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Columbus, MS

A former Civil War hospital town, Columbus is known for its rich history and its folksy, small-town environment. Located in Lowndes Country in East Mississippi, this 22.3-square-mile city is part of the Golden Triangle, a region that also includes the cities of Starkville and West Point.

Located fewer than 300 miles from big Southern cities, such as Birmingham, Memphis, New Orleans and Little Rock, Columbus is often referred to as the Center of the South.

ECONOMY AND INDUSTRIES

Among the industries that help fuel the Columbus economy are the military and education. The city is home to Columbus Air Force Base, one of only four Air Force pilot training facilities in the country, as well as to Mississippi University for Women, which currently enrolls more than 2,400 students. Other employers in Columbus include Severstal and Sanderson Plumbing Products.

The highest percentage of male workers is employed by the construction industry, while most women work in educational service fields, with many teaching in preschool through middle school.

NEIGHBORHOODS AND DISTRICTS

Many Columbus residential streets retain a 19th century feel, with big trees and Victorian homes. The historic downtown has been revitalized and contemporary shops now occupy 100-plus-year-old brick buildings.

The city of Columbus has a population of about 24,000. Neighborhoods and districts of Columbus accommodate around 11,000 houses, out of which more than 10,000 are occupied. Of the occupied houses, more than half are owner-occupied, while renters occupy the rest. The neighborhoods of Columbus have a housing density of around 520 houses or condos per square mile.

EDUCATION

U.S. News & World Report, Consumer's Digest, and Kiplinger's Personal Finance have all recognized Columbus's local college, Mississippi University for Women (MUW), for providing a quality education with a low price tag. Established in 1884 as the first state-funded public university for women, MUW is now a co-ed institution that offers undergraduate degrees in more than 50 different programs. Nursing and elementary education rank among the university's most popular undergraduate offerings.

The school also offers graduate programs in education, nursing, speech pathology, and health and kinesiology. Many high school students looking to earn college credits and adults seeking continuing education credits take courses at MUW.

Other colleges and universities located within 100 miles of Columbus include:

  • Mississippi State University
  • Itawamba Community College
  • University of Alabama (Tuscaloosa campus)
  • Shelton State Community College
  • Northeast Mississippi Community College
  • Meridian Community College
  • Bevill State Community College

LOCAL MEDIA

Two newspapers are headquartered in Columbus:

  • The Commercial Dispatch is published every day except Saturday and reaches more than 13,000 subscribers.
  • The Columbus Packet goes on sale every Thursday and reaches 11,000 readers.

Columbus radio stations offer everything from country to top 40 to oldies to news to gospel music. TV stations that broadcast from the Columbus area include:

  • WCBI-TV Channel 4 (CBS)
  • WTVA-TV Channel 9 (NBC)
  • WLOV-TV Channel 27 (Fox)
  • WKDH-TV Channel 45 (ABC)

BEST BETS

Columbus features more than 600 properties in its three nationally recognized historic districts, and visitors can take walking and driving tours of the homes, churches, universities and mansions located throughout the city.

In 2008, the National Trust for Historic Preservation named Columbus one of the Dozen Distinctive Destinations for the city's efforts to protect its heritage from demolition and commercial sprawl. Among Columbus' historical landmarks are:

  • Franklin Academy: Built in 1821, the Franklin Academy was the first public school in the state of Mississippi, and it is still in use today. It is located at 501 3rd Avenue North.
  • Friendship Cemetery: Believed to be the site of the inaugural Memorial Day celebration on April 25, 1866, Friendship Cemetery is the burial place of several well-known historical figures, including veterans of the Revolutionary War and Civil War soldiers from both sides. This 65-acre facility is located on Fourth Street South near the Tombigbee River and is included in the National Register of Historic Places.
  • Rosewood Manor: A Greek-style, antebellum mansion originally built in the 1830s and located on Seventh Street North, Rosewood Manor has been featured in the books Marvelous Old Mansions and Historic Houses, as well as the magazine Colonial Homes. Visitors tour this former plantation to see period antiques, beautiful gardens and an old-time chapel.
  • Tennessee Williams's Home: Williams, a Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright whose works include A Streetcar Named Desire and Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, was born in this Victorian-era house in 1911. With the house facing demolition in 1993, the structure was moved from its original location to Main Street, where it was restored and converted to the official Welcome Center for the city of Columbus. It was recently named a National Literary Landmark.
  • Columbus is home to several hunting grounds and six golf courses a half-hour drive from the city.
  • Great fishing and boating can be found at Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway (better known as the Tenn-Tom).
  • Sports fans can attend auto races at two local tracks: Columbus Speedway and Magnolia Speedway.
  • The Mississippi State University Bulldogs compete in Southeastern Conference athletic events at nearby Starkville.