Introduction to Memphis, Tennessee
Memphis, located on the Mississippi River in the southwest corner of Tennessee, is the largest city in the state. Settled by Native Americans and later the French, Memphis was founded in 1819 and incorporated in 1826. After falling to Union forces during the Civil War, then suffering yellow fever epidemics in the 1870s, the city declined and went bankrupt. With its prime location on the Mississippi, Memphis rebounded, becoming a natural distribution center for the South and Midwest.
Today, Memphis is a growing city with several major company headquarters, including FedEx, AutoZone and International Paper. The many FedEx packages passing through makes Memphis International Airport the world's busiest cargo airport. High-tech industries, health care and biomedical research are also important segments of the city's economy. Known as the birthplace of the Blues and home of Elvis Presley, Memphis is one of America's top cities for tourism.
Many of the city's cultural attractions revolve around music, including the Memphis Music Hall of Fame (blues), Sun Studio (rockabilly), the Rock 'n' Soul Museum in the Gibson Guitar Plant and Graceland, the residence of Elvis Presley. Memphis also has the National Civil Rights Museum, housed in the former motel where Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated in 1968. Popular events include the commemoration of Elvis Presley's death in August, the International Blues Talent Competition in October and WC Handy's birthday in November. And nothing tops Memphis in May, where one of the nation's top barbecue competitions coincides with the Beale Street Music Festival.
Memphis Sports and Leisure
The NBA's Memphis Grizzlies play at 19,000-seat FedEx Forum in the northern part of downtown. The city's minor league baseball team is the Memphis Redbirds, the triple-A affiliate of the St. Louis Cardinals. Redbirds home games are at AutoZone Park downtown.
For outdoor recreation, Overton Park has hiking and biking trails, tennis courts, a golf course and the Memphis Brooks Museum of Art. Beale Street and the Mid-America Ped Mall are prime locations for walking. Mud Island has beaches, a pool and great fishing. Martin Luther King Riverside Park, just southwest of downtown, is another good fishing spot.
Memphis at Night
Memphis nightlife also revolves around its downtown music scene. Its claim to fame-- besides great barbecue-- is its blues music, which can be heard nightly at establishments all over town. Beale Street is loaded with clubs and cafes. But the city's love of music isn't limited to just the blues; dozens of clubs featuring jazz, rock, country and rockabilly music are available. For a change of pace, there's always a getaway to Oxford, Mississippi, home of the University of Mississippi and, according to Lonely Planet, "one of the hippest towns in the South."