Introduction to Jackson, Mississippi
Jackson is Mississippi's largest city and also its capital city. Situated on the Pearl River, the city is located roughly halfway between the cities of Dallas, Texas (about 400 miles to the west) and Atlanta, Georgia (to the east). Jackson is surrounded by several major thoroughfares, including Interstates I-20, I-55, and I-220; U.S. Routes 49, 51, and 80; and Mississippi State Highways 18 and 25.
Founded in 1821, the community originally known as "LeFleur's Bluff" was selected as the ideal site for a town that could become the Mississippi state capital. An 1821 legislative act authorized the location to be the permanent seat of government for the state and deemed that it be named Jackson, in honor of Major General Andrew Jackson who would later become the seventh president of the United States. The following year, Jackson became incorporated as a city. During the Civil War, the city became the target of Union troops, who ravaged and burned it several times under the command of General William T. Sherman. Post-war recovery was slow, but by the turn of the 20th century, Jackson began to experience a sharp rise in its population and it soon became one of the Sunbelt's most dynamic growth regions. Industrial development was spurred in the 1930s by the nearby discovery of natural gas. During the 1960s and early 1970s, the city was the scene of racial unrest, epitomized by the 1963 slaying of civil rights activist and NAACP leader Medgar Evers by a white supremacist. Subsequent decades have seen improvement in the state of race relations; in 2004, Jackson City Council members voted unanimously to rename Jackson International Airport in honor of Medgar Evers.
Points of Interest in Jackson
Residents of Jackson are proud of their music, their cuisine, and also their numerous cultural and recreational sites. The Smith Robertson Museum and Cultural Center, located almost adjacent to the State Capitol building, celebrates the African American experience in the Deep South through art, photography, and artifacts. The museum is housed in the former Smith Robertson School, which opened in 1894 and was the first public school built for African Americans in Jackson. Another highlight of downtown Jackson is the Russell C. Davis Planetarium, which features breathtaking space scenes, colorful laser images, and exciting large-format films. One of Jackson's premiere landmarks is the Jackson Zoo, which has been in existence since 1919. Servicing hundreds of thousands of visitors annually, the zoo features over one hundred different species of animal, several of which are considered endangered. Among Jackson's other significant attractions are the following:
- Mississippi State Capitol
- Mississippi Museum of Art
- Medgar Evers Home Museum
- Mississippi Symphony Orchestra
- Thalia Mara Hall
- New Stage Theatre
- Manship House Museum
- Mississippi Museum of Natural Science
- Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame and Museum
- Eudora Welty House Museum
- Mississippi Agriculture and Forestry Museum
Jackson is home to a professional baseball team. The Mississippi Braves are a minor league team which plays in the Class-AA Southern League. The Braves, whose home field is actually located in Pearl, Mississippi, a Jackson suburb, is affiliated with Major League Baseball's Atlanta Braves. Soccer fans in Jackson can root for Mississippi Brilla, a member of the United Soccer League's Premier Development League (PDL). Jackson is also home to the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame and Museum, recently acclaimed by ESPN as one of the nation's best museums for American Baseball History.