Jackson A Taste of Southern Hospitality
|Mississippi State Capital Building at Night|
Jackson, Mississippi's capital, is also the largest city in the state offering visitors a plethora of entertainment and seemingly endless recreational possibilities. Jackson balances authentic blues and jazz music with a sought after ballet and opera scene, while contrasting casual downtown bartering markets with upscale art galleries and world-class gardens. Dozens of city parks, museums, cultural events and annual festivals further indulge the senses. A trip to Jackson presents a perfect initial tour of the hospitality state, where travelers can get a taste of Jackson's famed down-home southern hospitality.
Jackson is situated along the Pearl River in the center of Mississippi state near the Natchez Trace Parkway and is served by the Ross R Barnett Reservoir. A location halfway between Memphis, Tennessee to the north and New Orleans, Louisiana to the south, puts Jackson in close proximity to other major city centers in addition to having easy access to the south coastal region.
To follow the path of Jackson's
history unveils an obstacle-filled rugged upward climb, much like the unforgiving
terrain of LeFleur's Bluff on which the city rests. The area that is home to
Jackson today was initially referred to as Parker'ville and was settled by Louis
LeFleur, a French Canadian trader along the historic Natchez Trace trade route.
During the General Assembly meeting in the then capital of Natchez, a party
headed by Thomas Hinds was formed and sent out to seek a suitable site for a
new more central capital. With water access and proximity to the trade route,
LeFleur's Bluff in Hinds County fit the bill. On December 23, 1821, Jackson,
named after Andrew Jackson, the seventh President of the United States, was
authorized as the official seat of government for Mississippi State and began
to grow roots.
Jackson flourished well beyond any expectations, but not without first suffering. The town was burned to the ground on three separate occasions during the American Civil War between 1861 and 1900, hence earning the nick-name Chimneyville, signifying that only chimneys were left standing. Jackson became a primary target for Union troops because it was a major manufacturing and railroad center for the Confederacy.
|Governor's Mansion 1|
During and post the Civil Rights era from 1961 on, Jackson endured remarkable change, from complete ethnic segregation to equal rights, but not without consequence. The 1963 murder of Medgar Evers, civil rights activist for the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People - NAACP, fueled uproar and protests among supporters. The perpetrator, a white supremacist named Byron De La Beckwith, was not arrested or prosecuted until 1994. Evers civil rights accomplishments are formally recognized through the changed name of the Jackson International Airport to Jackson-Evers International Airport. Several streets and a US highway also bear Medgar Evers' name.
Another significant historical figure for civil rights, was activist James Meredith. In 1962 the James Meredith March signified the acceptance of the first African-American student at the University of Mississippi. The march also attempted to gain support for enabling voting privileges to African-Americans. Meredith's actions that lead him to attend university were considered to be vital to the state of African-American civil rights to date.
Today much has changed since the turn of the 20th century. A population of 8,000 has exploded to nearly half a million in 2005. The combination of Jackson's capital of state status, large sections of available land, a well developed energy infrastructure and low industrial expenses, has attracted over 500 major manufactures to the area, including many corporate head quarters. Jackson also serves as the vital distribution center of those many manufacturers because of its advantageous central location between Dallas, Atlanta and New Orleans.
data from the
Southeast Regional Climate Center
Mississippi typically has long humid summer and short and mild winters. During the summer months of May, June, July, August and some of September, the temperature remains quite consistent throughout the state of Mississippi. In the winter month the south coastal region tends to stay much warmer due to the gulf influence. Tornadoes and hurricanes are somewhat common in the state, more so on the coast. A state of the art weather warning system helps to prevent unannounced storms.
Being a major distribution
center makes effective transportation systems an imperative. Jackson is served
by the Jackson-Evers Municipal International Airport JIA and Hawkins
Field, covering both passenger travel and southern freight distribution
needs. Non-stop flights to major eastern and central cities, as far west as
Dallas and as far north as Detroit
are available at JIA.
By land the city of Jackson is centrally located and accessible by several Interstate and U.S. highways. If traveling north-south, the Interstate 55 extends from Chicago, Illinois through Jackson and onto the Louisiana state line to New Orleans. East-west travelers can select the Interstate 20, spanning from Dallas, Texas to Atlanta, Georgia. For an alternative and historical route, the 444 m (715 km) Natchez State Parkway runs across Mississippi, Alabama and Tennessee, linking Natchez, Mississippi with Nashville, Tennessee. The Kansas City Southern Railway Co and the Illinois Central Gulf Railroad, in addition to countless major truck lines, provide freight service to all parts of the nation.
|Cathedral of St Peter the Apostle|
Cathedral of St. Peter
Religion plays a large role in the every day life of Jacksonians. Among the some 400 houses of worship in Jackson lies the Cathedral of St. Peter the Apostle, a landmark in Jackson history. After being torched and structurally damaged several times during the Civil War, St Peter was finally rebuilt in 1897. Today the cathedral is home the Jackson area's Catholic bishop and serves as a headquarters for Catholics residing in Jackson
Ballet and Opera
Mississippi certainly has no shortage of cultural happenings and artistic attractions. From the varying art galleries and museums to the dozens of performing art companies and theaters, the Jackson art scene is buzzing. Ballet performance is high profile in Jackson and Ballet Mississippi is Jackson's premier ballet company, offering classic and modern performances in addition to youth ballet schooling. Educator, performer and historian, Thalia Mara brought the first ballet competition in the United States, to Jackson. Her contributions and accomplishment to ballet have gained international recognition and the previously Jackson Municipal Auditorium today, is the Thalia Mara Hall. The Mississippi Opera is another cultural highlight in Jackson and was spearheaded over 50 years ago by Mignonne Caldwell. Countless notable musicians have performed in the Mississippi Opera, including John Alexander Jan Peerce and Gail Robinson to name a few. Over the decades the Mississippi Opera Guild has provides the option of study in addition to culturally enriching the general public. Mississippi Opera is the eleventh oldest professional opera company that continuously creates in the United States.
Jackson also boasts a number of museums ranging in focus from art history to aviation. Mississippi Museum of Art hosts a diverse and large collection of local and international pieces, focusing on mid-19th and 20th century American art. With a permanent collection of over 3,500 pieces there is plenty for everyone to see. In 2003 the museum marked its 100th anniversary. Another notable museum is the Mississippi Museum of Natural Science, offering interactive exhibits that capture the attention of children and adults alike. The museum promotes an understanding and appreciation of nature's diversity through 73,000 square feet (22,250 m) of indoor exhibits and 300 acres (121 ha) of outdoor natural area, including trails and an amphitheater. The Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame and Museum along with the National Museum of Agricultural Aviation are among the many other Jackson museums.
Jackson Zoological Park
The Jackson Zoological Park promotes flora and fauna preservation while sharing insight and education into the daily lives of wild animals. Amongst the various offered zoo activities, is the safari slumber that enable participants to sleepover at the zoo within view of their favorite animals. Exhibits rotate every few months to emphasize different species. Aside from all the animal interactive exhibits and displays, private events can also be booked through the Jackson Zoo.
|Mynelle Gardens 2|
The Mississippi landscape unfolds many recreational opportunities such as LeFleur's Bluff State Park. The park spans over 500 acres (202 ha) of nature trails and woodlands that encompass a nine-hole golf course, a lake, campsites and much more. Boat rentals, fishing and swimming are a few of the park's many available activities. Mynelle Gardens, initially a private garden, today offers the general public an inner city oasis. Seven acres (208 ha) of flower lined winding paths, hidden waterfalls and artsy bridges tickle the senses. Wedding ceremonies and photographers are frequenters of these gardens.
PHOTOS COURTESY OF:
- Curtisy of the Jackson Mississippi Visitor Center; Cathedral of St. Peter the Apostle; Jackson, MS, USA
- Curtisy of the Jackson Mississippi Visitor Center; Mynelle Gardens; Jackson, MS, USA.