Sightseeing in Memphis encompasses historical and modern attractions. At Chucalissa Archaeological Museum and Village in south Shelby County it is easy to step back in time—via slide shows, case exhibits, and village reconstruction—and learn about the Indian farmers, craftsmen and artists who lived in the area from 1000 to 1500 A.D. Operated by the University of Memphis, the archaeological site features tours and craft demonstrations by members of the Choctaw tribe.
The city's oldest private museums are located in an area known as Victorian Village, just a few miles east of downtown Memphis. Where once horse-drawn carriages kicked up dust as settlers arrived for afternoons of "calling" on their friends, Victorian Village today is a busy hubbub of tourist buses, cars, and bicycles as thousands come to see what life was like before electricity—when tea was poured from silver pots and ladies wore long, billowing frocks. The two most notable museum houses are the Woodruff-Fontaine House and the Mallory-Neely House (which, in 2005 is temporarily closed and awaiting funding). Woodruff-Fontaine, built in 1870, is French Victorian in style; Mallory-Neely was built in 1852. Several blocks away is the Magevney House; also temporarily closed, it is the oldest and by far the quaintest of the homes-turned-museums. The small white-frame building was built circa 1836. The home is furnished as it would have been in the 1850s.
Memphis's cultural heritage is strongly rooted in the mystical, magical sounds of jazz, blues, and rock and roll. W. C. Handy, the father of the blues, lived in Memphis when he heard bluesy music on Beale Street and then wrote such memorable songs as "The Memphis Blues" and "The Beale Street Blues." Beale Street has been restored and redeveloped, serving as both a center for African American culture and entertainment and as a tourist attraction since 1983. A restaurant and nightclub district, historic Beale Street also contains the renovated Old Daisy Theatre; just across the street is the new Daisy Theater, a blues and jazz venue for all ages. The Center for Southern Folklore documents Southern traditions through live entertainment, folk art, and photography exhibits.
Sightseers in Memphis also visit the Peabody, the classic hotel in downtown that was originally built in the 1920s and renovated in 1981. Of interest are the hotel's Art Deco elevator doors, its stained glass work above the lobby bar, its reconstructed 1930s nightclub, and its resident ducks. By a tradition that started as a practical joke, a group of ducks occupies the hotel lobby's baroque fountain from eleven in the morning until five in the evening. During their arrival and departure, to the strains of John Phillip Sousa's "King Cotton March," they march over a red carpet unrolled between the fountain and the elevator that rises to the ducks' rooftop quarters. The Peabody's Plantation Roof attracts crowds of several hundred for Thursday evening Sunset Serenades. It is the very same spot where Paul Whiteman's and Tommy Dorsey's bands were once heard after their familiar radio introduction, "from high atop the Hotel Peabody, overlooking Ole Man River, in beautiful, downtown Memphis, Tennessee." In 2005, the Peabody will undergo a multimillion dollar renovation and refurbishment.
Fun can be found in many colors and hues at Libertyland, an educational and recreational theme park in Memphis. Built in 1976, the nonprofit park incorporates the themes of adventure, patriotism, and freedom under one giant, outdoor umbrella. The Memphis Zoo features 2,000 mammals, reptiles, birds, and fish in facilities that include an aquarium and a petting zoo. In March of 2005, a motion simulator ride opened at the zoo to take visitors on a thrilling trip to "Dino Island."
More than 700,000 people annually visit Memphis's Grace-land, home of the late world-famous musician Elvis Presley; the entertainer moved to Memphis at age twelve, attended school there, and recorded his first songs at a studio in the city. He made Graceland, built in 1939, his home in 1957. Set on nearly 14 acres of lush grounds, Graceland is open to the public for tours that include glimpses of Presley's exotic Jungle Room, his gold-leafed piano, numerous television sets, and mirrored walls. Graceland's Trophy Building contains the singer's gold and platinum records, his costumes, and other memorabilia; the carport houses Presley's vehicles, including his legendary pink Cadillac. Graceland's Meditation Garden, the Presley family burial site, is also on view, as is the singer's private jet.
Another prime Memphis attraction is the mid-river Mud Island. What began as a sandbar in the Mississippi River grew into what is now called Mud Island, which was officially declared to be above the flood stage in 1965. Development of the island eventually resulted in the entertainment complex opened in 1982. It features a monorail, marina, amphitheater, playgrounds, River Museum, and a spectacular four-block-long River Walk that is an exact working replica of the Mississippi River; office workers and children alike are encouraged to wade in the River Walk's flowing waters. Mud Island affords visitors a magnificent view of the Memphis skyline. Another Memphis-style experience is a sightseeing cruise along the Mississippi River aboard riverboat replicas.
Arts and Culture
Touring Broadway productions are presented at the Orpheum Theatre, a lavish turn-of-the-century theater in downtown Memphis. Memphians and mid-South residents enthusiastically support other area theaters, including Theatre Memphis, Germantown Community Theatre, Jewish Community Center, Old Daisy Theatre (located on renovated Beale Street), Playhouse on the Square, and Circuit Playhouse. In addition, the University of Memphis and Rhodes College theater groups mount stage productions. Dance companies performing in Memphis include Ballet Memphis and the Memphis Youth Concert Ballet. Opera Memphis also performs in the city.
Besides the Memphis Symphony Orchestra, musical groups performing in the Memphis area include Roscoe's Surprise Orchestra, devoted to presenting audiences with the top new compositions in modern serious music. The University of Memphis and Rhodes College also support musical performances in the city. Live popular music is plentiful in Memphis, where audiences can hear the unique blend of blues, soul, and rock and roll that has been identified as the "Memphis Sound." Jazz, bluegrass, and country music are also found at Memphis nightspots, which thrive on historic Beale Street and at Overton Square. Next door to Beale Street, the new Gibson Guitar Plant is an active manufacturing facility that offers tours plus the Smithsonian Institute's "Rock 'n Soul: Social Crossroads," a permanent exhibit of the social and cultural history of music in the Mississippi Delta and Memphis.
Memphis-area museums and galleries display a range of art and artifacts. The Memphis Brooks Museum of Art exhibits Renaissance pieces, English portraits and landscapes, regional works, and traveling shows. The Art Museum of the University of Memphis features Egyptian and African collections, as well as regional, faculty, and student work. Exhibits are also mounted at the Memphis College of Arts (formerly the Memphis Academy of Arts.) The Dixon Gallery and Gardens showcases French and American impressionist art and 17 acres of landscaped formal gardens. At the Memphis Botanic Garden, 96 acres form the setting for roses, irises, wildflowers, magnolias, lemon trees, banana trees, orchids, and a Japanese garden. Also located in Memphis is the National Ornamental Metal Museum, which displays weapons, model trains, sculpture, furniture, fencing, tools, and utensils. The Memphis Pink Palace Museum and Planetarium, named for the pink marble used in its construction in the 1920s, houses archaeological gems, prehistoric fossils, a Civil War display, regional exhibits, and a highly ranked planetarium; the museum is one of the largest of its kind in the Southeast.
Festivals and Holidays
The Memphis in May International Festival is a month-long series of festive activities offering celebrations to suit every taste. Events include foot races, canoe and kayak races, a triathlon competition, fireworks, and seminars. A main feature of the festival is the International Fair held at Tom Lee Park, each year honoring a different foreign country with exhibitions and demonstrations of arts, crafts, foods, and culture. The festival also hosts the World Championship Barbecue Cooking Contest, which rewards showmanship as well as culinary talent; the Desti-Nations International Family Festival; the Beale Street Music Festival with top-name jazz and blues artists; and the Sunset Symphony, a beloved Memphis in May tradition with orchestral selections including "Ole Man River," and the "1812 Overture," a bombastic symphonic standard by nineteenth-century Russian composer Petr Ilich Tchaikovsky; the concert is played as the sun sets over the Mississippi River.
In late May and early June the Great River Carnival is celebrated with a river pageant, exhibits, parades, and a MusicFest. The Elvis Tribute Week held in mid-August honors the late entertainer Elvis Presley, who made his home in Memphis and inspired intense fan loyalty. During Labor Day weekend in Memphis, historic Beale Street is the center of the Memphis Music and Heritage Festival, which underlines Memphis's claim as the birthplace of blues, soul, and rock music. September is also the month for the Mid-South Fair, featuring one of the largest rodeos east of the Mississippi, and agricultural, commercial, and industrial exhibits and events. October events in Memphis include the Oktoberfest and the week-long Pink Palace Crafts Fair.
Sports for the Spectator
Memphis provides sports enthusiasts with a variety of spectator action. The NBA Memphis Grizzlies play professional basketball at the Pyramid Arena, a spectacular structure which, at 32 stories high, is the third largest pyramid in the world; it provides seating for 21,000. It is also home to the University of Memphis's basketball team, the Tigers. Baseball fans can cheer for the Memphis Redbirds, AAA affiliate of the St. Louis Cardinals, who play at the 12,000-seat AutoZone Stadium downtown. The Memphis Riverkings of the Central Hockey League provide hockey action. Early each spring, tennis buffs can enjoy the Kroger/St. Jude International Indoor TPA Tennis Tournament. During midsummer, golfing devotees can enjoy the FedEx/St. Jude Classic PGA Golf Tournament, a professional golfing championship held each year at Colonial Country Club. Motorsports are increasingly popular in Memphis, and more than 200 events take place at Motorsport Park, which has a three-quarter-mile paved track and quarter-mile drag strip. Dog racing is also popular in the Memphis area; fans place wagers on favorites at Southland Greyhound Park in nearby West Memphis, Arkansas.
Sports for the Participant
Memphis has 187 parks, totaling 5,387 acres; the oldest and most notable is Overton Park, where 342 acres offer picnic areas, sports fields, natural woods hiking, and bicycle trails, combined with a nine-hole golf course, the zoo, and the Memphis Brooks Museum of Art. Other large parks are M. L. King-Riverside, with facilities for golf and tennis; and Audubon, offering water skiing, boating, swimming, and sailing. Memphis offers a total of 11 public golf courses and more than 100 public tennis courts. The T. O. Fuller State Park, at the southern city limits, is the only State Park within Memphis. Its 1,138 acres, primarily of forest land, feature a swimming pool, picnic area, nature trails, and 18-hole golf course. In the north end of Shelby County is 13,467-acre Meeman-Shelby Forest State Park. Located parallel to the Mississippi River 15 miles north of the heart of Memphis, Meeman-Shelby offers horseback riding, swimming, fishing, and miles of camping and hiking trails.
Boating, sailing, and water skiing are popular leisure-hour pursuits at dozens of lakes in the Memphis/Shelby County area. The Memphis Yacht Club, located next to Mud Island, accommodates a vast array of member craft, ranging from small houseboats to ocean-going vessels. Visiting craft are also accommodated at the club's dock.
Hunting dogs from all over the United States compete each year in the National Bird Dog Championship just outside Memphis. Climate allows year-round fishing for bass, crappie, trout, bream, and catfish. Lichterman Nature Center, an urban nature center in the heart of metropolitan Memphis, encompasses 65 acres of sanctuary and nature trails and an exhibit center.
Shopping and Dining
Notable among the city's shopping centers and malls is the Main Street Mall, a downtown array of department stores, boutiques, and eating establishments that together form one of the world's largest pedestrian shopping malls. The city's largest enclosed malls include Southland, Hickory Ridge, and Oak Court malls; the region's largest shopping mall is Wolfchase Galleria, with more than 130 stores, in eastern Shelby County. The city's historic Beale Street district contains unusual shops, including A. Schwab Dry Goods Store, a landmark on Beale Street since 1876, where general merchandise is enhanced by the Beale Street Museum housed in the establishment's basement. Overton Square in the city's midtown features antique shops and art galleries along with cafes and restaurants.
For those who like to combine dining with entertainment, Memphis offers Peabody Place Retail & Entertainment Center, a mixed-use development and historic preservation project. Opened in 2001, Peabody Place offers sports restaurants and bars, video games, dancing, bowling, billiards, and restaurants. A veritable city within the city, Peabody Place encompasses three blocks of Beale Street, and includes the Peabody Hotel, the Orpheum Center, Fed Ex Forum, Autozone Stadium, plus 80 restaurants; it attracts more than 8 million visitors annually. Overton Square and Beale Street boast a concentration of sidewalk cafes, restaurants, and nightclubs that contribute to the range of culinary experiences awaiting diners in Memphis. Besides European, Asian, and Mexican cuisines, Memphis-area restaurants offer traditional American choices such as steaks and seafood, as well as a number of typically Southern dishes. Regional specialties include main dishes such as fried chicken, catfish, ham hocks, chitlins, and seafood gumbo; side dishes such as turnip greens, sweet potato souffle, black-eyed peas, collard greens, yams, and cornbread; and desserts such as banana pudding, fruit cobblers, pecan pie, strawberry shortcake, and fried pie—a type of portable filled pastry. But Memphis is mainly known for its pork and barbecue masterpieces, ranging from dry ribs—prepared without sauce—to barbecue sandwiches.
Visitor Information: Memphis/Shelby County Visitors Center, 12036 Arlington Trail, Arlington, TN 38002; telephone (901)543-5333. Memphis Convention and Visitors Bureau, 47 Union Avenue, Memphis, TN 38103; telephone (901)543-5300; fax (901)543-5350
Major Industries and Commercial Activity
At the center of a major distribution network, Memphis works from a broad economic base as it continues to diversify its employment opportunities. Historically a trading center for cotton and hardwood, Memphis is the headquarters for major manufacturing, services, and other business concerns.
The city is home to three Fortune 500 company headquarters: FedEx, AutoZone, and International Paper. FedEx began its operations in 1973, with 14 small aircraft delivering packages from Memphis International Airport. Today, FedEx averages more than 6 million shipments per day, and serves more than 220 countries and territories. AutoZone opened its first Auto Shack in Forrest City, Arkansas, in 1979; the company is now a leading auto parts retailer, with more than 3,400 stores nationwide. International Paper, organized in 1878, is the largest paper and forest products company in the world, with operations in more than 40 countries.
Memphis's economy is diverse. Services centered in Memphis include banking and finance (First Tennessee, National Commerce Bancorp, Union Planters); real estate (Belz Enterprises, Boyle Investment Co., and Weston Co.); nonprofits including the world's largest waterfowl and wetlands conservation organization (Ducks Unlimited); and a restaurant chain (Backyard Burgers). Science and technology business is very well represented in Memphis; Brother Industries USA, Buckman Laboratories, Medtronic Sofamor Danek, Morgan-Keegan, Sharp Manufacturing of America, Smith & Nephew, and Wright Medical Technologies all have headquarters there. Memphis is considered a mid-South retail center and an attractive tourist destination. Its early and continued role as a major cotton market makes agribusiness an economic mainstay in Memphis. Forty percent of the nation's cotton crop is traded in Memphis, home of three of the world's largest cotton dealers: Dunavant Enterprises, Hohenburg Brothers (now Cargill Cotton), and the Allenberg Company. Memphis is important in other areas of agribusiness. The city has long been established as a prime marketing center for hardwood, as well as wood and paper products. Memphis concerns are also major processors of soybeans, meats, and other foods. Enhancing Memphis's position at the center of agribusiness is Agricenter International, an $8 million, 140,000 square foot exhibition center for agricultural exhibitions, experimentation, and information exchange. It brings together the most technologically advanced methods of farming and farm equipment available in one location. The exhibition hall, where independent farm-related companies (chemical concerns, irrigation businesses, farm management companies, etc.) lease space, is totally computerized, allowing farmers and consumers to ask specific information of the computer and receive specific answers. The facility also includes about 1,000 acres of farmland, 120 acres of field displays, and a 600-seat amphitheater. Agricenter, a nonprofit entity that operates on a management contract with the Shelby County Agricenter Commission, was built amid 2,000 acres of old Shelby County penal farm land, in the eastern section of the county about 30 minutes from downtown Memphis.
Memphis business activities are facilitated by the city's Uniport Association, which coordinates a Foreign Trade Zone, and river, air, rail, and road transportation services into a top-ranked distribution network.
In the late 1990s Memphis made a name for itself as a center for movie making. Movies filmed there since then include Mystery Train, Great Balls of Fire, The Firm, The Client, The People Vs. Larry Flynt, A Family Thing, The Rain-maker, Cast Away, 21 Grams, Forty Shades of Blue, and Walk the Line.
Items and goods produced: chemicals, machinery, clothing, foodstuffs, electronic equipment, pharmaceuticals, cosmetics, ceiling fans, smokeless tobacco, gift wrap, bubble gum
Incentive Programs—New & Existing Industries
Think Memphis: Partnership for Prosperity is a public-private initiative whose goal is to make Memphis and Shelby County more globally competitive and attractive to businesses looking to relocate and expand. The program is in part a continuation of Memphis 2005, an economic development program begun in 1996 that aimed to diversify the economy, raise the per capita income, generate 12,000 net new jobs annually, increase minority and woman-owned business development, and lower the crime rate. Memphis 2005 has been credited with Memphis' average nonresidential capital investment of more than $1 billion a year, 10,000 net new jobs annually, and increased per capita income above the national average. Further, Think Memphis aims to enhance the economic vitality of the Memphis area through collaboration with its chambers of commerce, local and state governments, and other organizations; and aims to attract 10,000 newcomers to the region, and encourage Memphis residents to remain here, through a ten-year, multi-million dollar marketing effort.
Tennessee is a right-to-work state and its overall state and local tax burden is among the lowest of all 50 states. Tennessee has no personal income tax on wages or salaries. Finished goods inventories are exempt from personal property tax, and industrial machinery is totally exempt from state and local sales taxes. Manufacturers receive other tax exemptions under specified circumstances and reduced property assessments. State-administered financial programs for businesses include: the Small and Minority-Owned Business Assistance Program, currently being developed by the state Treasury Department and expected to provide assistance to small and minority-owned businesses through loans, technical assistance, and program services; the Small Business Energy Loan Program, which helps qualified Tennessee-based businesses upgrade their level of energy efficiency in their buildings and manufacturing processes; the FastTrack Infrastructure Program, which assists in the funding of infrastructure improvements for businesses locating or expanding in Tennessee; and the FastTrack Training Services Program, which helps companies provide training for their staff.
Job training programs
The state of Tennessee provides funds for eligible projects that can offset costs that are incurred during the training process. Each project is considered separately based on its economic impact to the state. This program does not include wage payments to persons involved in the training program. Vocational training in Memphis is available through the Tennessee Technology Center, State Technical Institute of Memphis, Mid-South Quality Productivity Center, Southeast College of Technology, and through the public schools.
In January of 2003, Cannon Center, a world-class performing arts center at the north end of Main Street, opened its doors. On the South end, Peabody Place Entertainment and Retail Center, a multifaceted entertainment center, opened in fall of 2001. This city within a city attracts more than 8 million visitors annually; it encompasses three blocks of Beale Street, and includes the Peabody Hotel, the Orpheum Center, Fed Ex Forum (home of the NBA Memphis Grizzlies) and Autozone Park (home of the AAA Memphis Red-birds), plus 80 restaurants. A $30 million Westin Hotel is being built next to the Fed Ex Forum, replacing a parking lot. Autozone park is a world-class baseball stadium that has been credited with stimulating nearby developments ranging from restaurants, night clubs, retail developments, and commercial and residential projects. The major one is Echelon at the Ballpark, a residential/business facility whose amenities include nine-foot ceilings, pass-through fireplaces, balconies with a ballpark view, a fitness center, and business facilities. In 2005 projects include the renovation of the Kress Building (listed in the National Historic Register) into an annex of the adjacent Marriot hotel, and renovation of the Lawrence Building into a luxury condominium with unique "live/work" areas on the first floor for professionals who work at home.
Economic Development Information: Memphis Chamber of Commerce, 2969 Elmore Park Road, Memphis, 38134, telephone (901) 372-9457. Tennessee Department of Economic & Community Development, 312 Eighth Avenue North, Nashville, TN 37243; telephone (615)741-1888
Memphis's Uniport combines a Foreign Trade Zone with river, air, rail, and road facilities to make Memphis one of the nation's most important distribution centers. The Memphis River Port, which connects the city to 25,000 miles of interconnected inland waterways, is the second largest inland port on the Mississippi River, and the fourth largest port in the nation. There are three still-water harbors, which include public terminals, loading facilities, grain elevators, and intermodal connections.
Memphis International Airport is less than 15 minutes from most business centers in the area and serves major airlines and commuter lines. One of the nation's fastest-growing airports, it is often the site of expansion projects, including improvements to cargo facilities. It is the world's busiest cargo airport because of FedEx, UPS, and other air freight companies that move approximately 2.4 million tons of cargo annually.
Transport Topics, a national newspaper for the trucking industry, has called Memphis "an intermodal transportation hub like no other." The area is served by over 300 common carriers, including all major truck lines. Over 100 terminals offer direct services to all 48 contiguous states, as well as to Canada and Mexico. The presence of five Class I rail systems makes Memphis a center for world distribution in the new economy; Memphis is one of only three U.S. cities served by five or more such systems. Eight federal highways, three interstate highways, and seven state highways connect the Memphis trucking industry with both the rest of the nation and with other vital forms of transportation.
Labor Force and Employment Outlook
Memphis boasts a diverse work force, prepared by nationally recognized schools and training programs. Memphis ranks high among business analysts for low taxes, competitive wages, and cost of living.
Memphis has seen substantial job growth in recent years; its Memphis 2005 program is credited with adding an average of 10,000 new jobs annually during the years 1996 to 2004. Currently, the high-tech bio and agri-research and health-related industries are thought to have particularly impressive growth potential, and the city's chamber of commerce seeks to attract technically skilled and creative workers to contribute leadership and manpower to those and other areas.
The following is a summary of data regarding the Memphis metropolitan area labor force, 2003–2004 annual averages.
Size of nonagricultural labor force: 616,400
Number of workers employed in . . .
construction and mining: 26,400
trade, transportation and utilities: 169,300
financial activities: 33,000
professional and business services: 72,200
educational and health services: 71,700
leisure and hospitality: 67,700
other services: 24,400
Average hourly earnings of production workers employed in manufacturing: $14.96
Unemployment rate: 6.1% (December 2004)
|Largest employers||Number of employees|
|Federal Express Corp.||30,000|
|Memphis City Schools||16,000|
|United States Government||14,800|
|Baptist Memorial Healthcare||8,000|
|Shelby County Government||7,183|
|Memphis City Government||6,680|
|Wal-Mart Stores, Inc.||6,500|
Cost of Living
The city of Memphis has a relatively low cost of living in comparison to other major cities in the country. The following is a summary of data regarding key cost of living factors for the Memphis area.
2004 (3rd Quarter) ACCRA Average House Price: $194,150
2004 (3rd Quarter) ACCRA Cost of Living Index: 90.7 (U.S. average = 100.0)
State income tax rate: Limited to dividends and interest income
State sales tax rate: 7.0%
Local income tax rate: None
Local sales tax rate: None; Shelby County sales tax is 2.25%
Property tax rate: In October 2003, the tax rate was $3.23 per $100 of property assessment. Property assessment is 25% of the property appraisal for residential real estate property.
Economic Information: Memphis Chamber of Commerce, 2969 Elmore Park Road, Memphis, 38134; telephone (901)372-9457.
Founded in 1819, the city of Memphis sits on the bluffs overlooking the Mississippi River. Its history is often associated with racial conflict and strife. Race riots after the Civil War marred its Reconstruction history, and in the 1890s Memphis journalist Ida B. Wells-Barnett publicized the horrors of lynchings in her town and across the South, focusing in particular on how African American men were terrorized in the name of protecting white women's sexual virtue. Throughout the twentieth century, Memphis saw the rise of, and resistance to, the African American civil rights movement. When one of the movement's most prominent leaders, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., came to Memphis to help negotiate an end to the long-standing sanitation workers' strike, he was assassinated at the downtown Lorraine Motel on 4 April 1968.
Although these episodes in Memphis's history are well documented, the city's LGBT past has also found its way into the historical record. One of the most widely known moments of Memphis's pre-Stonewall past is the sensationalized 1892 Alice Mitchell–Freda Ward murder case. The 26 January 1892 Memphis Appeal-Avalanche suggested that Mitchell slashed Ward's throat because "her erstwhile bosom friend … treated her coldly." The case was conducted as a lunacy inquisition rather than a criminal trial, and the testimony of expert medical witnesses, friends, family, and even Mitchell was published in the local newspaper. In the end, Mitchell was declared insane and committed to the Tennessee State Asylum, where she died in 1898. The way this case was sensationalized is an early example of the social construction of same-sex sexuality as deviant.
Around the same time as the Mitchell–Ward case, the Memphis Public Ledger published the story of Marie Hinkle, a professional male impersonator. When Hinkle's engagement at the Broome Variety Theater in Memphis ended, she made plans to travel to New York for another engagement. Two female admirers, Ione and Lizette, wanted to accompany Hinkle to her train and ended up in a fight for Hinkle's attention. In its coverage, the media focused on links between violence and cross-dressing, concepts sexologists routinely employed to make sense of same-sex sexuality at the turn of the twentieth century.
Since Memphis is bordered on the west by the Mississippi River and on the south by the state of Mississippi, urban development concentrated in the east. By World War II two main sites of popular gay life emerged in the downtown and midtown areas of the city. The earliest gay-straight mixed bars included the Rathskeller, the Rendezvous (a landmark barbeque restaurant), and such private bars as the Aristocrat and Raven, all of which were located in the downtown area. In the 1970s and 1980s gay bars opened their doors both downtown and midtown—an area east of downtown where Rhodes College and the University of Memphis are located. Public parks—Court Square and Confederate Park in downtown and Overton Park in midtown—also emerged as sites for cruising and sexual encounters. Building gay and lesbian communities was possible in these milieus—bars and parks—but creating a political community in a conservative atmosphere was considerably more difficult.
Despite public activism on the West Coast with the Mattachine Society and Daughters of Bilitis in the 1950s or on the East Coast with the Stonewall Riots in 1969, gay Memphians displayed little or no political activism during these eras. Prior to the mid-1970s, references to gay community in Memphis likely meant circles of friends, private socializing, and cruising in public parks. Eventually, more public gay institutions emerged. By 1975 Memphis boasted a gay newspaper, a Metropolitan Community Church, public social organizations such as The Queen's Men, and at least five gay bars. With the onset of the AIDS epidemic in the early 1980s, local gay men founded the Aid to End AIDS Committee (ATEAC). Memphis was also home to a thriving drag and female impersonator community.
Although many issues could bring the gay communities in Memphis together, race and gender seemed to keep them apart. As Buring notes in her 1997 study of gay and lesbian Memphis, gay institutions may have appeared to be racially integrated, but blacks maintained a considerable distance because they recognized that the more publicly identifiable gay community mirrored the larger, segregated society. They were a part of the larger black community, but homophobia kept them slightly apart, and as a result, they founded such organizations as the Memphis Committee and Black Gays and Lesbians Allied for Dignity (B-GLAD).
Lesbians in pre-Stonewall Memphis created social networks through local gay and mixed bars and the city's softball leagues, which enabled women to socialize and form relationships with other women, many of whom were also lesbians. Memphis lesbians during this time adopted femme/butch roles. With the rise of gay liberation occurring at the same time as the women's liberation movement, many lesbians in Memphis also joined local feminist organizations, particularly the Memphis chapter of the National Organization for Women (NOW). Through NOW, ongoing softball activities, the Memphis Gay Switchboard, and such community institutions as the Bread and Roses delicatessen and the Meristem feminist bookstore, local lesbians created their own communities, but they were never fully racially integrated and black lesbians never developed organizations or bars to cater exclusively to their needs.
Memphis lesbians and gay men boast a history of being socially "out" in the sense that there have been clearly gay spaces, but political activism does not have a strong history among members of the community. Buring suggests that "the force of social conservatism … keeps Southern lesbians and gay men from getting involved or 'rocking the boat'" (p. 226). However, gay men and lesbians did move from a marginal existence to an institutional presence in the mid-to late-twentieth century, changing the social, cultural, and political landscape of the city of Memphis.
Buring, Daneel. Lesbian and Gay Memphis: Building Communities behind the Magnolia Curtain. New York: Garland Press, 1997.
Duggan, Lisa. "The Trials of Alice Mitchell: Sensationalism, Sexology, and the Lesbian Subject in Turn-of-the-Century America." Signs 18, no. 4 (1993): 791–814.
Duggan, Lisa. Sapphic Slashers: Sex, Violence, and American Modernity. Durham, N.C.: Duke University Press, 2000.
Gilmore, Stephanie. "The Dynamics of Second-Wave Feminism in Memphis, 1971–1982: Rethinking the Liberal/Radical Divide." NWSA Journal 15, no. 1 (2003): 94–117.
Lindquist, Lisa J. "Images of Alice: Gender, Deviancy, and a Love Murder in Memphis." Journal of the History of Sexuality 6, no. 1 (1995): 30–61.
see alsohunter, alberta; mitchell, alice.
Jackson Helps Found City
Lush wilderness covered the Mississippi River bluffs (now known as the Memphis metropolitan area) when Spanish explorer Hernando De Soto encountered the area's Chickasaw inhabitants in 1541. In 1673, French explorers Louis Joliet and Jacques Marquette explored the region, called the Fourth Chickasaw Bluffs, which in 1682 was claimed for France by Robert Cavelier de La Salle as part of the vast Louisiana Territory. The French established Fort Assumption at the Fourth Chickasaw Bluffs in 1739. As ownership of the region was disputed by various nations, Fort Assumption was followed by the Spanish Fort San Fernando, built on the site in 1795, and the American Fort Adams, erected in 1797. The Chickasaw ceded West Tennessee to the United States in 1818, and the following year John Overton, James Winchester, and Andrew Jackson founded a settlement on the Mississippi River bluffs that they named Memphis, after an ancient Egyptian city on the Nile River.
"King Cotton" Spurs City's Growth
Irish, Scots-Irish, Scottish Highlanders, and German immigrants joined westward-advancing pioneers from the eastern United States in settling the new town, which was incorporated in 1826. They served as gunsmiths and blacksmiths and operated saw mills, cotton mills, and cotton warehouses. The economy of the region was based primarily on the cotton industry, which utilized slave labor, and Memphis became the largest slave market in the mid-South. The necessity of transporting cotton to the marketplace made Memphis the focus of transportation improvements. The Memphis-to-New Orleans steamship line was established on the Mississippi River in 1834; six miles of railroad had been constructed around Memphis by 1842; and four major roads were carved out in the 1850s. In 1857 the Memphis-to-Charleston railroad line linked the Mississippi River to the Atlantic Coast. From 1850 to 1860 Memphis's population more than quintupled, swelling to 33,000 people.
When the economic and social differences between northern and southern states that led Tennessee to secede from the United States and join the Confederacy erupted in war, Memphis served temporarily as Tennessee's state capital. But in 1862 a Confederate fleet near Memphis was defeated by Union forces, which then captured Memphis. At the conflict's conclusion, Tennessee was the first state to rejoin the Union and the following year, in 1867, Memphis was made Shelby County seat. A series of yellow fever epidemics in the 1870s ravaged the city, leaving it deserted and bankrupt; in 1879 its charter was revoked.
Subsequent improvements to the city's sewage and drinking water systems helped reduce the threat of epidemic, trade resumed in Memphis, and its population mounted to almost 65,000 by 1890. The first railroad bridge across the Mississippi south of St. Louis opened in Memphis in 1892, increasing the city's trade opportunities. The following year Memphis regained its city charter, and by the turn of the century the city was once again established as a booming trading center for cotton and lumber.
King Assassinated in City
In the first half of the twentieth century adversities in Memphis—such as the 1937 Mississippi River flood that brought 60,000 refugees into the city—were offset by advances—such as the formation of the Memphis Park Commission, the establishment of colleges, airports, military installations, and municipal utilities, and construction of port improvements. In the 1960s Memphis annexed neighboring areas and was the subject of federal court decisions ordering desegregation of the city's schools, parks, and recreational facilities. The city's sanitation workers, protesting discriminatory labor practices in a 1968 strike, attracted civil-rights leader Martin Luther King Jr., to their cause. On April 4, 1968, King, an advocate of nonviolent protest, was slain by a sniper at a Memphis motel. A steel structure entitled "The Mountaintop" honors King in Memphis's Civic Center Plaza. By 1973 court-ordered busing for school desegregation in Memphis was adopted without major incident, and the 1980 Memphis Jobs Conference, a broad-based economic planning initiative, was praised for its thorough integration of various Memphis sectors.
Present-day Memphis boasts renovated historic districts and city landmarks, striking new developments, and a diversified community of residents and workers. Traditional economic mainstays (such as cotton, lumber, and distribution) mix with services (including overnight package express, insurance, and hoteliery) and with newer enterprises (especially agricultural technology and biomedical technology) to make Memphis a strong economic community. Its strength supports academic institutions, health care facilities, and recreational assets and draws on a rich cultural and historical heritage, attracting both tourists and new residents to the river city on the bluffs.
Historical Information: Western Tennessee Historical Society Library, University of Memphis, McWherter Library Special Collections, Memphis, TN 38152; telephone (901)678-2210. Center for Southern Folklore Archives, 119 South Main Street, Memphis, TN 38103; telephone (901)525-3655. Memphis Pink Palace Museum Library, 3050 Central Avenue, Memphis, TN 38111; telephone (901)320-6368
Memphis: Education and Research
Memphis: Education and Research
Elementary and Secondary Schools
The Memphis City Schools is the largest school system in the state of Tennessee and the 21st largest metropolitan school system in the nation. All Memphis City Schools are accredited; in comparison, 60 percent of elementary and 62 percent of secondary schools statewide are accredited. Shelby County schools have the largest PTA membership in Tennessee. Through Memphis' Adopt-A-School program, recognized by the U.S. Department of Labor as the best program of its kind in the nation, local businesses "adopt" a school to provide special support. All Memphis public schools are partnered with area businesses, and the program is so successful that many schools have numerous adopting sponsors.
Memphis City Schools offers gifted and talented programs, alternative schools for students who have problems in a regular school environment, and optional school programs that focus on such areas as college preparation, creative and performing arts, aviation, travel, tourism, health sciences, banking and finance, international studies and a variety of approaches to education.
The following is a summary of data regarding Memphis's public schools as of the 2004–2005 school year.
Total enrollment: 120,162
Number of facilities elementary schools: 112
junior high/middle schools: 25 middle, 4 junior high
senior high schools: 31
other: 6 vocational, 6 charter schools, 7 alternative/specialty schools
Student/teacher ratio: 15:1
Teacher salaries average: $38,000
Funding per pupil: $6,326
Residents of Memphis and Shelby County also support a network of 70 private elementary and secondary schools. Premier among the list are St. Mary's Episcopal School, a school for girls in grades junior kindergarten through graduation, and Memphis University School, an all-boys preparatory school. Both are located within scenic surroundings in the eastern section of Memphis. Others often considered stepping stones to National Merit Scholarships are the Briarcrest Christian School System, Presbyterian Day School, and Harding Academy.
Public Schools Information: Memphis City School System, 2597 Avery Avenue, Memphis, TN 38112; telephone (901)416-5300
Colleges and Universities
The University of Memphis (U of M) is the largest college campus in Shelby County, both in size and student enrollment (more than 20,000). The U of M offers 15 bachelor's degrees in more than 50 majors, master's degrees in more than 45 subjects, and doctoral degrees in more than 20 disciplines. Set on 1,160 acres, its sprawling campus includes a College of Arts and Sciences, Fogelman College of Business and Economics, College of Communication and Fine Arts, College of Education, Herff College of Engineering, University College, Loewenberg School of Nursing, Humphreys School of Law, and Graduate School.
Rhodes College, recognized by Time magazine as "one of the nine colleges challenging the nation's elite schools for prominence" is the oldest four-year liberal-arts school in the city. Founded before the Civil War (in 1848) in Clarksville, Tennessee, the college was moved to Memphis in 1925 and quartered in ivy-covered Gothic buildings, 13 of which are now listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
LeMoyne-Owen College, a four-year liberal-arts college, was founded in 1862 as LeMoyne to educate emancipated slaves; it later merged with Owen College and offers majors in 21 areas of study leading to three degrees: bachelor of arts, bachelor of science, and bachelor of business administration. The Memphis College of Art is an independent professional college of artistic study that offers bachelor's and master's of fine arts degrees in a number of visual arts disciplines.
Future doctors, pharmacists, dentists, research academicians, and others interested in the medical field flock to Memphis to attend and graduate from the University of Tennessee (UT) Memphis. Among the colleges of the system are those of Allied Health Sciences, Dentistry, Health Science Engineering, Medicine, Nursing, and Pharmacy, in addition to the UT Graduate School. UT is ranked among the largest and most progressive health science centers in the country.
Christian Brothers University is one of only a few private colleges in the nation to offer degrees in mechanical, electrical, civil, and chemical engineering. Chrichton College awards bachelor's degrees through its schools of arts and sciences; bible and theology; education and behavioral studies; and business.
Vocational schools such as State Technical Institute at Memphis provide a further dimension to educational opportunities available in Memphis and Shelby County.
Libraries and Research Centers
The Memphis/Shelby County Public Library and Information Center has an annual circulation of more than 3.3 million books. Its special collections focus on Memphis history, art and architecture, and business and management. The system maintains 23 branches and a bookmobile. Its Central Library, designed by Memphis architect Frank Ricks, opened in 2001; it is more than twice the size of the previous Main Library. The University of Memphis Libraries hold more than 1.1 million books, more than 10,000 periodical subscriptions, and many special collections, such as Confederate history, Lower Mississippi Valley history, and blues and jazz oral histories.
There are more than 40 research centers in Memphis. Research activities at the University of Memphis focus on such areas as business and economics, substance addiction, earthquakes, child development, neuropsychology, women, anthropology, ecology, oral history, educational policy, communication disorders, and genomics. Research conducted at centers affiliated with the University of Tennessee Center for the Health Sciences in Memphis focuses on fields such as neuroscience, vascular biology, genomics, and a variety of diseases and disorders. Christian Brothers University supports the M. K. Gandhi Institute for Nonviolence. St. Jude Children's Research Hospital studies pediatric diseases and abnormalities and is the only independent pediatric research center supported by a National Cancer Institute support grant.
Public Library Information: Memphis-Shelby County Public Library, 3030 Poplar Avenue, Memphis, TN 38111; telephone (901)415-2700
MEMPHIS , city in Tennessee, U.S., with a Jewish population of 9,500 (.08 percent of the general population) in 2005.
Memphis was first settled in 1818 and the first known Jewish settler, David Hart, arrived in 1838. In the 1840s Jews began to settle in larger numbers, and they acquired land for a cemetery in 1848. In 1850 a Hebrew Benevolent Society was formed, and by 1853 the Jews were "regularly organized" for purposes of worship. In 1935 the Society changed its name to the Jewish Welfare Fund, and in 1977 it became the Memphis Jewish Federation. In 1853, B'nai Israel Congregation (Children of Israel), with 36 members, was granted a charter by the state legislature. The congregation worshiped in rented halls until 1857, and in 1858 converted a bank building into a place of worship. The building was dedicated by Rabbi Isaac Mayer *Wise, the founder of American Reform Judaism, and would later be known as Temple Israel. Rev. Jacob J. Peres, a native of Holland, was the first spiritual leader. In 1860 the relationship between the congregation and Rev. Peres was severed and a new congregation, Beth El Emeth, was organized. From 1860 to 1870 R. Simon Tuska was rabbi of Congregation Children of Israel.
At this time, the city's Jews, some 400 people, worked in banking, barbering, and auctioneering (including slaves); they even operated a racetrack. A good number ran several businesses simultaneously. A few entered the professions; most were small storekeepers who dealt in clothing and dry-goods, groceries and hardware. Memphis suffered little or no damage during the Civil War. Some Memphis Jews served in the army of the Confederacy. From 1863 to 1866 Congregation Children of Israel sponsored a nonsectarian school – Hebrew Educational Institute. The school was to provide educational opportunities during the disruption caused by the war. Following the death of Rabbi Tuska in 1870, Rabbi Max Samfield was elected rabbi of the congregation in 1871 and served until 1915. In addition to serving the congregation, Samfield published The Jewish Spectator from 1885 until his death. This paper served the Jews of Memphis and the mid-South.
In 1884 the Orthodox Baron Hirsch Congregation was organized and in 1891 converted a church as a place of worship. The first rabbi was Benjamin Mayerowitz. It became the largest synagogue in the United States. In recent years it moved to a new, smaller sanctuary to be within the area with the highest concentration of Jews in East Memphis. Congregation Anshei Sphard was organized in 1898. Beth Sholom, a Conservative congregation, was established in 1950 and in 1967 dedicated its new synagogue. Like many Jews in the Memphis community, Beth Sholom's rabbi at that time, Rabbi Arie Becker, was well known for his involvement in the civil rights movement. Long-time Rabbi Zalman Posner was a ḥasid of the rebbe, but he served in a congregational role. Official Chabad Lubavitch of Tennessee was founded in Memphis in 1994. Under the leadership of Rabbi Levi Klein, Chabad quickly became an active part of Memphis Jewish life.
A B'nai B'rith Lodge was organized in 1856 and in 1927 the B'nai B'rith Home was established to serve the Jews of Memphis and the mid-South. It was completely rebuilt in the 1960s and dedicated in 1968 as the B'nai B'rith Home and Hospital. The Jewish Community Center was organized in 1949 and in 1968 dedicated a $2,000,000 edifice, and the Jewish Historical Society of Memphis and the Mid-South was established in 1986.
Jews have been active in the economic, political, and civic life of the community. The Goldsmith family, leading merchants, were known as benefactors of the community for three generations. The Jewish community was so well accepted in Memphis that in the 1920s, it chose not to build a Jewish hospital, fearing that it might alienate the non-Jewish medical community and lead to a restriction of their hospital privileges. Abe Plough, a native of Tupelo, Mississippi, was generally regarded as one of the foremost citizens of the community by virtue of his philanthropy. His company was bought out by Schering to form Schering-Plough, a pharmaceutical giant. He played an important role in settling the famous sanitation strike of 1968 that brought Martin Luther King, Jr., to town, the site of his assassination in April 1968, contributing money anonymously to offset the costs to the city of pay raises. Other families who generously supported the entire Memphis community include the Fogelman, Lipman, Lowenstein, Lemsky, and Belz families. The Jews have also served as presidents of the bar association and the medical society.
The Jewish population has remained relatively stable for more than 80 years. It has received 200 Holocaust survivors and 300 Russians. The community's hub shifted to East Memphis, the heart of Jewish life today.
The community boasts the Bornblum Judaic Studies Program, established in 1985 at the University of Memphis through the generosity of David Bornblum and Bert Bornblum. The program brings numerous scholars and lecturers to the community. As in many college towns, the town-gown gap is bridged by the Judaic Studies Program. There are two Jewish days schools: the Bornblum Solomon Schechter Conservative day school, and the Orthodox Margolin Hebrew Academy Feinstone Yeshiva of the South, which honors Harry Feinstone.
The Orthodox community of Memphis was described by Tova Mirvis in her highly acclaimed novel The Ladies Auxiliary (1999).
R. Musleah, "The Jewish Traveler: Memphis," in: Hadassah (Dec. 2000).
[James A. Wax /
Michael Berenbaum (2nd ed.)]
MEMPHIS, the largest city in Tennessee and the chief city on the Mississippi River between St. Louis and New Orleans. In 1819, Memphis was laid out by a trio of town site developers, one of whom was the future president Andrew Jackson. It was named for the ancient Egyptian capital on the Nile River. During the following four decades, it became a leading river port and a center for the cotton trade. Completed in 1857, the Memphis and Charleston Railroad provided a transportation link to the Atlantic Ocean, further enhancing the city's commercial advantages. Occupied by Union forces in 1862, Memphis escaped the destruction suffered by many other southern cities during the Civil War. During the 1870s, however, repeated yellow fever epidemics decimated the local population and retarded the city's development. By 1900, Memphis had recovered and, with a population of
102,320, ranked as the second-largest city in the former Confederacy.
The Democratic organization of Boss Ed Crump dominated Memphis politics during the first half of the twentieth century. Devoted to low property taxes, Crump was reluctant to invest in the costly public works projects suggested by city planners. Although the city earned no national recognition as a showpiece of urban government, it did win a reputation as a center of blues music. In 1909, the black musician W. C. Handy wrote "Memphis Blues" as a campaign song for Crump, and the city's Beale Street became famous as the birthplace of the blues.
Between 1947 and 1977, Memphis annexed 230 square miles and almost doubled in population, claiming to have 674,000 residents in the latter year. That same year marked the death of the city's most famous resident, Elvis Presley. Presley began his rock and roll career in Memphis, recording with a small local company called Sun Records. In 1982, his home, Graceland, was opened to the public and became a pilgrimage site for more than 600,000 visitors annually; their spending gave a boost to the city's economy. Meanwhile, as the headquarters of Federal Express Corporation, Memphis claimed to be America's distribution center, and the city's airport boasted of being the world's busiest air cargo port. The city also became a major medical center and remained a hub of the cotton trade. Despite its enlarged boundaries, Memphis lost residents to growing suburban areas, and in the 1980s and 1990s, its population was relatively stable. In 2000, it was home to 650,100 people.
Capers, Gerald M., Jr. The Biography of a River Town: Memphis in Its Heroic Age. 2d ed. Memphis: G. M. Capers, 1966.
Tucker, David M. Memphis Since Crump: Bossism, Blacks, and Civic Reformers, 1948–1968. Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press, 1980.
Newspapers and Magazines
Memphis is served by The Commercial Appeal, a morning-circulated daily newspaper. Business and local news is reported weekday mornings in The Daily News, while the Memphis Business Journal and Tri-State Defender are published weekly. Memphis Magazine is the area's monthly general-interest magazine. The Memphis Flyer is a weekly tabloid that discusses the arts, entertainment, and lifestyles, while the Mid-South Hunting & Fishing News is a bi-weekly tabloid covering outdoor recreation. Special-interest publications originating in Memphis focus on such subjects as environmental legislation, poetry, and hunting, and such industries as glass and metal, trucking, rice and cotton growing, and other agricultural concerns.
Television and Radio
Memphis-area television viewers are served by seven stations: affiliates of ABC, CBS, NBC, UPN, Fox, PBS, and one independent. 33 AM and FM radio stations present Memphis audiences with a range of programming from classical, jazz, blues, folk, bluegrass, reggae, easy listening, contemporary, and country music to religious, news, public radio, talk-show, agricultural, and educational broadcasts.
Media Information: The Commercial Appeal, E. W. Scripps Co., 495 Union Avenue, Memphis, TN 38103; telephone (901)529-2211. The Daily News, 193 Jefferson Avenue, Memphis, TN 38103; telephone (901)523-1561; fax (901)526-5813
City of Memphis Home Page. Available www.ci.memphis.tn.us
Commercial Appeal. Available www.commercialappeal.com
Daily News. Available www.memphisdailynews.com
Memphis Chamber of Commerce. Available www.memphischamber.com
Memphis City Schools. Available www.memphis-schools.k12.tn.us
Memphis Convention and Visitors Bureau. Available www.memphistravel.com
Memphis Shelby County Public Library. Available www.memphislibrary.lib.tn.us
Tennessee Department of Tourist Development. Available www.tourism.state.tn.us/index.html
Faulkner, William, The Reivers (New York: Random House, 1962)
Grisham, J, The Firm (New York: Doubleday, 1991)
Guralnick, Peter, Last Train to Memphis: The Rise of Elvis Presley (Boston: Little, Brown, and Company, 1994)
Memphis: Health Care
Memphis: Health Care
The Memphis and Shelby County region supports numerous hospitals, including Methodist and Baptist Memorial health systems, two of the largest private hospitals in the nation. Methodist Healthcare system operates seven hospitals as well as several rural clinics; it is the largest healthcare provider in the Mid-South. Modern Healthcare magazine recently ranked Methodist Healthcare among the top 100 integrated healthcare networks in the nation. Baptist Memorial Healthcare operates 15 hospitals, three of which are within the city of Memphis, including Baptist Memorial Hospital for Women, one of only a few freestanding women's hospitals in the nation. For nine consecutive years (1996-2004) Mid-Southerners have named Baptist Memorial Hospital–Memphis their "preferred hospital choice for quality" according to Health Care Market Guide 's annual studies. Memphians point with pride to St. Jude's Children's Research Hospital, a premier research/treatment facility for children with catastrophic diseases, particularly pediatric cancers. 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. Recent research at St. Jude's has focused on gene therapy, bone marrow transplant, chemotherapy, the biochemistry of normal and cancerous cells, radiation treatment, blood diseases, resistance to therapy, viruses, hereditary diseases, influenza, pediatric AIDS, and the psychological effects of catastrophic diseases. A billion-dollar expansion to double the size of St. Jude's and bolster its research facilities is well underway and parts of it will be completed and functional in early 2005: the new GMP building, an on-site facility for research/production of highly specialized medicines and vaccines; the Integrated Research Center, with a Children's Infection Defense Center; and an enlarged Immunology Department. Further expansion will include a new Integrated Patient Care and Research Building. Shelby County has more than 100 specialty clinics, including the nationally known Campbell orthopaedic center, Semmes-Murphey Neurologic and Spine Institute, and Shea Ear Clinic. Memphis has two mobile intensive care units providing prehospital emergency care.
Memphis: Population Profile
Memphis: Population Profile
Metropolitan Area Residents
Percent change, 1990–2000: 12.8%
U.S. rank in 1980: 40th (MSA)
U.S. rank in 1990: 41st (MSA)
U.S. rank in 2000: 43rd (MSA)
2003 estimate: 645,978
Percent change, 1990–2000: 5.1%
U.S. rank in 1980: 14th
U.S. rank in 1990: 18th (State rank: 1st)
U.S. rank in 2000: 24th (State rank: 1st)
Density: 2,327.4 people per square mile (2000)
Racial and ethnic characteristics (2000)
Black or African American: 399,208
American Indian and Alaska Native: 1,217
Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander: 239
Hispanic or Latino (may be of any race): 19,317
Percent of residents born in state: 64.4% (2000)
Age characteristics (2000)
Poplation under 5 years old: 50,396
Poplation 5 to 9 years old: 53,115
Poplation 10 to 14 years old: 49,652
Poplation 15 to 19 years old: 47,761
Poplation 20 to 24 years old: 50,832
Poplation 25 to 34 years old: 102,417
Poplation 35 to 44 years old: 97,060
Poplation 45 to 54 years old: 80,832
Poplation 55 to 59 years old: 26,061
Poplation 60 to 64 years old: 20,948
Poplation 65 to 74 years old: 36,730
Poplation 75 to 84 years old: 25,476
Poplation 85 years and older: 8,820
Median age: 31.9 years
Births (2003; Shelby County)
Total number: 14,155
Deaths (2003; Shelby County)
Total number: 7,768 (of which, 211 were infants under the age of 1 year)
Money income (1999)
Per capita income: $17,838
Median household income: $32,285
Total households: 250,907
Number of households with income of . . .
less than $10,000: 37,061
$10,000 to $14,999: 19,816
$15,000 to $24,999: 39,227
$25,000 to $34,999: 37,471
$35,000 to $49,999: 41,547
$50,000 to $74,999: 40,510
$75,000 to $99,999: 16,841
$100,000 to $149,999: 10,811
$150,000 to $199,999: 3,194
$200,000 or more: 4,429
Percent of families below poverty level: 17.2% (33.9% of which were female householder families with related children under 5 years)
2002 FBI Crime Index Total: 51,034