Meridian is the sixth largest city in the state of Mississippi, United States. It is the county seat of Lauderdale County and the principal city of the Meridian, Mississippi Micropolitan Statistical Area. Along major highways, the city is 93 mi (150 km) east of Jackson, Mississippi; 154 mi (248 km) southwest of Birmingham, Alabama; 202 mi (325 km) northeast of New Orleans, Louisiana; and 231 mi (372 km) southeast of Memphis, Tennessee.
The city’s growth has reflected the push and pull of many social and economic factors. The total population increased in each census from the city’s founding until 1970, although varying from rates as high as 165% to as low as 0.2%. In the 1970 census the population decreased, then slightly increased by 1980, after which the population slowly declined, increasing again since the turn of the 21st century. Between 1980 and 2000, the population declined more than 14%. As of the census of 2000, the city’s population was 39,968, and the population density was 885.9 inhabitants per square mile (342.0/km). In 2008, the city was the sixth largest in the state. The population increased as of 2010.
Meridian is the principal city in the Meridian micropolitan area, which as of 2009 consisted of three counties – Clarke, Kemper, and Lauderdale – and had a population of 106,139. There is a population of 232,900 in a 45-mile (72 km) radius and 526,500 in a 65-mile (105 km) radius.
While the overall population growth of the city has varied, there has been a steady growth in the number and percentage of non-white residents. The only decline in this group was between 1960 and 1970, when the city’s overall population declined markedly. In the 2010 Census, the racial makeup of the city was 61.55% African American, 35.71% White, 0.9% Asian, 0.2% Native American, <0.02% Pacific Islander, 0.59% from other races, and 0.89% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 1.75% of the population.
According to the 2000 Census, of the 17,890 housing units inside city limits, 15,966 were occupied, 10,033 of them by families. 31.1% of occupied households had children under the age of 18, 36.2% were married couples living together, 23.3% consisted of a female householder with no husband present, and 37.2% were non-families. 33.2% of all households were made up of individuals, and 14.0% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.39 and the average family size was 3.06. The average household size has steadily decreased since 1970, when it was 3.04. Meridian’s median age has increased from 30.4 in 1970 to 34.6 in 2000.
The median income for a household in the city was $25,085, and the median income for a family was $31,062. Males had a median income of $29,404 versus $19,702 for females. The per capita income for the city was $15,255. About 24.6% of families and 28.6% of the population were below the poverty line, including 40.8% of those under age 18 and 22.0% of those age 65 or over.
The population of Meridian and its surrounds is fairly observant, with 65.2% of Lauderdale County identifying as affiliated with some type of religious congregation, compared with the national average of 50.2%. Of the affiliated in 2000, 30,068 (59.0%) were in the Southern Baptist Convention, 9,469 (18.6%) were with the United Methodist Church, and 1,872 (3.7%) were associated with the Catholic Church.
Immigrant Jews from Germany and eastern Europe were influential in commercial development of the city, building businesses and services. Congregation Beth Israel was founded in 1868, just before the city’s “Golden Age.” Meridian once had the largest Jewish community in the state, with 575 Jewish people living in the city in 1927. Today, fewer than 40 Jews live in Meridian, most of whom are elderly.
Meridian Mississippi neighborhoods include: 55th / 5th, Atwood Rd, Bailey/ Hwy 493, Blizzard Road, Briarwood, Broadmoor, Centerhill, Clarkdale, Green Briar, Highland Park, Inner Limits, NAS Housing, Neliburg, North Hills, Northwood/Poplar Springs, Our world, Pine Springs, Plantation Villa, Poplar Springs Dr, Roebuck – Hillcrest, Russell Manor Road, South Side, Suqualens North, Tanglewood, The Commons, Zero/Causeyville Rd