Downtown Meridian is much like most other American downtowns that were abandoned in the 1960s as the country suburbanized. However, unlike many other downtowns that became vandalized, burned-out shells, Meridian's downtown is remarkably well-preserved, as if it was frozen in 1950s before all the nice white folks moved out. There is a limited amount of business life and many lovely old buildings bear the scars of modernization attempts in the 1960s and 1970s, but it's an interesting walk while waiting for a train at the restored Union Station.
Some of the old "ghost" wall advertisements had obviously been restored, giving evidence that there are historic preservation forces at work - conservatism in the best sense of the word. I also discovered Jean's Restaurant, just down the street from the train station, which featured fine Southern cuisine and was justifiably packed.
It is curious how some people respond to the sight of someone taking photos. After 9/11, some have become especially sensitive to tourists taking photos of public buildings and photography has become an act of civil disobedience. For awhile there was a ban on photography of any New York transportation facility and I still find myself looking over my shoulder before snapping pictures of the subway. In the St. Louis bus station, a Greyhound worker asked me to stop taking photos of the station, although he was quite happy to chat about it's construction in 1927 as the Cass Bank. During my walk around Meridian, I got numerous stares and a unusually friendly greeting from a gentleman who appeared to be driving an unmarked police cruiser. The needless level of paranoia that has been nurtured in our country since 2001 is quite stunning and it will be nice when we have politicians who don't use fear as a primary tool for consolidating their power.