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Memphis, Tennessee
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Memphis, Tennessee

Memphis, Tennessee
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)1.
External link: City of Memphis Online

Memphis is a city located in Shelby County, Tennessee of which it is the county seat. As of the 2000 census, the city had a total population of 650,100 within the city limits making it the largest city in the state of Tennessee, United States. It is located on Lower Chickasaw Bluff above the Mississippi River, at the mouth of the Wolf River. Interstate highways I40 and I55 (along with rail lines) cross the Mississippi at Memphis into the state of Arkansas.

Table of contents
1 History
2 Law and Government
3 Geography
4 Economy
5 Communications and Media
6 Demographics
7 Sites of Interest
8 Colleges and Universities
9 Sports Teams
10 Theatres
11 Notable Natives


Memphis was settled by the Chickasaw tribe. The Spanish explorer, Hernando de Soto, is believed to have visited the 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. Willie 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's first black mayor. Prior to his election, Dr. Herenton served for 12 years as the superintendent of Memphis City Schools.

See also: List of mayors of Memphis


Memphis is located at 35°7'3" North, 89°58'16" West (35.117365, -89.971068)1. 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.


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

Tallest Buildings

Name Stories Height (in feet)
100 North Main37430
Commerce Square31396
Sterick Building31365
Clark Tower32365
Morgan Keegan Tower 23341


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 ("LG&W") is one of the largest municipal utitilites in the United States.

Fortune 500 Companies

Other Important Companies

Communications and Media



As of the
census 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 people living in poverty, 30.1% are under the age of 18 and 15.4% are 65 or older.

Sites of Interest

Tourists come from all over the world to see Graceland, the home of Elvis Presley. Sun studios, where Elvis first recorded "My Happiness" and "That's When Your Heartaches Begin", rock n 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.

The National Civil Rights Museum is in the former Lorraine Motel, where the Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr was assassinated.

There is Libertyland Amusement Park and the adjacent Liberty Bowl and Memphis Children's Museum, Mud Island, Lichterman Nature Center, the Pink Palace Museum, The Pyramid, The Memphis Zoo, the Memphis Queen riverboat and the Memphis Belle, a heavy bomber which saw action in World War II.

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 Music Festival.

Colleges and Universities

Sports Teams


Notable Natives

Actors, Directors and Musicians
Businesspeople Jurists, Politicians and Activists Sports Figures Military Other
Regions of Tennessee
East Tennessee | Middle Tennessee | West Tennessee | Blue Ridge Mountains | Ridge-and-valley Appalachians | Cumberland Plateau | Highland Rim | Nashville Basin | Gulf Coastal Plain
Nashville metropolitan area | Memphis metropolitan area
Largest Cities
Bartlett | Brentwood | Bristol | Chattanooga | Clarksville | Cleveland | Cookeville | Franklin | Germantown | Hendersonville | Jackson | Johnson City | Kingsport | Knoxville | Memphis | Morristown | Murfreesboro | Nashville | Oak Ridge | Smyrna
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