Memphis (Tennessee)

from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Nickname : The River City, The Bluff City, M-Town
Aerial view of Memphis with the Mississippi in the background
Aerial view of Memphis with the Mississippi in the background
Seal of Memphis
Flag of Memphis
Location in Tennessee
Memphis (Tennessee)
Basic data
Foundation : 1819
State : United States
State : Tennessee
County : Shelby County
Coordinates : 35 ° 9 ′  N , 90 ° 3 ′  W Coordinates: 35 ° 9 ′  N , 90 ° 3 ′  W
Time zone : Central ( UTC − 6 / −5 )
Inhabitants :
Metropolitan Area :
652,717 (as of 2016)
Population density : 902.3 inhabitants per km 2
Area : 763.4 km 2  (approx. 295 mi 2 ) of
which 723.4 km 2  (approx. 279 mi 2 ) are land
Height : 78 m
Postcodes : 37501, 37544, 38101–38120, 38122, 38124–38128, 38130–38139, 38141–38142, 38145, 38147–38148, 38150–38152, 38157, 38159, 38161, 38163, 38166–38168, 38173–38175, 38173–38175, 38181-38182, 38184, 38186-38188, 38190, 38193-38194, 38197
Area code : +1 901
FIPS : 47-48000
GNIS ID : 1326388
Website :
Mayor : Jim Strickland (D)
Memphis (USA)
Memphis on the map of the United States

Memphis is the second largest city in the US state of Tennessee and the county seat of Shelby County . The city is located in the extreme southwest of Tennessee on the east bank of the Mississippi River and has about 653,000 inhabitants (as of 2016).

The city is one of the metropolises of the classic southern states . After Memphis flourished well into the Civil War and the 1870s, several disasters struck the city. Most recently it owes its economic boom to the transport company FedEx , which is by far the largest employer in the city.

The city is an important place for the development of blues and soul as well as for rock 'n' roll . Elvis Presley lived in Memphis, and many greats in rock music began their careers there. The Beale Street is one of the centers of the blues.


Memphis is located in the US American southeast in the three-state corner between Tennessee , Mississippi (south of Memphis) and Arkansas at the confluence of the Wolf River in the Mississippi River . Both the geography and the historical development and culture are largely determined by the location on the Mississippi and the geographic proximity of the Lower Mississippi Delta region . The city was hit by severe flooding of the river in 1912 and 1937. Across the Mississippi, connected by three bridges, is the small town of West Memphis in Arkansas.

Memphis is located in the always humid subtropical climate zone . The average annual temperature is 18.5 degrees Celsius, the coldest month is January with a temperature of five degrees Celsius, and the warmest July with an average of 28 degrees, with often high humidity . This is between 80% (in the morning) and 50% (in the afternoon) all year round.

Memphis is in the tornado basin . Although there has not yet been a major earthquake in the city, Memphis is in the immediate vicinity of the New Madrid Fault and is therefore at risk of earthquakes.

Memphis, Tennessee
Climate diagram
J F. M. A. M. J J A. S. O N D.
Temperature in ° Cprecipitation in mm
Source: National Weather Service, US Dept of Commerce
Monthly average temperatures and rainfall for Memphis, Tennessee
Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Max. Temperature ( ° C ) 9.2 11.9 17.3 22.9 27.2 31.8 33.5 32.7 28.8 23.5 16.8 11.4 O 22.3
Min. Temperature (° C) −0.6 1.6 6.1 11.3 16.2 20.5 22.7 21.7 18.1 11.1 5.9 1.6 O 11.4
Precipitation ( mm ) 94.7 110.5 137.4 138.7 126.5 90.7 96.3 87.1 89.7 76.5 129.5 145.8 Σ 1,323.4
Rainy days ( d ) 7.9 8.2 9.3 8.5 8.1 7.2 6.8 6.1 6.4 5.5 7.8 7.9 Σ 89.7
Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
  Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec


Indian colonization and first Europeans

The area where Memphis is located was originally settled by the Chickasaw . The Spanish explorer Hernando de Soto probably toured the area around 1541. The first permanent European settlement attempts came from France . Fort Prudhomme was built in 1682, Fort Assumption in 1739. After the Anglo-French War, England took control of the territory, de jure at that time it was still owned by the Chickasaw. Chickasaw, French, English, and Spanish lived largely peacefully together until Tennessee became a US territory in 1790 and finally a US state in 1796 . Although officially still Indian land, white settlers moved to the area; the Chickasaw finally gave up their northern territory in 1818, which is now Memphis.

Early 19th century

The actual city was founded in 1819, the founding fathers are General and US President Andrew Jackson , General James Winchester and the judge John Overton. They built the city on 5,000 acres and wanted to develop it into a base on what was then the western border of the United States, from which they could control trade in the Mississippi Valley. At that time, Memphis had about 50 residents. The city was named after the capital of ancient Egypt, Memphis . Winchester's son became first mayor.

Afro-Americans , who would later shape the city's history, played only a minor role at that time. The African-American population itself was enslaved on the plantations of the Mississippi Delta , and the need for unskilled labor was mainly covered by the Irish . The Catholic St. Mary's Church with the oldest altar in the USA also dates from this period.

Memphis was the center of the burgeoning cotton industry . Conveniently located in terms of traffic and surrounded by fertile soil, a trading center developed here. Memphis was home to the world's largest cotton stores, the world's largest closed cotton market took place here, the world's largest producer of cotton seed products, the most important hardwood market in the USA, as well as the second largest market for medicines and the third largest for food. Many pioneers and traders who oriented themselves further to the American West used the city on the Mississippi as a base camp and place to stay. Simultaneously with the development of the cotton trade, Memphis also developed into a center of the American slave trade, which was sold here on the large plantations in the Mississippi Delta.

Memphis was finally connected to the US transport network in 1845, when a port of the US Navy opened in the city and the Memphis and Charleston Railroad , which connected the city to the Atlantic coast, opened at almost the same time . Memphis was the sixth largest city in the United States at the time.

Civil War and After: Prosperity and Emancipation

Memphis at the end of a prosperous period, 1870, just before the yellow fever epidemic

Unlike many other southern cities, the Civil War was a time of unbroken prosperity for Memphis. The direct fighting in the city was limited to a one-day battle on the Mississippi, otherwise the city benefited mainly from its convenient location. The economy flourished during this period with traders simultaneously selling cotton to the northern states and ammunition and steel products to the southern states .

During the war itself, Memphis became an important supply point due to its location, initially as a supply depot for the southern states. In the skirmish for Memphis , in which the Northern Navy defeated the Confederate Navy in 1862, the residents of the city sitting on the banks of the Mississippi had a good view without fear of serious danger. After the Northern States victory, the city served as the military headquarters of Northern General Ulysses S. Grant .

The early conquest by the northern states prevented further fighting and destruction during the war. Memphis was also not subject to any formal reconstruction . When there were many black soldiers from the northern states in the city in 1866 , riots only broke out on May 1st and severe persecutions in the following two days. As of May 3, 48 people, including 46 blacks and two white (accused of sympathy for blacks), had been murdered. Many of the city's black houses and churches were burned down.

After Tennessee recognized the 14th Amendment to the United States Constitution in July 1866 and Memphis became part of the Northern States for good, the city attracted many ex-slaves. The African American population quadrupled between 1860 and 1870 from 4,000 to just under 16,000, the total population rose from 22,000 to 40,000. The emancipation of blacks was largely implemented in the city within the framework of the law, the right to learn to read as well as freedom of religion . Black churches, in particular, became an important base for African American influence. The Beale Street Baptist Church of Preacher Morris Henderson was considered particularly influential. Ed Shaw, the chief political leader, was on the county commission's council and rose to harbor master's position .

Yellow fever

After the city had weathered the Civil War better than almost all other southern cities, several yellow fever epidemics in 1870, 1873 and especially 1878 caused devastating effects. 1878 saw El Niño on tropical climate in the southern states. The temperatures were significantly higher than usual, the summer season lasted longer and the rainfall during this time was more than twice as high as usual. Immediately after the war, the port cities of the south were overcrowded with rural refugees and immigrants from the northern states, and global shipping traffic regularly resumed brought pathogens and infected mosquitoes to the area. A yellow fever epidemic spread from New Orleans along the course of the Mississippi River and its tributaries.

However, due to its poor sewage system in particular, the yellow fever epidemic of the year hit Memphis harder than any other city in the United States: 25,000 residents left the city. Of the 19,000 residents who did not flee, 80% contracted yellow fever in the worst year and a quarter of the population died. In terms of population, it was the deadliest epidemic to hit a US city. At the same time, Memphis became impoverished, as wealthy residents in particular left the city and almost only Irish-American unskilled workers and recently released slaves remained in the city, who had to struggle with enormous problems.

In 1879 the city officially declared its bankruptcy and its city rights were revoked. Memphis officially ceased to exist and only lived on as the Shelby County tax district. The state of Tennessee dissolved the city government, which was partly headed by blacks and Irish, and replaced it with a body made up almost exclusively of whites from the prewar southern elites.

It was not until the 1880s that the epidemic could be stopped by a new sewage system (the first of its kind in the world) and the establishment of artesian wells . Memphis is still considered to be one of the cities with the cleanest drinking water in the USA. The settlement movements, however, had been permanently reversed. While Memphis had twice as many residents as Atlanta and almost twice as many as Nashville before the yellow fever epidemic broke out , it was lagging behind that the city never caught up. The urban population and the urban climate changed after the epidemic. While the whites who had fled from the merchant class and immigrants did not return, increasingly whites from the surrounding communities moved to the city. A cosmopolitan city with over 30 percent of its residents from abroad and a large portion from all of the rest of the United States had grown into a place of 80% of its residents in the rural areas of Memphis.

Turn of the century and the Crump era

Skyline around 1900
Riverboat in Memphis around 1900

Blacks continued to play an influential role. The high African American population supported a stable class of African American doctors, lawyers, bankers, and similar professions. The African American industrialist Robert R. Church was believed to be the first black millionaire in the United States and founded the first African American bank. He made major investments in rebuilding the city. The former slave and influential Republican politician also built up the civil rights organization NAACP and, with political segregation still in place, opened the Church Park, the first public park for African-Americans, and the Church Auditorium, an important cultural site for this part of the population.

At the turn of the century, Beale Street in particular was the main social and cultural center of the African American community in the central southern states. Notorious for alcohol consumption, illegal gambling, and other rather dubious pastimes, it was also packed with African American banks, department stores, and real estate agents. Memphis became the world's largest market for cotton again. Industrialists like Napoleon Hill , James Lee and Noland Fountaine made millions in the city, as did the mafia . During the "reign" of Edward Hull "Boss" Crump from 1909 to 1954, the latter could reliably promise to bring up to 60,000 voters to those who offered him the best consideration. Votes were counted twice, the votes of unregistered but Crump-loyal voters were also counted and voters from the neighboring states of Mississippi and Arkansas were briefly transported to the city.

Crump himself was first elected mayor of the city in 1909. Started with the promise to end corruption in the city, he carried out that promise by eliminating all of his competitors. At a time when the US was domestically preoccupied with prohibition , Crump took bribes from brothels , arcades, and illegal saloons . After he was forced to resign as mayor by the Tennessee government, he was elected to Congress .

Crump himself was an open racist and did not consider blacks to be capable of governing themselves. However, he needed the votes of black voters. He appointed some African-Americans to government posts and acted as well with black community leaders in exchange for votes. The aim of these negotiations between Crump and the Afro-American elite was the extensive lifting of numerous election restrictions that were to apply in the rest of the southern states into the civil rights era.

However, the first black police officers did not exist until after 1948 and they too did not have the right to arrest whites. After Crump had consolidated his power, he felt the need to make fewer concessions. Strict racial laws kept most African Americans trapped in low-paying unskilled labor jobs. Wages were so low that in 1917 the Tennessee General Assembly issued the Emigrant Agent Codes that forbade poaching African American workers from Tennessee.

Civil Rights Movement and after

Forms of resistance to the Jim Crow Laws have existed since the late 19th century. Musician Julia Hooks was jailed for protesting loudly in 1881 against not sitting in the white section of the theater. In 1905 a large demonstration led through Church Park in favor of Mary Robinson, who had sat in the tram in the white section and who was about to face a lawsuit. Again and again there were violent clashes.

In the late 1940s, African Americans first attempted to influence the city's government. The NAACP put up its own candidates who, however, had no chance against "Boss" Crump. With the surprising death of Crump in 1954, black politics was also in a vacuum. So far, she had only achieved goals through cooperation with him, his death disintegrated his political system and initially the only important white contact person for the movement was lost. Since 1960, with the rise of the civil rights movement , there have been numerous sit-ins and boycotts by blacks and students. At the same time, a notable Afro-American trade union movement formed in the city .

The political climate in the city at that time was extremely conservative and characterized by racism. In the 1968 presidential election , for example, the racist and “southern candidateGeorge Wallace won 42% of the votes in the city, and the Democrat Hubert H. Humphrey 12%. At the same time, the African American population became impoverished over the decades. The percentage of African Americans to the families with the lowest incomes of the city rose from 59% in 1949 to 71% in 1969. A quarter of the city residents earning less than two dollars per hour, while the proportion in comparable cities such as Newark at was less than 10 percent.

The assassination of Martin Luther King

Lorraine Motel (now the National Civil Rights Museum )

In 1968, at the zenith of the struggle for the civil rights movement, the Baptist pastor Martin Luther King came to the city. During this time, King had already turned away from the legal questions of discrimination and took on more social problems and widespread black poverty. On February 1, 1968, two black garbage disposal employees died during a severe storm when the pressing mechanism of a garbage truck started moving on its own. On the same day, because of the storm, 22 black workers were sent home without pay, while their white superiors were also given work-free, but with wages. Two weeks later, 1,100 of 1,300 black public cleaning workers went on strike for better working conditions. On March 18, while the strike was still ongoing, King came to town and spoke at several events. A large demonstration took place on March 28th. This ended in violence, however, when college students, in particular, used the signs they had brought with them to smash the shop windows.

The city obtained a judicial ban on King from entering Memphis. The Southern Christian Leadership Conference negotiated with those responsible to enable a demonstration on April 5th. King returned to the city. On April 4, the participants agreed on a protest march on April 8. On the evening of April 4, 1968, Martin Luther King was shot dead on the balcony of the Lorraine Motel . The exact circumstances of the crime are still unclear. The building now houses a civil rights museum. A cinematic description of the assassination took place in the 1993 documentary At The River I Stand .

The consequences and the slow recovery of the city

Following the murder of King, riots and street fights took place over the next few years. Most of the city center burned down during this time. More and more residents left the actual city area to settle in the surrounding area. By the 1970s, like many in the United States, downtown was in a state of disrepair. Even plans to demolish Beale Street were well advanced. It was not until the public outcry from monument conservationists that the city made available $ 500 million to renovate this district. In 1974 Harold Ford Sr. was elected to the US Congress as the first directly elected black from the southern states. Only after the election seemed almost lost did his supporters find eight unopened voting boxes that had been "overlooked" by the all-white election committee and secured Ford victory.

The city is now ruled by an Afro-American mayor, Willie W. Herenton. Since the 1990s, numerous efforts have been made to make the city more attractive. Recreational facilities such as the Mud Island Amusement Park, the Memphis Pyramid , the FedEx Forum and a new ballpark (AutoZone Park) have been built. The city center got a historic-looking tram that runs at normal intervals . At the end of the 1990s, long-lasting attempts to establish a permanent sports team from the major American professional leagues were also successful. In 2009, Memphis was once again number two on Forbes' list of the most dangerous cities in the United States.


Although segregation was officially abolished in the US for several decades, the race category still plays an important role in local politics. Ever since Afro-Americans started running again, up to the 1990s, over 90% of both African-Americans and whites voted for a candidate of their own skin color; in most elections, the odds were 97 percent or higher. Memphis has had a slight majority of black residents and black voters since 1991. After an African-American tried to win an electoral office in 1951, for the first time since their collective occupation in 1879, a broad white counterfront formed, which for many decades tried relatively successfully to nominate only one white candidate at a time in order not to have to split their votes .

Black politics is largely determined by the Ford family, who have served as members of the local constituency of Congress (larger than Memphis City but smaller than Memphis plus Shelby County) since 1974. In the aftermath of the King's assassination, Harold and his brother John emerged as staunch advocates of African American rights and did not shy away from extremely polemical arguments with the city's white establishment.

Accusations of clientelism, similar to those in Crump's time, are repeatedly voiced, but can only be confirmed to a limited extent. Since 1974, Emmitt Ford, Harold Ford Sr., Harold Ford Jr., John Ford and Joe Ford have held mandates and offices at the national, state and regional levels. One day in 1974, Harold Ford Sr. was elected to the US House of Representatives, his brother John to the Tennessee State Senate, and his other brother Emmitt to the House of Representatives of that state. When Harold Ford Sr. finally retired from the US Congress in 1996, his son Harold Ford Jr. took office.

Unlike in Crumps times, however, the Fords have no firm control over the entire city. In contrast to Crumb, there are various elections in which Ford candidates have lost despite massive support. Black politicians in the city are either pro-Ford or anti-Ford. If they are anti-Ford, they usually need white support to win elections. The Fords have developed a system of the “Ford ballot paper”, which is regularly distributed in the black residential areas of the city on the evening before votes and elections - all markings are attached to a sample of the valid slip of paper as recommended by the family become. The exact details are only known at the last minute; although the Fords are nominally members of the Democratic Party, they are primarily family policy and may well endorse Republican candidates or proposals. The help of the Fords can be invaluable, especially for white politicians; they have the opportunity to make white politicians known to the Afro-American community and to introduce them to the equally influential black churches.

Memphis is ruled by a "weak mayor," which means that the council has both main legislative and executive powers. The municipal council consists of 13 representatives. Seven of them are elected in a city district with one representative each, six come from the two constituencies that each determine three representatives. In 2004, of the 13 members of the council, six were African American. Willie W. Herenton was Mayor of Memphis from 1992 to 2009. After he supported the Ford strategy of a single black candidate until the early 1990s so as not to split the African-American vote, he had since developed into a political opponent of the Fords. In 1991, he became the first African American to win a citywide election in the 20th century, benefiting from the fact that this was the first time more African Americans than whites were eligible to vote. At the same time, however, unusually he managed to win just over 10 percent of the white votes for himself. A rate that he was able to increase to 40% in 1995 - albeit with no serious opponents.

In 1999 he won one of his elections directly against former Senator Harold Ford Sr. Herenton benefits from the fact that, for the first time in the history of the city, the boundaries between the population groups have dissolved far enough for a black candidate to gain serious votes among whites. Among other things, he managed to hire 400 new police officers during his tenure and at the same time to increase the school budget by 100 million dollars. Memphis invested $ 1.3 billion in revitalizing downtown, creating thousands of new jobs; In particular, there was a business boom among ethnic minorities. Nevertheless, he managed to reorganize the city's financial budget during his tenure.


The night skyline

In 2016, Memphis had a population of around 650,000 and the metropolitan area of ​​Memphis around 1.3 million. Memphis ranks 25th in the list of the largest cities in the United States and 41st in the list of the largest metropolitan areas in the country. Of the city's residents, 61% described themselves as black and around 34% as white , while just under 5% classified themselves as belonging to other skin colors. The city thus had the eighth highest percentage of blacks among US cities. The proportion of whites fell sharply in the city proper (1980: 52%; 1990: 44%) while it increased in the surrounding districts.

The Memphis Metropolitan Statistical Area had 1.2 million residents, making it the second largest in Tennessee. If current demographic trends continue, it will be the first metropolitan area in which the majority of residents are black. Memphis has some of the lowest cost of living in any US city. In a representative survey in 1997, a third of the residents rated their residential area as perfect in terms of quality of life .

Population development

Population figures according to the respective area. The numbers are rounded from the ten annual American censuses.

year Population numbers
1820 390
1830 660
1840 1,800
1850 8 900
1860 23,000
1870 40 200
1880 33 600
1890 64 500
1900 102,000
1910 131,000
year Population numbers
1920 162,000
1930 253,000
1940 293,000
1950 396,000
1960 497,000
1970 623,000
1980 646,000
1990 610,000
2000 650,000
2010 646 900


Religion has always played a major role in the history of the city. It is home to various Protestant denominations , for example with the Bellevue Baptist Church it is a center for American Baptists and the starting point for various religious movements. In addition to a few other cities such as Nashville, Dallas or Atlanta, Memphis is also often referred to as the Buckle of the Bible Belt (belt buckle of the Bible belt).

Memphis is home to the headquarters and the publishing house of the Christian Methodist Episcopal Church . The Church of God in Christ originally came from Memphis in 1907 and holds a "holy meeting" there every spring. Younger is the Church Uniting in Christ , which was formed on January 20, 2002 in the city.

The Cumberland Presbyterian Church has had its headquarters in the city since 1978 and is home to one of its two training centers, the Memphis Theological Seminars of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church. Memphis is also the seat of the Diocese of Memphis .

In the 1830s, German immigrants founded the Jewish community and built the city's first Jewish temple in 1853. After 1905, immigrants from Eastern Europe founded an Orthodox Jewish community alongside the previously exclusively liberal ones . Although often starting out as small traders, the city's Jewish population is comparatively wealthy and well integrated. Today, around 8,500 Jews live in the Memphis metropolitan area, and the number is rising.

Economy and Transport

Memphis Central Station - two tracks, one platform
Two Airbus A300 by FedEx at the airport in Memphis
Tram car of the local
public transport company MATA

With the Frisco Bridge, built in 1892, Memphis received the first railroad bridge over the Mississippi south of St. Louis and from 1917 with the neighboring Harahan Bridge the first motor vehicle connection over the river, which has also been part of a 15-kilometer cycle path to West Memphis since 2016 .

Traditionally, Memphis was a cotton city . Hardly any other city was so dependent on the trade in “white gold”. Cotton traders determined the fate of the city. In 1950, around 40 percent of all US cotton transactions took place in the city. Undisputed commercial center in Memphis itself was the Front Street , the Cotton Exchange (Cotton Exchange) have been held since 1924 at the corner of Front Street / Union Street.

Even in the decades after 1945, when the importance of cotton declined in other cities, it continued to fuel economic development in Memphis. In 1959, the city traded around 4.5 million bales of cotton, three times as many as the second largest American trading post, Fresno , California. Other agricultural products also thrived in its shadow. Before World War II, Memphis was also the most important US donkey trading center . After the Second World War, large tractor and fertilizer dealers settled there.

Memphis has always been a city of commerce and services, where industry never dominated. Originally characterized primarily by its location on the lower Mississippi River and its proximity to the produce of the large plantations in the southern states, the cargo airport has now played an important role as an economic factor. The city is still the economic center of the agriculturally prosperous southern Mississippi region and an important trading center not only for cotton but also for soy .

The metropolitan area of ​​Memphis generated a gross domestic product of 71.5 billion US dollars in 2016, making it 48th among the metropolitan areas of the United States. The unemployment rate in the metropolitan region was 3.8 percent, which is identical to the national average. (As of March 2018). The personal per capita income in 2016 was 43,498 US dollars, which means that Memphis has a below-average income level.

The city itself is applying to be the distribution center of North America. There are 90,000 jobs in the city in the logistics industry alone. The most important employer in this segment and by far the largest employer in the city with 30,000 employees is FedEx , whose headquarters are in Memphis. It is also FedEx's aviation hub for the United States and the largest and most important hub the company operates. Numerous other logistics companies have settled in the neighborhood of FedEx. Mainly due to the presence of FedEx, Memphis International Airport , which was completed in 1975, is - in terms of cargo volume - the second largest cargo airport in the world with around 3.9 million tons of cargo in 2010 (by passenger volume, however, only 33rd in the USA). Memphis was in first place until 2009, but was ousted by Hong Kong (4.17 million tons of freight) in 2010.

The public service also always played an important role in the city. For example, in the late 1990s, ten of the city's top 15 employers were public institutions. The largest of these were the US government and the Memphis School Board, each with about 14,000 employees. 54% of the population are employed in trade and service, even 85% in the service sector as a whole compared to 16% in industry and construction. The 1998 unemployment rate was below the US average (3.7% versus 4.5%), as was the median income per inhabitant ($ 22,700 versus $ 24,400). The city is also the headquarters of International Paper and the US market leader in auto accessories, AutoZone .

The city is located on the two interstate highways I-40 ( Hernando de Soto Bridge ) and I-55 ( Memphis – Arkansas Bridge ). The main station was completed in 1914. It is only served by one daily pair of trains , the legendary City of New Orleans on the Chicago - New Orleans route. The public transport is in the hands of local Memphis Area Transit Authority (MATA) that a diesel bus and three tram lines operates.


The city is home to nine universities and colleges:

The St. Jude Children's Research Hospital , founded in 1962 with foundation funds, is considered one of the best research-oriented hospitals for childhood cancer worldwide.


The Memphis television market spans 31 counties in western Tennessee, northwest Mississippi, eastern Arkansas, and southeast Missouri , according to Arbitron .

  • The most important daily newspaper is the Commercial Appeal . His political direction is apparently changeable, but in the long term he is considered to be facing the liberal wing of the Democrats. Its distribution area covers the entire Mississippi Delta and includes a total of 49 counties.
  • The Memphis Flyer appears weekly and offers not only news from culture and music but also critical reporting on city politics.


Memphis made radio history with the station WDIA . WDIA was the first station whose program was planned and designed by African Americans. Here, for example, Rufus Thomas and BB King began their careers, Elvis Presley , who listened to the station as a teenager, said he was strongly influenced by him. While the varied radio scene played a key role in shaping the music city of Memphis, today almost all of the 30 remaining radio stations in the city are owned by national chains and operate format radio.

Exceptions are the affiliated stations of the National Public Radio (NPR Talk and NPR Classic) and WEVL , which plays a varied program of Cajun music , rockabilly , blues and others. WEVL is closely linked to the city's music scene and is described by individual authors as one of the best radio stations.

Culture and leisure

The city's culture is largely determined by its proximity to the Mississippi Delta, the center of cotton and plantation culture in the southern states. Cultural influences of both European-born planters and traders as well as those of Afro-American field workers met in the city. A direct rail link into the heart of the delta made Memphis the most important city for the delta as early as the 19th century and the first port of call for anyone wanting to leave the delta.


On busy Beale Street
Sun Studio (2002)

The city had a great attraction for country blues musicians, comparable to that of New Orleans. A club culture developed early on and continues to this day. In 1909 WC Handy wrote the Memphis Blues , which is considered one of the first notated blues pieces in the world. Blues was already so popular in the city at that time that Handy was hired by the mayoral candidate Crump as the band leader for his election campaign.

One of the icons of classic blues, BB King owned a club on Beale Street and performed regularly. In the Memphis Blues , the band split was played for the first time by two guitarists, a rhythm guitar and a lead guitar , which is still the most common in rock and guitar-heavy pop music today. The classic Memphis blues is based on the strong Christian traditions that prevailed among most of the former slaves. Rhetorically expressive, he expresses both the suffering of the blues and spiritual moments. The close connection between blues, gospel and Christian faith is also evident in Al Green's Full Gospel Tabernacle - a Sunday service in which Al Green sings and preaches and is accompanied by a gospel choir.

In addition to New Orleans and Louisville, Kentucky , Memphis was also one of the first cities in which the skiffle developed into an independent form of music. In addition, the city with the studio of Sun Records is considered to be the origin of rock 'n' roll . Elvis Presley, who was under contract to Sun alongside Johnny Cash or Jerry Lee Lewis , gave his first concert in town in 1954. In later years, Stax Music , a style-defining soul label , settled in Memphis , which, alongside Motown and Atlantic, dominated the soul scene of the sixties. The typical Memphis Soul was rougher and heavier than the more northern variant.

While in New York City to the hip-hop developed, were rapper from Memphis involved, Southern rap, so-called as a Dirty South was known. Three 6 Mafia brought the first crunk title to the charts with Tear Da Club Up '97 , and in 2006 they were the first African American rappers to win an Oscar for best song.

In Memphis lived and worked:

Two famous musicians named themselves after the city: Memphis Minnie and Memphis Slim . A multi-covered piece of music by Chuck Berry is called like the city of Memphis, Tennessee . Music is omnipresent in the city. In addition to numerous street musicians and references to Elvis Presley, there is also, for example, Ascent of the Blues , a 12-meter-high double spiral made of pianos, guitars and banjos by the French artist Arman . The city was sung about by Bob Dylan in his song Stuck Inside of Mobile with the Memphis Blues Again or by Marc Cohn in Walking in Memphis .


Memphis Brooks Museum of Art
Stax Museum in the old
Soulsville USA recording studios


The Delta Queen lies in front of Mud Island.
The Hernando de Soto Bridge over the Mississippi
  • The Mud Island amusement park in the Mississippi, which can be reached via a suspension railway . Among other things, it houses an exhibition on the Mississippi River, including a three-quarter-kilometer miniature model of the river from Cairo, Illinois to its mouth near New Orleans. He also has an open-air stage where concerts are held regularly.
  • The Memphis Pyramid, which can be seen from afar, was an event center that is supposed to remind of the name similar to the Egyptian city. On February 3, 2007, a concert by Bob Seger put an end to the pyramid's short career as a venue for large-scale events.
  • The FedEx Forum has been the location for major sporting and musical events in Memphis since September 2004. In his play Memphis Grizzlies and college basketball team of the University of Memphis , the Tigers. It holds 19,000 spectators and is located near Beale Street.
  • The Delta Queen is a classic paddle wheel steamer that still travels on the Mississippi River.
  • The style of the Peabody Hotel on Union Avenue in the city center still symbolizes the glamor of the "old southern states", although it was only built in 1925. It is famous for its "duck parade" that takes place twice a day.
  • Graceland , Elvis Presley's mansion, is also in Memphis and is a "place of pilgrimage" for fans of the musician. Most of his gold and platinum records are exhibited here.
  • The Sun Records studio , where artists like Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash and Jerry Lee Lewis were discovered.
  • The MATA Trolley tram is mainly operated with historic vehicles from Porto and Melbourne , although the first-mentioned type was also used in Memphis before 1947. The Riverfront Line, a tourist ring line, runs every 13 minutes through downtown and along the Mississippi.

Regular events

  • Memphis in May - A folk festival consisting of several music festivals, an international week and the largest championships in pork barbecue .

to eat and drink

Historian Marcie Cohen Ferris wrote: "Nobody in Memphis talks about food without thinking about barbecue ."


A team from the great American professional leagues, the Memphis Grizzlies, has played in the National Basketball Association in Memphis since 2001 . Attempts to locate a team from the National Football League in the city have already failed several times. Important minor league teams are the Memphis Redbirds in baseball and the Memphis RiverKings in ice hockey. In times of segregation in US sport, the Memphis Red Sox was one of two southern teams in the Negro Leagues and Martin Stadium was one of the few teams with its own stadium. Tigers are called the University of Memphis college teams.

Memphis is a traditional wrestling venue . The most famous wrestler from Memphis was Jerry "The King" Lawler , many other famous wrestlers began their careers in the city. These include Hulk Hogan , The Undertaker , Stone Cold Steve Austin , The Rock , Mick Foley , Big Daddy V , "Macho Man" Randy Savage and Ric Flair . The city is currently home to two professional promoters: Power-Pro Wrestling holds its events at the Cook Convention Center, and Memphis Wrestling hosts the Desoto Civic Center in the suburb of Southaven.

The ATP Memphis and WTA Memphis tennis tournaments also take place annually. In addition, the Memphis Blues, one of the most successful American rugby teams, plays in the city .


sons and daughters of the town

Personalities who have worked on site

Music bands


  1. Havid́án Rodríguez et al .: Handbook of Disaster Research Springer, 2007, ISBN 978-0-387-73952-6 .
  2. a b c d e f g h Wanda Rushing: Memphis and the Paradox of Place: Globalization in the American South UNC Press, 2009, ISBN 978-0-8078-5952-0 , pp. 12-15.
  3. a b c d e f g h i j k l m n Marcus D. Pohlmann: African Americans in Tennessee: The Case of Memphis. In: John R. Vile, Mark E. Byrnes (Eds.): Tennessee government and politics: democracy in the volunteer state Vanderbilt University Press, 1998, ISBN 0-8265-1318-2 , pp. 115-118.
  4. ^ Howard Zinn: A People's History of the United States . Harper Perennial, New York 2005, ISBN 0-06-083865-5 , p. 203.
  5. a b c d e f Marcus D. Pohlmann: African Americans in Tennessee: The Case of Memphis. In: John R. Vile, Mark E. Byrnes (Eds.): Tennessee government and politics: democracy in the volunteer state. Vanderbilt University Press, 1998, ISBN 0-8265-1318-2 , pp. 120-124.
  6. ^ A b Marcie Cohen Ferris, Mark I. Greenberg: Jewish roots in southern soil: a new history UPNE, 2006, ISBN 1-58465-589-5 , p. 17.
  7. Forbes List: Most Dangerous Cities in the United States
  8. ^ A b c d Sharon Wright: Race, power, and political emergence in Memphis. Taylor & Francis, 2000, ISBN 0-8153-3083-9 .
  9. Sarah McCally Morehouse: The governor as party leader: campaigning and governing. University of Michigan Press, 1998, ISBN 0-472-10848-4 , p. 10.
  11. a b c d Wanda Rushing: Memphis and the Paradox of Place: Globalization in the American South UNC Press, 2009, ISBN 978-0-8078-5952-0 , pp. 5-8.
  12. Miranda Joseph: Against the romance of community. University of Minnesota Press, 2002, ISBN 0-8166-3796-2 , p. 138.
  13. ^ William B. Gravely: Christian Methodist Episcopal Church. In: Samuel S. Hill et al. (Ed.): Encyclopedia of religion in the South. Mercer University Press, 2005, ISBN 0-86554-758-0 , p. 189.
  14. Douglas J. Nelson: Church of God in Christ, Inc. In: Samuel S. Hill et al. (Ed.): Encyclopedia of religion in the South Mercer University Press, 2005, ISBN 0-86554-758-0 , p. 204 .
  15. Peggy L. Shriver: Ecumenism. In: Samuel S. Hill et al. (Ed.): Encyclopedia of religion in the South Mercer University Press, 2005, ISBN 0-86554-758-0 , p. 274.
  16. Joe Ben Irby: Cumberland Presbyterian Church. In: Samuel S. Hill et al. (Ed.): Encyclopedia of religion in the South. Mercer University Press, 2005, ISBN 0-86554-758-0 , p. 215.
  17. ^ Marcie Cohen Ferris, Mark I. Greenberg: Jewish roots in southern soil: a new history. UPNE, 2006, ISBN 1-58465-589-5 , pp. 7-12.
  18. ^ A b D. Clayton Brown: King Cotton in Modern America: A Cultural, Political, and Economic History Since 1945. Univ. Press of Mississippi, 2010, ISBN 978-1-60473-798-1 , p. 190.
  19. ^ D. Clayton Brown: King Cotton in Modern America: A Cultural, Political, and Economic History Since 1945. Univ. Press of Mississippi, 2010, ISBN 978-1-60473-798-1 , p. 196.
  20. ^ US Department of Commerce, BEA, Bureau of Economic Analysis: Bureau of Economic Analysis. Retrieved July 4, 2018 (American English).
  21. ^ Memphis, TN-MS-AR Economy at a Glance. Retrieved July 5, 2018 .
  22. ^ US Department of Commerce, BEA, Bureau of Economic Analysis: Bureau of Economic Analysis. Retrieved July 5, 2018 (American English).
  23. James L. Peacock et al: The American South in a global world. UNC Press, 2005, ISBN 0-8078-5589-8 , pp. 24-28.
  24. There is no evidence here
  25. ^ John Vorwald et al .: MTV Road Trips USA Frommer's, 2007, ISBN 978-0-7645-8776-4 , p. 350.
  26. ^ Richie Unterberger and others: Music USA: the rough guide. Rough Guides, 1999, ISBN 1-85828-421-X , p. 238.
  27. ^ Marcie Cohen Ferris, Mark I. Greenberg: Jewish roots in southern soil: a new history. UPNE, 2006, ISBN 1-58465-589-5 , p. 246.
  28. ^ Neil Lanctot: Negro league baseball: the rise and ruin of a Black institution. University of Pennsylvania Press, 2004, ISBN 0-8122-3807-9 , p. 150.


  • Otis L. Sanford: From Boss Crump to King Willie: How Race Changed Memphis Politics. University of Tennessee Press, Knoxville 2017, ISBN 978-1-62190-417-5 .
  • G. Wayne Dowdy: A Brief History of Memphis . The History Press, Charleston 2011, ISBN 978-1-60949-440-7 .
  • Ernest C. Withers, Dabiel Wolff: The Memphis Blues again. Six Decades of Memphis Music Photographs . Viking Press, New York 2001, ISBN 0-670-03031-7 .
  • James L. Dickerson: Goin 'Back to Memphis . Cooper Square Press, New York 2000, ISBN 0-8154-1049-2 .
  • Robert Gordon: It came from Memphis . Back Bay Books, Boston Mass. 1999, ISBN 0-316-33273-9 (first edition: 1986). (Mainly focuses on the unknown, eccentric sides of the city and its music scene)
  • Peter Guralnick : Sweet Soul Music. Rhythm and Blues and the Southern Dream of Freedom . Back Bay Books, Boston Mass. 1999, ISBN 0-316-33273-9 . (A classic that deals primarily with the rise of STAX records and their subsequent decline, mainly due to racial tensions)
  • William S. Worley: Beale Street - Crossroads of American Music . Addax Publishing Group, Lenexa Kan 1998, ISBN 1-886110-18-2 .
  • Michael K. Honey: Southern Labor and Black Civil Rights. Organizing Memphis Workers . University of Illinois Press, Urbana, Chicago 1993, ISBN 0-252-02000-6 .
  • Peter Hillsman Taylor: A Summon to Memphis . Ballantine Books, New York 1987, ISBN 0-345-34660-2 . ( Pulitzer- awarded novel that tells the story of a family who moved to Memphis).

Web links

Commons : Memphis (Tennessee)  - Collection of pictures, videos, and audio files