Photo and story by Jason Dozier
A couple of weeks later my travels continued. This time to the warmer climate of Mississippi. Having never been to this part of the deep south, I’d only heard about the gritty history of this dixie town through books, films, and songs by Kid Rock, Charlie Daniels and many other artists. I’m not sure what I expected, but the dirty, beat up, downtown that I drove into on a warm March afternoon in 2014 wasn’t it.
The city streets were crumbling, but there was construction equipment parked everywhere you looked. According to my notes/comments on record, I made the note that the roads were ‘really terrible and in general, a very sad capital city. Really a shame, I expected more from this legendary city.
While I was there on a weekend day, I remember thinking how impossible it must be for local traffic to function in the downtown area with the roads in such bad shape. Street parking was very limited due to construction, and parking garages all seemed to be ‘under construction’ with ‘no parking allowed’ signs at most of the entrances.
My note entry read ‘Cannot imagine how traffic gets through the center of town on weekdays, as every road is either almost rubble, or blocked off to one-way with barricades and what seem to be construction vehicles.’ From what I could see, there seemed to be only two or three restaurants in the downtown area, and surprised people are able to even park and get to them. I hope this was a situation where they are making an ‘all in’ attempt at beautification of this town.
While the renovation is going on in center of the city, just a couple of blocks to the north and west of the State Capital building looks like a war zone, with no active businesses, and many street-level windows are completely busted out, with signs of vagrants taking over for sleeping purposes.
I climbed into one of the buildings and snapped a couple of shots of the debris, as well as an interesting painting/sign that seemed a bit out of placein this old, about to fall down building that had been gutted on the inside, and reduced to war-zone like rubble on the outside.
A very strange atmosphere, almost apocolyptic as despite the ruins and uninhabited streets and buildings, there was not one gang sign to be found. There were also no homeless, or vagrants roaming the area, or sleeping inside the buildings. It was a nice day, and maybe they were assembling elsewhere, but the feeling was almost more eery than scary. As if everyone else knew there was a reason not to be here, but you didn’t. The best way to describe the area is that it is a ready-made set for an apocolyptic zombie movie. There isn’t anything needed on these empty streets other than actors to portray a realistic view.
While at first I was apprehensive about walking down the deserted streets, it soon changed to downright creepy - in broad daylight. After roaming through several blocks of the deserted downtown area, occasionally passing various State Capital Patrol officers, I felt I had a good representation of the area.
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