Walking Tour of Memphis, Tennessee
Memphis, Tennessee is the birthplace of the “Blues,” soulful jazz first written by its founder, W.C. Handy. Not far from Beale Street is where “Rock and Roll” truly emerged, thanks to the collaboration between Elvis Presley and Sun Studio. Thus, much of the city is imbued with music. Plan to experience some of this musical heritage in one or more of the various establishments throughout the city.
Memphis is also, unfortunately, the location of the assassination of Dr Martin Luther King, an event commemorated by a sculpture called “The Mountain Top” at Civic Center Plaza.
My walk begins at Confederate Park, on Front Street, near the river. The defense fortifications are from the Civil War. A Statue of Confederacy President, Jefferson Davis, graces the park.
Walk north on Front Street, and turn right on Lauderdale Street. The Danny Thomas Alsac Pavilion is ahead, on the grounds of St Jude Children’s Research Hospital. The entertainer and long-time advocate for the hospital, and his wife are interred here.
Continue on Lauderdale Street to Adams Avenue and turn left. The Victorian Village area showcases numerous elegant homes. Stand-outs which can be visited include the Mallory-Neely House (#652) and the Woodruff-Fontaine House (#680). At N.Orleans Street, turn right to Marshall Street, and then turn left to get to Union Ave. Turn right to visit Sun Studio, legendary place where some of American music’s greatest stars, such as, Elvis Presley, Roy Orbison, Johnny Cash, etc., made their early recordings.
Now walk west on Union Ave to South Lauderdale Street and turn left. At Beale Street, turn right. This street epitomizes Memphis. The majority of clubs, restaurants, and other establishments feature great music. Ahead, on the right, is the W C Handy Museum, dedicated to the “father of the blues.” Opposite the museum is the FEDEX Forum, which contains the Memphis Rock ‘n’ Roll Museum.
Next, turn left on 2nd Street, and then right on Talbot Street, then left again on Mulberry Street. The National Civil Rights Museum is housed in the former Lorraine Motel, where Martin Luther King Jr. was shot. It commemorates the tragic event and also chronicles the entire Civil Rights Movement.
Reverse direction on Mulberry Street, back to Beale Street and turn left, and then turn right on Front Street. When you reach Adams Ave, look for the Monorail Ticket Office and take the rapid transport to Mud Island Park, in the middle of the river. Spend some time at the interesting Riverwalk, a miniature version of the Lower Mississippi River. After your visit here, return via Monorail to Front Street and walk one block south to Confederate Park, where the walking tour began.