Mexico, formerly known as New Mexico, is a city in Audrain County, Missouri. The population was 11,543 at the 2010 census. It is the county seat, home to the Missouri Military Academy, and annually hosts the Miss Missouri Pageant. The micropolitan statistical area consists of Audrain County. It is a part of the Columbia, Missouri metropolitan area.
|City of Mexico|
|Incorporated||March 5, 1855|
|Named for||Nuevo México (English: New Mexico)|
|• Mayor||Ayanna Shivers|
|• Manager||Bruce Slagle|
|• Total||12.38 sq mi (32.06 km2)|
|• Land||12.01 sq mi (31.11 km2)|
|• Water||0.37 sq mi (0.96 km2)|
|Elevation||801 ft (244 m)|
| • Estimate |
|• Density||930/sq mi (360/km2)|
|Time zone||UTC-6 (Central (CST))|
|• Summer (DST)||UTC-5 (CDT)|
|GNIS feature ID||0729554|
|Major airport||[[Mexico Memorial Airport]MYJ]]|
Mexico was laid out as "New Mexico" in 1836 and was a major stop for settlers heading to the Republic of Texas (thus the name "New Mexico"), and it became the county seat under its present name in 1837. The word "New" was dropped after the Mexican War that saw Texas become a part of the United States.
There is an apocryphal story about the name. When a University of Missouri student, who was questioned on radio, was unable to give an account of her hometown's name, the question was put to L. Mitchell White, then editor and publisher of the Mexico Ledger: "'The first settlers found a wooden sign along the trail. It pointed southwest, and on it had been painted Mexico.'" To avoid unnecessary labor, the sign was left in place. "It was easier to call their town 'Mexico' than to take down the old sign."
Mexico was incorporated as a town in 1855, was served by the Wabash Railroad in 1858 and by the Alton Railroad in 1872, and was first chartered as a city in 1874. The city is in the bluegrass region of Missouri, and was a shipping point for horses and mules. Mexico was a onetime major source for the nation's fire brick production, so much so that it adopted the moniker "Fire Brick Capital of the World". Bricks produced in Mexico were used in the construction of the NASA rocket launch site in Cape Canaveral. The industry fell on hard times and both major refractory plants in the area closed in 2002. There is no active quarrying for clay used in fire brick or refractories production in the area.
Mexico is located in the central region of Missouri known as "Little Dixie," so named because of the settlement of the region by whites from border south states, intent on reproducing the ways and means of the Deep South. Over half of the enslaved population of Missouri was concentrated in Little Dixie counties, and was the epicenter to much of Missouri's racist violence in the 19th and 20th centuries. Mexico competed with other MO cities for the title, "Capital of Little Dixie."
The historic downtown square, with the typical courthouse as the focal point, is surrounded by dozens of multi-story brick buildings—some dating to the founding of the community. In the late 1970s, Mexico began ripping up crumbling sidewalks and installing red paver bricks accented with turn-of-the-century lamp posts and park benches. In the 1980s, Mexico was one of six nationwide finalists for Saturn's new U.S. auto plant. It lost to Spring Hill, Tennessee because Mexico was not served by a four-lane freeway. So as not to lose future development, Mexico officials quickly lobbied state and federal officials to secure funding for a new four-lane divided highway (U.S. Route 54) which now serves the community from Interstate 70. Formerly known as the "Saddle Horse Capital of the World," Mexico still hosts Hollywood celebrities and other visitors from around the world who come to purchase riding horses. The Simmons Stables, currently being revitalized, are now listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Mexico is located at  northeast of the center of the state, and approximately 100 miles northwest of St Louis. According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 12.38 square miles (32.06 km2), of which 12.01 square miles (31.11 km2) is land and 0.37 square miles (0.96 km2) is water.(39.165814, -91.884761).
|U.S. Decennial Census|
As of the census of 2010, there were 11,543 people, 4,727 households, and 2,908 families residing in the city. The population density was 961.1 inhabitants per square mile (371.1/km2). There were 5,272 housing units at an average density of 439.0 per square mile (169.5/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 86.1% White, 8.3% Black, 0.4% Native American, 0.8% Asian, 0.1% Pacific Islander, 2.1% from other races, and 2.4% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 4.1% of the population.
There were 4,727 households of which 31.9% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 40.9% were married couples living together, 15.6% had a female householder with no husband present, 5.0% had a male householder with no wife present, and 38.5% were non-families. 32.4% of all households were made up of individuals and 14.7% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.33 and the average family size was 2.91.
The median age in the city was 36.7 years. 26.6% of residents were under the age of 18; 9.1% were between the ages of 18 and 24; 23.5% were from 25 to 44; 23.8% were from 45 to 64; and 17% were 65 years of age or older. The gender makeup of the city was 48.3% male and 51.7% female.
Mexico was the home of Hardin College and Conservatory of Music, a Baptist college established in 1873 for young women, an institution founded and endowed by Charles H. Hardin, governor of the state from 1872–1874. Hardin College closed during the Great Depression and never reopened. Its 1200-seat auditorium has been painstakingly restored and is now used for community theater and concerts. The remainder of the college houses the Mexico Public Schools administrative offices on South Jefferson Street. Their mascot is a bulldog.
It is served by the Mexico Public Schools. Public schools in the city include Mexico Senior High School, Mexico Middle School, Hawthorne Elementary School, Eugene Field Elementary School, and McMillan Early Learning Center. Private schools include St. Brendan's Catholic School. The Mexico Area Vocational-Technical School, the Advanced Technology Center and the Missouri Military Academy are also located in the city.
Mexico has a lending library, a branch of the Mexico-Audrain Library District.
- Tom Bass, horse trainer
- Howard L. Bickley, Chief Justice of New Mexico
- Cookie Belcher, former professional basketball player
- Jason Brookins, former NFL running back with the Baltimore Ravens
- Christopher "Kit" Bond, senator and governor
- Pendleton Dudley, journalist and public relations
- Pat Fleming, Arizona politician
- Charles Henry Hardin, Missouri governor
- Edward D. "Ted" Jones, broker
- Howard Kindig, former Super Bowl winning NFL player
- Tyronn Lue, championship-winning NBA head coach of the Cleveland Cavaliers
- Prim Siripipat, television anchor
- Lebbeus R. Wilfley, federal judge
- Xenophon P. Wilfley, United States Senator
- "Government". Mexico, MO. n.d. Retrieved May 16, 2017 – via CivicPlus.
- "US Gazetteer files 2010". United States Census Bureau. Archived from the original on January 12, 2012. Retrieved July 8, 2012.
- "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved July 8, 2012.
- "Population and Housing Unit Estimates". Retrieved August 8, 2019.
- "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved January 31, 2008.
- "US Board on Geographic Names". United States Geological Survey. October 25, 2007. Retrieved January 31, 2008.
- "Find a County". National Association of Counties. Retrieved June 7, 2011.
- St. Louis Post Dispatch, November 15, 1962, cited in The Missouri Historical Review, January 1963, p. 233.
- (2010, December 1). "Mexico, Mo., faces shutdown of its last brick factory." The Associated Press.
- "Monroe Work Today: Lynchings and riots to enforce white supremacy in the US, 1835 - 1964".
- Taylor, D. L. (May 12, 1974). "The capital of 'little dixie' gets its first black mayor". The Washington Post.
- "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. July 9, 2010.
- "National Register of Historic Places Listings". Weekly List of Actions Taken on Properties: 7/23/12 through 7/27/12. National Park Service. August 3, 2012.
- "US Gazetteer files: 2010, 2000, and 1990". United States Census Bureau. February 12, 2011. Retrieved April 23, 2011.
- "Census of Population and Housing". Census.gov. Retrieved June 4, 2015.
- "Directory". Mexico-Audrain Library District. Retrieved June 1, 2019.