In the opening Chapter of Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird, Scout, the narrator, whom we can also think of as the older Jean Louise, describes Maycomb as being a "tired old town" when she knew it in her childhood.
One reason why she saw it as a "tired old town" in her childhood is because she was a child in the midst of the Great Depression. Accompanying the Great Depression was the Dust Bowl brought on by, among other things, severe drought. While Alabama was not affected by the Dust Bowl, much of Alabama was hit by some drought, which would explain Scout's statement that "[s]omehow, it was hotter then," and the town seemed to move with the slow tiredness brought on by severe heat: dogs suffered, mules swatted flies with their tails, and "men's stiff collars wilted by nine in the morning." Aside from the heat, another reason why Scout observes that "[p]eople moved slowly then" was because, since there was no money due to the Great Depression, "there was nowhere to go, nothing to buy and no money to but it with." Hence, Scout saw Maycomb as a "tired old town" in her childhood because the town was affected by the heat from the drought and the Great Depression.
Aside from the drought and the Great Depression, Scout also notes Maycomb was a "tired old town" because it was stuck in its ways, a point around which author Harper Lee develops the central theme concerning racism. Evidence in the opening chapter that Maycomb was stuck in its ways concerns the fact that Maycomb's people continue to carry out their rituals, despite social and economic hardships. For example, men persist in wearing stiff collars despite the heat and ladies persist in their bathing rituals, despite financial and other social distresses:
Ladies bathed before noon, after their three-o'clock naps, and by nightfall were like soft teacakes with frostings of sweat and sweet talcum. (Ch. 1)
Later, throughout the novel, Lee shows us it is because Maycomb's townspeople are stuck in their ways that they hold on to their damaging racist views and prejudices.