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Biloxi, Mississippi
—  City  —
Location of Biloxi in the State of Mississippi
Coordinates: 30°24′43″N 88°55′40″W / 30.41194°N 88.92778°W / 30.41194; -88.92778
Country United States
State Mississippi
County Harrison
Incorporated in 1838 as a township.
Government
 - Mayor A.J. Holloway
Area
 - City 114 sq mi (195 km2)
 - Land 38.0 sq mi (98.5 km2)
 - Water 8.5 sq mi (22.0 km2)
Elevation 20 ft (6 m)
Population (2008)
 - City 45,670
 Density 1,165.5/sq mi (450/km2)
 Metro 234,625
Time zone CST (UTC-6)
 - Summer (DST) CDT (UTC-5)
Area code(s) 228
FIPS code 28-06220
GNIS feature ID 0667173
Website www.biloxi.ms.us

Biloxi (pronounced /bəˈlʌksi/[1]) is a city in Harrison County, Mississippi, in the United States. The 2000 census recorded the population as 50,644, although the 2008 Census Estimate placed the population at 45,670. Along with Gulfport, Biloxi is a county seat of Harrison County.

The city is part of the Gulfport-Biloxi metropolitan area and the Gulfport-Biloxi-Pascagoula, Mississippi Combined Statistical Area. Pre-Katrina, Biloxi was the third largest city in Mississippi; but with its population losses following that storm, Hattiesburg now has that distinction.

The beachfront of Biloxi lies directly on the Mississippi Sound, with barrier islands scattered off the coast and into the Gulf of Mexico.

Keesler Air Force Base lies within the city and is home to the 81st Training Wing and the 403rd Wing of the U.S. Air Force Reserve.

Contents

Geography and climate

Biloxi is located at 30°24′43″N 88°55′40″W / 30.41194°N 88.92778°W / 30.41194; -88.92778 (30.412029, -88.927829)[2] and has an elevation of 20 feet (6.1 m)[3].

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 46.5 mi²(120.5 km² ). 38.0 mi² (98.5 km²) of it is land and 8.5 mi² (22.0 km²) of it is water. The total area is 18.27% water.

Location of Biloxi, Mississippi, east of Gulfport (center), on Gulf of Mexico.
Climate data for Biloxi, Mississipi
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °F (°C) 82
(28)
80
(27)
85
(29)
91
(33)
98
(37)
102
(39)
103
(39)
104
(40)
101
(38)
94
(34)
86
(30)
80
(27)
104
(40)
Average high °F (°C) 58
(14.4)
62
(16.7)
67
(19.4)
74
(23.3)
81
(27.2)
86
(30)
89
(31.7)
88
(31.1)
85
(29.4)
77
(25)
68
(20)
61
(16.1)
74
(23.3)
Average low °F (°C) 43
(6.1)
47
(8.3)
53
(11.7)
59
(15)
67
(19.4)
73
(22.8)
75
(23.9)
75
(23.9)
71
(21.7)
60
(15.6)
52
(11.1)
46
(7.8)
60
(15.6)
Record low °F (°C) 10
(-12)
14
(-10)
22
(-6)
30
(-1)
45
(7)
55
(13)
60
(16)
61
(16)
45
(7)
32
(0)
25
(-4)
9
(-13)
9
(-13)
Precipitation inches (mm) 6.08
(154.4)
5.48
(139.2)
6.16
(156.5)
4.82
(122.4)
5.37
(136.4)
5.03
(127.8)
7.40
(188)
5.80
(147.3)
5.67
(144)
3.30
(83.8)
4.84
(122.9)
4.89
(124.2)
64.84
(1,646.9)
Source: [4]

Colonial era

The history of Biloxi, Mississippi, spans more than 300 years.

The first permanent settlement in French Louisiana was founded at Fort Maurepas, now in Ocean Springs, Mississippi and referred to as Old Biloxi, in 1699 under the direction of Pierre Le Moyne d'Iberville, with Louisiana separated from Spanish Florida at the Perdido River near Pensacola (founded 1559 & again 1698).

The name of Biloxi in French was "Bilocci" (with "fort Maurepas"),[5] and the name was sometimes translated into English as "Fort Bilocci" on maps updated circa year 1710/1725.[6][7]

In 1720, the administrative capital of French Louisiana was moved to Biloxi (or Bilocci) from Mobile (or Mobille). French Louisiana (part of New France) was known in French as La Louisiane in colonial times, but in modern times is called "La Louisiane française" to distinguish from the modern state of Louisiana (also "Louisiane" in French).[5]

Due to fears of tides and hurricanes in the 1700s, the capital of French Louisiana was later moved by colonial governor Bienville, in 1723, from Biloxi to a new inland harbor town named La Nouvelle-Orléans (New Orleans), built for the purpose in 1718-1720.

In 1763, following Great Britain's victory in the Seven Years War, France had to cede French Louisiana east of the Mississippi River, except for New Orleans, to Great Britain, as part of the Treaty of Paris. At that same time, Louisiana west of the Mississippi, including New Orleans, was ceded to Spain as part of the Treaty of Fontainebleau.

Subsequent history

Looking West down Howard Avenue at Lameuse Street in Biloxi in 1906

British rule persisted from 1763 to 1779, and then Spanish rule from 1779 to 1798. Despite this, the character of Biloxi remained mostly French.[8] In 1811, Biloxi came under United States of America control as part of the Mississippi Territory. Mississippi, and Biloxi with it, were then admitted to the union in 1817.

Now that ownership was settled, Biloxi began to grow. It became a summer resort, with the advantages of close proximity to New Orleans and ease of access via water. Summer homes were built by well-to-do farmers and commercial figures. Hotels and rental cottages came into existence to serve those who could not afford their own homes.[8]

Biloxi Lighthouse, built 1848 and reputed to be one of the most photographed objects in the American South.[9]

One of Biloxi's most known features has been Biloxi Lighthouse, which was built in Baltimore and then shipped south and completed in May 1848.[9] (It and another are the only surviving lighthouses of twelve that once dotted the Mississippi Gulf Coast.[9])

In the early stages of the Civil War, Ship Island was captured by Union forces, which led to the effective Union capture of Biloxi as well. No major battles were fought in the area, and Biloxi did not suffer direct damage from the war.[8] Some local Union sentiment could be discerned following the war's conclusion.[9]

In the postbellum period, Biloxi again emerged as a vacation spot. Its popularity as a destination increased with railroad access. In 1881, the first cannery was built in the town, leading to others soon joining the location. Biloxi grew again, and as different national groups came to work in the seafood factories, Biloxi gained a more heterogeneous nature.[8]

During World War II, the United States Army Air Forces built Keesler Air Force Base, which became a major basic training site and site for aircraft maintenance. The Biloxi economy boomed as a result,[10] again bringing more diverse groups to the area. By 1958, the first Jewish synagogue had been built in the town.[10]

Biloxi's casino history dates back to a period in the 1940s, when open if technically illegal gambling took place in a casino within the Broadwater Beach Resort.[11] Open gambling ended during the 1950s.[12] The Mississippi Gulf Coast became known as the "Poor Man's Riviera", and was frequented by Southern families interested in fishing expeditions during the summer.[13] Commercially, Biloxi was dominated by shrimp boats and oyster luggers.[13]

In the early 1960s, the Gulf Coast again emerged as a prime alternative to Florida as a southern vacation destination among Northerners, with Biloxi a center of the focus.[13] Biloxi hotels upgraded their amenities and hired chefs from France and Switzerland in an effort to provide some of the best seafood cuisine in the country.[13]

With the introduction of legal gambling in Mississippi in the 1990s, Biloxi was again transformed.[10] It became an important center for casinos, and the hotels and complexes brought millions of dollars in tourism revenue to the city. The more famous casino complexes were the Beau Rivage casino resort, the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino (Biloxi), Casino Magic, Grand Casino, Isle of Capri Casino Resort, Boomtown Casino, President Casino Broadwater Resort, and Imperial Palace. Like Tunica County in the northern part of the state, Biloxi and the surrounding Gulf Coast region was considered a leading gambling center in the Southern United States.

To celebrate the area's Tricentennial in 1998/99, the city's tourism promotion agency invited the nationally-syndicated Travel World Radio Show to broadcast live from Biloxi, with co-host Willem Bagchus in attendance.

By the early 2000s, Biloxi's economy rested on the three prongs of seafood, tourism and gaming.[8]

Hurricane Katrina

Biloxi beach near casinos, before cleanup
St. Michael's Church in Biloxi (before clean-up)
Sharkheads shop: Katrina example for over 2 years

On August 29, 2005, Hurricane Katrina hit the Mississippi Gulf Coast with high winds, heavy rains and a 27-foot (8.2 m) storm surge, causing massive damage to the area. Katrina came ashore during the high tide of 6:56AM, +2.3 feet more.[14] Commenting on the power of the storm and the damage, Mayor A.J. Holloway said, "This is our tsunami."[15] Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour was quoted as saying the destruction of the Mississippi coastline by Hurricane Katrina looked like an American Hiroshima.

On the morning of August 31, 2005, in an interview on MSNBC, Governor Barbour stated that 90% of the buildings along the coast in Biloxi and neighboring Gulfport had been destroyed by the hurricane. Several of the "floating" casinos were torn off their supports and thrown inland, contributing to the damage. All coastal churches were destroyed or severely damaged.

Many churches were damaged, including St. Michael's Catholic Church (see photo at right), which was gutted by the storm surge, breaking the entry doors and stained-glass windows along the first floor; however, the interior was later removed, and the structure was still solid enough to allow repairing the church.

Hurricane Katrina damaged over 40 Mississippi libraries, flooding several feet in the Biloxi Public Library and breaking windows, beyond repair, requiring a total rebuild.[16]

Hurricane-force winds persisted for 17 hours and tore the branches off many coastal oak trees, but the tree trunks survived the 30-foot (9.1 m) flood and many have since regrown smaller branches. Some reconstructed homes still have the antebellum appearance, and miles inland, with less flooding, shopping centers have re-opened.

Harrison County Coroner Gary T. Hargrove told the mayor and City Council that Hurricane Katrina had claimed 53 victims in Biloxi, as of January 30, 2006. Of the 53 confirmed fatalities in Biloxi, a figure that includes one unidentified male, Hargrove said the average age was 58, with the youngest being 22 and the oldest 90; 14 were female and 39 were male.

Biloxi is also the site of a well-known memorial to the Katrina victims, built by the crew and volunteers of Extreme Makeover: Home Edition.[17]

Many casinos were damaged or destroyed by Hurricane Katrina. Of the casinos that were located in Biloxi, eight have reopened since Katrina. They are: the Grand Biloxi Casino Hotel Spa(formerly known as Grand Casino Biloxi), the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino, the Isle of Capri Casino and Resort, the Palace Casino Resort, the IP Casino Resort Spa (formerly known as Imperial Palace), Treasure Bay Casino, Boomtown Casino, and the Beau Rivage, which re-opened on the first anniversary of Hurricane Katrina.[18]

Multiple plans have been laid out to rebuild the waterfront areas of Biloxi, and the federal government has recently announced that it is considering giving up to 17,000 Mississippi coast homeowners the option to sell their properties so that a vast hurricane-protection zone can be implemented.[19] Meanwhile, the city of Biloxi is rapidly implementing plans to allow the redevelopment of commercial properties south of highway 90.[20]

Hurricane Katrina pushed houses inland on Mississippi coast, including at Biloxi.
U.S. Air Force cargo planes unload several tons of supplies at Keesler Air Force Base in Biloxi, Mississippi.
Biloxi beach after cleanup

Hurricane Camille

There was also quite a bit of damage to Biloxi when Hurricane Camille "visited" the Gulf Coast in 1969.

Demographics

Historical populations
Census Pop.  %±
1870 954
1880 1,540 61.4%
1890 3,234 110.0%
1900 5,457 68.7%
1910 8,049 47.5%
1920 10,937 35.9%
1930 14,850 35.8%
1940 17,475 17.7%
1950 37,425 114.2%
1960 44,035 17.7%
1970 48,486 10.1%
1980 49,311 1.7%
1990 46,319 −6.1%
2000 50,644 9.3%
Est. 2006 44,342 −12.4%

Biloxi is the smaller of two principal cities of the Gulfport-Biloxi, Mississippi Metropolitan Statistical Area, which is included in the Gulport-Biloxi-Pascagoula Combined Statistical Area.

As of the census[21] of 2000, there were 50,644 people, 19,588 households, and 12,379 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,331.8/sq mi (514.2/km²). There were 22,115 housing units at an average density of 581.6/sq mi (224.5/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 71.43% White, 19.04% African American, 0.49% Native American, 5.11% Asian, 0.11% Pacific Islander, 1.43% from other races, and 2.38% from two or more races. 3.65% of the population are Hispanic or Latino of any race.

There were 19,588 households, out of which 31.4% have children under the age of 18 living with them, 44.6% were married couples living together, 14.0% had a female householder with no husband present, and 36.8% are non-families. 30.1% of all households were made up of individuals and 10.6% had someone living alone who is 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.42 and the average family size is 3.02.

In the city the population was spread out with 24.2% under the age of 18, 14.3% from 18 to 24, 30.3% from 25 to 44, 19.2% from 45 to 64, and 12.0% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 32 years. For every 100 females there were 101.9 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 101.6 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $34,106, and the median income for a family was $40,685.

Males had a median income of $28,046 versus $21,267 for females. The per capita income for the city was $17,809. 14.6% of the population and 11.2% of families lived below the poverty line. Out of the total population, 19.6% of those under the age of 18 and 11.7% of those 65 and older were living below the poverty line.

Biloxi is served by Gulfport, Mississippi's Gulfport-Biloxi International Airport.

Education

The City of Biloxi is served by the Biloxi Public School District and the Harrison County School District. The Gulf Coast has a large catholic school system, with which Biloxi hosts 3 of their schools, including the new High School.

Casinos

Biloxi has become home to several casino resort hotels, with 24-hour gambling, concert entertainment shows, and several restaurants. Some of the casino resorts in the area are the following:[18]

Isle of Capri casino in Biloxi
Biloxi Casinos
  • IP Casino Resort Spa re-opened on December 22, 2005, formerly Imperial Palace.
  • Isle of Capri Casino Resort re-opened in late December 2005.
  • Palace Casino Resort re-opened in late December 2005.
  • Beau Rivage Resort & Casino re-opened August 29, 2006, on the first anniversary of Hurricane Katrina.
  • Boomtown Casino re-opened in 2006.
  • Hard Rock Hotel & Casino, which had initially hoped to open for post-Katrina business in Summer 2005, but opened later than expected in June 2007.
  • Treasure Bay Casino Resort re-opened in summer 2006.
  • Grand Biloxi is re-opened and has built a casino in its formerly named Bayview Hotel.
  • Bacaran Bay Resort is being redesigned and will soon be under construction on Caillavet Street between IP Hotel and Casino and Beau Rivage.
  • Jimmy Buffett's Margaritaville Casino and Resort, announced by Harrah's to be built on the site of the old Grand Casino Biloxi and Casino Magic properties. This was started, but stopped indefinitely due to the economic downturn.
  • Island View Casino Resort is nearby Gulfport's only casino and home to one of world-famous chef Emeril Lagasse's restaurants.
  • Hollywood Casino is located in Bay St. Louis and includes an on-site golf course and movie cinema decor.
  • The Silver Slipper was the first land-based casino to open following Hurricane Katrina. This beachfront resort is located just outside Bay St. Louis, west of Biloxi.
  • Bayview Casino Resort will begin construction in January 2008 on the Back Bay of Biloxi.
  • Vue Crescente Resort has begun its application to house a casino within its new twin 30 floor condo towers that are being built on the Back Bay of Biloxi.
  • Tivoli Resort, The Ocean Club, and a Long Beach project are recently proposed casino additions to the metro area.

Transportation

Biloxi's main highway is U.S. Highway 90 (Beach Boulevard), which runs along the beach and by the casinos. It connects the city to Gulfport and points westward and to Ocean Springs and Pascagoula to the east. The Biloxi-Ocean Springs Bridge across Biloxi Bay was rebuilt following Hurricane Katrina, and was fully reopened in April 2008.

Interstate 10 passes through the northern sections of the city, connecting the city to New Orleans, Houston, Mobile and Jacksonville. Interstate 110 splits off from I-10 at D'Iberville and heads south across the Back Bay of Biloxi to U.S. 90 near Beau Rivage, providing the city with an important hurricane evacuation route.

Other highways serving the area include:

Sports

In the center of what fisheries biologists term "The Fertile Fisheries Crescent", Biloxi offers some of the finest sportsfishing along the entire northern coast of the Gulf of Mexico. Spotted seatrout, red drum, Spanish and king mackerel, flounder, snapper, grouper, sharks, and more are all available to anglers during the fishing season. It is not known how Hurricane Katrina affected this ecosystem.

The city is home to the Mississippi Surge, a minor league hockey team playing in the Southern Professional Hockey League. Home games are played at the Mississippi Coast Coliseum.

Notable residents

In the Arts

  • Biloxi is the setting of Neil Simon's play and film Biloxi Blues, which starred Mathew Broderick. Biloxi Blues is the story of army recruits training at Keesler Field, the former name of the present day Keesler Air Force Base during World War II.
  • Biloxi is the setting of several John Grisham novels, including The Runaway Jury, The Summons, The Firm, The Partner, and The Last Juror.
  • A substantial portion of Larry Brown's novel Fay is set in Biloxi.
  • The G.I. Joe character Marvin F. Hinton ("Roadblock") was born in Biloxi.
  • The film Private Benjamin starring Goldie Hawn is partially set in Biloxi and at a fictitious base called Fort Biloxi.
  • In the show Family Matters, Steve Urkel's cousin Myrtle Urkel, who frequently chases Eddie Winslow when she visits Chicago, is from Biloxi.
  • American singer/songwriter Jesse Winchester once wrote and recorded a song called "Biloxi", for which he was inspired by a few images he saw of the city.
  • On his largest-selling regular album, Changes in Latitudes, Changes in Attitudes (1977), Jimmy Buffett included a cover of "Biloxi" (see above); also, a compilation album of his digitally-remastered greatest hits was released in 1995 called Biloxi.
  • RFC 3261 SIP: Session Initiation Protocol, the authors use Biloxi in an example to explain how a call is made through two SIP proxies.
  • In the television show the Venture Bros. character Brock Sampson is mentioned as having trained in Biloxi.
  • The song Louisiana, by The Loved Ones, is about the rebuilding of the hurricane ravaged areas in the gulf area. Louisiana, Biloxi, and Alabama are specifically used by name.
  • The fictional character Alice Cullen from Stephenie Meyer's Twilight Saga used to live in Biloxi, Mississippi, when she was a human.
  • American Soldier Walter Gordon Fought with the Band of brothers earned him 4 Purple Hearts
  • Biloxi is referenced in The Great Gatsby.

Notes

  1. ^ Biloxi is pronounced /bəˈlʌksi/ bə-LUK-see.
  2. ^ "US Gazetteer files: 2000 and 1990". United States Census Bureau. 2005-05-03. http://www.census.gov/geo/www/gazetteer/gazette.html. Retrieved 2008-01-31. 
  3. ^ "US Board on Geographic Names". United States Geological Survey. 2007-10-25. http://geonames.usgs.gov. Retrieved 2008-01-31. 
  4. ^ "Average Weather for Biloxi, MS - Temperature and Precipitation". Weather.com. http://www.weather.com/outlook/travel/businesstraveler/wxclimatology/monthly/USMS0033. Retrieved July 4, 2009. 
  5. ^ a b "La Louisiane française" (in French), by Virginie Tanlay, from book Histoire de la Louisiane, flfa-enquete7: states that Iberville chose "le site de Bilocci" (or Biloxi).
  6. ^ "Pas-Kaart Van de Golff van Mexico" (map from Amsterdam/1710), Edge of the Map Incorporated, 2007, webpage: Raremaps-Archive-3176.
  7. ^ "A New Map of as much of North & South America" (London/1725), Edge of the Map Incorporated, 2007, webpage: Raremaps-Archive-7278.
  8. ^ a b c d e "Biloxi: A Historic & Cultural Overview". City of Biloxi historical pamphlet, 2003.
  9. ^ a b c d "Biloxi Lighthouse". City of Biloxi historical datasheet, 2003.
  10. ^ a b c "Biloxi/Gulfport, Mississippi", Institute of Southern Jewish Life
  11. ^ Wilemon, Tom (2005-06-30). "The Landmark Broadwater Hotel, Once Biloxi's Premier Resort, Shutting Down". The Sun Herald. http://www.hotel-online.com/News/PR2005_3rd/Aug05_Broadwater.html. Retrieved 2008-09-15. 
  12. ^ Bergeron, Kat. "Before-After: Broadwater". The Sun Herald. http://www.sunherald.com/images/beforeafter/broadwater.html. Retrieved 2008-09-15. 
  13. ^ a b c d Janson, Donald (1963-12-15). "Mississippi Gulf Coast Woos Vacationists". The New York Times. http://select.nytimes.com/mem/archive/pdf?res=FA0C16FC3E5B1A7B93C7A81789D95F478685F9. 
  14. ^ "2005 NOAA Tide Predictions: Biloxi (Cadet Point), Biloxi Bay" (2005), tide on 29-Aug-2005, NOAA, web: NOAA-tide-tables.
  15. ^ http://www.sunherald.com/mld/sunherald/news/special_packages/hurricane_katrina/12514756.htm
  16. ^ "Hurricane Katrina Related Damages to Public Libraries in Mississippi" (September 2005), Mississippi Library Commission, web:ALA-Katrina.
  17. ^ http://www.gulf-coast.com/Attractions/KatrinaMemorialBiloxi.html
  18. ^ a b "Tentative re-opening plans for Biloxi casino resorts" (2006), City of Biloxi, www.Biloxi.ms.us, webpage:Biloxi-Casinos.
  19. ^ Gov't May Buy Thousands of Miss. Homes AP via Google News. Retrieved October 17, 2007.
  20. ^ Beachfront Development On Biloxi's Front Burner WLOX News. Retrieved on October 17, 2007.
  21. ^ "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. http://factfinder.census.gov. Retrieved 2008-01-31. 

External links


Simple English

Biloxi, Mississippi
—  City  —
Nickname(s): Seafood Capital of the World
Coordinates: 30°24′43″N 88°55′40″W / 30.41194°N 88.92778°W / 30.41194; -88.92778
Country United States
State Mississippi
County Harrison
Incorporated in 1838 as a township.
Government
 - Mayor A.J. Holloway
Area
 - City 114 sq mi (195 km2)
 - Land 38.0 sq mi (98.5 km2)
 - Water 8.5 sq mi (22.0 km2)
Elevation 20 ft (6 m)
Population (2005)
 - City 48,972 (2,005 estimation)
 Density 4,330.5/sq mi (1,672/km2)
 Metro 255,383
Time zone CST (UTC-6)
 - Summer (DST) CDT (UTC-5)
Area code(s) 228
FIPS code 28-06220
GNIS feature ID 0667173
Website http://www.biloxi.ms.us/

Biloxi ([bəˈlʌksi]) is a city in Harrison County, Mississippi, in the U.S.. The 2000 census recorded the population as 50,644. Biloxi is co–county seat with the larger city Gulfport, in the Gulfport-Biloxi, Mississippi Metropolitan Statistical Area, which is included in the Gulfport-Biloxi-Pascagoula, Mississippi Combined Statistical Area.

The beachfront of Biloxi lies directly on the Mississippi Sound, with barrier islands scattered off the coast and into the Gulf of Mexico.

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