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Hattiesburg, Mississippi
Hattiesburg Flags.jpg
The Hub City
Location of Hattiesburg in the State of Mississippi
Location of Hattiesburg in the State of Mississippi
Country United States
State Mississippi
Counties Forrest, Lamar
Founded 1882
Incorporated 1884
 • City 54.3 sq mi (140.6 km2)
 • Land 53.4 sq mi (138.3 km2)
 • Water 0.9 sq mi (2.3 km2)
171 ft (52 m)
 • City 45,989
 • Estimate 
 • Density 877/sq mi (338.5/km2)
 • Metro
Time zone UTC-6 (CST)
 • Summer (DST) UTC-5 (CDT)
ZIP code
39401-39404, 39406, 39407
Area code(s) 601
FIPS code 28-31020
GNIS feature ID 0691565

Hattiesburg is a city in the U.S. state of Mississippi, primarily in Forrest County (where it is the county seat) and extending west into Lamar County. The city population was 45,989 at the 2010 census, with an estimated population of 46,805 in 2015. It is the principal city of the Hattiesburg, Mississippi, Metropolitan Statistical Area which encompasses Forrest, Lamar and Perry counties.

Founded in 1882 by civil engineer William H. Hardy, Hattiesburg was named in honor of Hardy's wife Hattie. The town was incorporated two years later with a population of 400. Hattiesburg's population first expanded as a center of the lumber and railroad industries, from which was derived the nickname "The Hub City". It now attracts newcomers to the area because of the diversity of the economy, strong neighborhoods and the central location in South Mississippi.

Hattiesburg is home to The University of Southern Mississippi (originally known as Mississippi Normal College) and William Carey University (formerly William Carey College). South of Hattiesburg is Camp Shelby, the largest National Guard training base east of the Mississippi River.


Front Street, Hattiesburg, Mississippi (circa 1900)
Front Street, c. 1900
"Hotel Hattiesburg", Hattiesburg, Mississippi (1906)
The now-demolished Hotel Hattiesburg opened in 1906 at the corner of Pine and Mobile streets. The elegant hotel was constructed and owned by Joseph T. Jones, owner of the Gulf and Ship Island Railroad.
Hattiesburg Union Station postcard
Union Station, c. 1910
Hattiesburg water tower Turtle Creek
Water tower by Turtle Creek

What is now Hattiesburg was previously inhabited by the Choctaw Native Americans. Between 1763 and 1783 the area that is currently Hattiesburg fell under the jurisdiction of the colony of British West Florida. The area switched to being under the jurisdiction of the newly created United States of America after 1783 and was obtained by the United States from its Native American inhabitants under the terms of the Treaty of Mount Dexter in 1805. After the treaty was ratified, European-American settlers began to move into the area.

Hattiesburg is positioned at the fork of the Leaf and Bouie Rivers, and was founded in 1882 by Captain William H. Hardy, a civil engineer.

The city of Hattiesburg was incorporated in 1884 with a population of approximately 400. Originally called Twin Forks and later Gordonville, the city received its final name of Hattiesburg from Capt. Hardy, in honor of his wife Hattie.

In 1884, a railroad — known then as the New Orleans and Northeastern — was built from Meridian, Mississippi, through Hattiesburg to New Orleans. The completion of the Gulf and Ship Island Railroad (G&SIRR) from Gulfport, Mississippi, to Jackson, Mississippi, ran through Hattiesburg and ushered in the real lumber boom in 1897. Though it was 20 years in the building, the G&SIRR more than fulfilled its promise. It gave the state a deep water harbor, more than doubled the population of towns along its route, built the City of Gulfport and made Hattiesburg a railroad center. In 1924, the G&SIRR operated as a subsidiary of the Illinois Central Railroad but lost its independent identity in 1946.

Hattiesburg gained its nickname, the Hub City, in 1912 as a result of a contest in a local newspaper. This suggestion came because the city was the intersection of a number of important rail lines. Later the city also became the intersection of U.S. Highway 49, U.S. Highway 98 and U.S. Highway 11, and later, Interstate 59. Hattiesburg is centrally located less than 100 miles from the state capital of Jackson as well as the Mississippi Gulf Coast, New Orleans and Mobile, Alabama.

The region around Hattiesburg was involved in the nuclear arms race of the Cold War. In the 1960s, two nuclear devices were detonated in the salt domes near Lumberton, Mississippi, about 28 miles southwest of Hattiesburg. Extensive follow-up of the area by the EPA has not revealed levels of nuclear contamination in the area that would be harmful to humans.

The U.S. Post Office in downtown Hattiesburg, Mississippi

Throughout the 20th Century, Hattiesburg benefited from the founding of Camp Shelby (now a military mobilization center), two major hospitals, and two colleges, The University of Southern Mississippi and William Carey University. The growing metropolitan area that includes Hattiesburg, Forrest and Lamar Counties, was designated a Metropolitan Statistical Area in 1994 with a combined population of more than 100,000 residents.

Despite being about 75 miles (121 km) inland, Hattiesburg was hit very hard in 2005 by Hurricane Katrina. Around 10,000 structures in the area received major damage of some type. Approximately 80 percent of the city's roads were blocked by trees and power was out in the area for up to 14 days. The storm killed 24 people in Hattiesburg and the surrounding areas. The city is strained by a large influx of temporary evacuees and new permanent residents from coastal Louisiana and Mississippi towns to the south, where damage from Katrina was catastrophic.

The City is also known for its police department, as it was the first — and for almost a decade the only — Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies federally accredited law enforcement agency in the State of Mississippi. The department is serviced by its own training academy, which has traditionally been one of the most difficult basic academies in the country with over a 50% attrition rate.

The Hattiesburg Zoo at Kamper Park is a longstanding tourist attraction in the city.

In 2011, Hattiesburg Historic Neighborhood District was named one of the "Great Places In America," to live by the American Planning Association. Places are selected annually and represent the gold standard in terms of having a true sense of place, cultural and historical interest. The twenty-five-block neighborhood has one of the best collections of Victorian-era houses in Mississippi with more than ninety percent of the houses substantially renovated and maintained. The Hattiesburg Historic Neighborhood District [HHNA] was Hattiesburg’s first historic district added to National Register of Historic Places in 1980. The Historic Neighborhood District is also part of a Historic Conservation District and protected by Historic Hattiesburg Design Guidelines.

In 2013, the Hattiesburg Historic Neighborhood District celebrated the 38th Annual Victorian Candlelit Christmas and Holiday Tour of Homes. During the two nights of the Victorian Candlelit Christmas, the sidewalks are glowing with thousands of candles in white bags lining the sidewalks. Christmas carolers from the three churches, Sacred Heart, Court Street Methodist and Bay Street Presbyterian, stroll house to house providing Christmas music while horse-drawn carriages slowly move through the neighborhood taking the visitors back in time.

The Miss Hospitality Pageant began in 1949. Hattiesburg received sponsorship of the state pageant in December 1997. The purpose of the pageant is the identification and presentation of a young and knowledgeable lady to help promote the state in tourism and economic development. Contestants are judged on the following categories: panel interview, one-on-one interview competition, Mississippi speech competition, commercial/black dress competition, and evening gown competition. The 2011 winner was Ann Claire Reynolds who is a junior at University of Southern Mississippi majoring in elementary education and special education.

Hattiesburg is home to the African American Military History Museum. Opened in 1942 to serve African Americans serving at Camp Shelby and now on the National Register of Historic Places. The museum started out as a USO Club location and is the only remaining original club location left in the United States. USO's mission statement is to lift the spirits of America's troops and their families. Exhibits include: Revolutionary War, the Founding of Hattiesburg, Buffalo Soldiers, World Wars I and II, Desegregation, Korean War, Vietnam, Desert Storm, Global War on Terrorism, You Can Be A Soldier, Hattiesburg's Hall of Honor, and World Map. The museum is dedicated to the African American soldiers that have fought for their country from Buffalo Soldiers to Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Civil rights movement

Hattiesburg and the unincorporated African American community of Palmers Crossing played a key role in the civil rights struggles of the 1960s. In 1959, black Korean War veteran Clyde Kennard applied to attend then all-white Mississippi Southern College (today University of Southern Mississippi). He was denied admission on account of his race, and when he persisted, the Mississippi State Sovereignty Commission conspired to have him framed for a crime, for which he was sentenced to seven years in Parchman Prison. For years, National Association for the Advancement of Colored People leaders Medgar Evers, Vernon Dahmer, and other Forrest County civil rights activists fought to overturn the conviction.

March, King, April 8, 1968.
Memorial march in Hattiesburg, four days after Martin Luther King's death

Forrest County Registrar Theron Lynd prevented blacks from registering to vote. Thirty percent of the population was black, but less than 1% of them were on the voting rolls, while white registration was close to 100%. In 1961, the U.S. Justice Department filed suit against Lynd and he became the first southern registrar to be convicted under the Civil Rights Act of 1957 for systematically violating African American voting rights.

In 1962, Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee began one of its first voter-registration projects in Hattiesburg under the auspices of Council of Federated Organizations. By 1964, the Delta Ministry was active in the city. In cooperation with the NAACP and local civil rights leaders, they formed the Forrest County Voters League. In conjunction with the 1963 elections, civil rights leaders organized a statewide "Freedom Ballot", a mock election that demonstrated both the statewide pattern of voting rights discrimination and the strong desire of Mississippi blacks for full citizenship. Despite the serious risk of both physical and economic retaliation, almost half of Forrest County blacks participated, the highest turnout in the state.

January 22, 1964, was "Freedom Day" in Hattiesburg, a major voter registration effort supported by student demonstrators and 50 northern clergymen. For the first time since Reconstruction, an inter-racial protest was allowed to picket the courthouse for voting rights without being arrested. Roughly 100 African Americans attempted to register, though only a few were allowed into the courthouse and fewer still were added to the rolls. Each day thereafter for many months the courthouse protest was resumed in what became known as the "Perpetual Picket."

During Freedom Summer in 1964, the Hattiesburg/Palmers Crossing project was the headquarters for all civil rights activity in the 5th Congressional District and the largest and most active site in the state with more than 90 volunteers and 3,000 local participants. Hundreds of Forrest County blacks tried to register to vote at the courthouse, but most were prevented from doing so. More than 650 children and adults attended one of the seven Freedom Schools in Hattiesburg and Palmers Crossing, three freedom libraries were set up with donated books, and a community center was established. Many whites opposed civil rights efforts by blacks, and both summer volunteers and local African Americans endured arrests, beatings, firings, and evictions.

Forrest County was also a center of activity for the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party (MFDP) which sent a slate of delegates to the Democratic Convention in Atlantic City to challenge the seating of the all-white, pro-segregation delegates elected by the regular party in primaries in which African Americans could not participate. Victoria Jackson Gray of Palmers Crossing ran on the MFDP ticket against incumbent Senator John Stennis and John Cameron of Hattiesburg ran for Representative in the 5th District. With blacks still denied the vote, they knew they could not be elected, but their candidacies and campaigns advanced the struggle for voting rights.

In 1970, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled against trespass convictions for civil rights protesters in Adickes v. S.H. Kress Co.. The case involved a sit-in at the lunch counter of the S. H. Kress & Co. downtown.

Vela Uniform/Project Dribble nuclear tests

Vela Uniform was an element of Project Vela conducted jointly by the United States Department of Energy and the Advanced Research Projects Agency. Its purpose was to develop seismic methods for detecting underground nuclear testing. The Project Dribble program involved two nuclear detonations. Test SALMON occurred on October 22, 1964, with a 5.3 kiloton yield; test STERLING was detonated December 3, 1966, with a yield of 380 tons. Both detonations took place within Tatum Salt Dome, southwest of the Hattiesburg/Purvis area.


Most of Hattiesburg is in Forrest County. A smaller portion on the west side is in Lamar County with more of the abundant commercial land added in a 2008 annexation. This consists of first, a narrow stretch of land lying east of I-59, and second, an irregularly-shaped extension into West Hattiesburg. In the 2000 census, 42,475 of the city's 44,779 residents (94.9%) lived in Forrest County and 2,304 (5.1%) in Lamar County.

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 54.3 square miles (140.6 km2), of which 53.4 square miles (138.3 km2) is land and 0.89 square miles (2.3 km2), or 1.63%, is water.

Hattiesburg is 74 miles (119 km) north of Biloxi and 90 miles (140 km) southeast of Jackson, the state capital.


Hattiesburg has a humid subtropical climate, with short, mild winters and hot, humid summers. Snowfall is extremely rare, but on December 11, 2008, areas around Hattiesburg received 3 to 5 inches (0.076 to 0.127 m). As is the case throughout the southern United States, severe thunderstorms can pose a threat, particularly during spring. Such storms spawn frequent lightning, heavy rain, occasional large hail and tornadoes. An EF4 tornado struck the Hattiesburg area on February 10, 2013, between roughly 5:00 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. CST. This tornado formed in Lamar County just west of Oak Grove and quickly increased in size and intensity. Although the most severe damage occurred in the Oak Grove area especially near Oak Grove High School, the tornado continued eastward into Hattiesburg causing widespread EF1-EF3 damage to the southern portion of the University of Southern Mississippi campus and the areas just north of downtown, before heading into neighboring Petal and rural Forrest County. No fatalities but over eighty injuries were reported, which was attributed to the nearly 30 minute tornado warning lead time. The most recent tornado was on January 21, 2017, when an EF3 struck the city early in the morning, killing four and injuring twenty.

Climate data for Hattiesburg, Mississippi
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °F (°C) 87
Average high °F (°C) 58.5
Average low °F (°C) 37.5
Record low °F (°C) 4
Rainfall inches (mm) 6.31


Historical population
Census Pop.
1890 1,172
1900 4,175 256.2%
1910 11,733 181.0%
1920 13,270 13.1%
1930 18,601 40.2%
1940 21,026 13.0%
1950 29,474 40.2%
1960 34,989 18.7%
1970 39,648 13.3%
1980 40,829 3.0%
1990 41,882 2.6%
2000 44,779 6.9%
2010 45,989 2.7%
Est. 2015 46,805 1.8%
U.S. Decennial Census

As of the 2010 United States Census, there were 45,989 people residing in the city. 52.8% were African American, 40.5% White, 0.2% Native American, 0.9% Asian, 0.0% Pacific Islander, 0.1% from some other race and 1.1% from two or more races. 4.3% were Hispanic or Latino of any race.

As of the census of 2000, there were 44,779 people, 17,295 households, and 9,391 families residing within the city limits. The population density was 909.0 people per square mile (351.0/km²). There were 19,258 housing units at an average density of 391.0 per square mile (150.9/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 49.95% White, 47.34% African American, 0.15% Native American, 1.22% Asian, 0.02% Pacific Islander, 0.52% from other races, and 0.80% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 1.41% of the population.

There were 17,295 households out of which 25.3% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 31.1% were married couples living together, 19.4% had a female householder with no husband present, and 45.7% were non-families. 34.4% of all households were made up of individuals and 9.3% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.29 and the average family size was 3.01.

In the city, the population was spread out with 21.5% under the age of 18, 24.4% from 18 to 24, 26.3% from 25 to 44, 16.0% from 45 to 64, and 11.8% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 27 years. For every 100 females there were 85.3 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were approximately 81.3 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $24,409, and the median income for a family was $32,380. Males had a median income of $26,680 versus $19,333 for females. The per capita income for the city was $15,102. About 21.5% of families and 28.3% of the population were below the poverty line, including 36.3% of those under age 18 and 16.7% of those age 65 or over.


The Hattiesburg Metropolitan area has an Evangelical Protestant majority with 66,000 members. The Southern Baptist Convention has 85 congregations and 53,000 members. The United Methodist Church has 35 congregations and 9,000 members. The third largest is the Presbyterian Church in America with 5 congregations and 1,518 members.

The Catholic Church has four parishes.

Arts and culture

Hattiesburg Saenger Theatre
Saenger Theatre


  • The Saenger Theatre was one of the seven built and operated by the Saenger brothers. It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and hosts an annual Mississippi Miss Hospitality Competition, along with other productions.
  • William Carey Center and Dinner Theater.
  • University of Southern Mississippi Theatre Department features original productions and National Theatre Live.


  • A GALLERY, 134 E. Front Street.
  • Hattiesburg Arts Council Gallery at the Hattiesburg Cultural Center, 723 Main Street.
  • Lucile Parker Art Gallery. Located in the Thomas Fine Arts Building on William Carey University's Hattiesburg campus. The collection consists of 141 artworks by Lucile Parker, and 17 by Marie Hull. From August to May, the gallery features exhibitions of local, state, and nationally known artists.
  • Sarah Gillespie Collection at William Carey University, 498 Tuscan Avenue. This is an extensive collection of twentieth century Mississippi art.
  • University of Southern Mississippi Art Gallery.


Train depot

The Hattiesburg Train Depot was constructed in 1910 by the Southern Railway Company, and was the city's largest and most architecturally significant depot. The City of Hattiesburg purchased the depot and 3.2 acres (1.3 ha) of land from Norfolk Southern Railway in 2000, and began a seven-year, $10 million restoration. The completed depot now functions as an intermodal transportation center for bus, taxi and rail, as well as a space for exhibitions, meetings and special events.

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