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 fourth
Chickasaw Bluff , south of the confluence of the Wolf
Memphis had a population of 652,717 in 2016, making it the second
largest city in the state of
Tennessee after Nashville. The greater
Memphis metropolitan area , including adjacent counties in Mississippi
Arkansas , had a 2014 population of 1,317,314. This makes Memphis
the second-largest metropolitan area in Tennessee, surpassed by
metropolitan Nashville .
Memphis is the youngest of Tennessee's major cities, founded in 1819
as a planned city by a group of wealthy Americans including judge John
Overton and future president
Andrew Jackson . A resident of Memphis
is referred to as a Memphian, and the Memphis region is known,
particularly to media outlets, as Memphis and the Mid-South.
* 1 History
* 1.1 Early history
* 1.2 19th century
* 1.3 Postwar years, Reconstruction and Democratic control
* 1.4 20th century
* 2 Geography
* 2.1 Cityscape
* 2.2 Riverfront
* 2.4 Climate
* 3 Demographics
* 3.1 Religion
* 4 Economy
* 5 Arts and culture
* 5.1 Cultural events
* 5.2 Music
* 5.3 Visual art
* 5.4 Literature
* 5.5 Tourism and recreation
* 5.5.1 Museums and art collections
* 5.5.2 Cemeteries
* 6 Sports
* 7 Parks
* 7.1 Other points of interest
* 8 Law and government
* 8.1 Crime
* 9 Education
* 10 Media
* 10.1 Television
* 10.2 Radio
* 10.3 Cultural references
* 10.3.1 Music
* 10.3.2 Film and television
* 11 Infrastructure
* 11.1 Transportation
* 11.1.1 Highways
* 11.1.2 Railroads
* 11.1.3 Airports
* 11.1.4 River port
* 11.1.5 Bridges
* 11.2 Utilities
* 11.3 Health care
* 12 Notable people
* 13 Twin towns – sister cities
* 14 See also
* 15 References and notes
* 16 Further reading
* 17 External links
Main articles: History of Memphis,
Tennessee and Timeline of Memphis,
A Mississippian era priest (Digital illustration, 2004)
Occupying a substantial bluff rising from the
Mississippi River, the
site of Memphis has been a natural location for human settlement by
varying cultures over thousands of years. The area was known to be
settled in the first millennium AD. by people of the Mississippian
Culture , who had a network of communities throughout the Mississippi
River Valley and its tributaries and built large earthwork ceremonial
and burial mounds as expressions of their complex culture. The
Chickasaw Indian tribe , believed to be their descendants,
later occupied the site.
French explorers led by
René-Robert Cavelier, Sieur de La Salle
and Spanish explorer
Hernando de Soto encountered the Chickasaw
tribe in that area in the 16th century.
J.D.L. Holmes, writing in Hudson's Four Centuries of Southern
Indians, notes that this site was a third strategic point in the late
18th century through which European powers could control American
encroachment and their interference with Indian matters—after Fort
Nogales (present day Vicksburg ) and Fort Confederación (present day
Epes, Alabama ): "...
Chickasaw Bluffs, located on the Mississippi
River at the present day location of Memphis. Spain and the United
States vied for control of this site, which was a favorite of the
In 1795 the Spanish Governor-General of
Louisiana , Francisco Luis
Héctor de Carondelet sent his Lieutenant Governor, Manuel Gayoso de
Lemos , to negotiate and secure consent from local Chickasaw
inhabitants so that a Spanish fort could be erected; Fort San Fernando
de las Barrancas was the result. :71 Holmes notes that consent was
reached despite opposition from "disappointed Americans and a
pro-American faction of the Chickasaws", when the "pro-Spanish faction
Chickasaw Bluffs Cession and Spain provided the Chickasaws
with a trading post…". :71
Fort San Fernando de las Barrancas remained a focal point of Spanish
activity until, as Holmes summarizes:
he Treaty of San Lorenzo or Pinckney\'s Treaty of 1795 , all of
the careful, diplomatic work by Spanish officials in
West Florida , which has succeeded for a decade in controlling the
Indians , was undone. The
United States gained the right to navigate
Mississippi River and won control over the Yazoo Strip north of
the thirty-first parallel. :75,71
The Spanish dismantled the fort, shipping its lumber and iron to
their locations in Arkansas.
In 1796, the site became the westernmost point of the newly admitted
state of Tennessee, located in what was then called the Southwest
United States. The area was still largely occupied and controlled by
Chickasaw nation. Captain Isaac Guion led an American force down
the Ohio River to claim the land, arriving on July 20, 1797. By this
time, the Spanish had departed. The fort's ruins went unnoticed
twenty years later when Memphis was laid out as a city, after the
United States government paid the
Chickasaw for land.
Memphis in the mid-1850s
The city of Memphis was founded on May 22, 1819 (incorporated
December 19, 1826) by John Overton ,
James Winchester and Andrew
Jackson . They named it after the ancient capital of
Egypt on the
Nile River . Memphis developed as a trade and transportation center
in the 19th century because of its flood-free location high above the
Mississippi River . Located in the low-lying delta region along the
river, its outlying areas were developed as cotton plantations, and
the city became a major cotton market and brokerage center.
The cotton economy of the antebellum South depended on the forced
labor of large numbers of African-American slaves , and Memphis also
developed as a major slave market for the domestic slave trade.
Through the early 19th century, one million slaves were transported
from the Upper South, in a huge forced migration to newly developed
plantation areas in the Deep South. Many were transported by
steamboats along the Ohio and
Mississippi rivers. In 1857, the Memphis
and Charleston Railroad was completed, connecting the Atlantic Coast
of South Carolina and this major
Mississippi River port; it was the
only east-west railroad constructed across the southern states prior
to the Civil War . This gave planters and cotton brokers access to the
Atlantic Coast for shipping cotton to England, a major market.
The city's demographics changed dramatically in the 1850s and 1860s
under waves of immigration and domestic migration. Due to increased
immigration since the 1840s and the Great Famine , ethnic Irish made
up 9.9 percent of the population in 1850, but 23.2 percent in 1860,
when the total population was 22,623. They had encountered
considerable discrimination in the city but by 1860, the Irish
constituted most of the police force. They also gained many elected
and patronage positions in the Democratic Party city government, and
an Irish man was elected as mayor before the Civil War. At that time,
representatives were elected to the city council from 30 wards. The
elite were worried about corruption in this system and that so many
saloonkeepers were active in the wards. German immigrants also made
this city a destination following the 1848 revolutions; both the Irish
and German immigrants were mostly Catholic, adding another element to
demographic change in this formerly Protestant city. Attack on
Irving Block by General Forrest in 1864
Tennessee seceded from the Union in June 1861, and Memphis briefly
became a Confederate stronghold. Union ironclad gunboats captured the
city in the naval
Battle of Memphis
Battle of Memphis on June 6, 1862, and the city and
state were occupied by the
Union Army for the duration of the war. The
Union Army commanders allowed the city to maintain its civil
government during most of this period but excluded Confederate
veterans from office, which shifted political dynamics in the city as
the war went on. As Memphis was used as a Union supply base,
associated with nearby Fort Pickering , it continued to prosper
economically throughout the war. Meanwhile, Confederate General Nathan
Bedford Forrest harassed Union forces in the area.
The war years contributed to additional dramatic changes in city
population. The presence of the
Union Army attracted many fugitive
slaves who escaped from surrounding rural plantations. So many sought
protection behind Union lines that the Army set up contraband camps to
accommodate them. The black population of Memphis increased from 3,000
in 1860, when the total population was 22,623, to nearly 20,000 in
1865, with most settling south of what was then the city limits. The
white population was also increasing, but not to the same degree.
After race riots against the blacks in 1866, thousands left the city.
The total population in 1870 was 40,220; the number of blacks had
declined to 15,000 that year, or 37.4% of the total.(See census table
in Demographics section.)
POSTWAR YEARS, RECONSTRUCTION AND DEMOCRATIC CONTROL
The rapid demographic changes, added to the stress of war and
occupation, and uncertainty about who was in charge, resulted in
growing tensions between the Irish policemen and black Union soldiers
following the war. In three days of rioting in early May 1866, the
Memphis Riot erupted, in which white mobs made up of policemen,
firemen, and other mostly ethnic
Irish Americans , attacked and killed
46 blacks, wounding 75 and injuring 100 persons; raped several women,
and destroyed nearly 100 houses while severely damaging churches and
schools in South Memphis. Much of the black settlement was left in
ruins. Two whites were killed in the riot. Many blacks permanently
fled Memphis after the riot, especially as the Freedmen\'s Bureau
continued to have difficulty in protecting them. Their population fell
to about 15,000 by 1870, or 37.4% of the city, which then had a total
population of 40,226.(See census table in Demographics section.)
Historic aerial view of Memphis, 1870
Historian Barrington Walker suggests that the Irish rioted against
blacks because of their relatively recent arrival as immigrants and
the uncertain nature of their own claim to "whiteness"; they were
trying to separate themselves from blacks in the underclass. The main
fighting participants were ethnic Irish, decommissioned black Union
soldiers, and newly emancipated freedmen from the African-American
community. Walker suggests that most of the mob were not in direct
economic conflict with the blacks, as by then the Irish had attained
better jobs, but the Irish were establishing dominance over the
In Memphis, unlike disturbances in some other cities, ex-Confederate
veterans were generally not part of the attacks against blacks. The
outrages of the riot in Memphis and a similar one in
New Orleans in
September (the latter did include Confederate veterans) resulted in
support in the North for Congress to pass the
Reconstruction Act and
Fourteenth Amendment to the US Constitution.
In the 1870s, a series of yellow fever epidemics devastated Memphis,
with the disease being carried by river passengers along the
waterways. During the Yellow Fever
Epidemic of 1878, more than 5000
people were listed in the official register of deaths between July 26
and November 27. The vast majority died of yellow fever, making the
epidemic in the city of 40,000 people one of the most traumatic and
severe in urban United States' history. Within four days of the
Memphis Board of Health's declaration of a yellow fever outbreak,
20,000 residents had fled the city. The panic ensuing left the
poverty-stricken, the working classes, and the African-American
community at most risk from the epidemic. Those who remained in
Memphis relied on volunteers from religious and physician
organizations to tend to the sick. By the end of the year, more than
5,000 were confirmed dead in Memphis. The
New Orleans health board
listed "not less than 4,600" dead. The
Mississippi Valley recorded
120,000 cases of yellow fever, with 20,000 deaths. The $15 million in
losses caused by the epidemic bankrupted the city of Memphis, and as a
result its charter was revoked by the state legislature. Woodcut
representing the waterfront of Memphis, c. 1879
By 1870, Memphis's population of 40,000 was almost double that of
Nashville and Atlanta, ranking it second only to
New Orleans as the
largest city in the South. The population of Memphis continued to
grow after 1870, even when the panic of 1873 hit the US, particularly
the South, very hard. The panic of 1873 resulted in expanding
Memphis's underclasses amidst the poverty and hardship wrought by the
panic, giving further credence to Memphis as a rough, shiftless city.
Leading up to the outbreak in 1878, it had suffered two yellow fever
epidemics, cholera, and malaria, which gave Memphis a reputation as a
sickly city and a filthy one. It was unheard of for a city with a
population as large as that of Memphis not to have any waterworks; the
city still relied for supplies entirely on collecting water from the
river and rain cisterns, and it had no way to remove sewage. The
combination of a swelling population, especially of lower and working
classes, and the abysmal health and sanitary conditions of Memphis
made the city ripe for a serious epidemic.
The first case recorded for the public was when Mrs. Kate Bionda, an
owner of an Italian "snack house", died of the fever on August 13.
Hers was officially reported by the Board of Health, on August 14, as
the first case of yellow fever in the city. A massive panic ensued.
The same trains and steamboats that brought thousands into Memphis now
in five days carried away over 25,000 Memphians, more than half of the
population. On August 23, the Board of Health finally declared a
yellow fever epidemic in Memphis, and the city collapsed, hemorrhaging
its population. In July of that year, the city boasted a population of
47,000. By September, 19,000 remained and 17,000 of them had yellow
fever. The only people left in the city were the lower classes, such
as German and Irish immigrant workers, and African Americans. None had
the means to flee the city, as did the middle and upper class whites
of Memphis, and thus they were subjected to a city of death.
Immediately following the Board of Health's declaration, a Citizen's
Relief Committee was formed by Charles G. Fisher. It organized the
city into refugee camps. The committee's main priority was separating
the poor from the city and isolating them into refugee camps. Also,
the Howard Association, formed specifically for yellow fever epidemics
New Orleans and Memphis, organized nurses and doctors within
Memphis and throughout the country in response to the outbreak. They
stayed at the Peabody Hotel, the only hotel to keep its doors open
during the epidemic (Crosby 60). From there they were assigned to
their respective districts. Physicians of the epidemic reported seeing
as many as 100 to 150 patients daily.
The sisters of St. Mary's Hospital played an important role during
the epidemic in caring for the lower classes. Already supporting a
girls' school and church orphanage, the sisters of St. Mary's also
sought to provide care for the Canfield Asylum, a home for black
children. Each day, the sisters alternated caring for the orphans at
St. Mary's, delivering children to the Canfield Asylum, and taking
soup and medicine on house calls to patients. Between September 9 and
October 4, Sister Constance and three other Sisters fell victim
themselves to the epidemic and died. They later became known as "The
Martyrs of Memphis."
At long last, on October 28, a killing frost struck. The city sent
out word to Memphians scattered all over the country to come home.
Though yellow fever cases were recorded in the pages of Elmwood
Cemetery's burial record as late as February 29, the epidemic seemed
quieted. The Board of Health declared the epidemic, which caused over
20,000 deaths and financial losses of nearly $200 million, at an end.
On November 27, a general citizen's meeting was called at the Greenlaw
Opera House to offer thanks to those who had stayed behind to serve
and die. Over the next year property tax revenues collapsed, and the
city could not make payments on its municipal debts. As a result of
this crisis, Memphis temporarily lost its city charter and was
reclassified by the state legislature as a Taxing District from
1878–1893. Although Memphis lost its charter and 75% of its
population, a new era of sanitation was developed in Memphis. A new
municipal government in 1879 helped form the first regional health
organization and during the 1880s led the nation in sanitary reform
Perhaps the most significant effect of the yellow fever on Memphis
was in demographic changes. Nearly all of Memphis's upper and middle
classes vanished, depriving the city of its general leadership and
class structure that dictated everyday life similar to other large
Southern cities such as New Orleans, Charleston, and Atlanta. In
Memphis, the poorer whites and blacks fundamentally made up the city
and played the greatest role in reestablishing the city. The epidemic
had resulted in Memphis being a less cosmopolitan place, with an
economy that serviced the cotton trade and a population drawn
increasingly from poor white and black Southerners.
The 1890 election was strongly contested, resulting in opponents of
the D. P. Hadden faction working to deprive them of votes by
disenfranchising blacks. The state had enacted several laws, including
the requirement of poll taxes , that served to disenfranchise many
blacks. Although political party factions in the future sometimes paid
poll taxes to enable blacks to vote, African Americans lost their last
positions on the city council in this election and were forced out of
the police force. (They did not recover the ability to exercise the
franchise until after passage of civil rights legislation in the
mid-1960s.) Historian L. B. Wrenn suggests the heightened political
hostility of the Democratic contest and related social tensions
contributed to a white mob lynching three black grocers in Memphis in
1892 . :124,131
Ida B. Wells
Ida B. Wells of Memphis investigated the lynchings, as one
of the men killed was a friend of hers. She demonstrated that these
and other lynchings were more often due to economic and social
competition than any criminal offenses by black men. Her findings were
considered so controversial and aroused so much anger that she was
forced to move away from the city. But she continued to investigate
and publish the abuses of lynching . :131
Businessmen were eager to increase city population after the losses
of 1878–79, and supported annexation of new areas to the city; this
was passed in 1890 before the census. The annexation measure was
finally approved by the state legislature through a compromise
achieved with real estate magnates, and the area annexed was slightly
smaller than first proposed. :126
In 1893 the city was rechartered with home rule , which restored its
ability to enact taxes, although the state legislature established a
cap rate. Although commission government was retained and enlarged to
five commissioners, Democratic politicians regained control from the
business elite. The commission form of government was believed
effective in getting things done, but it reduced representation of the
city's full population. :126f
Cotton merchants on Union Avenue (1937)
In terms of its economy, Memphis developed as the world's largest
spot cotton market and the world's largest hardwood lumber market,
both commodity products of the
Mississippi Delta. Into the 1950s, it
was the world's largest mule market. Attracting workers from rural
areas as well as new immigrants, from 1900 to 1950 the city increased
nearly fourfold in population, from 102,350 to 396,000 residents.
From the 1910s to the 1950s, Memphis was a place of machine politics
under the direction of E. H. "Boss" Crump . He gained a state law in
1911 to establish a small commission to manage the city. The city
retained a form of commission government until 1967 and patronage
flourished under Crump. Per the publisher's summary of L.B. Wrenn's
study of the period, "This centralization of political power in a
small commission aided the efficient transaction of municipal
business, but the public policies that resulted from it tended to
benefit upper-class Memphians while neglecting the less affluent
residents and neighborhoods." The city installed a revolutionary
sewer system and upgraded sanitation and drainage to prevent another
epidemic. Pure water from an artesian well was discovered in the
1880s, securing the city's water supply. The commissioners developed
an extensive network of parks and public works as part of the national
City Beautiful movement , but did not encourage heavy industry, which
might have provided substantial employment for the working-class
population. The lack of representation in city government resulted in
the poor and minorities being underrepresented. The majority
controlled the election of all the at-large positions.
Memphis did not become a home rule city until 1963, although the
state legislature had amended the constitution in 1953 to provide home
rule for cities and counties. Before that, the city had to get state
bills approved in order to change its charter and for other policies
and programs. Since 1963, it can change the charter by popular
approval of the electorate. :194
During the 1960s, the city was at the center of the Civil Rights
Movement , as its large African-American population had been affected
by state segregation practices and disenfranchisement in the early
20th century. African-American residents drew from the civil rights
movement to improve their lives. In 1968, the Memphis sanitation
strike began for living wages and better working conditions; the
workers were overwhelmingly African American. They marched to gain
public awareness and support for their plight: the danger of their
work, and the struggles to support families with their low pay. Their
drive for better pay had been met with resistance by the city
Martin Luther King, Jr. of the Southern
Conference , known for his leadership in the non-violent movement,
came to lend his support to the workers' cause. He stayed at the
Lorraine Motel in the city, where he was assassinated by a sniper on
April 4, 1968, the day after giving his prophetic I\'ve Been to the
Mountaintop speech at the
Mason Temple .
Grief-stricken and enraged after learning of King's murder, many
African Americans in the city rioted, looting and destroying
businesses and other facilities, some by arson. The governor ordered
Tennessee National Guardsmen into the city within hours, where small,
roving bands of rioters continued to be active. Fearing the violence,
more of the middle-class began to leave the city for the suburbs.
In 1970, the Census Bureau reported Memphis' population as 60.8%
white and 38.9% black. Suburbanization was attracting wealthier
residents to newer housing outside the city. After the riots and
court-ordered busing in 1973 to achieve desegregation of public
schools, "about 40,000 of the system's 71,000 white students abandon
the system in four years." The city now has a majority-black
population; the larger metropolitan area is narrowly majority white.
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 to
Chicago and other areas from the Mississippi
Delta , carrying their music with them to influence other cities and
listeners over radio airwaves. These included such musical greats as
Elvis Presley ,
Jerry Lee Lewis
Jerry Lee Lewis ,
Muddy Waters ,
Carl Perkins , Johnny
Robert Johnson ,
W. C. Handy ,
B.B. King , Howlin\' Wolf ,
Isaac Hayes ,
Booker T. Jones
Booker T. Jones ,
Eric Gales ,
Al Green ,
Alex Chilton ,
Justin Timberlake ,
Three 6 Mafia
Three 6 Mafia , the Sylvers ,
Jay Reatard , Zach
Myers , and many others.
Aretha Franklin was born in Memphis.
Main article: Geography of Memphis,
Memphis is located in the southwest corner of
35°7′3″N 89°58′16″W / 35.11750°N 89.97111°W /
35.11750; -89.97111 . 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.
The Downtown skyline from the lookout at the
Downtown from the
Harahan Bridge Memphis skyline as seen from
Poplar Avenue (2010)
Downtown Memphis rises from a bluff along the
Mississippi River . The
city and metro area spread out through suburbanization, and encompass
southwest Tennessee, northern
Mississippi and eastern
Several large parks were founded in the city in the early 20th
Overton Park in Midtown and the 4,500-acre (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
Travel + Leisure ranked Memphis
among the top ten "America's Dirtiest City", for widespread visibly
littered public spaces, with unremoved trash, based on surveys by both
readership and local citizens.
On a more positive note, in 2013
Forbes magazine ranked Memphis as
one of the top 15 cities in the
United States with an "emerging
Also in 2013,
USA Today readers voted
Beale Street as America's Best
Iconic Street and
Graceland as the Best Iconic American Attraction.
National Civil Rights Museum
National Civil Rights Museum (at the Lorraine Motel, the site of
Martin Luther King
Martin Luther King 's assassination) ranked third in the poll of
American Queen docked at
Beale Street Landing along the
The Memphis Riverfront stretches along the
Mississippi River from the
Meeman-Shelby Forest State Park
Meeman-Shelby Forest State Park in the north, to the T. O. Fuller
State Park in the south. The River Walk is a park system that connects
downtown Memphis from
Mississippi River Greenbelt Park in the north,
Tom Lee Park
Tom Lee Park in the south.
Shelby County is located over four natural aquifers , one of which is
recognized as the "Memphis Sand Aquifer" or simply as the "Memphis
Aquifer". Located 350 to 1,100 feet (110 to 340 m) underground, this
artesian water source is considered soft and estimated by Memphis
Light, Gas and Water to contain more than 100 trillion US gallons (380
km3) of water.
Memphis has a humid subtropical climate (Köppen Cfa), with four
distinct seasons, and is located in USDA Plant Hardiness Zone 8.
Winter weather comes alternately from the upper
Great Plains and the
Gulf of Mexico , which can lead to drastic swings in temperature.
Summer weather may come from
Texas (very hot and humid) or the Gulf
(hot and very humid). July has a daily average temperature of 82.7 °F
(28.2 °C), with high levels of humidity due to moisture encroaching
from the Gulf of Mexico. Afternoon and evening thunderstorms are
frequent during summer, but usually brief, lasting no longer than an
hour. Early autumn is pleasantly drier and mild, but can be hot until
late October. Late autumn is rainy and cooler; precipitation peaks
again in November and December. Winters are mild to chilly, with a
January daily average temperature of 41.2 °F (5.1 °C). Snow occurs
sporadically in winter, with an average seasonal snowfall of 3.9
inches (9.9 cm). Ice storms and freezing rain pose greater danger, as
they can often pull tree limbs down on power lines and make driving
hazardous. Severe thunderstorms can occur at any time of the year
though mainly during the spring months. Large hail, strong winds,
flooding and frequent lightning can accompany these storms. Some
storms spawn tornadoes.
The lowest temperature ever recorded in Memphis was −13 °F (−25
°C) on December 24, 1963, and the highest temperature ever was 108
°F (42 °C) on July 13, 1980. Over the course of a year, there is an
average of 4.4 days of highs below freezing, 6.9 nights of lows below
20 °F (−7 °C), 43 nights of lows below freezing, 64 days of highs
above 90 °F (32 °C)+, and 2.1 days of highs above 100 °F (38 °C)+.
Annual precipitation is high (53.68 inches (1,360 mm)) and is
relatively evenly distributed throughout the year, though the period
August through October tends to be drier. Average monthly rainfall is
especially high in March through May, November and December.
CLIMATE DATA FOR MEMPHIS (MEMPHIS INT\\'L ), 1981−2010 NORMALS,
RECORD HIGH °F (°C)
AVERAGE HIGH °F (°C)
DAILY MEAN °F (°C)
AVERAGE LOW °F (°C)
RECORD LOW °F (°C)
AVERAGE PRECIPITATION INCHES (MM)
AVERAGE SNOWFALL INCHES (CM)
AVERAGE PRECIPITATION DAYS (≥ 0.01 IN)
AVERAGE SNOWY DAYS (≥ 0.1 IN)
AVERAGE RELATIVE HUMIDITY (%)
MEAN MONTHLY SUNSHINE HOURS
PERCENT POSSIBLE SUNSHINE
Source: NOAA (relative humidity 1961−1990, sun 1961−1987)
U.S. Decennial Census
Hispanic or Latino (of any race)
For historical population data, see: History of Memphis,
According to the 2006–2008
American Community Survey , the racial
composition of the city of Memphis was:
* Black or
African American : 62.6%
* White : 31.7% (
Non-Hispanic Whites : 29.5%)
* Hispanic or Latino (of any race): 5.0%
* Asian : 1.7%
* Native American: 0.2%
* Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander : 0.1%
* Some other race: 2.7%
* Two or more races : 1.2%
Map of racial distribution in Memphis, 2010 U.S. Census. Each
dot is 25 people: WHITE, BLACK, ASIAN HISPANIC, or OTHER (yellow)
as of the
2010 United States Census , there were 652,078 people and
245,836 households in the city. The population density was 2,327.4
people per sq mi (898.6/km2). There were 271,552 housing units at an
average density of 972.2 per sq mi (375.4/km2). The racial makeup of
the city was 63.33%
African American , 29.39% White , 1.46% Asian
American , 1.57% 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 6.49% of the population.
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. In 2011, the U.S. Census Bureau ranked
the Memphis area as the poorest large metro area in the country. Dr.
Jeff Wallace of the
University of Memphis noted that the problem was
related to decades of segregation in government and schools. He said
that it was a low-cost job market, but other places in the world could
offer cheaper labor, and the workforce was undereducated for today's
The Memphis Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA), the 42nd largest in
the United States, has a 2010 population of 1,316,100 and includes the
Tennessee counties of Shelby , Tipton and Fayette ; as well as the
Mississippi counties of DeSoto , Marshall , Tate , and Tunica
; and Crittenden County,
Arkansas , all part of the
The total metropolitan area has a higher proportion of whites and a
higher per capita income than the population in the city. The 2010
census shows that the Memphis metro area is close to a
the white population is 47.9 percent of the eight-county area's
1,316,100 residents. The non-Hispanic white population, a designation
frequently used in census reports, was 46.2 percent of the total. The
African American percentage was 45.7. For several decades, the Memphis
metro area has had the highest percentage of black population among
the nation's large metropolitan areas. The area has seemed on a path
to become the nation's first metro area of one million or more with a
majority black population.
In a reverse trend of the Great Migration, numerous African Americans
and other minorities have moved into DeSoto County, and blacks have
followed suburban trends, moving into the suburbs of Shelby County.
Asian-American tombstones in Elmwood Cemetery
An 1870 map of Memphis shows religious buildings of the Baptist ,
Catholic , Episcopal , Methodist ,
Presbyterian , Congregational , and
Christian denominations , and a Jewish congregation. In 2009,
places of worship exist for Christians , Jews , Hindus , Buddhists ,
and Muslims .
The international headquarters of the
Church of God in Christ , the
second-largest Pentecostal denomination in the United States, is
located in Memphis. Its
Mason Temple was named after the
Charles Harrison Mason . This church is where
Martin Luther King, Jr. gave his noted "I\'ve Been to the
Mountaintop " speech in April 1968, the night before he was
assassinated at his motel. The
National Civil Rights Museum
National Civil Rights Museum , located
in Memphis at the
Lorraine Motel and other buildings, has an annual
ceremony at Mason's Temple of Deliverance where it honors persons with
Bellevue Baptist Church
Bellevue Baptist Church is a
Southern Baptist megachurch in Memphis
that was founded in 1903. Its current membership is around 30,000.
For many years, it was led by the late
Adrian Rogers , a three-term
president of the
Southern Baptist Convention .
Other notable and/or large churches in Memphis include Second
Presbyterian Church (EPC ), Hope
Presbyterian Church (EPC ), Evergreen
Presbyterian Church (PCUSA ), Colonial Park United Methodist Church,
United Methodist Church
United Methodist Church , Idlewild
Presbyterian Church (PCUSA),
the Pentecostal Church (UPCI ), First Baptist Broad, Temple of
Deliverance, Calvary Episcopal Church , the Church of the River (First
Unitarian Church of Memphis) , and Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church.
Memphis is home to two cathedrals. The Cathedral of the Immaculate
Conception is the seat of the
Roman Catholic Diocese of Memphis , and
St. Mary\'s Episcopal Cathedral is the seat of the Episcopal Diocese
Memphis is home to Temple
Israel , a Reform synagogue that has
approximately 7,000 members, making it one of the largest Reform
synagogues in the country.
Baron Hirsch Synagogue
Baron Hirsch Synagogue is the largest
Orthodox shul in the United States. Jewish residents were part of the
city before the Civil War, but more Jewish immigrants came from
Eastern Europe in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
Memphis is home to an estimated 10,000 to 15,000 Muslims of various
cultures and ethnicities.
A number of seminaries are located in Memphis and the metropolitan
area. Memphis is home to
Memphis Theological Seminary
Memphis Theological Seminary and Harding
School of Theology . Suburban Cordova is home to Mid-America Baptist
Theological Seminary .
Main article: Economy of Memphis,
The city's central geographic location has been strategic to 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. Its access by water was key to its initial
development, with steamboats plying the
Mississippi river. Railroad
construction strengthened its connection to other markets to the east
Since the second half of the 20th century, highways and interstates
have played major roles as transportation corridors. 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). Memphis serves as a primary hub for
FedEx Express shipping.
As of 2014 , Memphis was the home of three Fortune 500 companies:
FedEx (no. 63),
International Paper (no. 107), and
AutoZone (no. 306).
Other major corporations based in Memphis include Allenberg
American Residential Services (also known as ARS/Rescue Rooter);
Baker, Donelson, Bearman, Caldwell Cargill
City Gear , First
Horizon National Corporation , Fred\'s , GTx , Lenny\'s Sub Shop ,
Mid-America Apartments ,
Perkins Restaurant and Bakery , ServiceMaster
True Temper Sports ,
Varsity Brands , and
Verso Paper . Corporations
with major operations based in Memphis include
Gibson guitars (based
in Nashville), and
Smith & Nephew .
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis also has a branch in Memphis .
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
Elvis and Me (1988), Great Balls of Fire! (1988),
Heart of Dixie (1989), Mystery Train (1989), The Silence of the Lambs
Trespass (1991), The Gun in Betty Lou\'s Handbag (1992), The
Firm (1993), The Delta (1996),
The People Vs. Larry Flynt (1996), The
Cast Away (2000),
21 Grams (2002), A Painted House
(2002), Hustle it has 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 sponsors several film festivals: the Indie Memphis Film
Festival , Outflix, and the Memphis International Film and Music
Indie Memphis Film Festival is in its 14th year and was
held April 27–28, 2013. 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, was held September 7–13, 2013. Outflix
features a full week of
LGBT cinema, including short films, features,
and documentaries. The Memphis International Film and Music Festival
is held in April; it is in its 11th year and takes place at Malco's
On the weekend before Thanksgiving, the Memphis International Jazz
Festival is held in the South Main Historic Arts District in Downtown
Memphis. This festival promotes the important role Memphis has played
in shaping Jazz nationally and internationally. Acts such as George
Coleman, Herman Green,
Kirk Whalum and Marvin Stamm all come out of
the rich musical heritage in Memphis.
Formerly titled the
W. C. Handy Awards, the International Blues
Awards are presented by the
Blues Foundation (headquartered in
Blues music achievement. Weeklong playing competitions
are held, as well as 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 ,
Memphis rap , Buck, crunk , and "sharecropper" country
music (in contrast to the "rhinestone " country sound of Nashville ).
Many musicians, including
Aretha Franklin ,
Jerry Lee Lewis
Jerry Lee Lewis , Johnny
Elvis Presley ,
Carl Perkins ,
Roy Orbison , Booker T. & the
Otis Redding ,
Isaac Hayes ,
Shawn Lane ,
Al Green , Rance
Percy Sledge ,
Solomon Burke , William Bell , Sam in the 1990s
it decided to tour only larger cities.
Metropolitan Opera performances
are now broadcast in HD at local movie theaters across the country.
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 joint neighborhood to a gentrified , well-lit area
sponsoring "Trolley Night", when arts patrons stroll down the street
to see fire spinners, DJs playing in front of clubs, specialty shops
Another developing arts district in Memphis is Broad Avenue. This
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 Avenue, hosts student art
shows and local electronic music. Other gallery spaces spring up for
Memphis also has non-commercial visual arts organizations and spaces,
including local painter Pinkney Herbert's Marshall Arts gallery, on
Marshall Avenue near
Sun Studios , another arts neighborhood
characterized by affordable rent. Exhibit of Guy Cobb's "Braille
paintings" for the blind at
Christian Brothers University in 2006
Well-known writers from Memphis include
Shelby Foote , the noted
Civil War historian. Novelist
John Grisham grew up in nearby DeSoto
Mississippi , and sets many of his books in Memphis.
Many works of fiction and literature are set in Memphis. These
The Reivers by
William Faulkner (1962), September, September
Shelby Foote (1977); Peter Taylor 's The Old Forest and Other
Stories (1985), and his the
Pulitzer Prize -winning A Summons to
Memphis (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
Thomas Harris , and The Architect by James Williamson (2007).
TOURISM AND RECREATION
Main article: Tourism in Memphis,
Museums And Art Collections
National Civil Rights Museum
National Civil Rights Museum at the
Lorraine Motel in Memphis
Memphis Brooks Museum of Art
Memphis Brooks Museum of Art in Memphis (2008)
Graceland Mud Island
Mississippi River Park (2006) Stax
Museum and Satellite Record Shop
Media related to Museums in Memphis,
Tennessee at Wikimedia Commons
Many museums of interest are located in Memphis.
* NATIONAL CIVIL RIGHTS MUSEUM
National Civil Rights Museum
National Civil Rights Museum is located in the former Lorraine
Motel and related buildings, where Rev.
Martin Luther King, Jr. was
assassinated in 1968. It includes a historical overview of the
American civil rights movement and interpretation of historic and
* BROOKS MUSEUM OF ART
Memphis Brooks Museum of Art
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
Baroque eras to British, French
Impressionists and 20th century
* BELZ MUSEUM OF ASIAN AND JUDAIC ART
Belz Museum of Asian and Judaic Art , founded in 1988, is located
in downtown Memphis near the historic
Peabody 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
Dixon Gallery and Gardens , founded in 1976, focuses on French
and American impressionism and features works by
Renoir , as well as pieces by
Pierre Bonnard ,
Mary Cassatt , Marc
Honoré Daumier ,
Henri Fantin-Latour ,
Paul Gauguin , Henri
Berthe Morisot ,
Edvard Munch ,
Auguste Rodin and Alfred
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 .
* PINK PALACE
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
IMAX theater. One exhibit features a replica of the
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,
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.
* VICTORIAN VILLAGE
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.
* COTTON MUSEUM
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 .
* STAX MUSEUM
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 ">
Memphis National Cemetery
Memphis National Cemetery (2006)
Media related to Cemeteries in Memphis,
Tennessee at Wikimedia
Memphis National Cemetery
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 . After an
attempted grave robbing, his body was moved and reinterred at the
grounds of Graceland.
Main article: Sports in Memphis,
FedExForum during a
Current professional and major college teams
Liberty Bowl Stadium (59,300)
AutoZone Park (10,000)
Landers Center (8,400)
NBA G League
Landers Center (8,400)
Nadicksbernd Field (800)
Mike Rose Complex (2,500)
Memphis Grizzlies of the
National Basketball Association is the
only team from one of the "big four " major sports leagues in Memphis.
The city has minor league teams, however. The
Memphis Redbirds of the
Pacific Coast League is a Triple-A baseball farm team for the St.
Louis Cardinals . The
Mississippi RiverKings is a professional hockey
team of the
Southern Professional Hockey League which plays its home
Landers Center in Southaven,
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 Tubby Smith. Memphis is home
Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium , the site of University of Memphis
Liberty Bowl and the
Southern Heritage Classic
Southern Heritage Classic .
St. Jude Classic
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
Ric Flair also noted Memphis as his birthplace.
In the 1970s and early 1980s, the former WFL franchise Memphis
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 . The
Liberty Bowl Memorial
Stadium also served as the temporary home of the former Tennessee
Oilers while the city of Nashville worked out stadium issues.
Media related to Parks in Memphis,
Tennessee at Wikimedia Commons
Major Memphis parks include W.C. Handy Park,
Tom Lee Park
Tom Lee Park , Audubon
Overton Park including the Old Forest Arboretum , the
Lichterman Nature Center
Lichterman Nature Center (a nature learning center), the Memphis
Botanic Garden , and
Jesse H Turner Park
Jesse 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.
OTHER POINTS OF INTEREST
Main article: Geography of Memphis,
Tennessee See also: List of
neighborhoods in Memphis,
Beale Street (2013)
Peabody Hotel (2012)
* BEALE STREET
Blues fans can visit
Beale Street , which used to be the center of
the Black community, where a young
B.B. King used to play his guitar.
He occasionally appeared there at the club bearing his name, which he
partially owned. Street performers play live music, and bars and clubs
feature live entertainment until dawn.
* Memphis Zoo
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. In 2014,
USA Today 's 10Best Contest voted the Memphis Zoo
the #4 zoo in the nation.
* PEABODY HOTEL
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
Sun Studio is a highly influential recording studio opened on January
3, 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
Charlie Rich , Howlin\' Wolf ,
Roy Orbison ,
Carl Perkins and
Jerry Lee Lewis
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
theatre chain in 1940 and presented first-run films 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
Opera Memphis .
* THE NEW DAISY THEATRE
The New Daisy Theatre 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
Insane Clown Posse
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
Mixed Martial Arts fights.
* MUD ISLAND AMPHITHEATRE
Located on Front Avenue, the Mud Island Amphitheatre 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
Phish , 311 , the Black Crowes ,
Fall Out Boy
Fall Out Boy , Journey ,
New Kids on the Block , O.A.R. ,
Pat Benatar ,
Smashing Pumpkins ,
Steely Dan , and
Willie Nelson .
* THE PYRAMID
Formerly a sports arena and concert venue, The
Memphis Pyramid is now
home to the largest
Bass Pro Shops in the world. In addition to the
retail store itself, the building contains an observation deck,
restaurants, bowling alley, aquarium, and hotel. It is one of the
first sights seen when entering the city from West Memphis via the
Hernando DeSoto Bridge . 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
Pyramid 331 ft (101 m).
Other Memphis attractions include the
Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium ,
FedExForum , and
Mississippi riverboat day cruises.
LAW AND GOVERNMENT
Main article: Government of Memphis,
Beginning in 1963, Memphis adopted a mayor-council form of
government, with 13
City Council members, six elected at-large from
throughout the city and seven elected from geographic districts.
Following passage of the
Voting Rights Act of 1965 , civil rights
activists challenged the at-large is electoral system in court because
it made it more difficult for the minority to elect candidates of
their choice; at-large voting favored candidates who could command a
majority across the city. In 1995, the city adopted a new plan. The 13
Council positions are elected from nine geographic districts: seven
are single-member districts and two elect three members each.
Jim Strickland is the city's current mayor, elected on October 8,
2015. He is a former Memphis city councilman. The previous mayor of
the city of Memphis was
A C Wharton .
Since the late 20th century, regional discussions have recurred on
the concept of consolidating unincorporated Shelby County and Memphis
into a metropolitan government , as Nashville-Davidson County did in
1963. Consolidation was a referendum item on the 2010 ballots in both
the city of Memphis and Shelby County, under the state law for
dual-voting on such measures. The referendum was controversial in both
jurisdictions. Black leaders, including then-Shelby County
Commissioner Joe Ford and national civil rights leader
Al Sharpton ,
opposed the consolidation. According to the plaintiffs' expert, Marcus
Pohlmann, these leaders "tried to turn that referendum into a civil
rights issue, suggesting that for blacks to vote for consolidation was
to give up hard-won civil rights victories of the past."
In October 2010 before the vote, eight Shelby County citizens had
filed a lawsuit in federal court against the state and the Shelby
County Elections Commission against the dual-voting requirement.
Plaintiffs argued that total votes for the referendum should have been
counted together, rather than as separate elections.
narrowly supported the measure for consolidation with 50.8% in favor;
county voters overwhelmingly voted against the measure with 85%
against. The state argued that with the election decided, the lawsuit
should be dismissed, but the federal court disagreed.
By late 2013, in pre-trial actions, both sides were trying to
disqualify the other's experts, in discussions of whether regional
voting revealed racial polarization, and whether voting on the
referendum demonstrated racial bloc voting. "The experts for both
sides have clashed on whether racial bloc voting is inevitable in
local elections and whether that would require some kind of court
The defendants' expert, Todd Donovan, did not think that polarized
voting as revealed for political candidates meant that
"African-American voters and white voters have polarized interests
when it comes to referendum choices on government administration,
taxation, service provision and other policy questions." He noted,
"In the absence of distinct political interests that create polarized
blocs of referendum voters defined by race, there is no cohesive
racial minority voting interest that can be diluted by a referendum."
In 2014, the federal district court dismissed the lawsuit, on the
grounds that the referendum would have failed when both jurisdictions'
votes were counted together. (In total voting, 64% of voters opposed
the consolidation.) In the last week of December 2014, the U.S. Sixth
District Court of Appeals upheld that decision, ruling that, ""In this
election, the referendum for consolidation did not pass and would not
have passed even if there had been no dual-majority vote requirement
(with the vote counts combined)."
Before the referendum, the decision was made by the city and county
to exclude public school management and operations from the proposed
consolidation. As noted below, in 2011 the Memphis city council voted
to dissolve its city school board and consolidate with the Shelby
County School System, without the collaboration or agreement of Shelby
County. The city had authority for this action under
laws that differentiate between city and county powers.
Main article: Crime in Memphis,
Tennessee A Memphis Police
Department police car in Memphis, 2014
In the 21st century, Memphis has struggled to reduce crime. In 2001,
it ranked as the second-most dangerous city, and in 2002 as most
dangerous by the Morgan Quitno rankings. In 2004, violent crime in
Memphis reached a decade record low. However, that trend changed and
in 2005, Memphis was ranked the fourth-most dangerous city with a
population of 500,000 or higher in the U.S. Crime increased again in
the first half of 2006. By 2014, Memphis crime had substantially
decreased, bringing the city's ranking up to eleventh in violent
crime. Nationally, cities follow similar trends, and crime numbers
tend to be cyclical. Nationally, other moderate-sized cities were also
suffering large rises in crime, although crime in the largest cities
continued to decrease or increased much less.
In the first half of 2006, robbery of businesses increased 52.5%,
robbery of individuals increased 28.5%, and homicides increased 18%
over the same period of 2005. The Memphis Police Department responded
with the initiation of Operation Blue C.R.U.S.H. (Crime Reduction
Using Statistical History), which targets crime hotspots and repeat
Memphis ended 2005 with 154 murders, and 2006 ended with 160; in 2007
there were 164 murders, 2008 had 138, and 2009 had 132. Violent crimes
dropped from 12,939 in 2008 to 12,047. Robbery dropped from 4,788 in
2008 to 4,137 in 2009.
Aggravated assault dropped 53,870 in 2008 to
47,158 in 2009 (
FBI 's UCR ). In 2006 and 2007, the Memphis
metropolitan area ranked second-most dangerous in the nation among
cities with a population over 500,000. In 2006, the Memphis
metropolitan area ranked number one in violent crimes for major cities
around the U.S., according to the FBI's annual crime rankings, whereas
it had ranked second in 2005.
Since 2006, serious crime has dropped in Memphis. Between 2006 and
2008, the crime rate fell by 16%, while the first half of 2009 saw a
reduction in serious crime of more than 10% from the previous year.
The Memphis Police Department's use of the
FBI National Incident Based
Reporting System , which is a more detailed method of reporting crimes
than what is used in many other major cities, has been cited as a
reason for Memphis' frequent appearance on lists of most dangerous
U.S. cities. With regard to homicide statistics released by the city
in more recent years, they show another dramatic rise in murders
committed in Memphis. There were 140 homicides in the city in 2014 and
161 the following year. Then, in 2016, police officials recorded 228
murders, a total that marked a 63% increase in homicides since 2014.
According to Michael Rallings, the director of the Memphis Police
Department, investigations determined that one third of the murder
victims in 2016 had been involved in gang activity.
Main article: Education in Memphis,
Tennessee Early nursing
class in Memphis
The city is served by Shelby County Schools . On March 8, 2011,
residents voted to dissolve the charter for Memphis
City Schools ,
effectively merging it with the Shelby County School District. After
issues with state law and court challenges, the merger took effect the
start of the 2013–14 school year. In Shelby County, six incorporated
cities voted to establish separate school systems in 2013.
The Shelby County School System operates more than 200 elementary,
middle, and high schools.
The Memphis area is also home to many private, college-prep schools:
Christian School (co-ed),
Christian Brothers High School
Christian School (co-ed), First Assembly Christian
Hutchison School (girls), Lausanne Collegiate School
Memphis University School (boys), Saint Benedict at
Auburndale (co-ed), St. George\'s Independent School (co-ed), St.
Agnes Academy (girls), 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 , including
University of Memphis Cecil C. Humphreys School
of Law ,
Rhodes College ,
Christian Brothers University , Memphis
College of Art ,
LeMoyne–Owen College , Baptist College of Health
Memphis Theological Seminary
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
Southern College of Optometry , Southwest
Tennessee Community College ,
Tennessee Technology Center at Memphis,
Visible Music College,
Mid-America Baptist Theological Seminary , and
the University of
Tennessee Health Science Center . Memphis also has
campuses of several for-profit post-secondary institutions, including
Concorde Career College,
ITT Technical Institute ,
Remington College ,
Vatterott 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 of dentistry in the United States.
Christian Brothers High School Band is the oldest high school
band in America, founded in 1872.
See also: List of newspapers in
Tennessee , List of radio stations in
Tennessee , and List of television stations in
Major broadcast television affiliate stations in the Memphis area
include, but are not limited to:
* WREG , channel 3,
* WMC , channel 5, NBC
* WKNO , channel 10,
* WHBQ , channel 13, Fox
* WATN , channel 24, ABC
* WLMT , channel 30, The CW
* WPXX , channel 50, Ion
Terrestrial broadcast radio stations in the Memphis area include, but
are not limited to:
* WQOX – 88.5 FM, Shelby County Schools (Grades K – 12)
* WYPL – 89.3 FM, Other
* WEVL – 89.9 FM, Variety
* WKNO – 91.1 FM, Public Radio
* WUMR – 91.7 FM,
University of Memphis (Jazz)
* WHRK – 97.1 FM, Hip Hop
* WXMX - 98.1 FM, Rock Radio
* WMC – 99.7 FM a.k.a. FM 100, Top 40, American Contemporary
* WHBQ – 560 AM, Sports
This article APPEARS TO CONTAIN TRIVIAL, MINOR, OR UNRELATED
REFERENCES TO POPULAR CULTURE . Please reorganize this content to
explain the subject's impact on popular culture rather than simply
listing appearances; add references to reliable sources if possible,
otherwise delete it. (May 2017)
Memphis is the subject of numerous pop and country songs, including
Blues " by
W. C. Handy , "Memphis,
Tennessee " by Chuck
Berry , "Night Train to Memphis" by
Roy Acuff , "Goin' to Memphis" by
Paul Revere and the Raiders , "
Queen of Memphis " by Confederate
Railroad , "Memphis Soul Stew" by
King Curtis , "Maybe It Was Memphis
Pam Tillis , "
Graceland " by
Paul Simon , "Memphis Train" by
Rufus Thomas , "
All the Way from Memphis
All the Way from Memphis " by
Mott the Hoople
Mott the Hoople , "Wrong
Side of Memphis " by
Trisha Yearwood , "Stuck Inside of Mobile with
Blues Again " by
Bob Dylan , "Memphis Skyline" by Rufus
Wainwright , "Sequestered in Memphis" by
The Hold Steady and "Walking
in Memphis " by
Marc Cohn .
In addition, Memphis is mentioned in scores of other songs, including
Proud Mary " by
Creedence Clearwater Revival , "
Honky Tonk Women " by
the Rolling Stones , "Dixie Chicken " by
Little Feat , "Who\'s Gonna
Fill Their Shoes " by
George Jones , "Daisy Jane" by America , "Life
Is a Highway " by
Tom Cochrane , "Black Velvet " by
Alannah Myles ,
"Cities " by
Talking Heads , "Crazed Country Rebel" by Hank Williams
III , "
Pride (In the Name of Love) " by U2 , "M.E.M.P.H.I.S." by the
Disco Biscuits , "New New Minglewood Blues" and "Candyman" by the
Grateful Dead , "You Should Be Glad" by
Widespread Panic , "Roll With
8Ball & MJG , "Someday" by
Steve Earle and popularly recorded
Shawn Colvin , and many others.
More than 1,000 commercial recordings of over 800 distinct songs
contain "Memphis" in them. The Memphis Rock N\' Soul Museum maintains
an ever updated list of these on their website.
Film And Television
Many films are set in the American city including, Black Snake Moan ,
The Blind Side ,
Cast Away , Choices: The Movie , The Client , The
Forty Shades of Blue , Great Balls of Fire! ,
Hustle & Flow ,
Kill Switch , Making the Grade , Memphis Belle ,
Mississippi Grind ,
Mystery Train ,
N-Secure , The Rainmaker , The Silence of the Lambs ,
Soul Men , and
Walk the Line .
Many of those and other films have also been filmed in Memphis
including, Black Snake Moan, Walk the Line, Hustle Peter Taylor 's The
Old Forest and Other Stories (1985), and his the Pulitzer Prize
A Summons to Memphis (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
Main article: Transportation in Memphis,
Hernando de Soto Bridge
Hernando de Soto Bridge
Interstate 40 ,
Interstate 55 ,
Interstate 22 , Interstate 240 ,
Interstate 269 , are the main expressways in the Memphis area.
Interstates 40 and 55 cross the
Mississippi River at Memphis from the
Arkansas . Interstate 69 is a future interstate that, upon
completion, will connect Memphis to Canada and Mexico.
Interstate 40 is a coast-to-coast freeway that connects Memphis to
Tennessee and on to
North Carolina to the east, and Little
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma , and the Greater Los Angeles
Area to the west.
Interstate 55 connects Memphis to
Saint Louis, Missouri
Saint Louis, Missouri and Chicago
to the north, and Jackson,
Mississippi and New Orleans,
Interstate 240 is the inner beltway which serves areas including
Downtown, Midtown, South Memphis,
Memphis International Airport , East
Memphis, and North Memphis.
Interstate 269 is the nearly completed, larger, outer interstate loop
immediately serving the suburbs of Millington , Eads, Arlington ,
Collierville , and Hernando,
Mississippi . It is expected to be
completed in 2018.
Interstate 22 connects Memphis with
Birmingham, Alabama , via
Mississippi (including Tupelo ) and northwestern Alabama.
While technically not entering the city of Memphis proper, I-22 ends
at I-269 in Byhalia,
Mississippi , connecting it to the rest of the
Memphis interstate system.
Interstate 69 will follow
Interstate 55 and Interstate 240 through
the city of Memphis. Once completed, I-69 will link Memphis with Port
Huron, Michigan via
Indianapolis, Indiana , and Brownsville,
Louisiana and Houston,
A new spur,
Interstate 555 , also serves the Memphis metro area
connecting it to Jonesboro,
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
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
Three bridges over the
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 ,
New Orleans ,
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
Memphis Union Station was
demolished in 1969. The
Memphis Central Station
Memphis Central Station was eventually
renovated, and it still serves the city.
The only inter-city passenger railroad service to Memphis is the
New Orleans train, operated by
Amtrak , which has one
train northbound and one train southbound each day between
FedEx aircraft at
Memphis International Airport
Memphis International Airport is the global "SuperHub" of FedEx
Express , and has the second largest cargo operations by volume of any
airport worldwide, surpassed only by
Hong Kong International Airport
Hong Kong International Airport .
Memphis International ranks as the 41st busiest passenger airport in
the US and served as a hub for
Northwest Airlines (later Delta Air
Lines ) until 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 operates an average
of 30 daily flights as of December 2013, with only one seasonal
international destination (Cancún).
Delta Air Lines announced the
closing of its Memphis pilot and crew base in 2012. Other airlines
providing passenger service are:
Southwest Airlines ; American
SeaPort Airlines and
United Airlines .
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,
Port of Memphis
Memphis has the second-busiest cargo port on the
which is also the fourth-busiest inland port in the United States.
Port of Memphis covers both the
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 the
industrial park on President\'s Island , just south of Downtown
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
Arkansas Memorial Bridge (Highway, 1949; later incorporated
Interstate 55 ), and the
Hernando de Soto Bridge
Hernando de Soto Bridge (
Interstate 40 ,
1973). A bicycle/pedestrian walkway opened along the
Harahan Bridge in
late 2016, utilizing the former westbound roadway.
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
St. Jude Children\'s Research Hospital
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 Regional One Healthcare, 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
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.
Main article: List of people from Memphis,
TWIN TOWNS – SISTER CITIES
Memphis has three sister cities , as per Sister Cities International:
* North America portal
United States portal
1865 Memphis earthquake
* List of mayors of Memphis,
* List of people from Memphis,
Memphis Summer Storm of 2003
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