What is: Abandoned Buildings, MLK and Yazoo Avenue area, Clarksdale, MS
What was: The neighborhood was known as the New World from the beginning of the twentieth Century. A breeding ground for ragtime, blues and jazz.
Clarksdale was a prosperous Cotton town. African American slaves cultivated and processed cotton, worked as artisans, and cultivated and processed produce and livestock on the plantations. They built the wealth of “King Cotton” in the state. The 1860 U.S. Census data shows Coahoma County, where Clarksdale is located, had a population of 1,521 whites and 5,085 slaves.
By the beginning of the 20th Century, Clarksdale was known as the “Golden Buckle in the Cotton Belt” — a home to a multi-cultural mixture of Lebanese, Italian, Chinese and Jewish immigrant merchants along with African-Americans farm laborers and white plantation owners. Brothels attracted black and white clientele. On Saturday’s the sharecroppers filled the streets shopping, socializing, drinking in the jukes and listening to blues. On Sunday’s a sabbath calm prevailed with everyone filling local churches.
In 1944, the first commercial, machinery produced, cotton crop was produced near here on 28 acres owned by the Hopson Planting Company of Clarksdale. The machinery took over everything from planting to baling, changing the demand for labor and more.