History of Jackson, MS

Early History

The area that is now Jackson, Mississippi was originally inhabited by the Choctaw Native Americans. In 1792, the Treaty of New York ceded Choctaw lands east of the Tombigbee River to the United States, opening up the area for American settlement.

The city of Jackson was founded in 1822 after the Mississippi legislature chose the site to be the new state capital. The city was named after General Andrew Jackson, who was a hero of the War of 1812 and later became the 7th President of the United States.

Jackson was centrally located between the major cities of Natchez and Vicksburg and the legislators believed the forests surrounding the area would provide timber to build the new town.

Founding of Jackson

  • 1821: The Mississippi legislature authorized the creation of a new state capital
  • 1822: The city was laid out on a checkerboard plan with streets running north-south named after U.S. presidents and streets running east-west named after states
  • 1823: The first state house was built
  • 1839: The current Mississippi State Capitol building was completed

Jackson grew slowly at first, hampered by financial panics and Indian removal policies that pushed Native Americans west of the Mississippi River. By 1850, Jackson had grown to a population of 1,881 people.

Antebellum Era and Civil War

As both Jackson and Mississippi grew in the antebellum years, the city became a hub of the cotton trade and wealth. Several mansions were built by wealthy cotton factors and plantation owners during this time period.

Key Events

  • 1838: Jackson was incorporated as a city
  • 1840s-1850s: Wealthy Greek Revival homes built around downtown
  • 1861: Mississippi seceded from the Union at the start of the Civil War
  • 1863: Jackson was burned during the Civil War by Union troops under General William T. Sherman
  • 1865: Mississippi was readmitted to the Union after the Civil War ended

During the Civil War, Jackson served as a key railroad hub for Confederate forces. The city was captured and burned by Union forces under General William T. Sherman in 1863 during his Meridian campaign. Many of Jackson’s antebellum homes were damaged or destroyed during the war.

Reconstruction and Jim Crow Era

After the Civil War ended, Jackson struggled to rebuild itself. The economy was depressed and the city went through years of turmoil. By the 1870s, businesses and industries slowly began to return as Reconstruction ended and the white power structure reasserted control.

Key Events

  • 1870s: Businesses and industries like mills and foundries reopened
  • 1880s-1890s: Jim Crow laws enacted, disenfranchising black citizens
  • 1900: Jackson’s population reached 8,000 people
  • 1908: Union Station railroad depot opened

Like the rest of Mississippi, Jackson saw the rise of Jim Crow laws and racial segregation during this time period. Schools and facilities became segregated and black citizens were pushed out of the political process.

Early 20th Century Growth

Jackson saw steady population growth in the early 20th century. As the capital and largest city in the state, Jackson became a regional economic center.


  • 1916: Jackson Zoo founded, one of the oldest in the country
  • 1930s: Jackson Municipal Airport built
  • 1930s-1940s: Art deco skyscrapers constructed downtown
  • 1934: Jackson State University founded as a historically black college

New Deal programs during the Great Depression helped fund construction projects in Jackson. The city continued to grow as an industrial and transportation center through the mid-20th century.

Civil Rights Era

As the capital of Mississippi, Jackson was the center of civil rights protests and clashes during the 1950s and 1960s. Peaceful protestors faced violence and jail as they fought for desegregation and voting rights.

Key Events

  • 1951: First Freedom Ride stopped in Jackson
  • 1962: Riots erupted over integration of Ole Miss
  • 1963: Medgar Evers assassinated in Jackson
  • 1963: NAACP protests and boycotts in downtown Jackson
  • 1970: Jackson State shootings killed two students

Civil rights leaders like Medgar Evers coordinated efforts from Jackson. Sit-ins, boycotts, marches, and Freedom Rides made Jackson ground zero for the movement. Violence erupted as segregationists tried to suppress civil rights activism.

Modern Era

After the Civil Rights Movement ended legal segregation, Jackson continues to grapple with white flight, urban decay, and losing residents to the suburbs. Efforts have been made to revitalize downtown with new businesses and attractions.

Recent Developments

  • 1971: Jackson-Medgar Wiley Evers International Airport opened
  • 2000s: Mississippi Blues Trail markers added throughout city
  • 2004: Mississippi Civil Rights Museum opened
  • 2015: Jackson Convention Complex expanded

Jackson remains the economic and political hub of Mississippi. The city is working to attract new businesses and residents downtown while preserving its historic Civil Rights heritage.

Government and Politics

As the state capital, Jackson is home to the bulk of Mississippi’s government offices and agencies. The Mississippi State Capitol building houses the state legislature.

State Government

  • Governor’s Mansion – Official residence of the governor
  • Mississippi State Capitol – Home of the state legislature
  • Mississippi Supreme Court – Highest state court
  • State agencies – Department of Education, Transportation, Finance and Administration, etc.

In addition to state government, Jackson serves as the county seat of Hinds County. The Hinds County Courthouse is located downtown near the Capitol.

Jackson has a mayor-council form of government. The current mayor of Jackson is Chokwe Antar Lumumba. The city is divided into seven wards, each represented by a council member. Most city government buildings are located in downtown Jackson.

Geography and Climate

Jackson is located in central Mississippi in the Gulf coastal plain region. The Pearl River runs through the eastern side of the city. Jackson has a humid subtropical climate with hot, humid summers and mild, rainy winters.

Key Geographic Facts

  • Location – Central Mississippi
  • Area – 115 sq. miles
  • Average Elevation – 298 feet
  • Pearl River – Forms eastern border of the city

Jackson’s climate is hot in the summer, with average highs in the 90s Fahrenheit in July. Winters are mild, with average highs in the 50s in January. Spring and fall see warm temperatures and moderate rainfall.


As the capital, government is a driving force of Jackson’s economy. Many major companies are headquartered in the metro area and healthcare is also a major employer.

Major Industries

  • Government
  • Banking/Finance
  • Healthcare
  • Manufacturing
  • Technology
  • Transportation

Jackson serves as a regional hub for retail and services. The city saw rapid suburban growth in the late 20th century, drawing residents out of Jackson proper. Poverty remains an issue in the urban core.

Some major companies headquartered in the Jackson metro area include:

  • Entergy Mississippi – Electric utility
  • Mississippi Power – Electric utility
  • AT&T Mississippi
  • Nissan North America
  • Lenovo North America
  • Cellular South

Culture and Contemporary Life

Jackson has a rich cultural heritage spanning its history. From the Jim Crow era to the Civil Rights Movement, the city has been at the center of Mississippi’s story.

Attractions and Institutions

  • Mississippi Civil Rights Museum
  • Eudora Welty House Museum
  • Jackson Zoo
  • Mississippi Museum of Art
  • Mississippi Children’s Museum

As the capital city, Jackson also provides urban amenities like bars, restaurants, music venues, parks, and festivals. The city is known for its soul food, barbecue, blues music scene.

Popular events include the Mississippi State Fair, CelticFest Mississippi, Mississippi Blues Marathon, and the Mississippi Book Festival.

The collegiate baseball Battle of the Brazos is held annually between Jackson State University and Mississippi Valley State University.

Architecture and Historic Homes

Jackson has a range of architectural styles reflecting its growth and periods of prosperity over time. Fine examples of Greek Revival, Italianate, and Art Deco buildings can be found across the city.

Notable Buildings

  • Mississippi State Capitol – Greek Revival style from the 1830s
  • Old Mississippi State Capitol – Italianate style capitol built in the 1900s
  • Standard Life Building – Art Deco skyscraper built in 1929
  • Jackson City Hall – 14-story Art Deco building constructed in 1937

Several historic districts around downtown Jackson contain fine examples of preserved architecture:

  • Farish Street Historic District – Late 19th/early 20th century commercial buildings
  • Belhaven Historic District – Historic homes from the early 20th century
  • Smith Park Architectural District – Variety of architectural styles from 1840-1940

Many historic antebellum plantation homes can also be found preserved in and around Jackson:

  • Manship House Museum
  • Cedar Grove Mansion Inn
  • Anchuca Mansion
  • Mt. Salus Hall

Higher Education

As the capital, Jackson is home to several universities, colleges, and community colleges:

Sports and Recreation

Jackson is home to several professional, college, and community sports teams offering entertainment to residents.


  • Mississippi Braves – Minor league baseball affiliate of the Atlanta Braves
  • Jackson State Tigers – College teams competing in the NCAA Division I SWAC
  • Mississippi College Choctaws – NCAA Division II college teams

Venues include Mississippi Veterans Memorial Stadium, home to the Mississippi Braves, and Mississippi Coliseum, home to various concerts, events, and ice shows.

Parks across Jackson offer outdoor recreation like walking trails, golf courses, tennis courts, and more.

Notable parks include LeFleur’s Bluff State Park and Battlefield Park. The Ross R. Barnett Reservoir offers boating, fishing, and water sports to the northeast of Jackson.

Hospitals and Healthcare

As the capital city, Jackson is home to several major hospitals that serve the region:

  • University of Mississippi Medical Center – The state’s only academic medical center
  • St. Dominic Hospital – Major hospital affiliated with St. Dominic Health Services
  • Mississippi Baptist Medical Center – Christian hospital associated with Baptist Memorial Health Care
  • Merit Health Central – Recently renovated downtown medical center

Additional medical facilities provide specialized care, including Blair E. Batson Hospital for Children next to UMMC and the VA Medical Center.

Jackson is also home to the University of Mississippi School of Medicine along with schools for dentistry, nursing, and health-related professions.


Jackson developed as a transportation hub and remains a regional nexus for air, rail, road, and bus travel.


  • Jackson-Medgar Wiley Evers International Airport – Mississippi’s largest airport
  • Amtrak Station – Passenger rail service on the City of New Orleans line
  • Interstates 20, 55, 220 – Freeways connecting Jackson regionally
  • Bus service – JATRAN operates local buses and Greyhound offers intercity connections

The city is crossed by several major U.S. highways including Routes 49, 51, and 80. Public transit is provided by the JATRAN bus system.

Jackson’s central location, airport, rail lines, and highway network make it easily accessible for business, government, and leisure travel.

Media and Communications

As the state capital, Jackson is home to many media outlets that provide news and information to Mississippi residents.

Major Outlets

  • The Clarion-Ledger – Daily newspaper
  • WJTV – CBS television affiliate
  • WLBT – NBC television affiliate
  • WAPT – ABC television affiliate
  • WRBJ-FM – NPR affiliate radio station
  • Mississippi Public Broadcasting – Statewide public television and radio

Additional newspapers include the Jackson Free Press and the Mississippi Business Journal. Popular magazines include the Jackson Magazine.

Telecommunications companies like AT&T, CSpire, and Cable One provide service to the city. Government institutions like Mississippi Public Broadcasting have headquarters in Jackson.

Growth and Development

While Jackson’s population has declined in recent decades, the metropolitan area continues to grow. Efforts are being made to revitalize the urban core.

Recent Projects

  • Downtown development – New convention center, sports arena, restaurants
  • Airport expansion – Renovations at Jackson-Medgar Wiley Evers Airport
  • Hotel growth – Downtown Westin, Marriott expansions
  • Housing – Affordable housing projects in neglected neighborhoods

Areas of focus include drawing residents downtown, attracting new businesses and hotels, and preserving historic buildings and neighborhoods. Infrastructure upgrades to roads, the airport, and city amenities are ongoing.

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  • Start out heading southeast on I-55 S toward Jackson. Take exit 98B toward MS-18/Adams St/US-51. Keep left to stay on Exit 98B and merge onto US-51 S/Adams St. Turn right onto Northview Dr. The destination will be on your right. Your route is 6.6 miles total.
  • Begin on East County Line Road heading south. Turn right to merge onto I-20 West toward Jackson. Take exit 50A towards I-55 South/Brookhaven. Merge onto I-55 South and travel for around 4 miles. Take exit 98B for US-51 S/Adams St and keep left to continue on exit 98B. Merge onto US-51 S/Adams St and go for 1.5 miles. Make a right onto Northview Dr and your destination will be on the right just past Kilburn Ave. You will travel 11 miles total.
  • Start out on State St in downtown Jackson heading north. Turn right onto Pearl St and continue for half a mile. Take the ramp onto I-55 North. Drive for around 2 miles then take exit 100 for Briarwood Dr toward US 51/Northside Dr. Turn left onto Briarwood Dr then quickly turn right onto Northside Dr. After a third of a mile, turn left onto Northview Dr. 3829 Northview Dr will be on your right after passing Kilburn Ave. Your total travel distance is approximately 5 miles.