Memphis, Tennessee

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For the ancient Egyptian capital, see Memphis, Egypt.
Memphis, Tennessee
Flag Seal
Nickname: "The River City, The Bluff City, M-Town"
Coordinates: 35°07′03″N, 89°58′16″W
Country United States
State Tennessee
Counties Shelby County
Mayor W. W. Herenton (D)
 - City 313.8 mi² - 763.4 km²
 - Land 302.3 mi² - 723.4 km²
 - Water 15.4 mi² - 40.0 km²
Elevation 103 m
 - City (2006) 678,988
 - Density 346.9 /mi² - 898.6/km²
 - Metro 1,230,303
Time zone CST (UTC-6)
 - Summer (DST) CDT (UTC-5)

Memphis is a city in Shelby County, Tennessee, of which it is the county seat. As of 2006, the city of Memphis had an estimated population of 678,988, making it the largest city in the state of Tennessee and the 17th largest in the United States [1]. The greater Memphis metropolitan area has a population of 1,230,303. This makes Memphis the second largest metropolitan area in Tennessee, surpassed only by metropolitan Nashville. Even though Memphis is the state's largest city, it is the youngest of Tennessee's four major cities (traditionally including Knoxville and Chattanooga as well as Nashville). Memphis is on the Lower Chickasaw Bluff above the Mississippi River, at the mouth of the Wolf River.



Image:Riverboats at Memphis.jpg
Mississippi River landing, Memphis, 1906
The Memphis area was first settled by the Mississippian Culture and then by the Chickasaw Indian tribe.

European exploration came years later, with Spanish explorer Hernando de Soto believed to have visited what is now the Memphis area as early as the 1540s. By the 1680s, French explorers led by René Robert Cavelier, Sieur de La Salle built Fort Prudhomme in the vicinity, the first European settlement in what would become Memphis, predating English settlements in East Tennessee by more than 70 years. [2]

Image:Union Avenue.jpg
Cotton merchants on Union Avenue, Memphis in 1937
Despite such early outposts, the land comprising present-day Memphis remained in a largely unorganized territory throughout most of the 18th century, while the boundaries of what would become Tennessee continued to evolve from its parent — the Carolina Colony, later North Carolina and South Carolina. By 1796, the community was the westernmost point of the newly admitted state of Tennessee.
Image:Jazz drummer.jpg
Jazz musician, Memphis, 1939
Memphis was founded in 1819 by John Overton, James Winchester, and Andrew Jackson and was incorporated as a city in 1826. The city was named after the ancient capital of Egypt on the Nile River.

At the time of the American Civil War, Memphis was already an important regional city because of its river trade and railroad connections. Tennessee seceded from the Union in June 1861 and Memphis briefly became a Confederate stronghold. Union forces captured Memphis from Confederacy in the Battle of Memphis on June 6, 1862, and the city remained under Union control for the duration of the war, except for a dramatic raid conducted by Nathan Bedford Forrest. Memphis became a Union supply base and continued to prosper throughout the war.

Extensive yellow fever epidemics in the 1870s (1873, 1878, 1879) devastated the city. At that time it was not understood that this fatal disease was carried by a mosquito vector, so public health measures were unsuccessful. So many died or fled the epidemics that in 1879 Memphis lost its city charter and until 1893 was merely a taxing district. Eventually improvements in sanitation removed the breeding grounds of the mosquito vector and the city began to grow again. In 1897, Memphis' pyramid-shaped pavilion was a conspicuous part of the Tennessee Centennial exposition. From the 1910s to the 1950s, Memphis was a hotbed of machine politics under the direction of E. H. "Boss" Crump. During the Crump era, Memphis developed an extensive network of parks and public works as part of the national City Beautiful Movement.

During the 1960s the city was at the center of civil rights issues, notably the location of a sanitation workers' strike. Memphis is also known as the place where Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated on April 4, 1968 at the Lorraine Motel.

Memphis is well known for its cultural contributions to the identity of the American south, including musical and culinary offerings. Many notable blues musicians grew up in and around the Memphis and northern Mississippi, and performed there regularly from the early 1900s onward. These included such musical greats as Muddy Waters, Robert Johnson, B.B. King, and Howlin' Wolf. The first African American-formatted radio station, WDIA, was founded in the city in 1947 by Bert Ferguson and John Pepper, and included a young B. B. King as disc jockey. B. B. King's moniker was derived from his WDIA nickname 'Beale Street Blues Boy', a reference to Memphis' Beale Street on which many nightclubs and blues venues were located.

In addition to a rich musical heritage, Memphis also boasts a long culinary legacy dominated by regional barbeque. Memphis barbeque is rendered distinct by its sole usage of pork (as opposed to beef), focus on rib and shoulder cuts of meat, and multiple locally-owned barbeque restaurants. Celebration of this local dish reaches its climax each year in May, when the Memphis in May Festival holds its annual international Memphis in May Barbeque Cookoff.

Geography and climate

Image:Memphis front view.jpg
The Mud Island monorail on Front St in downtown Memphis

Memphis is located at 35°7′3″N, 89°58′16″W (35.117365, -89.971068)GR1. According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 763.4 km² (313.8 mi²). 723.4 km² (302.3 mi²) of it is land and 40.0 km² (15.4 mi²) of it (5.24%) is water.


Memphis has a mid-latitude temperate climate, with four distinct seasons. The summer months (late May to late September) are persistently hot (between 68 °F [20 °C] and 95 °F [35 °C]) and humid due to moisture encroaching from the Gulf of Mexico. Afternoon thunderstorms are frequent during some summers, but usually brief, lasting no longer than an hour. Early Autumn is pleasantly drier and mild, but can remain hot until late October. Abrupt but short-lived cold snaps are common. Late Autumn is rainy and colder, December being the third rainiest month of the year. Fall foliage becomes especially vibrant after the first frost, typically November, and lasts until early December. Winters often begin abruptly and are characterized by periods of subfreezing (< 32 °F [0 °C]) weather, interspersed with milder spells. Colder subfreezing periods are usually short-lived (2 to 3 days), but have lasted as long as several weeks during more severe winters, though temperatures typically remain above (10 °F [-12 °C]). The official all-time record low temperature was -13.0 °F (-25.0 °C), which occurred on December 24, 1963. Mild spells are sometimes warm with temperatures as high as 70 °F (21 °C) during January and February. Snow is rare but does occur annually, with an annual average of 5.7 inches (14.4 cm) at the airport. Spring often begins in late February or early March, following the onset of a sharp warmup. This season is also known as "severe weather season" due to the higher frequency of tornadoes, hail, and thunderstorms producing winds greater than 58 mph (93 km/h). Average rainfall is slightly higher during the spring months (except November) than the rest of the year, but not to any noticeable extent. Historically, April is the month with the highest frequency of tornadoes, though tornadoes have occurred every month of the year. Memphis is sunny approximately 64% of the time.

Non-metric source </dd>

Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Avg high (°F) 49 54 62 73 81 89 92 90 84 74 62 52 72
Avg low (°F) 32 35 43 52 61 69 73 71 64 52 42 35 53
Rainfall (in) 4.7 4.5 5.2 5.6 4.9 3.9 3.9 3.4 3.2 2.9 4.8 5.3 52.4

Metric source </dd>

Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Avg high (°C) 9 12 16 22 27 31 33 32 28 23 16 11 22
Avg low (°C) 0 1 6 11 16 20 22 21 17 11 5 1 11
Rainfall (mm) 110 110 130 140 120 90 90 80 80 70 120 130 1330


The city of Memphis is located in southwestern Tennessee and sits on the eastern bank of the Mississippi River. It is the regional hub for a tri-state area of Arkansas, Mississippi and Tennessee. Interstate 40 enters the city from the northeast, and loops above the central part of the city, exiting across the Mississippi River and travelling to the west. Interstate 55 approaches the city from the south and connects with I-240, which completes the loop around central Memphis with I-40, and also leaves to the west. U.S. Highway 72 leaves the city traveling to the southeast. The west end of U.S. Highway 78 terminates in Memphis, TN on Linden Avenue at the intersection of 2nd Street. The east end of U.S. Highway 78 terminates in Charleston, South Carolina.

Sections/ Suburbs

See also: Memphis Metropolitan Area

Memphis is marked by five major districts, with smaller districts lying within their borders. These are Downtown, Midtown, North Memphis, South Memphis, and East Memphis.

Sections/ Neighborhoods


People and culture


City of Memphis
Population by year
<ref>Template:Cite web</ref>
1830 663
1840 1,799
1850 8,841
1860 22,623
1870 40,226
1880 33,592
1890 64,495
1900 102,320
1910 131,105
1920 162,351
1930 253,140
1940 292,942
1950 396,000
1960 497,524
1970 623,520
1980 646,356
1990 610,337
2000 650,100

As of the censusGR2 of 2000, there were 650,100 people, 250,721 households, and 158,455 families residing in the city. The population density was 898.6/km² (2,327.4/mi²). There were 271,552 housing units at an average density of 375.4/km² (972.2/mi²). The racial makeup of the city was 61.41% African American, 34.41% White, 1.46% Asian, 0.19% Native American, 0.04% Pacific Islander, 1.45% from other races, and 1.04% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 2.97% of the population.

There were 250,721 households out of which 31.3% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 34.1% were married couples living together, 23.8% had a female householder with no husband present, and 36.8% were non-families. 30.5% of all households were made up of individuals and 8.9% have someone living alone who is 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.52 and the average family size was 3.18.

In the city the population was spread out with 27.9% under the age of 18, 10.8% from 18 to 24, 30.7% from 25 to 44, 19.7% from 45 to 64, and 10.9% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 32 years. For every 100 females there were 89.8 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 84.9 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $32,285, and the median income for a family was $37,767. Males had a median income of $31,236 versus $25,183 for females. The per capita income for the city was $17,838. About 17.2% of families and 20.6% of the population were below the poverty line, including 30.1% of those under age 18 and 15.4% of those age 65 or over.


While in 2004, violent crime in Memphis was at a record low for more than a decade, that trend has changed. In 2005, Memphis was ranked the 4th most dangerous city, with a population of 500,000 or higher in the U.S.[4] Crime in Memphis increased in 2005, and has seen a dramatic rise in the first half of 2006. Nationally, cities follow similar trends, and crime numbers tend to be cyclic. Local experts and criminologists cite as possible causes to the rise in crime in Memphis to gang recruitment, and to a reduction of federal funding by 66% to the Memphis Police Department.

In the first half of 2006, robbery of businesses increased 52.5%, robbery of individuals increased 28.5%, and homicide increased 18% over the same period of 2005.[5] The Memphis Police Department has responded with the initiation of Operation Blue C.R.U.S.H. (Crime Reduction Using Statistical History), which targets crime hotspots and repeat offenders.[6] Memphis ended 2005 with 154 murders, and this year the city is on point to eclipse that record.

Metropolitan area

The Memphis Metropolitan Area (MSA), the 41st largest in the United States, has a 2003 population of 1,239,337, and includes the Tennessee counties of Shelby, Tipton, and Fayette, as well as the Mississippi counties of DeSoto, Marshall, Tate, and Tunica, and the Arkansas county of Crittenden.

Cultural events and fairs

One of the largest celebrations in Memphis is Memphis in May. The month-long series of events promotes Memphis' heritage and outreach of its people far beyond the city's borders. Each year, Memphis in May honors a different country, highlighting various aspects of the honored nation's history and culture. Since its founding, the economic and educational impact of Memphis in May has given a significant boost to the city each spring. The celebration includes a diverse mix, beginning during the first weekend of the month at Tom Lee Park, the site of the Beale Street Music Festival. During International Week, the city focuses on its honored country, part of a larger program in coordination with area schools to broaden cultural awareness among students. Other signature events of Memphis in May include the World Championship Barbecue Cooking Contest, the FedEx St. Jude Classic (a PGA Tour golf tournament), and the closing event of the month — a performance of the Sunset Symphony.

Carnival Memphis (formerly known as the Memphis Cotton Carnival), is a series of parties and festivities staged every year by the Carnival Memphis Association and its member krewes (similar to that of Mardi Gras) during the early summer. Carnival salutes various aspects of Memphis and its industries, and is reigned over by the current year's secretly selected King & Queen of Carnival. Fall brings the Mid-South Fair to the city each year.

In the Cooper-Young district of Midtown Memphis, the Cooper-Young Festival, an art festival which is also held annually on the intersection of Cooper Street/Young Street, and draws in artists from all over North America, and includes art sales, contests, and displays. In its ninteenth year, this event has grown into one of Memphis' most anticipated events. This year over 50,000 guests will enjoy an appealing mix of art, music and crafts presented by over 300 artisans from around the country. This Festival is a true celebration of the arts, people, culture and Memphis heritage. In addition to art, the festival includes sales of clothing, jewelry, live music, and gay novelty items.

As a result of Hurricane Katrina's impact on New Orleans in August 2005, Memphis became the first city to co-host the Voodoo Music Experience, a gathering of musicians that typically is a centerpiece of New Orleans' Halloween festivities. Performers gathered both in New Orleans' Riverview Park and in Memphis' Auto Zone Park in late October 2005. Plans announced regarding the 2006 event, set for the final weekend in October, thus far only includes performances in New Orleans [7].

The Arts

Memphis is the home of founders and establishers of various American music genres, including Blues, Gospel, Rock n' Roll, and "sharecropper" country music (in contrast to the "rhinestone" country sound of Nashville). Johnny Cash, Elvis Presley, and B. B. King were all getting their starts in Memphis in the 1950s. They are respectively dubbed the "King" of Country, Rock n' Roll, and Blues. Other famous musicians who either grew up or got their starts in the Memphis area include the Box Tops, the Gentrys, the Grifters, Aretha Franklin, Carl Perkins, John Lee Hooker, Justin Timberlake, Howlin' Wolf, Jerry Lee Lewis, Lucero (band), Al Green, Muddy Waters, Big Star, Tina Turner, Roy Orbison, Willie Mae Ford Smith, Sam Cooke, Booker T. and the MGs, Otis Redding, The Blackwood Brothers, Isaac Hayes, Rufus Thomas, Three 6 Mafia, 8 Ball & MJG, Shawn Lane, The Sylvers, Anita Ward and "Father of the Blues" W.C. Handy.

Memphis is also a literary mecca. Tennessee Williams had his first play written and performed in Memphis (on Snowden Street and Glenview Street respectively).

Memphis has also had a significant impact in the world of photography, William Eggleston, the pioneer of color photography as a serious artistic medium and considered one of the greatest photographers of all time, still lives and works in Memphis. A number of younger photographers, including Huger Foote, are Memphians. Some other notable Memphis photographers are fashion photographer Jack Robinson and civil rights-era artist Ernest C. Withers.

In the last decade, the art scene in Memphis has exploded. The independent art scene has centered primarily in South Main, located in downtown Memphis on the trolley line. More than a dozen art galleries have moved into the neighborhood, fueling a redevelopment boom that has expanded into new residential construction. Perhaps the most interesting conversion has been the Power House, a former power plant near Central Station that has been transformed into contemporary art space. The Cooper-Young neighborhood in Midtown is also home to several art galleries. The Edge is a nascent arts neighborhood, located at the edge of downtown near Madison Avenue, Marshall, and Union Avenue. The Edge is home to Memphis' Black Repertory Theater, world-famous Sun Studios, and Delta Axis, among others.


The Memphis regional market is the forty-fourth largest designated market area (DMA) in the nation, with 657,670 homes (0.597% of the total U.S.). Several media outlets in print, broadcast and internet cover varying segments of the market.

  • The Commercial Appeal — daily (Sunday-Saturday); general news. The CA, as it is popularly known, is Memphis' largest and most widely circulated newspaper.
  • The Daily News — daily (Monday-Friday); legal records.
  • Memphis Business Journal — weekly; business and economic news.
  • The Memphis Flyer — weekly; politics, arts and entertainment, lifestyles.
  • The Shelby Sun-Times — weekly; East Memphis and eastern Shelby County community news.
  • The Tri-State Defender — weekly; African-American community news.
  • La Prensa Latina — weekly; Hispanic community news, Spanish-English bilingual.
  • Memphis Magazine — monthly; general community interest, arts and entertainment, lifestyles.
  • Memphis Parent — monthly; family issues and interests.
  • RSVP Magazine — monthly; society and philanthropy events.

A wide variety of local television stations also serves the market area. The major network television affiliates are WMC 5 (NBC), WPTY 24 (ABC), WREG 3 (CBS), WHBQ 13 (FOX), and WLMT 30 (CW)). The area is also served by two PBS stations: WKNO 10 and WLJT 11.


Diverse formats can be found on the radio dial throughout the Memphis area. Two of the several stations of note include WMC-FM (99.7 FM), a leading Hot AC station; and the historic WDIA-AM (1070 AM), the first African-American-operated radio station in the US. WHBQ-AM and WMPS-AM had radio personalities such as Rick Dees, Wink Martindale, and Scott Shannon who formerly worked there that are now known nationally in radio and broadcasting.

Tallest Buildings

Name Stories Height (in feet)
One Beale (proposed)30435
100 North Main37430
One Commerce Square31396
Sterick Building31365
Clark Tower Executive Suites32365
Morgan Keegan Tower23341


The city’s central location has led to much of its business development. Located on the Mississippi River and intersected by two Interstate highways and seven major U.S. highways, Memphis is ideally located for commerce among the transportation and shipping industry. The city is also home to the world's busiest cargo airport, in terms of tonnage, which serves as the primary hub for FedEx shipping. Due to its location, more major metro areas can be reached overnight from Memphis than any other city in the central U.S. Memphis has also developed as a major manufacturing center of textiles, heating equipment, pianos, and automobile and truck parts. Memphis Light, Gas and Water ("MLG&W") is also one of the largest municipal utilities in the United States.

Memphis is home to a growing number of nationally and internationally known corporations, including approximately 150 businesses from 22 countries. This includes the corporate headquarters of three major Fortune 500 companies, including FedEx Corporation, AutoZone Incorporated and International Paper. It is also, home to Fred's Stores headquarters, a company which was named as one of the five fastest growing chain-stores by Forbes Magazine. Other corporations with a major presence in the area include Back Yard Burgers, Belz Enterprises, Buckeye Technologies, First Tennessee Bank, Guardsmark, Hohenberg Bros. Co., Harrah's, Hilton, ServiceMaster, and Morgan Keegan & Company, Inc. Northwest Airlines also operates a major hub at Memphis International Airport, with daily nonstop flights to Amsterdam.

The entertainment and film industry has also developed in recent years in the city. Several major motion pictures have been filmed in Memphis in recent years, including Mystery Train (1989), Great Balls of Fire! (1989), The Firm (1993), A Family Thing (1996), The People vs. Larry Flynt (1996), The Rainmaker (1997), Cast Away (2000), The Queens of Comedy(2001),21 Grams (2003), Hustle & Flow (2005), Walk the Line (2005), Forty Shades Of Blue (2005), and Black Snake Moan (2007).

The city appeared in the top eight of the 50 best major metro areas in the U.S. for starting and growing a business in 2000, according to Inc. magazine. Southern Business and Development magazine ranked Memphis as one of the most successful models for economic development in the south, also recognized the city as one of the top ten markets over the past decade. In October 2002, Ebony Magazine has cited Memphis as a city for its outstanding African-American leadership. Memphis also had the highest rate of high technology start-up operations over the last three years among the nation’s 60 largest metro areas, according to Brandow Company research.



Memphis is governed by a mayor and thirteen council members, six elected at large from throughout the city and seven elected from geographic districts. In 1995, the council adopted a new district plan which changed council positions to all districts. This plan provides for nine districts, seven with one representative each and two districts with three representatives each.

The current mayor of the city of Memphis is Dr. W. W. Herenton, a formidable and controversial local political figure. Dr. Herenton is currently serving his fourth consecutive term as Mayor. He was elected for the first time in 1991, when he became Memphis' first black mayor. Prior to his election, Dr. Herenton served for 12 years as the superintendent of Memphis City Schools.

In recent years, there has been discussion of the potential of a merger of county and city government of Shelby County and City of Memphis into a metropolitan government, similar to that in Nashville.

Memphis politics are very racially polarized. Most whites have supported the Republican Party since the 1960s, while most blacks have remained loyal to the Democratic Party. A major influence in Memphis' black politics is the Ford family of funeral directors, whose political prominence dates to the Crump era. The best-known member of this family is Harold Ford, Sr., who represented most of Memphis in the U.S. House from 1975 to 1997. His brother, John, was a state senator for 30 years and is currently at the center of the Tennessee Waltz scandal.

Most of Memphis is located in the majority-black 9th District, currently represented by Democrat Harold Ford, Jr., the current Democratic frontrunner for the Senate seat of Bill Frist. Much of eastern Memphis is in the 7th District, represented by Republican Marsha Blackburn.

Academic Institutions

Early nursing class in Memphis.

The city is served by Memphis City Schools while surrounding suburbs in other areas of Shelby County are served by Shelby County Schools.

Colleges and universities located in the city include the University of Memphis (formerly Memphis State University), Rhodes College (formerly Southwestern at Memphis), Le Moyne-Owen College, and Christian Brothers University. Some smaller specialty colleges are also located in Memphis, including Harding University Graduate School of Religion, Memphis College of Art, and Mid-America Baptist Theological Seminary. The major community college is Southwest Tennessee Community College.

Memphis is also home to St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, a world class medical research facility. 1996 Nobel Laureate Peter Doherty conducts research at this facility. There are also several other major medical teaching institutions in the city, including the University of Tennessee Health Science Center (Colleges of Medicine, Dentistry, Pharmacy and Allied Health Sciences), the Southern College of Optometry and the Baptist Memorial College of Health Sciences.

The University of Tennessee College of Dentistry was founded in 1878 making it the oldest dental college in the South, and the third oldest public college of dentistry in the United States.[8] The Memphis Training School for Nurses, progenitor of the School of Nursing, was chartered September 28, 1887.[9]


Image:Memphis trolley.jpg
Memphis trolley on the Riverfront loop

Interstate highways I-40, its spur highway I-240 and I-55 are the main freeways in the Memphis area. The interstates of I-40 and I-55 (along with rail lines) cross the Mississippi at Memphis into the state of Arkansas. The future interstates of I-22 and I-69 are also planned to converge into the Memphis area.

A large volume of railroad freight traffic moves through Memphis, thanks to two Mississippi River railroad crossings and the convergence of east-west rail routes with north-south routes. Memphis had two major rail passenger stations, Memphis Union Station, razed in early 1969, and Memphis Central Station[10] , which has been renovated and serves Amtrak's City of New Orleans route between Chicago and New Orleans.[11]

Public transportation in the Memphis area is provided by the Memphis Area Transit Authority, which provides the area with buses and a downtown trolley system that is also in the process of expanding into a regional system.

Memphis is served by Memphis International Airport.


Image:IMG 0095.JPG
The Hernando Desoto Bridge during the day.
Memphis-Arkansas Memorial Bridge, Frisco Bridge, Harahan Bridge

The four bridges that cross the Mississippi River from Memphis are the Hernando De Soto, Harahan, Frisco and the Memphis Arkansas Bridge. All the bridges' piers had to be lined up for river navigation.

The Frisco Bridge (May 12, 1892) was the longest bridge in North America when it opened and was originally called the Great Bridge at Memphis. This cantilever truss steel railroad bridge was built between 1888-1892 and designed by George S. Morison. (Morison also designed the Taft Bridge in Washington D.C.).

The Harahan Bridge (July 14, 1916) is a trestle railroad bridge which later added a narrow, one-way wooden cantilevering roadways along the outsides of bridge so it can be used for cars. In 1928, sparks from a train ignited and set on fire to the wooden plank road. Today, only trains use the Harahan Bridge but there are potential plans of adding a pedestrian walkway and bike path along the bridge.

The Memphis-Arkansas Bridge (December 17, 1949) , originally named E. H. Crump Bridge, carries Interstate 55 and has a pedestrian walkway. The bridge was built between 1945-1949 and is the longest Warren truss- style bridge in the United States. It is listed on the National Historic Register.

The Hernando de Soto Bridge (August 2, 1973) with its steel arches carries I-40. In 1986, the "M" shape lights became part of the bridge and Memphis landmark. The Guinness Book of World Records list the deSoto bridge for its unique structural "letter" shape. Most recently, the mysterious death of Dr. Don Wiley placed the Hernando de Soto Bridge into national headlines as well as spawning international urban legends and conspiracy theories.

Name Nickname Length (in feet) Date Opened
Frisco Bridge12 May, 1892
Harahan Bridge14 July, 1916
Memphis-Arkansas Memorial Bridge"Old Bridge"5220.7 ft. long17 December, 1949
Hernando de Soto Bridge"New Bridge"; "M Bridge"3.3 miles long 2 August, 1973


Museums and art collections

Image:Mud island river park.jpg
Mud Island Mississippi River Park. View shows a model of the City of Memphis.

Many museums of interest are located in Memphis, including the National Civil Rights Museum, located in the former Lorraine Motel where Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated. It includes a historical overview of the American civil rights movement, ranging from the abolishment of slavery to more modern themes such the GLBT movement. On Martin Luther King Day, a yearly parade and celebration happens outside the room where Martin Luther King, Jr. was shot.

The Memphis Brooks Museum of Art, founded in 1916, serves as the region's major art museum. It is located in Overton Park, in Midtown close by the Memphis College of Art, which also contains a small gallery of student artwork. The permanent collection includes works from the Italian Renaissance and Baroque eras as well as British, French Impressionists, and 20th-century artists. There are also works by regional artists, including Memphian Carroll Cloar.

A smaller art museum, the Dixon Gallery and Gardens in east Memphis focuses on impressionism and has several works by Monet, Degas and Renoir, and aside from impressionist artwork, includes four outdoor gardens, with Greco-Roman sculpture.

Downtown Memphis is home to the Peabody Place Museum, the largest collection of 19th century Chinese art in the nation. The Art Museum at the University of Memphis is home to the largest collection of Egyptian antiquities in the South.

The Children's Museum of Memphis features many interactive exhibits, including a simulated grocery store, a wood skyscraper maze, roughly 5 stories high, and full-scale models of a fire truck and an airplane fuselage.

Graceland, the former home of Rock n Roll legend Elvis Presley, is the second most visited house in the United States (after the White House), attracting over 600,000 visitors a year, from many different countries. Graceland contains a variety of Elvis memorabilia. The Heartbreak Hotel, located across the street, is named after a popular Elvis hit. Celebrations include the annual Graceland Christmas lighting, and memorial services on the week of Elvis's birthday. It is now a National Landmark.

Also commorating the city's musical heritage, the Stax Museum of American Soul Music[12] is home to a broad collection of artifacts, photographs, exhibits, commentary, and music. Along with the legendary Stax Sound, the museum also spotlights the music of Muscle Shoals, Motown, Hi and Atlantic.

The National Ornamental Metal Museum is the only museum in North America dedicated to the preservation and exhibition of fine metalwork. The site is situated on a bluff overlooking the Mississippi River and includes historic buildings, a working blacksmith shop and foundry, and a sculpture garden. Every October, the Museum hosts an annual Repair Days Weekend, during which the public can get broken metal items fixed and observe skilled metalsmiths at work.

The Pink Palace Museum and Planetarium, serves as the Mid-South's major science and historical museum, and features exhibits ranging from archeology to chemistry. It includes America's third largest planetarium and an IMAX Theatre. The Pink Palace also contains a variety of exhibits relating to Memphis history. One of these is the recreation of an early supermarket, the original Piggly Wiggly, to commemorate the invention of this American commercial insitution by Memphian Clarence Saunders in 1916. Saunders had built the Pink Palace as his own residence in 1923, but lost it after financial reversals before it had been completed.

The Memphis Walk of Fame is a public exhibit located in the Beale Street historic district, which is modelled after the Hollywood Walk of Fame, but is designated exclusively for blues musicians, and composers. Names include B.B. King, and Aretha Franklin, among others.

Mud Island Mississippi River Park and Museum is located on Mud Island in downtown Memphis, and includes an actual-sized Titanic replica, and facts on the Mississippi River. The Park is noted for its River Walk, a 2112:1 scale (30 inches=1 mile) model showing 1000 miles of the Lower Mississippi River, from Cairo, Illinois to New Orleans, Louisiana. The Walk stretches about 0.5 miles, allowing visitors to walk in the water and see models of cities and bridges along the way.

Victorian Village, Memphis is an area of fine Victorian-era mansions, some of which are open to the public as museums.

Other museums in the area include the Fire Museum[13], the Memphis Museum Hall of Fame, Gibson Guitar Museum & Showcase, and Memphis Rock 'n' Soul Museum.

Performing arts

The Memphis area is home to many of West Tennessee's larger performing arts organizations, such as the Memphis Symphony Orchestra, which performs at the Cannon Center for the Performing Arts downtown. Ballet Memphis is the region's only professional ballet company and performs at the Orpheum Theatre. The Ford Foundation awarded Ballet Memphis one of its prestigious challenge grants in 2001, and has praised the organization as a national treasure of the cultural world. Opera Memphis, the region's opera company, performs at the Clark Opera Memphis Center in East Memphis. Other major theatres in the city include Playhouse on the Square, Circuit Playhouse, Theatre Memphis, and Theatre Works. Memphis also features classes and performances from the Memphis Improvisational Theatre. The Memphis Comedy & Improv Alliance provides information on improv and comedy performances throughout the area.

Parks, gardens, and cemeteries

Image:Memphis skyline pyramid.jpg
View from the Riverfront Park onto the Memphis skyline, the Pyramid Arena in the background

Major Memphis parks include W.C. Handy Park, Riverfront Park, Tom Lee Park, Audubon Park, Overton Park including the Old Forest Arboretum of Overton Park, the Lichterman Nature Center, and the Memphis Botanic Garden. Shelby Farms park, located at the eastern edge of the city, is one of the largest urban parks in America. Historic Elmwood Cemetery is one of the first rural garden cemeteries in the South, and contains the Carlisle S. Page Arboretum.

Other points of interest

Blues fans can visit Beale Street, where a young B.B. King used to play his guitar. He occasionally still appears there at a club bearing his name, which is partly owned by him. Street performers play live music, and bars and clubs feature live entertainment around the clock. Today, Beale Street, is the most visited tourist attraction in the state of Tennessee, and considered to be the busiest street in the southern United States, second being Bourbon Street.

Sun studios was where Elvis first recorded "My Happiness" and "That's When Your Heartaches Begin". Other famous musicians who got their start at Sun include Johnny Cash, Rufus Thomas, Charlie Rich, Howlin' Wolf, Roy Orbison, Carl Perkins, and Jerry Lee Lewis.

The Center for Southern Folklore highlights southern artists and musicians through public performances and exhibitions. The Center's archival collections contain thousands of photographs, recordings, and films. The Memphis Music and Heritage Festival, held each Labor Day weekend, is hosted an organized by the Center.

The Memphis Zoo, which is located in midtown Memphis, features many exhibits, of mammals, birds, fish, and amphibians, from all regions of the world. The most popular exhibits are the Cat House, which is the fifth oldest in the United States, and the zoo's panda exhibit, which is one of only a handful in North America.

There are Libertyland Amusement Park and the adjacent Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium, Mud Island, Detour Memphis - an art and performing space, Lichterman Nature Center - a nature learning center, The Pyramid, the FedEx Forum, and the Memphis Queen Riverboat.


Memphis is home to several professional sports teams. The Memphis Grizzlies of the National Basketball Association is the only one of the "big four" major sports leagues in the city. The team plays at the FedExForum downtown. Several minor league teams also call Memphis home, including the Memphis Redbirds of the Pacific Coast League, a Triple A baseball farm team for the St. Louis Cardinals. The Redbirds play at AutoZone Park, a state-of-the-art baseball-only venue downtown.

The Memphis RiverKings are a professional hockey team of the Central Hockey League. The Memphis Xplorers are an arena football team that play in the Af2 league. Both the RiverKings and Xplorers play at DeSoto Civic Center in nearby DeSoto County, Mississippi. Memphis is also home to the Memphis Blues, a professional Rugby team, which plays at Tobey Field in Midtown, Memphis. Memphis is considered a pro wrestling history ground. The sport's greatest name to come out of the city is Jerry "The King" Lawler. Many greats started out their careers in Memphis; among these names include Hulk Hogan, The Undertaker, Stone Cold Steve Austin, The Rock, Mick Foley, "Macho Man" Randy Savage", and Ric Flair. Memphis has two pro-wrestling organizations, Power-Pro Wrestling which is filmed in the Cook Convention Center in downtown Memphis, and Memphis Wrestling which is filmed in the Desoto Civic Center in Desoto County.

<tr bgcolor="#ADADAD">
<td width="150px">Club</td>
<td width="120px" align="left">Sport</td>
<td width="270px" align="left">League</td>
<td width="180px" align="left">Venue</td>
<tr bgcolor="#ffffff'>
<td width="150px">Memphis Grizzlies</td>
<td width="120px" align="left">Basketball</td>
<td width="270px" align="left">National Basketball Association</td>
<td width="180px" align="left">FedEx Forum</td>

<tr bgcolor="#ffffff">

<td width="150px">Memphis Redbirds</td>
<td width="120px" align="left">Baseball</td>
<td width="270px" align="left">Pacific Coast League</td>
<td width="180px" align="left">AutoZone Park</td>

<tr bgcolor="#ffffff">

<td width="150px">Memphis RiverKings</td>
<td width="120px" align="left">Ice Hockey</td>
<td width="270px" align="left">Central Hockey League</td>
<td width="180px" align="left">DeSoto Civic Center</td>

</tr> <tr bgcolor="#ffffff'>

<td width="150px">Memphis Xplorers</td>
<td width="120px" align="left">Arena football</td>
<td width="270px" align="left">Af2</td>
<td width="180px" align="left">DeSoto Civic Center</td>

</tr> <tr bgcolor="#ffffff'>

<td width="150px">Memphis Mojo</td>
<td width="120px" align="left">Indoor Soccer</td>
<td width="270px" align="left">American Indoor Soccer League</td>
<td width="180px" align="left">Agricenter Showplace Arena</td>

</tr> <tr bgcolor="#ffffff"> <td width="150px">Memphis Blues</td>

<td width="120px" align="left">Rugby</td>
<td width="270px" align="left">USA Rugby South</td>
<td width="180px" align="left">Tobey Field</td>



See also

Sister cities

Memphis has two sister cities, as designated by Sister Cities International, Inc. (SCI): Kanifing (Gambia) and Kaolack (Senegal).


Latitude Longitude

35.15310 -90.06466 - Hernando de Soto Bridge (I40)

35.15236 -90.04456 - 332 N Lauderdale Street Memphis, Tennessee USA 38105 - St Jude Children's Research Hospital

35.14783 -90.05163 - 100 North Main Street 38103 Tallest Building in Memphis

35.13956 -90.05165 - 200 Beale Street Memphis, Tennessee USA 38103 - Beale Street Visitors Center

35.13900 -90.03759 - 706 Union Avenue Memphis, Tennessee USA 38104 - Sun Studios

35.13426 -90.05772 - 450 Mulberry Street Memphis, Tennessee USA 38103 - Lorraine Motel

35.12312 -90.07532 - 374 Metal Museum Drive, Memphis, TN 38106 National Ornamental Metal Museum

35.04750 -90.02486 - 3764 Elvis Presley Blvd Memphis, Tennessee USA 38116 Graceland Mansion

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