Gulfport, Mississippi

Gulfport, the second largest Mississippi city, is a beautiful harbor town along the Gulf of Mexico located approximately 65 miles northeast of New Orleans, LS. It is part of the Gulfport-Biloxi metropolitan area, and it also shares with Biloxi the county seat title of Harrison County, which was incorporated in 1841. The city has a population of seventy-two thousand residents.

The City of Gulfport began as a lumber and port community. It was founded in 1898 by two American entrepreneurs: William Hardy and Joseph Jones. After the harbor was successfully dredged in 1902, Gulfport became a working seaport that brings in millions of dollars of revenue for the city and the state. The city motto "Where Your Ship Comes In" aptly summarizes the principal role and industry of the City of Gulfport.

With 6.7 miles of picturesque white sand beaches, coast casinos, and sporting boasts, Gulfport has also become a major tourist destination in the state. The city is the site of annual "World's Largest Fishing Rodeo", and it is the home of the US Navy Seabees. It is still recovering from the havoc cause by Hurricane Katrina. However, much of the needed restoration has already been completed, and fishing, a principal economic activity, has returned.

Gulfport has a lot to offer those who enjoy city life as well as the outdoors. It has something to appeal to everyone's senses. It is also an area of history and culture.

Gulfport History

On May 3, 1887, the Board of Directors of the Gulf & Ship Island Railroad headed by Judge William Hardy approved a civil engineer's report about the best location for the planned railroad terminal harbor on the coast of Mississippi. However, before the railroad could reach the site, construction was stopped as the Union Investment Company fell into legal troubles. On July 28, Gulfport was incorporated.

Captain Joseph Jones, an entrepreneur for New York, realized that the young City of Gulfport would an efficient transportation system to grow. Jones saw, however, that completing the tracks across the half-mile channel to Ship Island is costly and not practical. Instead, Jones commissioned the improvement of the harbor. He also dredged the harbor, opening the shipping channel. In 1902, he purchased all the stocks of GSIRR. That same year, the dredging of the Gulfport was completed. Upon its completion, the harbor brought great changes to the southern region of the state. By 1911, the city was shipping more yellow pines than any other port in the country.

As the port presented economic opportunities, more came to settle in Gulfport to work and live permanently. A few years after its founding, the town of Gulfport became a city with a population of 5,000. The new settlers - mostly seamen -- came from many parts of the world. Gulfport became a diversified city.

Other industries were built to support the shipping and lumbering industries. Stevedore companies opened their services, as well ship chandlers, machine shops, and foundries. Then, in 1906, a tropical storm battered the city. The shipping and timber industry were both hit hard. Gulfport realized a need to diversify. Once recovery programs were put in place, the city dealt in truck gardening and tourist trade.

In 1925, the Illinois Central System arrived in the city, ushering in a growth in real estate. By this time, the city already had a post office and customhouse. Since the timbers of Piney Woods were decimated, Gulfport's lumbering era came to a halt. The city shifted to cotton production, Mississippi's oldest trade, as a new source of income. Warehouses, cotton mills, and a shirt factory were opened. A pier and warehouse was built along the port, ushering in a new era of development for the city.

In December 1993, Gulfport annexed new lands north of Gulfport, increasing its land area by 33 square miles. Then on August 29, 2005, Hurricane Katrina hit the city and many other areas of Mississippi. Much of the city was severely damaged. Much of the city has been restored already.

About Gulfport, Mississippi

The City of Gulfport offers southern hospitality and the relaxed, intimate feel of a small, beach town. It's a great place to relax and enjoy some sporting or gaming activities. From scenic white-sand beaches, colorful sailboats to glitzy casinos and antebellum Greek Revival-style houses, an eclectic array of recreational activities await visitors to the Mississippi Gulf Coast.

A premier gaming destination in the south, the City of Gulfport has some of the ritziest and largest casinos in the state of Mississippi. The Island View Casino Resort along West Beach Boulevard offers 47 table games and over two thousand slot games housed in 83,000 square foot space. The Grand Casino Gulfport is an oceanfront casino-resort overlooking the Gulf of Mexico. It has a poker room, nearly a hundred table games and thousands of video slot machines.

Gulfport offers plenty of opportunities for water-based adventure. Along Beach Boulevard are 6.7 miles of the most spectacular beaches in the state. Waters are protected by a chain of barrier islands, resulting in calm, gentle waters ideal for swimming and snorkeling. Some areas of the beach are designated as nesting areas for endangered birds; these areas are off-limits to visitors, but taking of pictures are allowed. As for offshore recreation, yachting and deep sea fishing are the two most popular activities in the City of Gulfport. From March through October, boat services to the Gulf Islands National Seashore are available. The Gulf Islands is a historic preserve along the barrier islands of the Gulf of Mexico. Kayaking or canoeing can be had at Davis Bayou.

Many special events and festivals are water-based. Billed as the world's largest fishing rodeo, the Mississippi Deep Sea Fishing is an annual sporting event that's been running for over 50 years. This four-day event attracts up to 20,000 participants each year. The fishing waters of the rodeo are the Mississippi Sound and bayous and creeks found within the 200-mile range of the Mississippi shoreline. Another popular activity, the Smoking the Sound, is an offshore boat race. The event also includes a helicopter air show. The Gulfport Memorial Day Blowout is also a four-day event of bike shows, racing, live show, and flea markets. October brings "pomp and power" as antique, vintage, classic, and hot rod vehicles gather for the week-long "Cruisin' the Coast". There are also various 18-hole golf courses located in different parts of the city.

Gulfport's main shopping destination is the Prime Outlets. Located along the Factory Shop Boulevard, this neighborhood features over 80 brand name stores. Flea markets, boutiques, specialty shops, and antique stores also abound in the city.

About Harrison County, Mississippi

Harrison County is located along the Mississippi Gulf Coast. Named for US President William Harrison, Harrison County has two county seats. One, Biloxi, is an important for oyster and shrimp fishing ships. It is also a center for canning and packing fish, fruits, and vegetables. The city is also a winter and summer resort destination. The other county seat is Gulfport, also a port town and resort destination. Both cities offer a plethora of casinos along the coast, making Harrison County a gaming capital in the state.

Mississippi Coast Casinos: Harrison County is a gaming center in the state of Mississippi. Since state law requires that all casinos on the Gulf Coast should be on the shoreline, most of Harrison County's casino resorts overlook the Gulf of Mexico. Harrison County casinos feature motifs that range from Western to Hard Rock. There are current eleven casino resorts now running again. In Biloxi, casinos include the Hard Rock Casino, the Isle of Capri, Boomtown, the IP Casino Resort and Spa, Palace, Grand Casino Biloxi, Treasure Bay, and Beau Rivage Resort. Gulfport has the Island View Casino.

Fishing Piers: In Harrison County, pier fishing is legal, but anglers are required to secure a recreational fishing permit. In fact, there are dozens of piers in the county that have been built for this purpose. In Biloxi, anglers capture prime game fish from the Coliseum Pier, the Broadwater Marina, Point Cadet, Forest Avenue Pier, or the Biloxi Small Craft Harbor. Some of the fishing piers in Gulfport are found near the Gulfport Small Craft Harbor and on Westside Pier.

Hurricanes: Harrison County has seen some of the most devastating tropical storms in the history of the US. The first was Hurricane Camille, which hit the Mississippi Gulf Coast on August 18, 1969. The hurricane left 134 dead, 27 missing, and 8,931 injured. Approximately 68 square miles of Harrison County was destroyed. Even more destructive was the Hurricane Katrina, which battered the state of Mississippi on August 28-29, 2005. The tropical storm damaged the county's two coastal cities (Biloxi and Gulfport) the most. Many houses were pushed inland, and on-water casino barges were pulled onto land. The Biloxi-Ocean Springs Bridge was completely destroyed. Nearly all of the City of Pass Christian was severely damaged.