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Lead was discovered in the Joplin Creek Valley before the Civil War, but only after the war did significant development take place. By 1871, numerous mining camps sprang up in the valley and resident John C. Cox filed a plan for a city on the east side of the valley. Cox named his village Joplin City after the spring and creek nearby, which had been named for the Reverend Harris G. Joplin, who settled upon its banks circa 1840.
Carthage resident Patrick Murphy filed a plan for a city on the opposite side of the valley and named it Murphysburg. As the nearest sheriff was in Carthage, frontier lawlessness abounded in Joplin. The historic period was referred to as the "Reign of Terror". The cities eventually merged into Union City, but when the merger was found illegal, the cities split. Murphy suggested that a combined city be named Joplin. The cities merged again on March 23, 1873, this time permanently, as the City of Joplin.
While Joplin was first settled for lead mining, zinc, often referred to as "jack", was the most important mineral resource. As railroads were built to connect Joplin to major markets in other cities, it was on the verge of dramatic growth. By the start of the 20th century, the city was becoming a regional metropolis. Construction centered around Main Street, with many bars, hotels, and fine homes nearby. Joplin's three-story "House of Lords" was its most famous saloon, with a bar and restaurant on the first floor, gambling on the second, and a brothel on the third. Trolley and rail lines made Joplin the hub of southwest Missouri. As the center of the "Tri-state district", it soon became the lead- and zinc-mining capital of the world.
As a result of extensive surface and deep mining, Joplin is dotted with open-pit mines and mineshafts. Mining left many tailings piles (small hills of ground rock), which are considered unsightly locally. The main part of Joplin is nearly 75% undermined, with some mine shafts well over 100 ft (30 m) deep. These shafts have occasionally caved in, creating sinkholes.
Joplin began to add cultural amenities; in 1902, residents passed a tax to create a public library, and gained matching funds that enabled them to build the Carnegie Library. It was seen as the symbol of a thriving city. In 1930, the grand commercial Electric Theater was built, one of the many movie palaces of the time. It was later purchased and renamed the Fox by Fox Theatres corporation. With the Depression and post-World War II suburban development, moviegoing declined at such large venues.
On April 15, 1903, Joplin police officers, including Theodore Leslie, 36, were searching nearby rail yards for a Black man who had allegedly stolen pistols from a hardware store when Leslie noticed a man in one of the rail cars. Shots were fired, and Leslie, a father of four, was mortally wounded. Hundreds of men launched a search using bloodhounds. On April 16, a Black man with a weapon, Thomas Gilyard, was arrested, and while he told one of the men involved in the arrest that he had been in the box car, he said several others had been there and that one of them fired the fatal shot. Joplin City Attorney Perl Decker pleaded with the growing mob to break up, according to newspaper and other historical accounts, as did Mayor Thomas Cunningham, but the crowd soon stormed the jail and took Gilyard from his cell. He was lynched soon afterward.
In 1933 during the Great Depression, the notorious criminals Bonnie and Clyde spent some weeks in Joplin, where they robbed several area businesses. Tipped off by a neighbor, the Joplin Police Department attempted to apprehend the pair. Bonnie and Clyde escaped after killing Newton County Constable John Wesley Harryman and Joplin Police Detective Harry McGinnis; however, they were forced to leave most of their possessions behind, including a camera. The Joplin Globe developed and printed the film, which showed now-legendary photos of Bonnie holding Clyde at mock gunpoint, and of Bonnie with her foot on a car fender, posed with a pistol in her hand and cigar in her mouth. The Missouri Advisory Council on Historic Preservation nominated the house where the couple stayed, at 34th Street and Oak Ridge Drive, for inclusion on the National Register of Historic Places on February 13, 2009.
After World War II, most of the mines were closed, and population growth leveled off. The main road through Joplin running east and west was designated as part of U.S. Route 66, which became famous as more Americans took to newly constructed highways. The roads provided improved access between cities, but they also drew off population to newer housing and eventually retail centers.
In the 1960s and 1970s, nearly 40 acres (16 ha) of the city's downtown were razed in an attempt at urban renewal, as population and businesses had moved to a suburban fringe along newly constructed highways. The Keystone Hotel and Worth Block (former home of the House of Lords) were notable historic structures that were demolished. Christman's Department Store stands (converted into loft apartments), as does the Joplin Union Depot, since railroad restructuring and the decline in passenger traffic led to its closure. Other notable historic structures in Joplin include the Carnegie Library, Fred and Red's Diner, the Frisco Depot, the Scottish Rite Cathedral, and the Crystal Cave (filled in and used for a parking lot). The Newman Mercantile Store has been adapted for use as City Hall. The Fox Theatre has been adapted for use as the Central Christian Center.
On May 5, 1971, Joplin was struck by a severe tornado, resulting in one death and 50 injuries, along with major damage to many houses and businesses.
On November 11, 1978, Joplin's once-stately Connor Hotel, which was slated for implosion to make way for a new public library, collapsed suddenly and prematurely. Two demolition workers were killed instantly. A third, Alfred Sommers, was trapped for four days, yet survived.
The city has two major hospitals which serve the Four States region, Freeman Health System and Mercy Hospital Joplin, the latter replacing St. John's Regional Medical Center which was destroyed in the May 22, 2011, tornado. Freeman Hospital East and Landmark Hospital serve more specialized community health needs. The city's park system has nearly 1,000 acres (400 ha) and includes a golf course, three swimming pools, 15 miles (24 km) of walking/biking trails, the world's largest remaining globally unique Chert Glades and Missouri's first Audubon Nature Center located in Wildcat Park. A waterfall, Grand Falls, the highest continuously flowing in the state, is on Shoal Creek on the southern end of the city. Included in Schifferdecker Park is the Everett J. Ritchie Tri-State Mineral Museum and Dorothea B. Hoover Historical Museum, which holds a significant collection of minerals from the era of lead and zinc mining in the region.
Numerous buildings in Joplin have been listed on the National Register of Historic Places for their historic and architectural significance. The city has undertaken Agenda 21; a major project to revitalize its Main Street downtown district, which lies on the historic Route 66. It has refurbished building facades, sidewalks, and added old-styled lamp posts, flower baskets, and benches to highlight the historic center of the city. A gasoline-powered citywide trolley system evokes images of the city's vibrant past.
Numerous trucking lines such as CFI are headquartered in town, as the city is situated near the geographic and population centers of the nation. Eagle-Picher Industries, Tamko Building Products, AT&T Communications, and FAG Bearings are noted employers in Joplin, and Leggett & Platt (a Fortune 500) is located in nearby Carthage. The city is served by the Joplin Regional Airport located north of town near Webb City.
Since the 2011 tornado, the city continued to expand eastward toward I-44. Large-scale development occurred along Range Line Road, particularly around Northpark Mall. Numerous suburbs adjacent to the city include Carl Junction, Webb City, Duenweg, Duquesne, Airport Drive, Oronogo, Carterville, Redings Mill, Shoal Creek Drive, Leawood, and Saginaw.
Due to its location near two major highways and its few event and sports facilities, Joplin attracts travelers and is a destination for conferences and group events. Joplin offers nearly 500 hotel rooms, the majority located within a 1/4-mile area of Range Line Road and I-44. It has the 30,000-square-foot (2,800 m2) John Q. Hammons Convention and Trade Center, which serves as the primary event facility for conventions, associations, and large events.
Each June, Joplin hosts the Boomtown Run, a half marathon, 5K, and children's run. The event attracts runners from across the country, and features USTA certified courses which start and end in the historic downtown area. Celebrity runners featured at the prerace banquet have included Bart Yasso, Sarah Reinerston, Suzy Favor-Hamilton, and Jeff Galloway. In 2011, due to the devastating EF5 tornado that struck Joplin on May 22, just three weeks before the run, the event was transformed in the Boomtown Run Day of Service. About 270 individuals registered for the race after the tornado struck, knowing their proceeds would benefit tornado recovery. On June 11, about 270 registered runners and volunteers turned out to help clean debris and sort donations, contributing more than 1,200 hours of service. On August 7, 2012, the Village of Silver Creek and the City of Joplin voted to have Silver Creek annexed into Joplin City limits.
On May 22, 2011, an EF5 tornado touched down near the western edge of the city among large, newer homes, about 5:21 pm CDT (22:34 UTC) and tracked eastward across the city and across Interstate 44 into rural portions of Newton County. Its track was reported to have been about 0.75 miles (1.21 km) in width and 22.1 miles (35.6 km) long. About 2,400 houses, 1,000 cars, and businesses were flattened or blown away in Joplin, particularly in the section between 13th and 32nd Streets across the southern part of the city. The tornado narrowly missed the downtown area.
St. John's Regional Medical Center was damaged, and demolished in 2012. The Missouri Disaster Medical Assistance Team temporarily replaced the demolished St. John's Regional Medical Center with a mobile hospital until the permanent hospital was rebuilt. The local high school, Joplin High School, was totally destroyed, as well. A total of 161 people died from tornado-related injuries as of the end of July 2011. Communications were lost and power was knocked out to many areas. An official statement from the National Weather Service has categorized the tornado as an EF5. On Sunday, May 29, President Barack Obama, Missouri Governor Jay Nixon, and Federal Emergency Management Agency Director Craig Fugate visited and toured Joplin to see what the damage looked like and attended a memorial service for the deceased. Later that day, the city held a moment of silence at 5:41 pm, to mark the time the tornado struck. The area was declared a federal disaster area.
In July 2011, the City of Joplin entered into a contractual agreement with Wallace Bajjali Development Partners, L.P., a master developer company from Sugar Land, Texas, hired to assist in nearly $3 Billion in reconstruction efforts over the next five years. Priority construction projects included residential districts and senior and assisted-living facilities; 7,500 residential dwellings in the city were damaged or destroyed by storm. Not approved by the citizens, the city council began taking government funds for additional projects intended to spur expansion and economic growth included the construction of a $40 million performing and cultural arts center, a new and expanded public library and theatre facility, renovation of the historic downtown Union Depot, and a consolidated post office and state government complex, among other city amenities of trails, sidewalks, transportation, and park enhancements. A variety of additional major projects were to follow, greatly enhancing and expanding all aspects of the community's development. City Manager Mark Rohr said, "This effort is the greatest opportunity the city has ever seen." Among other resources and support from governmental agencies, the Economic Development Administration provided $20 million to construct a new Joplin Library and a two-year funding agreement to hire a disaster recovery coordinator to help coordinate the city's nearly $850 million in immediate restoration and recovery efforts.
In the summer of 2012, the United States Housing and Urban Development Department awarded a $45 million community development block grant for reconstruction efforts and in 2013 awarded another $113 million. In May 2013, the Missouri Department of Natural Resources awarded Wildcat Glades Conservation and Audubon Center $500,000 to help with the restoration of the urban forest, which was passed through to the City of Joplin as a subgrant; 1,500 large-calibre trees were planted in the tornado zone and along an urban stream, Joplin Creek.
In May 2016, a summit was held under the name of "Joplin Disaster Recovery Summit". The summit's purpose was to tackle several issues and ensure that the recovery plans take place.
As of March 2018 the only project finished that was proposed in the recovery effort besides the hospital and schools was the new public library. Wallace-Bajjali was sued by a city they formerly contracted with and skipped town without fulfilling the contract made to refurbish Joplin.
Mercy Park was created at the site of the former hospital.
After the May 22, 2011 tornado came through a number of unofficial murals and monuments popped up across the city showcasing the community's spirit to rebuild the city and come back stronger than before. These popups also showcased the beginning of an arts renaissance in Joplin which still can be seen throughout the city today. One of many monuments which popped up was the Rainbow Tree which can be found on 20th Street between Indiana Avenue and Illinois Avenue. The Rainbow Tree is a tree which was destroyed in the May 22, 2011 tornado that the community decorated with bird houses, bird feeders, colored paint, and a sign saying "Help Us Feed The Birds" . not to be confused with the since fallen Spirit Tree. After the tornado butterflies became a major part of the artistic works in the city due to the stories of children seeing butterfly entities carrying people through the sky shortly after the tornado which spread across the community of Joplin. One of the first works in Joplin to incorporate Butterflies was the "Butterfly Effect: Dreams Take Flight" Mural which is located on the Northwest corner of 15th and Main Street. The piece was painted by Dave Loewenstein with the support of a 20 community member design team and more than 300 community volunteers.
On March 15, 2018, the City of Joplin conducted an independent tourism study which covered the purpose of the study, evaluation process, competitive market summary, recommendations, and implementations. In the overview, the City states its strategic priorities for tourism which were improve the visitor experience, increase the number of visitors, capture visitor spending, and emphasize results-driven tourism marketing. The purpose of the study was to provide direction for Joplin to help define the focus for future tourism efforts. In the study the city mentions the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats of the tourism market in the region as well as recommendations to increase tourism in the city. One of the recommendations in the study was to develop a conference center with an incorporated or adjacent hotel which could accommodate groups up to 2,500 and include multi-use exhibit space, breakout rooms and the newest technology. Another recommendation was to enhance downtown by encouraging hotel development in downtown, supporting and promoting development of empire market and food culture, supporting development of an Arts & Entertainment complex, supporting efforts of Connect2Culture and the broader art community relating facilities and programs downtown, hosting a variety of special events downtown, promoting downtown as a location for dining, shopping and culture, and continuing Main Street and downtown core improvements. It is recommended that the first step for the CVB Board is to discuss and decide which of the recommendations they see as priorities and take these to City Council for their recommendation. Additionally, the CVB should start collecting visitor data, undertake Identity and Branding study (with the city as lead or in partnership with the city), work on increasing lodging tax, ear-marked for conference center use the Tourism Study as a roadmap for future decision-making.
In September 2019, Joplin unveiled the Rotary Sculpture Garden in Mercy Park which is home to 9 new sculptures with more on the way. The project was a joint effort of Joplin Rotary Club and Joplin Daybreak Rotary Club and all the Sculptures were donated. One by Sharon and Lance Beshore, one by Barbara and Jim Hicklin, and seven by Harry M. Cornell Jr., an art collector and chairman emeritus of Leggett & Platt Inc. On February 7, 2019, the Joplin Rotary Club donated over $9,800 which funded signage at the entrance of the walking paths in Mercy Park. The sculpture garden represents a $200,000 investment by community members who looked for the works of art, bought them, and donated them for permanent display.
As of 2000, the median income for a household in the city was $30,555, and for a family was $38,888. Males had a median income of $28,569 versus $20,665 for females. The per capita income for the city was $17,738. About 10.5% of families and 14.8% of the population were below the poverty line, including 18.8% of those under age 18 and 9.4% of those age 65 or over.
As of the 2010 census, 50,150 people, 20,860 households, and 12,212 families resided in the city. The population density was 1,448.4 people per square mile (559.2/km2). The 23,322 housing units averaged 678.9 per square mile (262.1/km2). The racial makeup of the city is 87.6% White, 3.3% African American, 1.8% Native American, 1.6% Asian, 0.3% Pacific Islander, 1.7 from other races, and 3.6% from two or more races. Hispanics or Latinos of any race were 4.5% of the population.
Of the 20,860 households, 24.6% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 40.1% were married couples living together, 13.5% had a female householder with no husband present, and 41.5% were not families; 29.4% of all households were made up of individuals, and 25.3% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.28 and the average family size was 2.89.
In the city, the population was distributed as 24.21% under the age of 19, 9.4% from 20 to 24, 25.12% from 25 to 44, 22.16% from 45 to 64, and 13.18% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 35 years. For every 100 females, there were 90.4 males.
Missouri is a state located in the eastern Midwestern section of the United States, bordering Iowa, Illinois, Nebraska and southern Kansas. With over six million residents, it's the ninth-most densely populated state of the nation. The capital, Jefferson City, is its largest city. The state is today the twenty-second-largest in area covered by population.
Missouri has much to offer the visitor interested in outdoor activities. It offers mountains, rivers, forests, preserves and other natural areas for recreation. Wildlife is especially abundant in Missouri. Wolves, coyotes, foxes, bobcats, bears, eagles, deer and many migratory birds call Missouri home. There are opportunities for fishing, hunting, camping and hiking. Bulldog breeders also find a good market in Missouri.
History buffs will discover that Missouri has a long and colorful history, especially along the Mississippi River. Missouri became a major railroad connection between Chicago and St. Louis. The "American Railroad" left its tracks in Independence Hall Park across the street from the park. In the early twentieth century, the Great Depression gave rise to urban renewal and development in major cities like St. Louis. The city added two major bridges and major roadways, like what we see today along the river. Missouri even hosted the first major international automobile event in the world when the Ford Motor Company's Dearborn car rolled off the assembly line in Missouri.
Demography is one of the most important factors in deciding where to locate a family in Missouri. Like the rest of the United States, Missouri is aging. The national average in median age is thirty-six years old. This is well above the national average of 28 years old. As the population ages, Missouri will likely continue to grow more populated. The number of people of childbearing age is also on the rise in this fast-growing country.
Missouri does have many native populations that have moved from other states or who have moved to this state in recent times. These include African-Americans, who make up about twenty-two percent of the Missouri population, and Hispanic immigrants, who comprise another twenty-four percent. The countrywide trend of migration may contribute to the increase in the population of Missouri. Some people move from nearby states to settle down in Missouri because it offers both good jobs and proximity to their home state. Others move from other countries to reach Missouri, which has an economy that is highly dependent on trade with other countries. And finally, some people choose to leave their current location for better employment prospects in Missouri.
The overall demographics of Missouri will continue to change as people continue to migrate to and from this state. Some areas of Missouri seem to be gaining residents at a faster rate than others. These include the cities of St. Louis and Missouri City, where there are already several growing populations. Other areas, like Rolla and Columbia, seem to have more turnover than others.
The primary reason that migration occurs is often because of the changing economic landscape within the community in which people reside. As business grows, employment opportunities open up, and property values rise, the rates of residence among certain groups tend to change. Demography and local culture both play a role in the way people move from place to place.
Because migration can be a very natural process, demography and its effects on a state's population can be easily tracked. There are even tools available online that allow anyone to look at a particular county in Missouri and see what kind of population it has. This is helpful when studying the migration trends of a specific ethnic group, like the Black population or the Native American population. Demographics can provide important clues about how a town or city will fit into its surrounding area or what kind of economic growth it might experience in the future.