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Yazoo City is a U.S. city in Yazoo County, Mississippi. It was named after the Yazoo River, which, in turn was named by the French explorer Robert La Salle in 1682 as "Rivière des Yazous" in reference to the Yazoo tribe living near the river's mouth. It is the county seat of Yazoo County and the principal city of the Yazoo City Micropolitan Statistical Area, which is part of the larger Jackson–Yazoo City Combined Statistical Area. According to the 2010 census, the population was 11,403.
The community now known as Yazoo City was founded in 1824 with the name Hannan's Bluff. It was later renamed Manchester, then changed to Yazoo City in 1841. Yazoo City became the county seat in 1849.
A yellow fever epidemic struck Yazoo City in 1853. During the American Civil War, a makeshift shipyard was established on the Yazoo River at Yazoo City after the Confederate loss of New Orleans. The shipyard was destroyed by Union forces in 1863, but the Confederates soon recovered Yazoo City. Union forces returned the following year and this time burned down almost the entire town.
Yazoo City was rebuilt, but yellow fever struck and took more victims in 1878. On May 25, 1904, a fire destroyed much of central Yazoo City. According to a local legend, the fire was caused by a witch avenging her death. In reality, a boy playing with matches accidentally set a house ablaze. The fire quickly spread, and three-fourths of the town was destroyed, including most of the homes. It was stopped by a canal, which saved the new courthouse (built in 1872 to replace the one burned by the Union forces) and 10 antebellum homes nearby. The town took almost two years to recover.
The Great Mississippi Flood of 1927 did much damage to the entire Delta, but Yazoo City was restored and is now protected by an effective flood-prevention system.
A strong tornado, rated EF4 on the Enhanced Fujita scale and with a path width of 1.75 mi, hit Yazoo County on April 24, 2010. Four people were killed in the Yazoo City area, and a number were seriously injured; four of the victims were airlifted to the University of Mississippi Medical Center in the capital city of Jackson, 40 mi away. The Governor of Mississippi, Haley Barbour, toured the area in a National Guard helicopter and held a news conference on the disaster at 3:30 pm. The tornado and the aftermath were shown in an episode of the Discovery Channel series Storm Chasers, and several YouTube videos show considerable detail and descriptions.
Around 8:05 pm local time, Yazoo City was struck by two tornadoes: first, an EF-2 tornado 3 mi southwest of town, then a second EF-2 within the city limits, causing significant damage to several downtown buildings.
Yazoo City is located 40 mi (64 km) northwest of Jackson at the junctions of U.S. Routes 49, 49E, and 49W, and MS Highways 3, 16, and 149, on the banks of the Yazoo River, near the Panther Swamp National Wildlife Refuge.
U.S. Route 49W provides a fairly direct link between Yazoo City and Belzoni. The old highway segment, renamed Mississippi Highway 149, passes through Panther Swamp National Wildlife Refuge and the communities of Louise and Midnight before reconnecting with the new US 49W at Silver City, 7 mi south of Belzoni. The new highway makes the town of Carter so near, it might be considered for annexation by Yazoo City. Two bridges now cross the Yazoo River at Yazoo City.
The section of MS 3 in Yazoo City is called Haley Barbour Parkway. Barbour, the former governor of Mississippi, grew up in Yazoo City and has a home on Wolf Lake, a lake north of Yazoo City. U.S. Route 49 (part of which was formerly U.S. 49E) through Yazoo City is named Jerry Clower Boulevard, after the famous comedian, a former resident of Yazoo City.
Yazoo City is also known as the "Gateway to the Delta" due to its location on the transition between the two great landforms that characterize the geography of Mississippi (the western part of the city lies in the Mississippi Delta and the eastern part lies in the loess bluffs that characterize most of eastern Mississippi).
According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 10.9 sq mi (28 km2), of which 10.8 sq mi (28 km2) is land and 0.1 sq mi (0.26 km2) (1.19%) is covered by water.
As of the 2010 United States Census, there were 11,403 people residing in the city. The racial makeup of the city was 82.0% Black, 16.1% White, 0.1% Native American, 0.5% Asian and 0.5% from two or more races. 0.7% were Hispanic or Latino of any race.
As of the census of 2000, 14,550 people, 4,271 households, and 2,968 families resided in the city. The population density was 1,349.2 people per square mile (521.1/km²). The 4,676 housing units averaged 433.6 per mi2 (167.5/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 28.73% White, 69.68% African American, 0.18% Native American, 0.58% Asian, 0.23% from other races, and 0.60% from two or more races. Hispanics or Latinos of any race were 7.47% of the population.
Of the 4,271 households, 37.7% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 31.5% were married couples living together, 32.6% had a female householder with no husband present, and 30.5% were not families. About 27.4% of all households were made up of individuals, and 13.4% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.85 and the average family size was 3.49.
In the city, the population was distributed as 29.0% under the age of 18, 10.5% from 18 to 24, 31.3% from 25 to 44, 17.3% from 45 to 64, and 11.9% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 32 years. For every 100 females, there were 112.1 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 115.9 males.
The median income for a household in the city was $19,893, and for a family was $22,470. Males had a median income of $26,109 versus $18,650 for females. The per capita income for the city was $9,251. About 35.0% of families and 40.2% of the population were below the poverty line, including 52.5% of those under age 18 and 23.5% of those age 65 or over.
The Federal Bureau of Prisons operates the Federal Correctional Complex, Yazoo City, which consists of FCI Yazoo City Low and FCI Yazoo City Medium.
The mayor of Yazoo City is Diane Delaware. The United States Postal Service operates the Yazoo City Post Office.
Yazoo City is served by the Yazoo City Municipal School District; Yazoo City High School is the public school of this district.
Yazoo County High School, outside of the city limits and a part of the Yazoo County School District, does not serve areas in the Yazoo City city limits.
The four private schools are Thomas Christian Academy (Pre-K–12), Manchester Academy (Pre-K–12), Covenant Christian School (K–6th grade), and Benton Academy (Pre-K–12).
WBYP and WYAZ, both FM, are two local radio stations. The Yazoo Herald, is Yazoo County's only daily newspaper.
Amtrak, the national passenger rail system, provides service to Yazoo City using the Yazoo City Station. The Amtrak station is located at 222 West Broadway.
Yazoo County Airport is in unincorporated Yazoo County, 2 miles (3.2 km) west of central Yazoo City. Lynne W. Jeter of the Mississippi Business Journal said in 2001 that the county airport "may have played an important role in landing the multiphase federal prison project that is currently under expansion."
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