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Memphis History, Tennessee


Named after the Ancient Egyptian Capital on the river Nile, Memphis, as we know it, was founded in 1820. There were the famous three founders of Memphis, James Overton, James Winchester and Andrew Jackson. They formed a grid of streets and put city squares in between as parks. Only one remains now, the Court Square in downtown Memphis.

Cotton was the major trade and Memphis was a hub for transportation, grading and marketing the product in the Mississippi delta nearby. The industry survived by depending on a large scale slave labor of African American Slaves. Memphis was a major player in the sale of those slaves. The ones who ran away went to the house of Jacob Burkle which was a way-station to the free North States.

A hotel named the Gayoso House was built in 1842 and it had indoor plumbing and marble tubs and silver faucets. In 1899 it unfortunately burned down. In 1857 they finished building the Memphis - Charleston railroad.

When the Civil War took place, Memphis was already a very important city, due to its transportation. In 1861 Tennessee seceded from the union and for a little time it was a Confederate stronghold. In 1862 however it was captured back in the Union after the battle of Memphis.

Memphis stayed under Union control for quite some time except when Nathan Bedford Forrest conducted a daring raid. A legend says the he rode his horse in the lobby of the Gayoso house to capture a Union General. Gayoso House was being used as the headquarters of the Union.

The Yellow Fever epidemic ruined the city in the 1870’s. In 1887 they were able to get rid of the mosquitoes that were carrying this virus. They found a source of water under the city and it reduced its problems considerably. After the opening of the Mississippi River Bridge the city was able to prosper again.

The Tennessee Central Expo saw the construction of the pyramid in 1897. In the early 1900s Memphis saw many parks come up and it also became the world’s largest cotton market and also the world’s largest hardwood lumber market. The world’s first supermarket has its roots in Memphis, when Charlie Saunders opened the Piggly Wiggly.

In 1952 the first Hotel Chain was also born in Memphis, when Kemmons Wilson opened Holiday Inn. The city became a center for civil rights issues and gave a number of musicians.

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  • blackangel_66Memphis Fire Museum
    travel tip by blackangel_66 posted more then 30 days ago
    A real treat to mostly families, the Memphis Fire Museum offers hands-on exhibits that can be great fun for children. It is quite interactive for kids, because they can play a fireman, dress up, put out a fire and climb on a fire-truck...
  • lizzy_aStax Museum
    travel tip by lizzy_a posted more then 30 days ago
    The heart and soul of Soul Music, the Stax Museum has seen several well-known artists and has helped many of them become what they are now, like Aretha Franklin, Tina Turner or Otis Redding. If you like even a little bit of soul music...
  • welt-raiserMemphis Rock 'n' Soul Museum
    travel tip by welt-raiser posted more then 30 days ago
    Dedicated to those who changed history by their music, the Memphis Rock 'n' Soul Museum is a must-see attraction to everyone who happens to visit the city. There are so many amazing exhibitions to see that you will get...
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