“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Biloxi in Harrison County, Mississippi — The American South (East South Central)

Downtown Biloxi


—Historic Biloxi —

Downtown Biloxi Marker image. Click for full size.
By Mark Hilton, March 22, 2017
1. Downtown Biloxi Marker
Inscription. 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
Downtown Biloxi looking east (this is a one-way street, running east, in this area). image. Click for full size.
By Mark Hilton, March 22, 2017
2. Downtown Biloxi looking east (this is a one-way street, running east, in this area).
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,
Downtown Biloxi looking west towards Reynoir Street. image. Click for full size.
By Mark Hilton, March 22, 2017
3. Downtown Biloxi looking west towards Reynoir Street.
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.
Erected 2015 by the City of Biloxi.
Location. 30° 23.805′ N, 88° 53.402′ W. Marker is in Biloxi, Mississippi, in Harrison County. Marker is on Howard Avenue east of Reynoir Street, on the left when traveling east. Touch for map. Howard Avenue, along here, is also known as Vieux Marche Mall (French for Old Market). Marker is at or near this postal address: 834 Howard Avenue, Biloxi MS 39530, United States of America.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Cathedral of the Nativity (B.V.M.) (about 300 feet away, measured in a direct line); The Magnolia Hotel (approx. 0.2 miles away); Biloxi City Hall (approx. 0.2 miles away); Biloxi Public Library 1925 (approx. ¼ mile away); Historic Downtown Biloxi (approx. 0.3 miles away); High Water Mark (approx. 0.3 miles away); Historic Downtown Biloxi Walking Tour (approx. 0.3 miles away); Brielmaier House (approx. 0.3 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Biloxi.
Categories. Industry & CommerceRailroads & StreetcarsWaterways & Vessels
Credits. This page was last revised on March 25, 2017. This page originally submitted on March 25, 2017, by Mark Hilton of Montgomery, Alabama. This page has been viewed 182 times since then and 16 times this year. Photos:   1, 2, 3. submitted on March 25, 2017, by Mark Hilton of Montgomery, Alabama.
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