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Jefferson City is the capital of the U.S. state of Missouri and the fifteenth most populous city in the state. It is also the county seat of Cole County and the principal city of the Jefferson City Metropolitan Statistical Area. Most of the city is in Cole County, with a small northern section extending into Callaway County.
Jefferson City is named for Thomas Jefferson, the third president of the United States. Jefferson City currently holds, per Rand McNally, the title of America's "Most Beautiful Small Town."
Jefferson City is on the northern edge of the Ozark Plateau on the southern side of the Missouri River in a region known as Mid-Missouri. It is also at the western edge of one of the major wine-producing regions of the Midwest, the Missouri Rhineland. The city is dominated by the domed Capitol, which rises from a bluff overlooking the Missouri River to the north; Lewis and Clark passed the bluff on their historic expedition upriver before Europeans established any settlement there.
Often referred to as "Jeff", many of Jefferson City's primary employers fall within the service and manufacturing industries, similar to other Midwestern capital cities. Jefferson City is also home to Lincoln University, a public historically black land-grant university founded in 1866 by the 62nd Regiment of U.S. Colored Troops with additional support from the 65th Regiment of U.S. Colored Troops.
In pre-Columbian times, this region was home of an ancient people known only as the "Mound Builders". They were no longer present by the time of the first white settlers, having been replaced by Osage Native Americans. When the Missouri Territory was organized in 1812, St. Louis was Missouri's seat of government, and St. Charles would serve as the next capital.
In the middle of the state, Jefferson City was chosen as the new capital in 1821 when Thomas Jefferson was still living. The village first was called "Lohman's Landing", and when the legislature decided to relocate there, they proposed the name "Missouriopolis" before settling on "Jefferson City". For years, this village was little more than a trading post located in the wilderness about midway between St. Louis and Kansas City. In 1825, the settlement was incorporated as a city and a year later, the Missouri legislature first met in Jefferson City.
Jefferson City was chosen as the site of a state prison. This prison, named the Missouri State Penitentiary, opened in 1836. This prison was home to multiple infamous Americans, including former heavyweight champion Sonny Liston, assassin James Earl Ray, and bank robber Charles "Pretty Boy" Floyd. During the Civil War, Jefferson City was occupied by Union troops and the elected state legislature was driven from Jefferson City by Union General Nathaniel Lyon. Some of the legislators later reconvened in Neosho, Missouri and passed an ordinance of secession. Missouri was claimed by both the Confederacy and the Union, just like the neighboring state Kentucky. Missourians were strongly divided and many people in the state—especially in St. Louis—supported the Union, while other areas (such as Missouri's Little Dixie) were strongly pro-Confederate along the Missouri River between Jefferson City and Kansas City.
German immigrants created vineyards in small towns on either side of the Missouri River, especially on the north from the city east to Marthasville, located outside of St. Louis. Known as the "Missouri Rhineland" for its vineyards and first established by German immigrants in the mid-1800s, this region has become part of Missouri's agricultural and tourist economy.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 37.58 square miles (97.33 km2), of which, 35.95 square miles (93.11 km2) is land and 1.63 square miles (4.22 km2) is water.
Jefferson City has a humid continental climate (Dfa) with hot, rainy summers and cold winters. Thunderstorms are common in both the spring and summer. Light snow is common during the winter, although about half of wintertime precipitation falls as rain.
As of the census of 2010, there were 43,079 people, 17,278 households, and 9,969 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,198.3 inhabitants per square mile (462.7/km2). There were 18,852 housing units at an average density of 524.4 per square mile (202.5/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 78.0% White, 16.9% African American, 0.3% Native American, 1.8% Asian, 0.1% Pacific Islander, 0.8% from other races, and 2.2% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 2.6% of the population.
There were 17,278 households of which 28.8% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 41.6% were married couples living together, 12.4% had a female householder with no husband present, 3.7% had a male householder with no wife present, and 42.3% were non-families. 36.2% of all households were made up of individuals and 11.5% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.21 and the average family size was 2.89.
In the city, the population was spread out with 20.9% of residents under the age of 18, 10.3% between the ages of 18 and 24, 28.6% from 25 to 44, 26.8% from 45 to 64, and 13.4% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age in the city was 37.5 years. The gender makeup of the city was 51.2% male and 48.8% female.
As of the census of 2000, there were 39,636 people, 15,794 households, and 9,207 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,454.4 people per square mile (561.6/km²). There were 16,987 housing units at an average density of 623.3 per square mile (240.7/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 81.5% White, 14.7% Black or African American, 0.4% Native American, 1.2% Asian, 0.1% Pacific Islander, 0.6% from other races, and 1.5% from two or more races. 1.6% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.
There were 15,794 households of which 27.9% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 44.4% were married couples living together, 10.8% had a female householder with no husband present, and 41.7% were non-families. 36.1% of all households were made up of individuals and 11.9% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.21 and the average family size was 2.90.
In the city, the population was spread out with 20.9% under the age of 18, 11.0% from 18 to 24, 32.1% from 25 to 44, 22.0% from 45 to 64, and 14.0% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 36 years. For every 100 females, there were 105.3 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 106.6 males.
The median income for a household in the city was $39,628, and the median income for a family was $52,627. Males had a median income of $35,050 versus $25,521 for females. The per capita income for the city was $21,268. About 7.3% of families and 11.5% of the population were below the poverty line, including 17.1% of those under age 18 and 7.1% of those age 65 or over.
The city uses a mayor-council system. The mayor is elected in a citywide vote. The city council has 10 members. Two are elected from each of the city's five wards.
The State Capitol is located in Jefferson City. In addition, state agencies are headquartered in Jefferson City. The Missouri State Archives is located in Jefferson City.
The Missouri Department of Corrections (MDOC) operates the Jefferson City Correctional Center (JCCC) and the Algoa Correctional Center (ACC) in Jefferson City. JCCC replaced the Missouri State Penitentiary on September 15, 2004, which until its closure was the oldest operating penal facility west of the Mississippi River. It served as the State of Missouri's primary maximum security institution, and it housed male death row prisoners until April 1989, when they were moved to the Potosi Correctional Center.
The United States Postal Service operates several postal facilities. The Jefferson City Main Post Office building previously shared occupancy with the U.S. District Court from its dedication in November 1934 until September 27, 2011 when it moved into the Christopher S. Bond Court House.
The 118,000-square-foot courthouse is named for the former Governor and United States Senator from Missouri. The courthouse, which is occupied by the Central Division of the United States District Court for the Western District of Missouri and under the appellate jurisdiction of the United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit, was designed to achieve the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Gold rating. Sustainable design features include reducing water use by 44 percent, using 13 percent recycled content, diverting 80 percent of construction waste materials from landfills, and it is 36 percent more efficient than current energy standards.
Jefferson City's economy is driven by its residents, citizens of surrounding communities, and tourists.
In 2017, Jefferson City was ranked the fifth Best Small City to Start a Business (out of the 1,261 cities examined nationally). The rankings were based on fifteen factors, including: average growth in number of small businesses, prevalence of investors, office-space affordability, and corporate taxes.
In 2016, Jefferson City was ranked thirteenth nationally (and second in the state, next to Columbia) among the Best Cities for Career Opportunities. SmartAsset examined 355 metro areas and based the rankings on metrics such as the unemployment rate, median income, median annual housing costs and the rate of employment growth.
As the state capital, Jefferson City is a tourist destination for the Missouri State Capitol, Missouri State Penitentiary, Missouri Governor's Mansion, and Missouri State Museum. Ranked by U.S. News & World Report in 2007 as a top educational institution for international students, Lincoln University also helps draw students and tourists to Jefferson City from many other states and countries.
The major daily English-language newspaper in the area is the Jefferson City News Tribune. Several monthly magazines cover Jefferson City and/or the surrounding areas: Jefferson City Magazine, Her Magazine, Capital Lifestyles, and Professional Day.
Jefferson City, along with Columbia, is part of the Mid Missouri television market. KRCG, the region's CBS affiliate, and KNLJ, a station owned by the Christian Television Network (CTN), are both licensed to the city.
Jefferson City Public School District currently operates Jefferson City High School, a ninth grade center, two middle schools, and eleven elementary schools. The district will open Capital City High School in Fall 2019.
Blair Oaks R-II School District also provides education from the Kindergarten through 12th grade levels in Jefferson City.
In addition to public education, there are also five private elementary schools and three private high schools, including Helias High School, located within the city.
Lincoln University is a public historically black university with open enrollment and certificate, associate, bachelor, and graduate programs.
Columbia College, William Woods University, Metro Business College, and Merrell University also have campuses in the city with varying degree levels and options.
Although Jefferson City is one of the four state capitals that is not served by an Interstate highway, Interstate 70 passes by the city 30 miles (48 km) to the north in Columbia. U.S. highways in the city include U.S. Routes 50, 54, and 63. Missouri Routes 179 and 94 also run through the city, giving it four highways that intersect with I-70.
JeffTran, the city operated public transit system, provides year-round bus service during traditional weekday business hours, but is currently considering the extension of service hours to include evenings and weekends.
The Jefferson City station, located in the former Union Hotel at Jefferson Landing State Historic Site, is one of many stops provided by Amtrak, the sole intercity passenger railroad service in the United States.
A Greyhound bus stop near the Eastland Drive Convenient Food Mart also provides intercity transit. Jefferson City Memorial Airport, which is located in the Jefferson City limits of Callaway County, Missouri, serves general aviation but has no scheduled commercial airline service.
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