Tupelo, Mississippi

Tupelo, Mississippi
—  City  —
Tupelo, Mississippi
2006 billboard image promoting Tupelo during the golden anniversary of Elvis Presley's homecoming concert
Nickname(s): All America City, T-Town
Location of Tupelo in Lee County
Coordinates: 34°15′35″N 88°43′33″W / 34.25972°N °W / 34.25972; -88.72583
Country United States
State Mississippi
County Lee
Incorporated 1870
 - Mayor Jack Reed, Jr. (R)
 - City  dunams (133.2 km2 / 51.4 sq mi)
 - Land
 - Water
Population (2000)
 - City 36,223
 - Urban density
 - Rural density
 Metro 134,161
 - Metro density
 -  Density
 -  Density
Time zone CST (UTC-6)
 - Summer (DST) CDT (UTC-5)
ZIP codes 38801-38804
Area code(s) 662
FIPS code 28-74840
GNIS feature ID 0678931
Website www.ci.tupelo.ms.us

Tupelo (IPA: /ˈtuːpəloʊ/) is the largest city in and the county seat of Lee County, Mississippi, United States. It is the seventh largest city in the state of Mississippi, smaller than Meridian, and larger than Greenville. The Tupelo area — specifically the nearby village of Blue Springs — was selected during the spring of 2007 as the site for Toyota's eleventh U.S. automobile manufacturing plant. As of the 2000 United States Census, the city's population was 34,211. By 2008, the population was 36,223, with a metropolitan area population of 134,161, encompassing Lee, Pontotoc and Itawamba counties. The city is best known as the birthplace of Elvis Presley [1] Situated in northeast Mississippi, the city lies between Memphis, Tennessee, and Birmingham, Alabama, along U.S. Highway 78 — slated to become Interstate 22 within a few years.


European-American settlers had first named the town Gum Pond prior to the American Civil War, supposedly due to the high number of tupelo trees, locally known as blackgum, that grew in the area. The city still hosts the annual Gumtree Arts Festival. [2] During the war, the local Battle of Tupelo was named after the trees in the area. In the post-Civil War era, Tupelo became the northern Mississippi site for the crossing of a railroad, which encouraged industry in the town. Once the town began to grow, it changed its name to Tupelo, in honor of the battle. Tupelo was incorporated in 1870 with a population of 618. The war site has been designated the Tupelo National Battlefield and is administered by the National Park Service (NPS).

In 1934 Tupelo and its region gained electricity from the new Tennessee Valley Authority. In 1935, President Franklin D. Roosevelt visited this "First TVA City".

Cultural and attractions

  • The Civil War battlefields include: Tupelo National Battlefield and Brices Cross Roads National Battlefield.
  • One of the largest automobile museums in North America, the Tupelo Automobile Museum [1] opened on December 7, 2002, Pearl Harbor Day. It was designated the official State of Mississippi automobile museum in the spring of 2003. The museum is home to more than 150 rare automobiles, all of which were part of the personal collection of WTVA founder Frank K. Spain.
  • Tupelo Community Theatre was founded in 1969. Its chairman is Steve McAlilly and the board of directors numbers 16. The theatre has produced over 200 productions. In 2001 and 2004 it won awards at the Mississippi Theatre Association Community Theatre festival. In 2004 its productioin of Bel Canto won at the Southeastern Theatre Conference. TCT's home is the historic Lyric Theatre, built in 1912.
  • The Tupelo Symphony Orchestra's season runs from September-April with concerts held at the Tupelo Civic Auditorium.[2] Special conductors and soloists appear regularly. The symphony also holds a free annual July 4 outdoor concert at Tupelo's Ballard Park, which draws thousands of fans.
  • The Tupelo Buffalo Park and Zoo is home to hundreds of animals and a large American bison herd.
  • Tupelo's coliseum, the BancorpSouth Arena,[2] opened in 1993 and has hosted concerts by entertainers such as The Eagles, Rod Stewart, Bob Dylan, Widespread Panic, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, Aerosmith, Kiss, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Elton John, Kelly Clarkson, and Creed.
  • In 2005, the Tupelo Rotary Club sponsored a commission for a statue of Chief Piomingo, a leader of the Chickasaw people, which was erected in front of the new city hall.
  • Tupelo's Oren Dunn City Museum tells the Story of Community Building through permanent exhibits and a collection of historic structures. The Special Exhibit Gallery provides a venue for a variety of traveling and temporary shows throughout the year.
  • April 2006 marked the 70th anniversary of the 1936 Tupelo Tornado, the fourth deadliest tornado in United States history and part of the Tupelo-Gainesville tornado outbreak of tornadoes on April 5–6, 1936. Historian Martis D. Ramage, Jr.'s book, "Tupelo, Mississippi, Tornado of 1936," chronicles the devastation of the tornado, with many rare photographs.
  • June 2006 was the 50th anniversary of the 1956 Elvis Presley Homecoming in Tupelo, whose highlight was the famous 1956 concert at the Mississippi-Alabama State Fair & Dairy Show. The event was recreated at the eighth "Elvis Presley Festival" in Tupelo on June 3, 2006. The fairgrounds is now part of Tupelo's Fairpark District. Documentary filmmakers Roy Turner and Jim Palmer premiered their new Presley documentary, The Homecoming: Tupelo Welcomes Elvis Home, at the 2006 festival.
  • The Lee County Library's annual Helen Foster Lecture series has since 1974 sponsored nationally known authors, including Shelby Foote, Alex Haley, John Grisham, Rick Bragg, Pat Conroy, Ernest Gaines, Willie Morris, Beverly Sills and Alice Walker.
  • Built in 1937, Tupelo's Church Street Elementary School was hailed as one of the most outstanding designs of its time. A scale model of this Art Moderne structure was displayed at the 1939 New York World's Fair as "the ideal elementary school."


  • Tupelo is the headquarters of the North Mississippi Medical Center, the largest non-metropolitan hospital in the United States. It serves people in North Mississippi, northwest Alabama and portions of Tennessee. The medical center was a winner of the prestigious Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award in 2006.
  • Tupelo is the headquarters of two banking institutions - BancorpSouth, with approximately $11.8 billion in assets (2006), and Renasant, with assets of approximately $4.2 billion (2011).
  • The city is a three-time "All-America City Award" winner and boasts one of the largest furniture manufacturing industries nationwide. As journalist Dennis Seid of The Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal noted in the February, 2006 edition of The Northeast Mississippi Business Journal, furniture manufacturing is crucial to the economy of Northeast Mississippi, "providing some 22,000 jobs, or almost 13% of the region's employment... with a $732 million annual payroll... producing $2.25 billion worth of goods."
  • Tupelo had the first Comcast cable system.
  • Tecumseh, Furniture Brands International, Hancock Fabrics, Inc., Magnolia Fabrics, Toyota Motor Manufacturing of Mississippi, H.M. Richards, JESCO Construction, MTD Products, Savings Oil Company (Dodge's Stores), and Cooper Tire & Rubber Company all operate or are headquartered in Tupelo & Lee County.