Downtown Biloxi Historical

Downtown Biloxi Historical (HM1XHH)

Location: Biloxi, MS 39530 Harrison County
Country: United States of America

N 30° 23.805', W 88° 53.402'

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—Historic Biloxi —

The development of downtown Biloxi paralleled the economic
growth of the city. Biloxi's first economic boom occurred during the
antebellum period when daily stops by a steamboat packet between
New Orleans and Mobile turned the small village into a summer resort.
Antebellum hotels were mainly concentrated along the beachfront
between present-day Lameuse and Reynoir streets. Drawn by the
resort and waterborne trade, merchants began building businesses
first on Lameuse Street. near the beachfront and then along Pass
Christian Road (later called Howard Avenue).

The railroad's arrival in 1870 made Biloxi a summer/winter resort and
brought a surge in tourism. Late 19th Century downtown extended to
the railroad tracks and consisted of commercial buildings interspersed
with residences. Fires occurring in 1884, 1889, and 1900 destroyed
large sections of downtown, but resulted in the construction of the
district's first brick buildings. The railroad was the main factor in the
late 19th Century development of the seafood industry and a dramatic
population increase. Biloxi's prosperity attracted New Orleans
immigrants: Italian, Spanish, Greek, Jews, and Lebanese, who set up
downtown shops and restaurants.

Tourism and seafood were the drivers of Biloxi's early 20th Century
economy. The Great Depression's slow
economy bounced back with
the arrival of Keesler Army Air Field (1941). The 1950s were peak years
for downtown Biloxi. Highway 90 traveled through the heart of the
business district, and shoppers, tourists, and Keesler airmen crowded
the sidewalks. Downtown offered movie theaters, hotels, and all other
consumer needs. New modern facades were added to some of the
older buildings.

Highway 90 traffic reverted to the beachfront in 1954, and downtown
merchants suffered the opening of outlying shopping centers in the
1960s. In the aftermath of Hurricane Camille in 1969, Urban Renewal
revitalization projects included the closing of Howard Avenue between
Lamuese and Reynoir streets to create a pedestrian mall called the
Vieux Marche (French for Old Market). Magnolia Street was also
closed and became the Magnolia Mall. But the expected anchor stores
failed to materialize and businesses moved elsewhere.

Biloxi's 300th anniversary in 1999 sparked an historical awareness
and prompted the restoration of some of downtown's older buildings
to their original late Victorian and early 20th Century appearance. The
tidal surge of Hurricane Katrina in 2005 stopped just short of the Vieux
Marche. Downtown Biloxi has myriad architectural styles and offers
a hospital, professional services, banking facilities, specialty shops,
restaurants, entertainment venues,
and the city's art district.

[Photo Captions]
Middle top: A prosperous downtown Biloxi is pictured in this circa 1910 photograph. The picture was taken looking west from the intersection of Lameuse Street and Howard Avenue.
Credit: Biloxi Public Library

Middle: The economic boom of the 1920s is reflected in this photograph of the intersection of Howard Avenue and Lameuse Street in downtown Biloxi.
Credit: Biloxi Public Library

Right Top: This 1940s image looking north along Reynoir Street above Howard Avenue shows businesses standing all the way to the L & N Railroad.
Credit: Biloxi Public Library

Right Middle: Looking east along Howard Avenue in 1960s, this image was made not long before the street was closed to automobile traffic in order to create the Vieux Marche pedestrian mall.
Year Placed2015
Placed ByThe City of Biloxi
Marker ConditionNo reports yet
Date Added Saturday, March 25th, 2017 at 5:03pm PDT -07:00
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Locationbig map
UTM (WGS84 Datum)16R E 318423 N 3364265
Decimal Degrees30.39675000, -88.89003333
Degrees and Decimal MinutesN 30° 23.805', W 88° 53.402'
Degrees, Minutes and Seconds30° 23' 48.3" N, 88° 53' 24.12" W
Driving DirectionsGoogle Maps
Area Code(s)228
Which side of the road?Marker is on the right when traveling West
Closest Postal AddressAt or near 836 Vieux Marche Mall, Biloxi MS 39530, US
Alternative Maps Google Maps, MapQuest, Bing Maps, Yahoo Maps, MSR Maps, OpenCycleMap, MyTopo Maps, OpenStreetMap

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