Joplin is in Southwest Missouri. It's mentioned in the song "Route 66." Joplin is the "hub" of the southwest corner of Missouri, southeast Kansas, and northeast Oklahoma. The population of Joplin in 2020 was 51,762, but, with several "suburbs" around Joplin, the population of the Joplin metro area was over 210,077.
Although commonly thought to be named for ragtime composer (and Sedalia resident) Scott Joplin, the city is actually named after the Joplin Creek Valley, which in turn is named after an early settler, Reverend Harris Joplin.
The Joplin Metropolitan Area (the 4th largest in Missouri) is composed of Jasper and Newton Counties in Missouri. However, given its location at the confluence of three states, it is quite common for many people from Kansas and Oklahoma (and from other parts of southwest Missouri) to frequent Joplin, for work and pleasure.
Other cities and towns that comprise the Joplin area include:
- Webb City, Carthage, Carl Junction, Loma Linda, Leawood, Neosho, Seneca, Duenweg,
- Pittsburg, Galena, and Baxter Springs in Kansas
- Miami, Oklahoma
Joplin is approximately 40 miles north of the Arkansas state line. Thus, the Joplin area is commonly referred to as the "Four-State Area".
Lead was discovered in the Joplin Creek Valley before the American Civil War, but only after the war did significant development take place. By 1871, numerous mining camps sprang up in the valley, and the village was named Joplin City after the spring and creek nearby, which had been named for the Reverend Harris G. Joplin, who settled upon its banks circa 1840.
While Joplin was settled for lead mining, zinc, often referred to as "jack", was the most important mineral resource. As railroads were built to connect Joplin to major markets in other cities, it was on the verge of dramatic growth. By the start of the 20th century, the city was becoming a regional metropolis. Construction centered around Main Street, with many bars, hotels, and fine homes nearby. It soon became the lead- and zinc-mining capital of the world.
As a result of extensive surface and deep mining, Joplin is dotted with open-pit mines and mine shafts. Mining left many tailings piles (small hills of ground rock), which are considered unsightly locally. The open-pit mines pose hazards, but some find them to have a kind of beauty, as well. The main part of Joplin is nearly 75% undermined, with some mine shafts well over 100 ft (30 m) deep. These mine shafts have occasionally caved in, creating sinkholes. The mining history and geology are well documented in the mineral museum in town.
In 1933 during the Great Depression, the notorious criminals Bonnie and Clyde spent some weeks in Joplin, where they robbed several area businesses. Tipped off by a neighbor, the Joplin Police Department attempted to apprehend the pair. Bonnie and Clyde escaped after killing Newton County Constable John Wesley Harryman and Joplin Police Detective Harry McGinnis; however, they were forced to leave most of their possessions behind, including a camera. The Joplin Globe developed and printed the film, which showed now-legendary photos of Bonnie holding Clyde at mock gunpoint, and of Bonnie with her foot on a car fender, posed with a pistol in her hand and cigar in her mouth.
After World War II, most of the mines were closed, and population growth leveled off. The main road through Joplin running east and west was designated as part of U.S. Route 66, which became famous as more Americans took to newly constructed highways. The roads provided improved access between cities, but they also drew off population to newer housing and eventually retail centers.
In 2011, an EF5 tornado touched down near the western edge of the city among large, newer homes, and tracked eastward across the city and across Interstate 44 into rural portions of Newton County. Its track was reported to have been about 0.75 miles (1.21 km) in width and 22.1 miles (35.6 km) long. About 2,400 houses, 1,000 cars, and businesses were flattened or blown away in Joplin, particularly in the section between 13th and 32nd Streets across the southern part of the city. The tornado narrowly missed the downtown area.
After the May 22, 2011 tornado came through a number of unofficial murals and monuments popped up across the city showcasing the community's spirit to rebuild the city and come back stronger than before. These popups also showcased the beginning of an arts renaissance in Joplin which still can be seen throughout the city today.
Joplin has a humid subtropical climate (with cool, dry winters and hot, humid summers; the severe weather season from April through June is the wettest time of year. The monthly daily average temperature ranges from 34.9 °F (1.6 °C) in January to 80.2 °F (26.8 °C) in July. On average, 51 days of 90 °F (32 °C)+ highs, 3.5 days of 100 °F (38 °C)+ highs, 14 days where the high fails to rise above freezing, and 1.9 nights of sub-0 °F (−18 °C) occur per year. It has an average annual precipitation of 46.5 inches (1,180 mm), including an average 11.9 inches (30 cm) of snow. The city is located in Tornado Alley. Several storms have hit the city, including 1971, 1973, 2009, 2011, and an EF5 tornado on May 22, 2011.
- 1 Joplin Regional Airport (JLN IATA). Served by American Eagle from Dallas/Fort Worth and Chicago–O'Hare,.
Joplin is also close to three other airports with more flight selections.
- Springfield/Branson Regional Airport (SGF IATA) 72 miles east
- Tulsa International Airport (TUL IATA) 113 miles west
- Northwest Arkansas Regional Airport (XNA IATA) 72 miles south
Interstate 44 connects Joplin with Springfield and St. Louis to the east and Tulsa and Oklahoma City to the west. U.S. Route 71/Interstate 49 runs east of the city, connecting Joplin to Kansas City to the north and Fort Smith, Arkansas, to the south.
- Greyhound Bus Lines. The depot is now at 6601 E 7th Street.
Automobile is the main method of transportation, other than walking, in the city. A small bus and trolley system called Sunshine Lamp Trolley serves the busiest commercial areas of the city.
The main business drag of Joplin is Range Line Road (aka, "Business 71"). The heaviest concentration of commerce and business is along Range Line Road (along with the heaviest concentration of traffic). Other business areas include 7th Street, Main Street, and 32nd Street. Main Street is undergoing a revitalization effort, with several of the historic buildings being renovated, a new Farmer's Market, and the Third Thursday Art Walk.
- Historic buildings:
- Christman's Department Store stands (converted into loft apartments).
- The Joplin Union Depot, since railroad restructuring and the decline in passenger traffic led to its closure.
- The Carnegie Library
- Fred and Red's Diner
- the Frisco Depot
- the Scottish Rite Cathedral
- the Newman Mercantile Store, adapted for use as City Hall
- The Fox Theatre, adapted for use as the Central Christian Center.
- Included in Schifferdecker Park is the Everett J. Ritchie Tri-State Mineral Museum and Dorothea B. Hoover Historical Museum, which holds a significant collection of minerals from the era of lead and zinc mining in the region.
- Spiva Center for the Arts.
- Historic Homes, Sergeant Avenue and Moffet Avenue. Many beautiful 19th- and 20th-century homes line the streets.
- The Rainbow Tree, on 20th Street between Indiana Avenue and Illinois Avenue, is a tree which was destroyed in the 2011 tornado. The community has decorated it with bird houses, bird feeders, colored paint, and a sign saying "Help Us Feed The Birds".
- After the tornado butterflies became a major part of the artistic works in the city due to the stories of children seeing butterfly entities carrying people through the sky shortly after the tornado which spread across the community of Joplin. One of the first works in Joplin to incorporate butterflies was the "Butterfly Effect: Dreams Take Flight" Mural on the northwest corner of 15th and Main Street.
- Rotary Sculpture Garden in Mercy Park is home to 9 sculptures.
The city's park system has nearly 1,000 acres (400 ha) and includes a golf course, three swimming pools, 15 miles (24 km) of walking/biking trails, the world's largest remaining globally unique Chert Glades and Missouri's first Audubon Nature Center located in Wildcat Park. A waterfall, Grand Falls, the highest continuously flowing in the state, is on Shoal Creek on the southern end of the city.
- Missouri Southern State University.
- Ozark Christian College
- Kansas City University - Joplin Campus
- Leggett & Platt
- General Mills
- Contract Freighters Inc.
- 1 Northpark Mall, 101 North Rangeline Rd, ☏ .
- Antique malls. There are several antique malls (sometimes called flea markets, but with no swap meet) that cater specifically to people on their way to Branson or the craft fairs in Northwest Arkansas. The largest is Connie's Flea Market on Rangeline between Joplin and Webb City, with several others on the eastern side of Highway FF (32nd Street). Prices go often go up during craft fair season (April and October.)
- Missouri does not have statewide legislation banning cigarette smoking in restaurants. All restaurants in Joplin allow smoking in designated smoking sections unless noted in their specific entries.
- Club 609.
- 1 Red Onion Cafe, 203 E 4th St, ☏ .
- 2 Wilder's Steakhouse, 1216 S Main St, ☏ . A very old restaurant and piano bar specializing in steaks and pasta. Still has "Recommended by Duncan Hines" on their sign.
- Ichiban. Japanese food and sushi. 2914 E 32nd St, just west of Rangeline.
- Kinnaree, 1227 E 32nd St. Next to Dollar General. Thai food.
- El Palenque Mexican Restaurant, 708 W 4th St, Webb City, ☏ . Savory little Mexican cuts.
- Babe's. Fast food. Several locations in Joplin.
- Granny Schaffer's. Southern food. Noted for fried chicken. Locations on Rangeline between Joplin and Webb City, 7th St, and in Airport Drive, northwest of Joplin.
- Big R's, 1220 E. 15th St. Barbeque. Huge portions.
- Gusano's Pizzeria, 3929 E 7th St E, ☏ , firstname.lastname@example.org. 11AM-10PM. Chicago-style pizzeria and sports bar with the self-proclaimed "best Chicago-style pizza in the world". Part of a tiny chain of 8 restaurants in and around Arkansas.
Several national hotel chains have locations in Joplin. There are also several private "mom and pop" hotels in Joplin. Practically every hotel is around the junction of I-44 and Range Line Road (Exit 8).
- Holiday Inn Joplin, 3402 Arizona Ave, ☏ . $109 (Feb 2022).
- Westport Inn, 3817 N Main St Rd, ☏ . A non-chain for a change with some landscaping. $64 (Feb 2022).
- Sleep Inn, I-44 & SR 43 S, ☏ . $69 (doubles).
Most crime that occurs in the Joplin area are petty. The biggest crime problems in the area have been gas station drive-offs and convenience store robberies. Violent crime is quite rare, but it does occur on occasion. The rough side of town for Joplin is generally considered west of Main Street. Like most other places, most of the more serious crime happens in the middle of the night. Typical common sense will enable most anyone to avoid problems.
Red light running is a growing problem. Range Line Road is notorious for motorists running red lights, especially well after it has turned red for their direction. Motorists should exercise caution and not dart into intersections immediately when their light turns green.
The city is located in Tornado Alley. See tornado safety.
- 1 George Washington Carver National Monument, 5646 Carver Rd, Diamond 64840, ☏ , fax: . 9AM-5PM daily, year-round. Boyhood home of George Washington Carver, 1881 Moses Carver house and Carver cemetery in 210-acre park with rolling hills, woodlands, and prairies. Nature trail, museum and interactive exhibit area for students. Free.
|Routes through Joplin|
|Tulsa ← Miami ←||W E||→ Halltown → Springfield|
|Kansas City ← Carthage ←||N S||→ ends → Bella Vista → Fayetteville|
|Tulsa ← Galena ←||W E||→ Carthage → Springfield|
|Ends at ← becomes ←||W E||→ Carthage → Ends at|