Jackson history begins in your wallet. Dig your hand into your purse or pocket and see if you have a $20 bill on you. Jackson was founded in 1829, dedicating its name to the soon-to-be star of the bill, President Andrew Jackson. The city was originally named “Jacksonopolis,” then renamed to “Jacksonburgh.” Finally the community decided to drop the “burgh” leaving what we know the city as today. Jackson.
The city wasted no time leaving an impression on both state and national history. It is also well known for the impact this region had on the Underground Railroad. Jackson’s citizens were staunch supporters of freedom for all, leaving an abundance of powerful stories and landmarks in their wake. The actions of the residents also represented a turning point in the events leading up to the Civil War.
The Republican Party held its first convention in Jackson, MI, making it the birthplace of the political party. Under the Oaks is a historical site where on July 6, 1854, a state convention in the name of anti-slavery was held to found the new party.
In 1839, just two years after joining the Union, Jackson was selected to house Michigan’s first state prison. It has continued to be a major employer in the city for over a century now. You can actually take tours of Cell Block 7. The prison moved from its original location to a plot of land just north of town in 1930.
The city became an early leader in the production of automobiles. With the transfer of the auto industry to other cities, Jackson acquired allied industries and other manufactures, including tools, air-conditioning equipment, and aircraft parts. Ye Ole Carriage Shop has an unbelievable amount of memorabilia and a one of kind and extensive collection of locally produced vehicles.
Museums, monuments and historic buildings pepper the city, harboring stories and artifacts that are waiting to be discovered.
The town became the eastern terminus for the Michigan Central Railroad in 1841. Five other railroads soon passed through Jackson. Not only was it an important regional rail center, Jackson’s train depot is the oldest continually operating passenger rail station in the United States.