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Tunica, Mississippi
TunicaMSTownSign.jpg
Location of Tunica in Tunica County
Location of Tunica in Tunica County
Tunica, Mississippi is located in the United States
Tunica, Mississippi
Tunica, Mississippi
Location in the United States
Country United States
State Mississippi
County Tunica
Incorporated 1884
Area
 • Total 0.66 sq mi (1.72 km2)
 • Land 0.66 sq mi (1.72 km2)
 • Water 0.00 sq mi (0.00 km2)
Elevation
197 ft (60 m)
Population
 (2010)
 • Total 1,030
 • Estimate 
(2019)
864
 • Density 1,301.20/sq mi (502.64/km2)
Time zone UTC−6 (CST)
 • Summer (DST) UTC−5 (CDT)
ZIP code
38676
Area code(s) 662
FIPS code 28-74760
GNIS feature ID 0678927
Website townoftunica.com

Tunica is a town in and the county seat of Tunica County, Mississippi, United States, near the Mississippi River. Until the early 1990s when casino gambling was introduced in the area, Tunica had been one of the most impoverished places in the United States. Despite this economic improvement, Tunica's population continues to decline from its peak in 1970.

History

Tunica is the fourth community to serve as county seat of Tunica County, Its fortunes have improved since development of a gambling resort area nearby. While population growth has occurred mostly outside Tunica, the major casinos employ numerous locals. They attract visitors from nearby Memphis, Tennessee, West Memphis, Arkansas and all over the Southeastern United States.

Geography

Tunica is located approximately 20 miles (32 km) south of Downtown Memphis, Tennessee.

According to the United States Census Bureau, the town has a total area of 0.7 square miles (1.8 km2), all land.

Demographics

Historical population
Census Pop.
1890 198
1900 485 144.9%
1910 555 14.4%
1920 955 72.1%
1930 1,043 9.2%
1940 1,322 26.7%
1950 1,354 2.4%
1960 1,445 6.7%
1970 1,685 16.6%
1980 1,361 −19.2%
1990 1,175 −13.7%
2000 1,132 −3.7%
2010 1,030 −9.0%
Est. 2019 864 −16.1%
U.S. Decennial Census
Main Street - Tunica, Mississippi
Main Street in Tunica

2020 census

Tunica Racial Composition
Race Num. Perc.
White 602 58.67%
Black or African American 345 33.63%
Asian 5 0.49%
Other/Mixed 33 3.22%
Hispanic or Latino 41 4.0%

As of the 2020 United States Census, there were 1,026 people, 501 households, and 293 families residing in the town.

Casino economy

Casino gambling's effect on the local economy has spurred population growth in unincorporated parts of the county outside Tunica proper. Since 1990, the town's name has been popularly associated with several casinos located near the Mississippi River. However, the current group of casinos is located in the community of Tunica Resorts, 10 miles north of the town of Tunica, and extending to the DeSoto County line.

Tunica Resorts was originally named "Robinsonville", but the name was changed in 2005 to eliminate confusion over the location of the casinos, which have always used the name "Tunica" as an identifier. The success of these gaming houses in northern Tunica County came at the expense of the area's first group of casinos in the early 1990s, located just northwest of Tunica proper, in an area known as Mhoon Landing. This now comprises the current census-designated place of North Tunica. These casinos were closed or moved as larger resorts opened closer to Memphis to attract its larger residential base.

Unlike the area including casinos along Mississippi's Gulf Coast region, Tunica was not in the path of Hurricane Katrina. As a result, some of the regular Gulf Coast customer traffic from casinos drifted northward to Tunica County while repairs and reconstruction were underway in the Gulf Coast locations.

Though the casinos lie outside the town limits, the benefits of tax revenue generated have also aided the town. Major improvements to the public school system and downtown district are among the most visible aspects. Long-term effects include major highway improvements on U.S. Route 61 and a much-discussed potential expansion of Tunica Municipal Airport.

As of 2007, some Tunica Resorts residents are trying to incorporate their community as a separate town government, rather than operate under the jurisdiction of Tunica County or be annexed into the town of Tunica. If Tunica Resorts incorporates, the new town government would directly benefit from casino tax revenue, enabling construction of municipal government offices. Depending on population and revenue growth, fire and police stations, libraries and other public infrastructure could be other likely additions. Potential effects on the existing town of Tunica are unclear.

Education

The Town of Tunica is served by the Tunica County School District. Zoned schools include Tunica Elementary School, Tunica Middle School, and Rosa Fort High School.

Tunica Academy is located in an unincorporated area in Tunica County, near Tunica.

Transportation

Tunica Municipal Airport has had airline service intermittently with aircraft such as Boeing 727 jets of Pan Am Clipper Connection and Boeing 737 jets of Air Tran offering commercial services. The closest airport with continuous airline service is Memphis International Airport in Memphis, Tennessee, which is about 30 minutes away by car.

Notable people

  • Brandon Bryant, NFL Player
  • Parker Hall, 1939 Most Valuable Player of the National Football League
  • Charlaine Harris, New York Times bestselling author
  • Benardrick McKinney, linebacker for the New York Giants of the National Football League
  • James Cotton, blues harmonica player
  • Donald Hawkins, NFL Player
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