Cities Near Hattiesburg, MS
Local city information for Hattiesburg, MS
is a city in Forrest County, Mississippi, in the United States. According to the 2000 census, Hattiesburg's population was 44,779. Hattiesburg is the third largest city in Mississippi behind Gulfport (second) and Jackson (first).
Founded in 1882 by pioneer lumberman and 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 only 400. Hattiesburg's population first took off as a center of the lumber and railroad industries giving us our nickname “The Hub City.” It now attracts newcomers to the area because of the diversity of the economy, strong neighborhoods and the great central location in South Mississippi. The city is located in Forrest and Lamar Counties in the U.S. state of Mississippi. It is the principal city of the Hattiesburg, Mississippi Metropolitan Statistical Area which encompasses Forrest, Lamar and Perry counties. The MSA population exceeded 150,000 as a result of a 10% increase following Hurricane Katrina in August 2005; also, Hattiesburg itself surpassed Biloxi post-Katrina to become Mississippi's third largest city. It is the county seat of Forrest County, but the city has grown in recent years to include a portion of eastern Lamar County. Hattiesburg is home to The University of Southern Mississippi (originally known as Mississippi Normal College) and William Carey University (formerly William Carey College). Just south of Hattiesburg is Camp Shelby, the largest National Guard training base east of the Mississippi River.
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. Early settlers to the area were of Scottish, Irish, and English descent who came from Georgia and the Carolinas, attracted by the vast area of virgin pine timberlands.
The city of Hattiesburg was incorporated in 1884 with a population of approximately 400. Originally called Twin Forks and later Gordonville, Hardy gave the city its final name of Hattiesburg, in honor of his wife Hattie.
Also in 1884, the railroad, known as the Southern Railway System, was built from Meridian, Mississippi through Hattiesburg to New Orleans. The completion of the Gulf and Ship Island Railroad from Gulfport, Mississippi to Jackson, Mississippi, now part of the Illinois Central System, ran through Hattiesburg and ushered in the real lumber boom in 1897. Though it was 20 years in the building, the railroad 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.
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 state highways 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 also 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.
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. This 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 (120 km) inland, in 2005, Hattiesburg was hit very hard 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, CALEA 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.
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