Jackson was a sleepy government burg in its early days, inhabited by only a couple thousand souls but an east-west railroad linked the town to the rest of the South in 1840. Several years later came a route running between Tennessee and New Orleans. These strips or iron rails made the Mississippi capital an attractive target with the coming of the Civil War and twice Union forces captured the town. So much of Jackson burned that it became known as Chimneyville since all that could be seen of the town was brick chimneys poking above the rubble.
Through all of the 19th century commerce and development in the state centered around its towns on the Mississippi River and that did not include Jackson. The city did not see its 10,000th resident until after 1900, about the time the steamboat age was wrapping up on the river. After that it was the age of the railroads and Jackson was uniquely situated to become the commercial capital of Mississippi as well as its government capital.
By 1930 Jackson had sped past Meridian as the state’s largest city and by that time there were fourteen oil derricks pumping around the city which kept money flowing through town even in the Great Depression. The money paid for the state’s best skyscrapers and Art Deco buildings. Our walking tour of the capital city will bump into those and also encounter a few antebellum treasures that made it through the Civil War. But first we will start at a building from a different age, an architectural masterwork that announced to the world that Jackson was coming...
Mississippi State Capitol