state ranked second nationally in gambling revenues.

World War II and later development

During World War II, Hawkins Field in northwest Jackson was developed as a major airbase. Among other facilities and units, the Royal Netherlands Military Flying School was established there, after Nazi Germany occupied the Netherlands. From 1941, the base trained all Dutch military aircrews.

In 1949, the poet Margaret Walker began teaching at Jackson State University, a historically black college. She taught there until 1979, and founded the university's Center for African-American Studies. Her poetry collection won a Yale Younger Poets Prize. Her second novel, Jubilee (1966), is considered a major work of African-American literature. She has influenced many younger writers.

Civil Rights Movement in Jackson

The Civil Rights Movement had been active for decades, particularly mounting legal challenges to Mississippi's constitution and laws that disfranchised blacks. Beginning in 1960, Jackson as the state capital became the site for dramatic non-violent protests in a new phase of activism that brought in a wide variety of participants in the performance of mass demonstrations.

In 1960, the Census Bureau reported Jackson's population as 64.3% white and 35.7% black.[27] At the time, public facilities were segregated and Jim Crow was in effect. Efforts to desegregate Jackson facilities began when nine Tougaloo College students tried to read books in the "white only" public library and were arrested. Founded as a historically black college (HBCU) by the American Missionary Association after the Civil War, Tougaloo College helped organize both black and white students of the region to work together for civil rights. It created partnerships with the neighboring mostly white Millsaps College to work with student activists. It has been recognized as a site on the "Civil Rights Trail" by the National Park Service.[28]

The mass demonstrations of the 1960s were initiated with the arrival of more than 300 Freedom Riders on May 24, 1961. They were arrested in Jackson for disturbing the peace after they disembarked from their interstate buses. The interracial teams rode the buses from Washington, DC and sat together to demonstrate against segregation on public transportation, as the Constitution provides for unrestricted public transportation.[29] Although the Freedom Riders had intended New Orleans, Louisiana as their final destination, Jackson was the farthest that any managed to travel. New participants kept joining the movement, as they intended to fill the jails in Jackson with their protest. The riders had encountered extreme violence along the way, including a bus burning and physical assaults. They attracted national media attention to the struggle for constitutional rights.

After the Freedom Rides, students and activists of the Freedom Movement launched a series of merchant boycotts,[30] sit-ins and protest marches,[31] from 1961 to 1963. Businesses discriminated against black customers. For instance, at the time, department stores did not hire black salesclerks or allow black customers to use their fitting rooms to try on clothes, or lunch counters for meals while in the store, but they wanted them to shop in their stores.

In Jackson, shortly after midnight on June 12, 1963, Medgar Evers, civil rights activist and leader of the Mississippi chapter of the NAACP, was assassinated by Byron De La Beckwith, a white supremacist associated with the White Citizens' Council. Thousands marched in Evers' funeral procession to protest the killing.[32] Two trials at the time both resulted in hung juries. A portion of U.S. Highway 49, all of Delta Drive, a library, the central post office for the city, and Jackson-Evers International Airport were named in honor of Medgar Evers. In 1994, prosecutors Ed Peters and Bobby DeLaughter finally obtained a murder conviction in a state trial of De La Beckwith based on new evidence.

During 1963 and 1964, civil rights organizers gathered local residents for voter education and voter registration. Blacks had been essentially disfranchised since 1890. In a pilot project in 1963, activists rapidly registered 80,000 voters across the state, demonstrating the desire of African Americans to vote. In 1964 they created the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party as an alternative to the all-white state Democratic Party, and sent an alternate slate of candidates to the national Democratic Party convention in Atlantic City, New Jersey that year.

Segregation and the disfranchisement of African Americans gradually ended after the Civil Rights Movement gained Congressional passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and Voting Rights Act of 1965. In June 1966, Jackson was the terminus of the James Meredith March, organized by James Meredith, the first African American to enroll at the University of Mississippi. The march, which began in Memphis, Tennessee, was an attempt to garner support for full implementation of civil rights in practice, following the legislation. It was accompanied by a new drive to register African Americans to vote in Mississippi. In this latter goal, it succeeded in registering between 2,500 and 3,000 black Mississippians to vote. The march ended on June 26 after Meredith, who had been wounded by a sniper's bullet earlier on the march, addressed a large rally of some 15,000 people in Jackson.

In September 1967 a Ku Klux Klan chapter bombed the synagogue of the Beth Israel Congregation in Jackson, and in November bombed the house of its rabbi, Dr. Perry Nussbaum.[33] He and his congregation had supported civil rights.

Gradually the old barriers came down. Since that period, both whites and African Americans in the state have had a consistently high rate of voter registration and turnout. Following the decades of the Great Migration, when more than one million blacks left the rural South, since the 1930s the state has been majority white in total population. African Americans are a majority in the city of Jackson, although the metropolitan area is majority white. They are also a majority in several cities and counties of the Mississippi Delta, which are included in the 2nd congressional district.[34] The other three congressional districts are majority white.

Mid-1960s to present

The first successful cadaveric lung transplant was performed at the University of Mississippi Medical Center in Jackson in June 1963 by Dr. James Hardy. Hardy transplanted the cadaveric lung into a patient suffering from lung cancer. The patient survived for eighteen days before dying of kidney failure.

In 1966 it was estimated that recurring flood damage at Jackson from the Pearl River averaged nearly a million dollars per year. The U.S. Army Corp of Engineers spent $6.8 million on the levees and new channel in 1966 prior to the project completion with the aim to prevent a flood equal to the Dec. 1961 event plus an additional foot.[35]

Since 1968, Jackson has been the home of Malaco Records, one of the leading record companies for gospel, blues and soul music in the United States. In January 1973, Paul Simon recorded the songs "Learn How To Fall" and "Take Me To the Mardi Gras", found on the album There Goes Rhymin' Simon, in Jackson at the Malaco Recording Studios. Many well-known Southern artists recorded on the album including the Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section (David Hood, Jimmy Johnson, Roger Hawkins, Barry Beckett); Carson Whitsett, the Onward Brass Band from New Orleans, and others. The label has recorded many leading soul and blues artists, including Bobby Bland, ZZ Hill, Latimore, Shirley Brown, Denise LaSalle and Tyrone Davis.

On May 15, 1970 police killed two students and wounded 12 at Jackson State University (then called Jackson State College) after a protest of the Vietnam War included students' overturning and burning some cars. These killings occurred eleven days after the National Guard killed four students in an anti-war protest at Kent State University in Ohio, and were part of national social unrest.[36] Newsweek cited the Jackson State killings in its issue of May 18 when it suggested that U.S. President Richard Nixon faced a new home front.

The influx of illegal drugs nationally affected Jackson as smugglers used the highways, seaports and airports of the Gulf region.[37][38] The 1980s in Jackson were dominated by Mayor Dale Danks Jr. until he was unseated by lawyer and legislator, J. Kane Ditto, who criticized the deficit funding and politicized police department of the city.[39] Federal investigations of drug trafficking at Jackson's Hawkins Field (airport) were a part of the Kerry Report, the 1986 U.S. Senate investigation of public corruption and foreign relations.[40]

As Jackson has become the medical and legal center of the state, it has attracted Jewish professionals in both fields. Since the late 20th century, it has developed the largest Jewish community in the state.[41]

In 1997, Harvey Johnson, Jr. was elected as Jackson's first African-American mayor. During his term, he proposed the development of a convention center to attract more business to the city. In 2004, during his second term, 66 percent of the voters passed a referendum for a tax to build the Convention Center.[42]

Mayor Johnson was replaced by Frank Melton on July 4, 2005. Melton generated controversy through his unconventional behavior, which included acting as a law enforcement officer. A dramatic spike in crime ensued during his term, despite Melton's efforts to reduce crime. The lack of jobs contributed to crime.[43] In 2006 a young African-American businessman, Starsky Darnell Redd, was convicted of money laundering in federal court along with his mother, other associates, and Billy Tucker, the former airport security chief.[44] Redd had been convicted in 2002 for drug trafficking $8,000,000 worth of narcotics into Jackson.

In 2007 Hinds County sheriff Malcolm McMillin was also appointed as the new police chief in Jackson, setting a historic precedent. McMillin was both the county sheriff and city police chief until 2009, when he stepped down due to the disagreements with the mayor. Mayor Frank Melton died in May 2009 and City Councilman Leslie McLemore served as acting mayor of Jackson until July 2009, when former Mayor Harvey Johnson was elected and assumed the position.[45]

On June 26, 2011, 49-year-old James Craig Anderson was killed in Jackson after being beaten, robbed and run over by a group of white teenagers. The district attorney described it as a "hate crime", and the FBI investigated it as a civil rights violation.[46][47][48]

On March 18, 2013, a severe hailstorm hit the Jackson metro area. The hail caused major damage to roofs, vehicles, and siding damage to many homes. Hail ranged in size from golfball to softball. There were more than 40,000 hailstorm claims of homeowner and automobile damage.[49][50]

On July 1, 2013, Chokwe Lumumba was sworn into office as mayor of the city. After eight months in office, Lumumba died on February 25, 2014. Lumumba was a controversial figure due to his prior membership in the Republic of New Africa, as well as being a co-founder of the National Coalition of Blacks for Reparations in America. Lumumba's son, Chokwe Antar Lumumba, ran for the mayoral seat following his father's death, but lost to Councillor Tony Yarber on April 22, 2014.[51]

In 2013, Jackson was named as one of the top 10 friendliest cities in the United States by CN Traveler. The capital city was tied with Natchez as Number 7. The city was noticed for friendly people, great food, and green and pretty public places.[52]


Photograph of Jackson Mississippi taken from the International Space Station (ISS)

Jackson is located on the Pearl River, and is served by the Ross Barnett Reservoir, which forms a section of the Pearl River and is located northeast of Jackson on the border between Madison and Rankin counties. A tiny portion of the city containing Tougaloo College lies in Madison County, bounded on the west by I-220 and on the east by US 51 and I-55. A second portion of the city is located in Rankin County. In the 2000 census, only 1,533 of the city's residents lived in Madison County. Although no Jackson residents lived in the Rankin County portion in 2000, that figure had risen to 172 by 2006.

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 106.8 square miles (277 km2), of which, 104.9 square miles (272 km2) is land, and 1.9 square miles (4.9 km2), or 1.80% of the total, is water.

Major highways


Jackson sits atop the Jackson Volcano and is the only capital city in the United States to have this feature. The peak of the volcano is located 2,900 feet (880 m) directly below the Mississippi Coliseum.[53] The municipality is drained by the Big Black River tributaries on the west and the Pearl River on the east which is 150 feet (46 m) higher than the Big Black River near Canton. The artesian ground water flow is not as extensive in Jackson for this reason. The first large scale well was drilled in the city in 1896 and the city water supply has relied on surface water resources.[54]


Jackson is located in the humid subtropical climate zone (Köppen Cfa), with hot, humid summers and mild winters. Rain occurs throughout the year, though the winter and spring are the wettest seasons, and the late summer and early autumn is usually the driest time of the year. Snow is rare, and accumulation very seldom lasts more than a day.[55] The mean annual precipitation is about 51 inches.[56] Much of Jackson's rainfall occurs during thunderstorms. Thunder is heard on roughly 70 days each year. Jackson lies in a region prone to severe thunderstorms which can produce large hail, damaging winds and tornadoes. Among the most notable tornado events was the F5 Candlestick Park Tornado on March 3, 1966 which destroyed the shopping center of the same name and surrounding businesses and residential areas, killing 19 in South Jackson.

The record low temperature is −5 °F (−21 °C), set on January 27, 1940,[57] and the record high is 107 °F (42 °C), recorded as recently as August 30, 2000.[57]


Historical population
Census Pop.
Est. 2015170,674[60]−1.6%
U.S. Decennial Census[61]
2013 Estimate[2]

Jackson remained a small town for much of the 19th century. Before the American Civil War, Jackson's population remained small, particularly in contrast to the river towns along the commerce-laden Mississippi River. Despite the city's status as the state capital, the 1850 census counted only 1,881 residents, and by 1900 the population of Jackson had grown only to approximately 8,000. Although it expanded rapidly, during this period Meridian became Mississippi's largest city, based on trade, manufacturing, and access to transportation via railroad and highway.

In the early 20th century, as can be seen by the table, Jackson had its largest rates of growth, but was ranked second to Meridian. By 1944, Jackson's population had risen to some 70,000 inhabitants and it became the largest city in the state. It has maintained its position, achieving a peak population in the 1980 census of more than 200,000 residents in the city. Since then, Jackson has steadily seen a decline in its population, while its suburbs have had a boom. This change has occurred in part due to white flight,[62] but it also demonstrates the national suburbanization trend, in which wealthier residents moved out to newer housing. This decline slowed in the first decade of the 21st century.[63]

As of the census[64] of 2010, there were 173,514 people, and 62,400 households. The population density was 1,562.5 inhabitants per square mile (603.3/km2). There were 74,537 housing units. The racial makeup of the city was 79.4% Black or African American, 18.4% White or Euro American, 0.1% Native American, 0.4% Asian, and 0.9% from two or more races. 1.6% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.[65] Non-Hispanic Whites were 18% of the population in 2010,[65] down from 60% in 1970.[27]

There were 267,841 households out of which 39.4% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 35.4% were married couples living together, 25.3% had a female householder with no husband present, 5.8% had a male householder with no wife present, and 34.4% were non-families. 28.9% of all households were made up of individuals and 9.0% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.61 and the average family size was 3.24. Same-sex couple households comprised 0.8% of all househoulds.[66]

The age of the population was spread out with 28.5% under the age of 18, 12.4% from 18 to 24, 29.1% from 25 to 44, 19.1% from 45 to 64, and 10.9% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 31 years. For every 100 females, there were 86.9 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 81.5 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $30,414, and the median income for a family was $36,003. Males had a median income of $29,166 versus $23,328 for females. The per capita income for the city was $17,116. About 19.6% of families and 23.5% of the population were below the poverty line, including 33.7% of those under age 18 and 15.7% of those age 65 or over.[67]

Jackson ranks number 10 in the nation in concentration of African-American same-sex couples.[68]

In 2012, WAPT posted an article about Jackson's population being projected to grow after a 30-year decline. In a pattern typical of many older cities, Jackson's population had declined while its suburbs grew. Some people expect that pattern to change, noting people's renewed preferences for denser neighborhoods, city amenities, and other attractions. After 1980, the city population declined to the 2010 Census, with 173,514 citizens. "Whether it is flattening out, or what it could be, we don't know exactly," said Mark Monk of the Central Mississippi Planning and Development District. Monk also mentioned that it is just a one-year estimate, so it is not all accurate. Jackson was projected to grow at an estimated 1.1%. On the other hand, Madison was projected to grow 1.8% and Rankin had a projection of 1.5%. Of persons moving into the city, some 60 percent were from Rankin and Madison counties, and had chosen to return to the city. Thirty percent were female. Thirty-three percent were African Americans.[69]


Air travel

Commercial aircraft waiting to depart from Jackson-Evers International Airport, July 2005.
JaTRAN bus in front of the Hotel King Edward and Standard Life Building, downtown Jackson.
Union Station, in downtown Jackson, now served by Amtrak.

Jackson is served by Jackson-Evers International Airport, located at Allen C. Thompson Field, east of the city in Pearl in Rankin County. Its IATA code is JAN. The airport has non-stop service to six cities throughout the United States and is served by three scheduled carriers (American, Delta, and United). Jackson became one of the only cities to ever lose Southwest Airlines service when the carrier ceased service in the summer of 2014.

On December 22, 2004, Jackson City Council voted 6–0 to rename Jackson International Airport in honor of slain civil rights leader and field secretary for the Mississippi chapter of the NAACP, Medgar Evers. This decision took effect on January 22, 2005.

Formerly Jackson was served by Hawkins Field Airport, located in northwest Jackson, with IATA code HKS, which is now used for private air traffic only.

Underway is the Airport Parkway project. The environmental impact study is complete and final plans are drawn and awaiting Mississippi Department of Transportation approval. Right-of-way acquisition is underway at an estimated cost of $19 million. The Airport Parkway will connect High Street in downtown Jackson to Mississippi Highway 475 in Flowood at Jackson-Evers International Airport. The Airport Parkway Commission consists of the Mayor of Pearl, the Mayor of Flowood, and the Mayor of Jackson, as the Airport Parkway will run through and have access from each of these three cities.

Ground transportation

Interstate highways

Interstate 20
Runs east-west from near El Paso, Texas to Florence, South Carolina. Jackson is roughly halfway between Dallas and Atlanta. The highway is six lanes from Interstate 220 to MS 468 in Pearl.

Interstate 55
Runs north-south from Chicago through Jackson towards Brookhaven, McComb, and the Louisiana state line to New Orleans. Jackson is roughly halfway between New Orleans and Memphis, Tennessee. The highway maintains eight to ten lanes in the northern part of the city, six lanes in the center and four lanes south of I-20.

Interstate 220
Connects Interstates 55 and 20 on the north and west sides of the city and is four lanes throughout its route.

U.S. highways

U.S. Highway 49
Runs north-south from the Arkansas state line at Lula via Clarksdale and Yazoo City, towards Hattiesburg and Gulfport. It bypasses the city via I-20 and I-220

U.S. Highway 51
Known in Jackson as State Street, it roughly parallels Interstate 55 from the I-20/I-55 western split to downtown. It multiplexes with I-55 from Pearl/Pascagoula St northward to County Line Road, where the two highways split.

U.S. Highway 80
Roughly parallels Interstate 20.

State highways

Mississippi Highway 18
Runs southwest towards Raymond and Port Gibson; southeast towards Bay Springs and Quitman.

Mississippi Highway 25
Some parts of this road are known as Lakeland Drive such as Jackson & Flowood, which runs northeast towards Carthage and Starkville.

Other roads

In addition, Jackson is served by the Natchez Trace Parkway, which runs from Natchez to Nashville, Tennessee.

Bus service

JATRAN (Jackson Transit System) operates hourly or half-hourly during daytime hours on weekdays, and mostly hourly on Saturdays. No evening or Sunday Service provided.


Amtrak, the national passenger rail system, provides service to Jackson. The Amtrak station is located at 300 West Capitol Street. The southbound City of New Orleans provides service from Jackson to New Orleans and some points between; it leaves at 11:20 a.m. and arrives in New Orleans about 3:30 p.m. The northbound City of New Orleans provides service from Jackson to Memphis, Carbondale, Champaign-Urbana, Chicago and some points between. It leaves at 5:40 p.m., arrives in Memphis at 10 p.m., and in Chicago at 9 a.m. the new day. Efforts to establish service with another long distance train, the proposed Crescent Star, an extension of the Crescent westward from Meridian, Mississippi, to Dallas, failed in 2003, because Congress refused any growth in Amtrak routes.

During the two waves of Great Migration in the 20th century, thousands of African Americans used trains to move to Northern and Midwestern cities, with many traveling to Chicago from rural Mississippi. They settled in neighborhoods with people they had known at home.

The growth of competition from highways and airline traffic meant widespread restructuring in the railroad industry since the mid-20th century. Passenger service was decreased, as people increasingly chose to use cars and planes. For freight traffic, Jackson is served by the Canadian National Railway (CN) and Kansas City Southern Railway (KCS). CN has a medium-sized yard downtown which Mill Street parallels and KCS has a large classification yard in Richland.


Jackson is home to several major industries. These include electrical equipment and machinery, processed food, and primary and fabricated metal products. The surrounding area supports agricultural development of livestock, soybeans, cotton, and poultry.

Publicly traded companies

The following companies are headquartered in Jackson:

Major private companies based in Jackson include Ergon.


Jackson had the nation's 12th highest homicide rate in 1993 among cities with more than 100,000 residents, according to the FBI. In a report released over the weekend, the FBI said last year's 87 slayings gave Jackson a homicide rate of 41.9 per 100,000 residents. The 87 Jackson slayings recorded in 1993 set a new record for the most violent deaths in one year. But 89 slayings have been recorded in 1994 with less than four weeks left in the year. The record would be broken again in 1995 with a total number of 94 homicides.[70]


Cultural organizations and institutions

Government and infrastructure

1874 engraving in Scribner's Monthly of the Old Capitol, the seat of Mississippi's legislature from 1839 to 1903.

Municipal government

In 1985, Jackson voters opted to replace the three-person mayor-commissioner system with a city council and mayor. This electoral system enables wider representation of residents on the city council. City council members are elected from each of the city's seven wards, considered single-member districts. The mayor is elected at-large citywide.

Jackson's mayor is Tony Yarber (D).

For former mayors, see Mayor of Jackson, MS.

Jackson's City Council members are:

County government

Jackson is one of two county seats of Hinds County, with the city of Raymond being the other.

State government

The Mississippi Department of Corrections (MDOC) operates the Jackson Probation & Parole Office in Jackson.[91] The MDOC Central Mississippi Correctional Facility, in unincorporated Rankin County,[92] is located in proximity to Jackson.[93]

Federal representation

The larger portion of Jackson is part of Mississippi's 2nd congressional district. U.S. Representative Bennie Gordon Thompson, a Democrat, has served since 1993. Until 2011 he was Chairman of the Committee on Homeland Security and has been the ranking member since 2011 then.[1]

The United States Postal Service operates the Jackson Main Post Office[94] and several smaller post offices.

Infrastructure issues

On March 27, 2015, Jackson Mayor Tony Yarber issued a state of emergency for transportation (potholes) and water infrastructure (breaks in water mains).[95][96] The quality of Jackson's water infrastructure system decreased after the severe winter weather of 2014–2015. Jackson's office estimated the cost to fix the roads and water pipes at $750 million to $1 billion.[96]

After issuing the state of emergency, the City of Jackson filed a letter of intent to Department of Health to borrow $2.5 million to repair broken water pipes. The Jackson City Council must approve the mayor's proposal.[95] Additionally, Mayor Yarber asked for help from both FEMA and the state Governor's office.[97]

Calling for a state of emergency increases the likelihood that the U.S. Department of Transportation would give the city money from a "quick release" funding account.[96]


Jackson State University band "The Sonic Boom" performing at Mississippi Veterans Memorial Stadium
Millsaps College is one of several institutions in and around Jackson established before 1900.

Jackson is home to the international headquarters of Phi Theta Kappa, an honor society for students enrolled in two-year colleges. And also home to the largest HBCU in Mississippi and only doctoral-granting research university in the region with Jackson State University.[98][99]

Colleges and universities

Primary and secondary schools

Public schools

Jackson Public School District operates 60 public schools. It is one of the largest school districts in the state with about 30,000 students in 38 elementary schools, 13 middle schools, 7 high schools, and two special schools.[100] Jackson Public Schools is the only urban school district in the state.[101]

The district's high schools include:

Private schools

Private secondary schools include:

Private primary schools include:







Poster advertising the Mississippi Corvette Classic in August 2012, one of the many events hosted by the recently finished Jackson Convention Center.


FM radio

AM radio

Points of interest

Thalia Mara Hall in Jackson, Mississippi



In 1978, the USA International Ballet Competition was founded in Jackson by Thalia Mara. The competition is held in the downtown arts district where the 1968 Municipal Auditorium was renamed Thalia Mara Hall in her honor.

The worldwide International Ballet Competition (IBC) was founded in 1964 in Varna, Bulgaria. Since 1979, when the event was first held in the United States in Jackson, it returns every four years in June. The competition expanded to rotating annual events among Jackson, Varna, Moscow and Tokyo. The rotation is currently among Jackson, Varna, Helsinki, and Shanghai.

Jackson hosted the IBC in 1979, 1982, 1986, 1990, 1994, 1998, 2002, 2006, 2010, and in 2014. The United States Congress recognized Jackson and the USA IBC in 1982 with a Joint Resolution designating Jackson as the official home of the USA IBC.[114]

Annual festivals and cultural events

Downtown Jackson attractions

Eudora Welty House in Jackson's Belhaven neighborhood.
  • Alamo Theater (The)
  • Boddie Mansion (The)
  • Bronze Statue of Medgar Evers
  • Chimneyville Crafts Gallery
  • City Hall
  • Dr. A. H. McCoy Federal Building
  • Jackson Zoo
  • Mississippi Arts Center
  • The Oaks House Museum/Boyd House
  • Old State Capitol
  • Russell C. Davis Planetarium/Ronald E. McNair Space Theater
  • Smith Park – by the Governor's Mansion
  • Smith Robertson Museum and Cultural Center
  • Sonny Guy Municipal Golf Course
  • Thalia Mara Hall
  • War Memorial Building

Museums and historic sites

Historic marker

Jackson received its first Mississippi Blues Trail designation in honor of the former "Subway Lounge" on Pearl Street. A ceremony was held to place a historic marker at the former site of the Summers Hotel, where the Subway Lounge was located in the basement level.[106] When the Summers Hotel opened in 1943, long before desegregation, it was one of two hotels in the city available as lodging to blacks. In the 1960s, the hotel added a lounge that featured jazz. In the 1980s, when the lounge was revived, it catered to late night blues performers.


Lamar Life Building, downtown Jackson.


Downtown Jackson renaissance

Currently, Jackson is experiencing $1.6 billion in downtown development.[129] The public-private projects include new construction, renovation and adaptation of some existing buildings, including conversions into residential space; and improvements to public infrastructure and amenities.

Tallest buildings

Name Height Year
Regions Plaza (formerly AmSouth) 318 ft 1975
Jackson Marriott Downtown 255 ft 1975
Regions Bank Building (formerly AmSouth) 254 ft 1929
Walter Sillers State Office Building 250 ft 1972
Standard Life Building 250 ft 1929
Capital Towers Building 245 ft 1965
Trustmark National Bank Building 215 ft 1955
Lamar Life Building 191 ft 1924


Veterans Memorial Stadium is the largest stadium facility in Jackson. Its parking lot often is used by employees of the University of Mississippi Medical Center nearby.

Roller Derby

Sports arenas

Sports teams

Former professional sports teams

Notable people

See: List of people from Mississippi

See also


  1. Official records for Jackson have been kept at the international airport since 8 July 1963. For more information, see Threadex


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