Memphis is a city in the southwestern corner of the U.S. state of Tennessee, and the county seat of Shelby County. The city is located on the 4th Chickasaw Bluff, south of the confluence of the Wolf and Mississippi Rivers.Memphis had a population of 672,277 in 2011 making it the largest city in the state of Tennessee, the largest city on the Mississippi River, the third largest in the Southeastern United States, and the 20th largestin the United States. The greater Memphis metropolitan area, including adjacent counties in Mississippi andArkansas, had a 2010 population of 1,316,100 This makes Memphis the second largest metropolitan area in Tennessee, surpassed only by metropolitan Nashville, which has overtaken Memphis in recent years. Memphis is the youngest of Tennessee’s major cities. A resident of Memphis is referred to as a Memphian, and the Memphis region is known, particularly to media outlets, as “Memphis & The Mid-South”.
Memphis grew into the world’s largest spot cotton market and the world’s largest hardwood lumber market. Into the 1950s, it was the world’s largest mule market.
From the 1910s to the 1950s, Memphis was a place 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. Determined never to suffer plagues again, it rebuilt with meticulous sanitation and drainage. However, it did not encourage heavy industry and allowed Mr. Crump’s censor to ban movies.
During the 1960s, the city was at the center of civil rights issues, notably a sanitation workers’ strike. The Lorraine Motel in the city was also the venue of the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. on April 4, 1968, the day after giving his prophetic I’ve Been to the Mountaintop speech at the Mason Temple. In 1970, the Census Bureau reported Memphis’ population as 60.8% white and 38.9% black.
Memphis is well known for its cultural contributions to the identity of the American South. Many renowned musicians grew up in and around Memphis and moved from the Mississippi Delta. These included such musical greats as Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis, Muddy Waters, Carl Perkins, Johnny Cash, Robert Johnson, W. C. Handy, B.B. King, Howlin’ Wolf, Isaac Hayes, Booker T. Jones, Eric Gales, Al Green, Alex Chilton, Justin Timberlake, Three 6 Mafia, The Sylvers, Jay Reatard and many others.
Memphis is located in southwestern Tennessee at 35°7′3″N 89°58′16″W. According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 324.0 square miles (839.2 km2), of which 315.1 square miles (816.0 km2) is land and 9.0 square miles (23.2 km2), or 2.76%, is water.
Downtown Memphis rises from a bluff along the Mississippi River, and the city sprawls outward over southwest Tennessee and into northern Mississippi and eastern Arkansas. Several large parks are scattered through the city, notably Overton Park in Midtown and the 4,500 acres (18 km2) Shelby Farms. The city is a national transportation hub and Mississippi River crossing for Interstate 40, (east-west), Interstate 55 (north-south), barge traffic, Memphis International Airport (FedEx’s “SuperHub” facility) and numerous freight railroads that serve the city.
In both 2011 and 2012, the magazine Travel + Leisure named Memphis a top ten “America’s Dirtiest City,” for unremoved, widespread, visibly littered public spaces, as selected by both readership and local citizens.
Shelby County is located over four natural aquifers, one of which is recognized as the “Memphis sand aquifer” or simply as the “Memphis aquifer”. This artesian water is pure and soft. This particular water source, located some 350 to 1,100 feet (110 to 340 m) underground, is estimated by Memphis Light, Gas and Water to contain more than 100 trillion US gallons (380 km3) of water.
One of the largest celebrations the city has is Memphis in May. The month-long series of events promotes Memphis’ heritage and outreach of its people far beyond the city’s borders. There are four main events, the Beale Street Music Festival, International Week, The World Championship Barbecue Cooking Contest, and the Sunset Symphony. The World Championship Barbecue Cooking Contest is the largest pork barbecue cooking contest in the world.
In April, there is an event in downtown Memphis called Africa in April Cultural Awareness Festival, or simply known as Africa in April. The festival was designed to celebrate the arts, history, culture, and diversity of the African diaspora. Africa in April is a three-day festival with vendor’s markets, fashion showcases, blues showcases, and an international diversity parade.
During June, Memphis is home to the Memphis Italian Festival at Marquette Park. For over 20 years, the festival has hosted musical acts, local artisans, and Italian cooking competitions. It also presents chef demonstrations, the Coors Light Competitive Bocce Tournament, the Galtelli Cup Recreational Bocce Tournament, a volleyball tournament, and pizza tossing demonstrations.
Carnival Memphis, formerly known as the Memphis Cotton Carnival, is an annual series of parties and festivities in June that salutes various aspects of Memphis and its industries. An annual King and Queen of Carnival are secretly selected to reign over Carnival activities. The African-American community staged a parallel event known as the Cotton Makers Jubilee from 1935 to 1982, when it merged with Carnival Memphis
A market and arts festival, the Cooper-Young Festival, is held annually in September in the Cooper-Young district of Midtown Memphis. The event draws artists from all over North America and includes local music, art sales, contests, and displays.
Memphis is also home to several film festivals, the Indie Memphis Film Festival, Outflix, and the Memphis International Film and Music Festival. The Indie Memphis Film Festival is in its 15th year and will be held November 1–4, 2012. Recognized by MovieMaker Magazine as one of 25 “Coolest Film Festivals” (2009) and one of 25 “Festivals Worth the Entry Fee” (2011), Indie Memphis offers Memphis year-round independent film programming including the Global Lens international film series, IM Student Shorts student films, and an outdoor concert film series at the historic Levitt Shell. The Outflix Film Festival, also in its 15th year, will take place September 7–13, 2012. Outflix features a full week of LGBT interested cinema, including short films, features, and documentaries. The Memphis International Film and Music Festival is held in April and is in its 11th year and takes place at Malco’s Ridgeway Four.
Formerly titled the W. C. Handy Awards, the International Blues Awards are presented by the Blues Foundation (headquartered in Memphis) for Blues music achievement, with weeklong competitions and an awards banquet including a night of performance and celebration.
Memphis is the home of founders and pioneers of various American music genres, including Memphis soul, Memphis blues, gospel, rock n’ roll, Buck, crunk, and “sharecropper” country music (in contrast to the “rhinestone” country sound of Nashville).
Musicians like Jerry Lee Lewis, Johnny Cash, Elvis Presley, Carl Perkins, Roy Orbison, Booker T. & the M.G.’s, Otis Redding, Isaac Hayes, Sam & Dave, andB.B. King, all got their start in Memphis in the 1950s/60s.
Beale Street is a national historical landmark, and shows the impact Memphis has had on American blues, particularly after World War II as electric guitars took precedence. Sam Phillips’ Sun Studio, the most seminal recording studio in American popular music, still stands, and is open for tours. Elvis, Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis, Carl Perkins, and Roy Orbison all made their first recordings there and were “discovered” by Phillips. Many great blues artists recorded there, such as W. C. Handy, Father of the Blues.
Stax Records created a classic 60′s soul music, much grittier and horn-based than Motown. Booker T. and the M.G.’s were the label’s backing band for most of the classic hits that came out of Stax, by Sam and Dave, Otis Redding, Wilson Pickett, and many more. The sound still lives on in the Blues Brothers movie, in which many of the players themselves starred.
Several notable singers are from the Memphis area, including Ruth Welting and Kallen Esperian. The Metropolitan Opera began coming to Memphis in 1906, their first road show, but in the 1990s decided to only visit larger cities.
In addition to the Brooks Museum and Dixon Gallery and Gardens, Memphis plays host to two burgeoning visual art areas, one city-sanctioned, and the other organically formed.
The South Main Arts District is an arts neighborhood in south downtown. Over the past 20 years, the area has morphed from a derelict brothel and juke jointneighborhood to a gentrified, well-lit, nicely paved home of the “Trolley Night” where patrons of the arts stroll down the street witnessing fire spinners, djs playing in front of clubs, specialty shops and galleries.
Another developing arts district in Memphis is Broad Street. Broad Street (really an east-west avenue) is undergoing neighborhood revitalization from the influx of craft and visual artists taking up residence and studios in the area. An art professor from Rhodes College holds small openings on the first floor of his home for local students and professional artists. Odessa, another art space on Broad Street, hosts student art shows and local electronic music. Other gallery spaces spring up for semiannual artwalks.
Outside these two areas, Memphis has non-commercial visual arts organizations and spaces, including local painter Pinkney Herbert’s Marshall Arts gallery, on Marshall Ave. near Sun Studios, another arts neighborhood characterized by affordable rent
Well-known writers from Memphis include American Civil War historian Shelby Foote. Novelist John Grisham grew up in nearby DeSoto County, Mississippi, and many of his books are set in Memphis.
Many works of fiction and literature use Memphis as their setting, giving a diverse portrait of the city, its history, and its citizens. These include The Reivers by William Faulkner (1962), September, September by Shelby Foote(1977), The Old Forest and Other Stories by Peter Taylor (1985), the Pulitzer Prize-winning A Summons to Memphis by Peter Taylor (1986), The Firm (1991) and The Client (1993), both by John Grisham, Memphis Afternoons: a Memoir by James Conaway (1993), “Plague of Dreamers” by Steve Stern (1997) Cassina Gambrel Was Missing by William Watkins (1999), The Guardian by Beecher Smith (1999), “We are Billion-Year-Old Carbon” by Corey Mesler (2005), The Silence of the Lambs by Thomas Harris, and The Architect by James Williamson (2007).
The city’s central location has led to much of its business development. Located on the Mississippi River and intersected by five major freight railroads and two Interstate highways, I-40 and I-55, Memphis is ideally located for commerce in the transportation and shipping industry. A third interstate, I-69, is under construction, and a fourth, I-22, has recently been designated from the former High Priority Corridor X. River barges are unloaded onto trucks and trains. The city is home to Memphis International Airport, the world’s second busiest cargo airport (following Hong Kong), which serves as the primary hub for FedEx Express shipping and was a secondary hub for Delta Air Lines after it merged with Northwest Airlines in 2008.
Memphis is the home of three Fortune 500 companies: FedEx, AutoZone, and International Paper. Other major corporations based in Memphis include Allenberg Cotton, American Residential Services (also known as ARS/Rescue Rooter), Baker, Donelson, Bearman, Caldwell & Berkowitz, Cargill Cotton, First Horizon National Corporation, Evergreen Packaging, Fred’s, GTx, Guardsmark, Lenny’s Sub Shop, Perkins Restaurant and Bakery,ServiceMaster, Thomas & Betts, True Temper Sports, Varsity Brands, and Verso Paper. Corporations with major operations based in Memphis includeCarrier, Merck & Co., Medtronic, Sharp Manufacturing, Smith & Nephew, and Technicolor Home Entertainment Services.
The entertainment and film industries have discovered Memphis in recent years. Several major motion pictures, most of which were recruited and assisted by the Memphis & Shelby County Film and Television Commission, have been filmed in Memphis, including Making the Grade (1984), Elvis and Me (1988),Great Balls of Fire! (1988), Heart of Dixie (1989), Mystery Train (1989), The Silence of the Lambs (1991), Trespass (1991), The Gun in Betty Lou’s Handbag (1992), The Firm (1993), The Delta (1996), The People Vs. Larry Flynt (1996), The Rainmaker (1997), Cast Away (2000), 21 Grams (2002), A Painted House (2002), Hustle & Flow (2005), Forty Shades of Blue (2005), Walk the Line (2005), Black Snake Moan (2007), Nothing But the Truth (2008),Soul Men (2008), and The Grace Card (2011). The Blind Side (2009) was set in Memphis but filmed in Atlanta. The 1992 television movie Memphis, starring Memphis native Cybill Shepherd, who also served as executive producer and writer, was also filmed in Memphis. The state of Tennessee has lacked sufficient tax breaks available in other states to compete for many productions that have been interested in filming in Memphis or in the state as a whole. Besides The Blind Side, whose production was lured to Georgia, Memphis Beat, a television series on TNT set in Memphis, was lured to Louisiana.
The city is served by Memphis City Schools, while surrounding suburbs in other areas of Shelby County are served by Shelby County Schools. However, on March 8, 2011, residents voted to disband Memphis City Schools, effectively merging it with the Shelby County School District. The merger will take effect effective the start of the 2013-14 school year.
The Memphis City School System is home to over 200 elementary, middle, and high schools.
The Memphis area is home to many private, college-prep schools: Briarcrest Christian School (co-ed), Christian Brothers High School (boys), Evangelical Christian School (co-ed), First Assembly Christian School (co-ed),Hutchison School (girls), Lausanne Collegiate School (co-ed), Memphis University School (boys), Saint Benedict at Auburndale (co-ed), St. George’s Independent School (co-ed), St. Agnes Academy (girls), Bishop Byrne Middle and High School (co-ed), Immaculate Conception Cathedral School (girls), St. Mary’s Episcopal School (girls), and Elliston Baptist Academy (co-ed). Also included in this list is Memphis Harding Academy, a co-ed school affiliated with the Churches of Christ.
Colleges and universities located in the city include the University of Memphis, Rhodes College, Memphis College of Art, LeMoyne–Owen College, Christian Brothers University, Baptist College of Health Sciences, Memphis Theological Seminary, Harding School of Theology, Embry–Riddle Aeronautical University, Worldwide (Memphis Campus), Reformed Theological Seminary (satellite campus), William R. Moore College of Technology, Southern College of Optometry, Southwest Tennessee Community College, Tennessee Technology Center at Memphis, Visible Music College, and the University of Tennessee Health Science Center. Memphis also has campuses of several for-profit post-secondary institutions, including Victory University (formerly Crichton College), Concorde Career College, ITT Technical Institute, Remington College, and University of Phoenix.
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 ofdentistry in the United States.
The Christian Brothers High School Band is the oldest high school band in America, founded in 1872.
The Interstate Highways, Interstate 40, Interstate 55, and Interstate 240, are the main expressways in the Memphis area. Interstates 40 and 55 cross theMississippi River at Memphis from the state of Arkansas.
The nearly-completed Interstate 22 connects Memphis with Birmingham, Alabama, via northern Mississippi (including Tupelo) and northwestern Alabama. This expressway follows the same route as U.S. Route 78. Other important federal highways though Memphis include the east-west U.S. Route 70, U.S. Route 64, and U.S. Route 72; and the north-south U.S. Route 51 and U.S. Route 61. The former is the historic highway north to Chicago via Cairo, Illinois, while the latter roughly parallels the Mississippi River for most of its course and crosses the Mississippi Delta region to the south, with the Delta also legendary for Blues music.
The future Interstate 69 from northeast to southwest will pass through Memphis when it is completed, linking Brownsville, Texas to the already-existing portion that runs from Indianapolis, Indiana to Port Huron, Michigan. Segments of this highway are complete in DeSoto County, just south of Memphis. The segment of the I-69 Corridor running through the Memphis area is scheduled for completion in 2012.
A large volume of railroad freight moves through Memphis, because of its two heavy-duty Mississippi River railroad crossings, which carry several major east-west railroad freight lines, and also because of the major north-south railroad lines through Memphis which connect with such major cities as Chicago, St. Louis, Indianapolis,Louisville, New Orleans, Dallas, Houston, Mobile, and Birmingham.
By the early 20th century, Memphis had two major passenger railroad stations. After passenger railroad service declined heavily through the middle of the 20th century, the Memphis Union Station was demolished in 1969. TheMemphis Central Station was eventually renovated, and it still serves the city.
The only inter-city passenger railroad service to Memphis for many decades has been the daily City of New Orleans train, operated by Amtrak, which has one train northbound and one train southbound each day between Chicago and New Orleans.
Memphis International Airport is the global “SuperHub” of FedEx Express, and has the second largest cargo operations by volume of any airport worldwide, surpassed by Hong Kong International Airport.
Memphis International ranks as the 41st busiest passenger airport in the US and is also a hub for Delta Air Lines(hub will close on September 3, 2013) and had 4,390,000 boarding passengers (enplanements) in 2011, an 11.9% decrease over the previous year. Delta has reduced its flights at Memphis by approximately 65% since its 2008 merger with Northwest Airlines and will operate an average of 94 daily flights (20 flights on Saturdays) as of January 2013. There are currently no international passenger flights operating at Memphis International Airport which has seen declining passenger and aircraft movements due to cutbacks by Delta Air Lines at the airport. Delta Air Lines also announced the closing of its Memphis pilot base in 2012. Other airlines providing passenger service are: AirTran, American Airlines, SeaPort Airlines, United Airlines and US Airways.
There are also general aviation airports in the Memphis Metropolitan Area, including the Millington Regional Jetport, located at the former Naval Air Station in Millington, Tennessee.
Memphis has the second-busiest cargo port on the Mississippi River, which is also the fourth-busiest inland port in the United States. The International Port of Memphis covers both the Tennessee and Arkansas sides of the Mississippi River from river mile 725 (km 1167) to mile 740 (km 1191). A focal point of the river port is theindustrial park on President’s Island, just south of Downtown Memphis.
Four railroad and highway bridges cross the Mississippi River at Memphis. In order of their opening years, these are the Frisco Bridge (1892, single-track rail), the Harahan Bridge (1916, a road-rail bridge until 1949, currently carries double-track rail), the Memphis-Arkansas Memorial Bridge (Highway, 1949; later incorporated into Interstate 55), and the Hernando de Soto Bridge(Interstate 40, 1973).
Memphis’s primary utility provider is the Memphis Light, Gas and Water Division (MLGW). This is the largest three-service municipal utility in the United States, providing electricity, natural gas, and pure water service to all residents of Shelby County. Prior to that, Memphis was served by two primary electric companies, which were merged into the Memphis Power Company. The City of Memphis bought the private company in 1939 to form MLGW, which was an early customer of electricity from the Tennessee Valley Authority.
MLGW still buys most of its power from TVA, and the company pumps its own fresh water from the Memphis Aquifer, using more than 180 water wells.
The Memphis and Shelby County region supports numerous hospitals, including the Methodist and Baptist Memorial health systems, two of the largest private hospitals in the country.
Methodist Le Bonheur Healthcare, the largest healthcare provider in the Mid-South, operates seven hospitals and several rural clinics. Modern Healthcare magazine ranked Methodist Healthcare in the top 100 integrated healthcare networks in the United States. Methodist Healthcare operates, among others, the Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital, which offers primary level 1 pediatric trauma care, as well as a nationally recognized pediatric brain tumor program.
Baptist Memorial Healthcare operates fifteen hospitals (three in Memphis), including Baptist Memorial Hospital. According to Health Care Market Guide’s annual studies, Mid-Southerners have named Baptist Memorial their “preferred hospital choice for quality”.
The St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, leading pediatric treatment and research facility focused on children’s catastrophic diseases, resides in Memphis. The institution was conceived and built by the late entertainer Danny Thomas in 1962 as a tribute to St. Jude Thaddeus, patron saint of impossible, hopeless, and difficult causes.
Memphis is also home to the Regional Medical Center at Memphis, which is locally referred to as “The Med”. In recent years, the hospital has experienced severe funding difficulties that nearly led to a reduction or elimination of emergency room services. In July 2010, The Med received approximately $40.6 million in federal and local funding to keep the Elvis Presley Trauma Center operational.
Memphis is home to Delta Medical Center of Memphis, which is the only employee-owned medical facility in North America.
TOURISM AND RECREATION
MUSEUMS AND ART COLECTIONS
The National Civil Rights Museum is located in the former Lorraine Motel where Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated. It includes a historical overview of the American civil rights movement.
Lorraine Motel in Memphis (2005)
Brooks Museum of Art
The Memphis Brooks Museum of Art, founded in 1916, is the oldest and largest fine art museum in the state of Tennessee. The Brooks’ permanent collection includes works from the Italian Renaissance and Baroque eras to British, French Impressionists, and 20th-century artists.
Memphis Brooks Museum of Art in Memphis (2008)
Belz Museum of Asian and Judaic Art
The Belz Museum of Asian and Judaic Art, founded in 1988, is located in downtown memphis near the historicPeabody Hotel. It is sometimes locally referred to as “The Jade Museum” because of the large collection of Asian art made out of jade. In addition to its extensive collection of Asian artwork, it contains a sizable collection of Judaic art.
Dixon Gallery and Gardens
The Dixon Gallery and Gardens, founded in 1976, focuses on French and American impressionism and features works by Monet, Degas, and Renoir, as well as pieces by Pierre Bonnard, Mary Cassatt, Marc Chagall, Honoré Daumier, Henri Fantin-Latour, Paul Gauguin, Henri Matisse, Berthe Morisot, Edvard Munch, Auguste Rodin, andAlfred Sisley, as well as an extensive collection of works by French Impressionist artist Jean-Louis Forain. The museum also houses the Stout Collection of 18th century German porcelain. With nearly 600 pieces of tableware and figures, it is one of the finest such collections in the United States. The Dixon campus also contains a 17 acre public garden.
Children’s Museum of Memphis
The Children’s Museum of Memphis exhibits interactive and educational activities for children to take part in, including a skyscraper maze, an airplane cockpit (donated by FedEx), a fire engine, an art studio, grocery store, and, most recently, a mechanic’s garage sponsored by AutoZone, Inc.
Graceland, the former home of music legend Elvis Presley, is one of the most visited houses in the United States (second only to the White House), attracting over 600,000 visitors a year. Featured at Graceland are two of Presley’s private airplanes, his extensive automobile and motorcycle collection and other Elvis memorabilia. On November 7, 1991, Graceland was listed in the National Register of Historic Places.
The Pink Palace Museum serves as the Mid-South’s major science and historical museum, and features exhibits ranging from archeology to chemistry. It includes the third largest planetarium in the United States and an IMAXtheater. One exhibit features a replica of the original Piggly Wiggly store, the first self-service grocery store, commemorating the invention of the supermarket by Memphian Clarence Saunders in 1916.
Memphis Walk of Fame
The Memphis Walk of Fame is a public exhibit located in the Beale Street historic district, which is modeled after the Hollywood Walk of Fame, but is designated exclusively for Memphis musicians, singers, writers, and composers. Honorees include W. C. Handy, B.B. King, Bobby Blue Bland, and Alberta Hunter, among others.
Mud Island River Park
Mud Island River Park and Mississippi River Museum is located on Mud Island in downtown Memphis. The park is noted for its River Walk, a 2112:1 scale working model showing 1,000 miles (1,600 km) of the Lower Mississippi River, from Cairo, Illinois to New Orleans, Louisiana and the Gulf of Mexico. 30 inches (76 cm) in the model equal 1 mile (1.6 km) of the Mississippi River. The Walk stretches roughly 0.5 miles (800 m), allowing visitors to walk in the water and see models of cities and bridges along the way.
Mud Island Mississippi River Park (2006)
Victorian Village is a historic district of Memphis featuring a series of fine Victorian-era mansions, some of which are open to the public as museums.
The Cotton Museum is a museum that opened in March 2006 on the old trading floor of the Memphis Cotton Exchange at 65 Union Avenue in downtown Memphis.
The Stax Museum is a museum located at 926 McLemore Avenue, the former location of Stax Records. The original building, a converted movie theatre where artists such as Otis Redding, Isaac Hayes, Booker T. & the M.G.’s, Sam & Dave and many others recorded throughout the 60′s and 70′s, was torn down, but the original front was reconstructed on the original property. It is operated by Soulsville USA, which also operates the adjacent Stax Music Academy. The original Satellite Record Shop was also reconstructed beside it. It is the only museum in the United States to be devoted entirely to soul music.
Stax Museum and Satellite Record Shop
Chucalissa Indian Village
Chucalissa Indian Village is a Walls Phase mound and plaza complex that was occupied, abandoned and reoccupied several times throughout its history, spanning from 1000 to 1550 CE. Civilian Conservation Corps workers discovered Native American artifacts on the site in 1938 and archaeological excavations of this Mississippian mound complex were initiated. The facility has been operated by the University of Memphis since 1962. In 1973 Chucalissa Indian Village was added to the National Register of Historic Places. Later, in 1994, it was declared a National Historic Landmark. It is the site of the Southeast Indian Heritage Festival held annually in October.
Media related to Parks in Memphis, Tennessee at Wikimedia Commons
Memphis National Cemetery (2006)
Major Memphis parks include W.C. Handy Park, Tom Lee Park, Audubon Park, Overton Park including the Old Forest Arboretum, the Lichterman Nature Center (a nature learning center), the Memphis Botanic Garden, andJesse H Turner Park.
Shelby Farms park, located at the eastern edge of the city, is one of the largest urban parks in the United States.
Media related to Cemeteries in Memphis, Tennessee at Wikimedia Commons
The Memphis National Cemetery is a United States National Cemetery located in northeastern Memphis.
Historic Elmwood Cemetery is one of the oldest rural garden cemeteries in the South, and contains the Carlisle S. Page Arboretum. Memorial Park Cemetery is noted for its sculptures by Mexican artist Dionicio Rodriguez.
Elvis Presley was originally buried in Forest Hill Cemetery, the resting place of his backing band’s bassist, Bill Black, but after an attempted grave robbing, his body was moved to the grounds of Graceland.
OTHER POINTS OF INTEREST
Beale Street (2010)
Peabody Hotel (2010)
Blues fans can visit Beale Street, which used to be the center of the Black community, where a young B.B. Kingused to play his guitar. He occasionally appears there at the club bearing his name, which he partially owns. Street performers play live music, and bars and clubs feature live entertainment until dawn.
The Memphis Zoo, which is located in midtown Memphis, features many exhibits of mammals, birds, fish, and amphibians from all over the world. The zoo’s giant panda exhibit is one of only five in North America. The Memphis Zoo is one of few that have successfully resulted in live births of rhinoceros in captivity.
The Peabody Hotel is well known for the “Peabody Ducks” that live on the hotel rooftop, making the journey to the hotel lobby in a daily “March of Ducks” ritual.
Sun Studio is a highly influential recording studio opened on 3 January 1950 by rock pioneer Sam Phillips at 706 Union Avenue. It is available for tour, which is where Elvis Presley 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. It now contains a museum as well as the still-functioning and operating studio.
The Orpheum Theatre
The Orpheum Theatre was built in 1928 upon the former property of the Grand Opera House, which was burnt to the ground in 1923 during a strip tease performance by Blossom Seeley. After vaudeville’s popularity waned, the building was purchased by the Malco Theatres theater chain in 1940 and presented first-run movies until Malco sold the building in 1976. The Orpheum is now managed by the Memphis Development Foundation and presents 10 to 12 Broadway shows each year. The theatre is also home to two of Memphis’ local arts groups, Ballet Memphis and Opera Memphis.
The New Daisy Theater
The New Daisy Theater is an all-ages concert venue located on Beale Street. After 11 pm, only those at least 18 years of age are allowed on Beale—unless they are going to (or from) a destination point like the New Daisy. The New Daisy routinely presents some of the biggest acts to come to the Mid South. Possibly the most popular venue in Memphis, past acts have included Ani DiFranco, AFI, Cannibal Corpse, GWAR, Insane Clown Posse, Keller Williams,Lamb of God, Led Zeppelin, The Doors, and Black Sabbath among many others. The venue also, on occasion, hosts the Gorilla Production Battle of the Bands as well as Mixed Martial Arts fights.
Mud Island Amphitheater
Located on Front Avenue, the Mud Island Amphitheater is a concert venue with an approximate capacity of 5,000 viewers. As one of the two major concert venues in Memphis, past acts have included the likes of R.E.M., Phish, 311, The Black Crowes, Fall Out Boy, Journey, New Kids on the Block, O.A.R., Pat Benatar, Smashing Pumpkins, Steely Dan, and Willie Nelson.
The Pyramid Arena is a former athletic and music venue. It is one of the first sights seen when entering the city from West Memphis via the Memphis-Arkansas Memorial Bridge. The facility was built in 1991 and was originally owned and operated jointly by the city of Memphis and Shelby County. Its unique structure plays on the city’s namesake in Egypt, known for its ancient pyramids. At 321 feet (98 m), it is the sixth-largest pyramid in the world behind the Great Pyramid of Giza 456 ft (139 m), Khafre’s Pyramid 446 ft (136 m), the Luxor Hotel 348 ft (106 m), the Red Pyramid 341 ft (104 m) and the Bent Pyramid 331 ft (101 m). As a music venue, it was the largest in Memphis, presenting such acts as R.E.M., Phish, Aerosmith, Janet Jackson, The Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan, The Doobie Brothers, and Lynyrd Skynyrd. Bob Seger & The Silver Bullet Band was the last concert ever held in The Pyramid in 2008.
It has been host to the University of Memphis NCAA basketball team, the Memphis Grizzlies NBA team, the Great Midwest Conference basketball tournament, the Southeastern Conference basketball tournament, the Conference USA basketball tournaments, and the 2003 Conference USA women’s basketball tournament. It has also hosted first and second rounds of the NCAA Tournament and a pay-per-view event by the WWF. The Pyramid was the venue of the boxing match between Lennox Lewis and Mike Tyson in 2002.
In 2008, the City of Memphis began leasing The Pyramid to Bass Pro Shops; the facility is to become Bass Pro’s largest superstore in the country with a projected grand opening by August 2013.
Other Memphis attractions include the Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium, the FedExForum, and Mississippi riverboat day cruises.
The University of Memphis college basketball team, the Memphis Tigers, has a strong following in the city due to a history of competitive success. The Tigers have competed in three NCAA Final Fours (1973, 1985, 2008), with the latter two appearances being vacated. The current coach of the Memphis Tigers is Josh Pastner, who coached the Tigers to NCAA appearances in three of his first four seasons.
The Memphis Grizzlies of the National Basketball Association is the only team from one of the “big four” major sports leagues in the city; however, the minor leagues are well represented. The Memphis Redbirds of the Pacific Coast League is a Class AAA baseball farm team for the St. Louis Cardinals. The Mississippi RiverKings, formerly the Memphis RiverKings, is a professional hockey team of the Central Hockey League “Class AA” which plays its home games in DeSoto County.
Memphis is home to Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium, the site of University of Memphis football, the Liberty Bowland the Southern Heritage Classic. The annual St. Jude Classic, a regular part of the PGA Tour, is also held in the city. Each February the city hosts the Regions Morgan Keegan Championships and the Cellular South Cup, which are men’s ATP World Tour 500 series and WTA events, respectively.
Memphis has a significant history in pro wrestling. Jerry “The King” Lawler and Jimmy “The Mouth of the South” Hart are among the sport’s most well-known figures who came out of the city. Sputnik Monroe, a wrestler of the 1950s, like Lawler, promoted racial integration in the city. Ric Flair also noted Memphis as his birthplace.
Memphis has been represented by several now-defunct professional sports franchises, including the Memphis Pharaohs of Arena Football, the Memphis Maniax of the XFL, the Memphis Xplorers of the AF2, the Memphis Showboats of the USFL, the Memphis Southmen of the WFL, the Memphis Houn’Dawgs of the ABA, the Memphis Sounds of the original ABA in the late 1960s and early 1970s, and the Memphis Mad Dogs of the CFL.
In the 1970s and early 1980s, the former WFL franchise Memphis Southmen / Memphis Grizzlies sued the NFL in an attempt to be accepted as an expansion franchise. In 1993, the Memphis Hound Dogs was a proposed NFL expansion that was passed over in favor of the Jacksonville Jaguars and Carolina Panthers. Memphis also served as the temporary home of the former Tennessee Oilers while the city of Nashville worked out stadium issues.
Major broadcast television affiliate stations in the Memphis area include, but are not limited to:
- WREG, channel 3, CBS
- WMC, channel 5, NBC
- WKNO, channel 10, PBS
- WHBQ, channel 13, Fox
- WATN, channel 24, ABC
- WLMT, channel 30, The CW
- WPXX, channel 50, Ion