Memphis, Tennessee

Memphis, Tennessee
Image:memphisflag.jpg Missing image

City flag City seal
City nickname: "The River City" or "The Bluff City"

Location in the state of Tennessee
CountyShelby County, Tennessee
 - Total
 - Water

763.4 km² (294.8 mi²)
40.0 km² (15.4 mi²) 5.24%

 - Total (2000)

 - Density


Time zoneCentral: UTC-6


35°7'3" N
89°58'16" W
(35.117365, -89.971068)Template:GR.

External link: City of Memphis Online (
Missing image
Memphis's skyline from the air

Memphis is a city in Shelby County, Tennessee, of which it is the county seat. As of the 2000 census, the city had a population of 650,100 within the city limits, making it the largest city in the state of Tennessee, United States. The greater Memphis metropolitan area had a population of 1,195,977. (This makes Memphis the largest city but second largest metropolitan area in Tennessee, surpassed by Metropolitan Nashville)

The city is particularly known for blues music and barbecue. Memphis was home to Elvis Presley and is home to B. B. King.

Memphis is on the Lower Chickasaw Bluff above the Mississippi River, at the mouth of the Wolf River.



Memphis was settled by the Chickasaw tribe. The Spanish explorer, Hernando de Soto, is believed to have visited what is now the Memphis area. The French built Fort Prudhomme in the vicinity. The city was founded in 1819 and incorporated as a city in 1826. At the conclusion of the Battle of Memphis on June 6, 1862 during the American Civil War, Union forces captured Memphis from Confederate control. A yellow fever epidemic in 1870 greatly reduced the population for many years thereafter. In 1897, Memphis' pyramid-shaped pavilion was a conspicuous part of the Tennessee Centennial exposition. From the 1910s to the 1950s, Memphis was a hotbed of machine politics under the direction of E. H. "Boss" Crump.

Law and government

Since 1966, Memphis has been governed by the "weak mayor" form of mayor-council government. The new city charter provided for the election of a mayor and thirteen council members, six elected at large from throughout the city and seven elected from geographic districts. In 1995, the council adopted a new district plan which changed council positions to all districts. This plan provides for nine districts, seven with one representative each and two districts with three representatives each.

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

There has been in recent years the idea thrown around of the potential of the merger of county government of Shelby County and City of Memphis into a metropolitan government similar to that in Nashville.

See also: List of mayors of Memphis


Memphis is located at 35°7'3" North, 89°58'16" West (35.117365, -89.971068)Template:GR. According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 763.4 km² (294.8 mi²). 723.4 km² (279.3 mi²) of it is land and 40.0 km² (15.4 mi²) of it is water. The total area is 5.24% water.

Major Memphis parks include Tom Lee Park, Audubon Park, Overton Park and the Memphis Botanic Garden.

Metropolitan Area

Memphis is the primary city of a metropolitan region including parts of Tennessee, Mississippi, and Arkansas. The Memphis metropolitan area has a populuation of 1,195,977, according to the 2000 U.S. Census. The Memphis metopolitan area encompasses the counties of Fayette, Tipton, and Shelby in Tennessee, DeSoto, Marshall, Tate, Tunica in Mississippi, and Crittenden in Arkansas.


Tallest Buildings

Name Stories Height (in feet)
100 North Main37430
Commerce Square31396
Sterick Building31365
Clark Tower32365
Morgan Keegan Tower23341


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

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


Name Nickname Length (in feet) Date Opened
Frisco12 May, 1892
Harahan14 July, 1916
Memphis & Arkansas"Old Bridge"17 December, 1949
Hernando De Soto"New Bridge"2 August, 1973


Memphis is a center of manufacture of textiles, heating equipment, pianos, and automobile and truck parts. It is also the headquarters of FedEx shipping.

Because of its status as the primary hub for FedEx, Memphis International Airport is currently the world's busiest cargo airport in terms of tonnage.

Memphis' Division of Light, Gas and Water ("MLGW") is one of the largest municipal utitilites in the United States.

Memphis as a whole contains about twenty million square feet (2,000,000 m²) of office space, with the downtown area containing only around four million square feet (400,000 m²). Slightly over 80% of office space in the city is occupied.

Fortune 500 companies

Other important companies

Communications and media



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

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

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

The median income for a household in the city is $32,285, and the median income for a family is $37,767. Males have a median income of $31,236 versus $25,183 for females. The per capita income for the city is $17,838. 20.6% of the population and 17.2% of families are below the poverty line. Out of the total population, 30.1% of those under the age of 18 and 15.4% of those 65 and older are living below the poverty line.

Sites of interest

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St. Jude Children's Research Hospital is a world class medical research facility in Memphis. Here, Peter Doherty won the 1996 Nobel Prize in Medicine.

Tourists come from all over the world to see Graceland, the home of Elvis Presley. Sun studios was where Elvis first recorded "My Happiness" and "That's When Your Heartaches Begin". Rock and roll is located in the city also. Other famous musicians who got their start at Sun include Johnny Cash, Rufus Thomas, Charlie Rich, Howlin' Wolf, Roy Orbison, Carl Perkins, and Jerry Lee Lewis.

Blues fans can head down to Beale Street, where a young B.B. King used to play his guitar, and occasionally still appears at a club bearing his name and partly owned by him.

There is Libertyland Amusement Park and the adjacent Liberty Bowl and Memphis Children's Museum, Mud Island, Detour Memphis - an art and performing space, Lichterman Nature Center, the Pink Palace Museum, The Pyramid, The Memphis Zoo, the Memphis Queen riverboat.

The Mid-South Fair comes to the city every fall, and every May there is the Memphis in May. Each year, the city honors a foreign country, and each weekend hosts a special event, including the World Championship Barbeque Cooking Contest and the Beale Street Music Festival. Also part of Memphis in May is the FedEx St. Jude Classic, a PGA Tour golf tournament. Carnival Memphis (formerly known as the Memphis Cotton Carnival), is a series of parties and festivities staged every year by the Carnival Memphis Association and its member krewes (similar to that of Mardi Gras) during the early summer. Carnival salutes various aspects of Memphis and its industries, and is reigned over by the current year's secretly selected King & Queen of Carnival.

Colleges and universities

Sports teams

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The Memphis area is home to many of West Tennessee's larger arts and cultural organizations, such as the Memphis Symphony Orchestra, which performs at the Cannon Center for the Performing Arts in Downtown Memphis. Ballet Memphis, which is the region's only major ballet company, performs at The Orpheum Theatre. Opera Memphis, the region's opera company, performs at the Clark Opera Memphis Center in East Memphis. There are several art galleries in Memphis, including, most prominently, the Dixon Gallery.

A month long festival, Memphis in May, is held each year to host the city's largest events like the Beale Street Music Festival, the World Championship Barbecue Cooking Contest and the Sunset Symphony.


Memphis is home to the National Civil Rights Museum, located in the former Lorraine Motel, where Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated. The Brooks Museum of Art in Overton Park, founded in 1916, serves as the region's major art museum. A smaller art museum, the Dixion Gallery and Gardens focuses on impressionism and has several works by Monet, Degas and Renoir. The Children's Museum of Memphis features many interactive exhibits, including a simulated grocery store, a wood skyscraper maze, and full-scale models of a fire truck and an airplane fuselage.

Also, there is the Stax Museum of American Soul Music. The museum is home to a broad collection of artifacts, photographs, exhibits, commentary, and music. Along with the legendary Stax Sound, the museum also spotlights the music of Muscle Shoals, Motown, Hi and Atlantic.

Other museums in the area include:

  • Fire Museum
  • Memphis Museum Hall of Fame
  • Memphis Rock 'n' Soul Museum
  • Pink Palace Museum and Planetarium


Notable natives

Actors, Directors and Musicians


Jurists, Politicians and Activists

Sports Figures



Flag of Tennessee

State of Tennessee




East Tennessee | Middle Tennessee | West Tennessee | Blue Ridge Mountains | Ridge-and-valley Appalachians | Cumberland Plateau | Highland Rim | Nashville Basin

Major Metros:

Chattanooga | Clarksville | Johnson City | Knoxville | Memphis | Murfreesboro | Nashville

Smaller Cities:

Athens | Bristol | Brownsville | Cleveland | Columbia | Cookeville | Crossville | Dickson | Dyersburg | Greeneville | Harriman | Jackson | Kingsport | La Follette | Lawrenceburg | Lebanon | McMinnville | Morristown | Newport | Oak Ridge | Paris | Sevierville | Shelbyville | Tullahoma | Union City | Winchester


Anderson | Bedford | Benton | Bledsoe | Blount | Bradley | Campbell | Cannon | Carroll | Carter | Cheatham | Chester | Clairborne | Clay | Cocke | Coffee | Crockett | Cumberland | Davidson | Decatur | DeKalb | Dickson | Dyer | Fayette | Fentress | Franklin | Gibson | Giles | Grainger | Greene | Grundy | Hamblen | Hamilton | Hancock | Hardeman | Hardin | Hawkins | Haywood | Henderson | Henry | Hickman | Houston | Humphreys | Jackson | Jefferson | Johnson | Knox | Lake | Lauderdale | Lawrence | Lewis | Lincoln | Loudon | Macon | Madison | Marion | Marshall | Maury | McMinn | McNairy | Meigs | Monroe | Montgomery | Moore | Morgan | Obion | Overton | Perry | Pickett | Polk | Putnam | Rhea | Roane | Robertson | Rutherford | Scott | Sequatchie | Sevier | Shelby | Smith | Stewart | Sullivan | Sumner | Tipton | Trousdale | Unicoi | Union | Van Buren | Warren | Washington | Wayne | Weakley | White | Williamson | Wilson

See also Memphis Mafia

External links

Template:Commons Template:Mapit-US-cityscaleda:Memphis, Tennessee de:Memphis (Tennessee) es:Menfis (Estados Unidos) fr:Memphis (Tennessee) he:ממפיס nl:Memphis (Tennessee) ja:メンフィス (テネシー州) pt:Memphis (Tennessee) sv:Memphis, Tennessee


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