Meridian is a city in Lauderdale County, Mississippi, United States. The city is the county seat of Lauderdale County, the sixth largest city in Mississippi, and the principal city of the Meridian, Mississippi Micropolitan Statistical Area. The city's 38,232 inhabitants, as reported in the 2008 United States Census estimates, are governed by a city council headed by Mayor Cheri M. Barry. The city is located 93 mi (150 km) east of Jackson, MS; 154 mi (248 km) west of Birmingham, AL; 202 mi (325 km) northeast of New Orleans, LA; and 231 mi (372 km) southeast of Memphis, TN. Meridian has a rich past and deep roots in railroading history. Established in 1860 at the intersection of the Mobile and Ohio Railroad and Southern Railway of Mississippi, the city relied heavily on the rails and goods transported on them. The city's historic Amtrak station now provides several other modes of transportation including the Meridian Transit System, Greyhound Buses, and Trailways, averaging 242,360 passengers per year. During the American Civil War, much of the city was burned to the ground by General William Tecumseh Sherman in the Battle of Meridian. After the war, the city was rebuilt and entered a "Golden Age. " From c 1890 to 1930, Meridian was the largest city in Mississippi and a leading center for manufacturing in the South. During this time, many of the sites and buildings in the city's nine registered historic districts were built, and most still survive today. Since the 1950s, the city's population has been declining, but the decline has slowed somewhat after an annexation in 2006 and the influx of displaced coastal residents after Hurricane Katrina in 2005. The reason for the population decline lies in the city's struggle to create a modern economy based on newer industries after the decline of the railroad industry. In 2003, Mainstreet Meridian intensified the economic revitalization by launching its "Vision 2003" program, attempting to restore downtown to its original prosperity.