Vibrant Jackson History
Jackson was founded in 1821, at the site of a trading post situated on a "high handsome bluff" on the west bank of the Pearl River. Jackson history tells that the trading post was operated by a French-Canadian trader named Louis LeFleur, and the town originally was called LeFleur's Bluff.
The Mississippi state legislature wanted the seat of government moved out of the Natchez area and into a more central location. It commissioned three men to locate an ideal place for a town that could become the state capital.
After surveying areas north and east of Jackson, Thomas Hinds, James Patton, and William Lattimore proceeded southwest along the Pearl River until they came to LeFleur's Bluff in Hinds County. Their report to the General Assembly was that this location had "beautiful and healthful surroundings, good water, abundant timber, navigable waters, and nearness to the Natchez Trace."
A legislative act dated November 28, 1821 authorized the location to be the permanent seat of government for the state and that it would be named Jackson -- in honor of Major General Andrew Jackson who would later become the seventh president of the United States.
The building of a new state house had top priority, and a $3,500 contract was awarded to build Mississippi's first capitol: a two-story brick structure 40 feet by 30 feet.
Shortly after the adoption of the Constitution of 1832, which ensured Jackson would be the permanent capital, the Mississippi legislature authorized the construction of a new and much larger house of government.
This magnificent example of Greek Revival architecture remained the seat of state government until 1903. It lay dormant for several years, and then served as state offices until the late 1950s and as the state historical museum until 2005. Surviving extensive damage from Hurricane Katrina in 2005, the Old Capitol was lovingly restored and opened to the public as a state house museum in 2009.
A third capitol building, referred to as the "New Capitol," was completed in 1903. This magnificent structure, patterned after the National Capitol, is a major tourist attraction today, as well as the focus of Mississippi state government activities.
Two other buildings are worthy of note in Mississippi history. The Governor's Mansion, authorized in 1839 and completed in 1842, is the second oldest residence of its type in the nation; it is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Jackson's City Hall, built in 1846 for less than $8,000, is still the working seat of municipal government after more than 140 years. The massively-columned, three-story building and the gardens that surround it are two of the most photographed locations in the city.
Jackson's growth in the 1800s was slow and sometimes painful. During the Civil War, the town was ravaged and burned three times by Union troops under the command of General William Tecumseh Sherman. Surprisingly, the City Hall was spared the torch. It was rumored that Sherman bypassed the building because it housed a Masonic Lodge and that the Union leader was a Mason. More likely, its use as a hospital was the reason the building was not burned.
Although less than 8,000 people lived in the Jackson area at the turn of the century, its population began accelerating rapidly after 1900, and it is now one of the dynamic growth areas of the Sunbelt. In 1990, the population of the Metropolitan area rose to 395,396. It is a major distribution center with a prime location equal distance between Memphis and New Orleans, north-south, and between Dallas and Atlanta, east-west.
As a major distribution center, efficient transportation facilities are a must. Eight major air carriers -- American Eagle, Continental, Delta, Northwest Airlines, US Airways Express, and Southwest Airlines -- provide service in the Jackson International Airport and Hawkins Field. Amtrak provides daily passenger service to Chicago and New Orleans. The Illinois Central Gulf Railroad and scores of major truck lines provide freight service to all parts of the nation.
A new, state-of-the-art convention center, the Jackson Convention Complex, opened in January 2009, in downtown Jackson, the beating heart of this vibrant, modern city. JCC offers conferencing technology, a 380-seat theatre, and more than 110,000 square feet of prime meeting and exhibit space. The complex is near Jackson’s arts district, hotels, entertainment and restaurants.
Jackson boasts two regional shopping malls, numerous multi-store centers, and a wide array of antiques, gifts and crafts shops.
Eleven hospitals, including the nationally renowned University of Mississippi Medical Center, provide diagnoses and treatment for thousands of patients in the region.
Every major church denomination is represented in the city, and there are more than 400 houses of worship scattered throughout the 105 square miles of community. An excellent public school system is an integral part of the area, and one university and six colleges and junior colleges are located within 15 miles of Jackson's center.
Residents of the City with Soul are extremely proud of their Southern hospitality and lifestyle. Community support is strong for a symphony orchestra, an opera, ballet companies,professional theater groups, and a beautiful new art museum
A Proud Jackson Mississippi History
The City with Soul offers so much to do that you’ll be busy deciding which attractions, events and restaurants to visit next. You’ll just have to come back again. Call us at 1-800-354-7695 or 601-960-1891. Start planning your Jackson history tour today.