Yazoo City Main Street - Atlas Obscura

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Yazoo City Main Street

Yazoo City, Mississippi

A downtown filled with nearly deserted historic buildings was revived as a pastel paradise. 

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It’s no secret that Mississippi is currently America’s poorest state, but that doesn’t mean local residents are just sitting around waiting for their cities to crumble. As downtown Yazoo City struggled with rising vacancy rates and a difficult business environment, local business owners on Main Street banded together and began to fight back with a bold strategy: cans of brightly colored pastel paint.

Most of the downtown buildings in Yazoo City date back to the same year: 1904. That was the year a fire ripped through Yazoo City, burning down most of the buildings and forcing it to rebuild. A local legend claims this was the work of “The Witch of Yazoo,” who cursed the town after drowning in quicksand. Others may claim poor fire codes.

These historic buildings fell into a general state of disrepair until the early 2000s, when members of the Yazoo County CVB convinced remaining business owners to paint downtown in various vibrant colors designed to give the town a Caribbean look, or maybe that of a gaudier version of Charleston’s Rainbow Row.

The block is anchored by the historic Main Street Hotel, and its event space, “The No Smoking Smoke House.” From November through early January, Christmas lights are hung on the buildings, lending the town an even more vibrant and colorful pageantry. Main Street still has its share of vacant storefronts, but the town has seen a revival both from the renewed vigor of town, and from tourists attracted by its photogenic exterior.

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