With stunning views of the Mississippi Sound and the Gulf of Mexico, Biloxi, Mississippi is the southeastern-most city in Harrison County. Gulfport is to its west, D’Iberville to the north, and Jackson County just east over the Biloxi Bay Bridge. Approximately 45,000 people reside in the city that accommodates many tourists each year.
Prior to the European discovery and settlement, Biloxi was inhabited by the Biloxi Indian Native Americans. Today’s culture of the Mississippi Gulf Coast is the product of a unique blend of ethnic groups that is the result of multiple waves of migration to the area over the course of the past 300 years. Many of the Coast’s modern cultural resources, including businesses, social halls, and sacred places, are directly related to these ethnic groups. Many events celebrated along the Coast represent its rich cultural heritage, such as Mardi Gras, Blessing of the Fleet, and the Biloxi Seafood Festival.
A significant event in the history of Biloxi and the Mississippi Gulf Coast between the Civil War and World War II was the development of the seafood industry during the late 1800s and early 1900s. Fortunes were made by some in the seafood industry, but for most people, the seafood industry meant hard work on a boat or in a processing factory. Croatians, Yugoslavs, French, and Vietnamese people came to Biloxi to work in what was once known as “The Seafood Capital of the World.” The history of these people is documented at the Maritime and Seafood Industry Museum. The fishing industry remains important to the economy as the Mississippi Sound breeds some of the best fish, shrimp, oysters and crabs in the world.
Biloxi has been home to many interesting people. Beauvoir, the last home of Jefferson Davis, President of the Confederate States of America, is located on the beachfront in Biloxi. The Presidential Library and Confederate Cemetery are also on the grounds of Beauvoir. The famous George Edgar Ohr, aka “The Mad Potter of Biloxi,” an American ceramics artist is celebrated at the Ohr O’Keefe Museum of Art. Ohr’s early 1900 work is displayed along with other exhibits in a Frank Gehry designed, award-winning campus of structures that dance among Live Oaks on Biloxi’s beachfront.
By the early 1990s, gaming was legalized and Biloxi’s economy flourished. Now with eight first-class casinos, gaming and tourism is a major industry in Biloxi. Harrison County alone accounted for over one-third of the Mississippi’s total tourism revenue. Extremely important to the city is the United States Air Force’s, Keesler Air Force Base, one of the largest employers in South Mississippi. Established in 1941, it is home to the 81st training wing and tenant units whose mission is technical training, medical, airlift, and weather reconnaissance. Keesler is also home to the world-famous Hurricane Hunters.
“The Biloxi Lighthouse was erected in 1848 and was one of the first cast-iron lighthouses in the South. It is the city’s signature landmark and has become a post-Katrina symbol of the city’s resolve and resilience.” www.biloxi.ms.us