City leaders, landowners should work together for future of Under-the-Hill

Published 2:04 am Sunday, November 15, 2015

Before Natchez was, well, Natchez, Under-the-Hill existed and thrived as its front porch to the world.

Prior to the 1930s when the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers straightened a loop in the Mississippi River leading to a scouring of the banks, Natchez Under-the-Hill was a low, flat area of land at the foot of the bluff.

The area was the perfect landing spot for early settlers.

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The 18th and 19th century history of Under-the-Hill gave the area a less than savory reputation as a rough underbelly of Natchez.

For the past 22 years Natchez Under-the-Hill has been largely dominated by the large, faux riverboat that served as a casino.

The boat floated permanently moored at the foot of Silver Street. The casino’s business offices occupied of a handful of buildings that dot Silver Street, and an enormous parking lot for its patrons loomed on the bluff overhead.

The Isle of Capri Casino closed its doors recently, and the company that owns it says it plans to relocate the barge soon.

Seeing the Isle go is bittersweet for many residents as the boat served in many ways as a good corporate citizen and employed hundreds.

But the Isle’s departure also offers a chance for Natchez Under-the-Hill to be reborn in a way. While much of the land is privately owned, the future of what happens there is very much in the public’s interest.

We hope the city’s leaders and the land’s owners will work together to develop the area into a new chapter of its life, one that will make all of Natchez proud.