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Welcome to Jackson Mississippi

Jackson Mississippi

Although it is Mississippi's largest city, and the state capital, Jackson has a slow pace with a distinctly southern lifestyle, and its population of about 400,000 is spread over a large geographic area, making it seem smaller than it is. The main landmark in the city is the old Mississippi State Capitol building in the very centre of the downtown area, modelled on the US Capitol in Washington and adding an impressive dimension to the city skyline.

Jackson meanders along the banks of the winding Pearl River, having been founded in 1821 as a trading post and incorporated into the United States in 1833 for the deliberate purpose of being the state capital. It is an exceedingly well-ordered city thanks to thoughtful town planning, but because it is spread out, exploring its distinct neighbourhoods is best done by car.

Downtown are the cultural centres, historic buildings and museums, but visitors need to travel to areas like Ridgeland, a few miles out, to find good shopping, eating, lodging and nightlife opportunities. The neighbourhood of Mid North has some great recreational areas, like Le Fleur's Bluff State Park, while to the west of Downtown is the significant Farish Street Historical District, a centre of black culture, politics, religion and business.

Information & Facts


The weather in Jackson is warm and humid in summer, and mild in winter, temperatures never extreme at either end of the scale. Rainfall is fairly high, and can occur at any time of year. In the late summer and autumn Jackson is sometimes in the path of hurricanes moving north from the Gulf of Mexico. Tornadoes are also a threat between February and May.

Getting Around

Hiring a car is perhaps the best way to get around in Jackson as many of the attractions lie outside the city, though taxis are readily available. The public transport system is limited and although JATRAN provides a fixed route service, schedules are hard to find and fares aren't obviously listed.

English is the most common language but Spanish is often spoken in south-western states.

The US Dollar (USD) is the unit of currency and is divided into 100 cents. Only major banks exchange foreign currency. ATMs are widespread and credit cards and travellers cheques are widely accepted. Travellers cheques should be taken in US Dollars to avoid hassles. Banking hours are Monday to Friday 9am to 3pm.

The King of Rock and Roll, Elvis Presley, was born in Tupelo, northern Mississippi in 1935 in a humble home where he began his meteoric rise to fame. The simple two-room house where Elvis drew his first breath is now contained in a park, which has become a place of pilgrimage for thousands of fans every day. The city of Tupelo has other attractions too to make a trip north of Jackson worthwhile. Elvis Presley Park includes not only the period-furnished house, but also a museum, memorial chapel, gift shop and a life-size statue of the legend, aged 13, as he was when he moved from Tupelo to Memphis, Tennessee, with his family.

One of America's most influential writers, Eudora Welty lived for 76 years at 1119 Pinehurst Plaza in Jackson, before bequeathing the house to the State of Mississippi when she passed away in 2001. The beautiful, Tudor Revival-style house was built by Welty's parents in 1925, and has since been added to the National Register of Historic Places (in 2002), and declared a National Historic Landmark (in 2004). Significantly, the interior of the house has remained untouched; and visitors to the Eudora Welty house will be given the chance to see exactly how this Pulitzer Prize-winning author lived and worked - her books still line the shelves, and her typewriter still sits on the writing desk by the window in the upstairs bedroom. Included in the tour, is a walk around the exquisite gardens that Welty and her mother cultivated over the years. For fans of American literature, a visit to the Eudora Welty house-cum-museum, is an absolute must.

The 125-acre neighbourhood bounded by Mill Street, Amite Street, Fortification Street and Jackson Street near downtown, known as Farish District, is one of the few historically black districts, built by former slaves, listed on the national register. It takes its name from Walter Farish, a freed slave who settled on the northeast corner of Davis and Farish Streets. The district was once the centre of political, religious, economic, educational and entertainment activities for the black professionals and craftsmen who lived in the area's 700-odd buildings, most dating from between 1890 and 1930. Among the more notable buildings are 229 East Church Street, former home of Dr Sidney Redmond, wealthy and successful businessman, and the Farish Street Baptist Church. Renovation in the district is ongoing and private home ownership is being encouraged in an effort at urban renewal.

*In July 2010, the Manship House Museum closed for repairs to the building's foundation. The expected timeline for the restoration project is 18 months.*The home of Charles Henry Manship, Civil War mayor of Jackson, and his large family has been restored as a museum depicting life in Mississippi in the mid-19th century. The house was built in Gothic Revival cottage style in 1857, and was unpretentious compared to the mansions for which the south is so famous. Today the house still stands in its original setting of trees and shrubs, painted in its original olive and cream colour with an authentic shingled roof. Manship was a decorative painter and craftsman and much of the interior features his handiwork, all restored or reproduced. The rooms have been furnished with some original objects.

The State's largest art museum, the Mississippi Museum of Art in Jackson houses more than 4,000 works, including the world's largest collection by Mississippi artists. With 75% of the permanent collection comprising of American artists, visitors will be able to view some of Georgia O'Keeffe's striking flowers and landscapes and Walker Evans' carefully photographed Depression images. The rest of the permanent exhibition consists of European, Asian and Ethnographic art where contemporary masters such as Miro, Picasso, Degas and Cézanne are viewable as well as gorgeous Japanese prints and South American ceramics.

The Mississippi Museum of Natural Science was founded in 1932 by Francis Cook, and to this day, remains the Magnolia State's largest museum. A passionate student of Mississippi's natural resources, Cook's vision was to establish a museum that would focus on the promotion and protection of the state's natural landscape. In LeFleur's Bluff State Park, he chose an ideal setting for such a project - and today, the museum grounds feature a 73,000 square foot complex overlooking a 300-acre natural landscape, 2.5 miles (about 4km) of nature trails, an open-air amphitheatre, a series of life-size displays of the state's diverse habitats, a 100,000-gallon aquarium network housing over 200 living species, and a 1,700 square foot greenhouse. When one visits the museum, it is obvious to see that Cook's conservancy ideals have been faithfully followed over the last 80 or so years; and the museum's astonishing collection of more than a million specimens of fish, reptiles, amphibians, birds, mammals, invertebrates, plants, and fossils, is nothing less than a living, breathing monument to biodiversity conservation.

Originally called State House, the Old Capitol building has filled three purposes in its long history. From 1839 to 1903 it served as the state capitol, between 1917 and 1959 it housed government offices, and from 1961 to the present it has become an award-winning museum enshrining Mississippi's history. The exhibits are arranged in several categories, the highlight being 'Mississippi 1500 to 1800' which depicts the era when Americans, Europeans and Africans first encountered each other in the state, drastically altering the lives and society of the Native Americans who lived here. Full-scale dioramas illustrate the importance of cotton in the state's development, and interactive audio-visual experiences explain the profound effects of the Civil War on Mississippi. *Note: due to the damage caused by Hurricane Katrina the Old Capitol Museum has been closed until further notice.*

Jackson's impressive planetarium is one of the largest in the world, with a huge hemispheric wrap-around screen that presents regular Sky Shows on astronomy, astronauts and space exploration. The planetarium, situated in the downtown cultural district, also presents laser light concerts featuring the music of contemporary and classic rock and roll artists combined with the imagery of a powerful indoor laser system, and astronomy hobby courses.

The Mississippi Governor's Mansion in downtown Jackson is the second oldest continuously occupied governor's residence in the United States. It was first occupied in 1842 by Governor Tilghman Tucker and his family, having just been built in the Greek revival style, the most popular style of the period. Today architectural historians consider the mansion one of the best surviving examples of this style in the country, and in 1975 the building was designated a National Historic Landmark. The historic section of the mansion, furnished in period Empire style, is open to the public.

The Vicksburg National Military Park commemorates one of the most decisive battles of the American Civil War: the campaign, siege and defence of the city of Vicksburg, 44 miles (71km) west of Jackson in Mississippi. Vicksburg was under siege for 47 days in 1863 as confederate forces vainly tried to defend the city high on the bluff guarding the Mississippi River. The battlefield at Vicksburg is in a good state of preservation and visitors can explore 1,325 historic monuments and markers, 20 miles (32km) of reconstructed trenches and earthworks, an antebellum home, 144 cannon emplacements, the restored Union gunboat, USS Cairo, and the Vicksburg National Cemetery. While in Vicksburg don't miss a riverboat ride on the mighty Mississippi and a visit to the River City Blues Museum in Clay Street, with the largest blues collection on public display in the world.

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