If you plan to travel to Memphis any time soon, then you might want to dig into the history of this city so that you feel more connected to the city when you arrive.

First Settlers in the City

Native Americans were the first settlers here. Their main occupation was hunting and they use to reside near the Mississippi River. A treaty signed between the Native Americans and the Chickasaws ensured that the Chickasaws had control over the bluffs of the Mississippi River.

In the beginning of the 16th century, Europeans invaded the land when explorer Hernando DeSoto and his army arrived and scouted the Spanish region. Numerous explorers came to scout the areas and many battles were fought. Memphis was finally founded in 1819 wherein the Chickasaws gave away their land to the US Government.

The name of the city means “place of good abode” was given by three entrepreneurs Andrew Jackson, John Overton and James Winchester. Andrew later on went to become the President. Over the years the city became popular for cotton and came to be known as the largest cotton market in the world.

Booming Period for the City

The city ever looked back and kept on flourishing due to high demands of cotton and thriving slave market. When the Civil War started, Confederate Memphis was taken by the Union Forces and the prosperity of the city came to an end due the yellow fever epidemic.

The beginning of the 20th century again saw a boom in the cotton hardwood and mule industries. During this period, Memphis came to be known as an emerging music hub and the Memphis Recording Studio was established.

Some highlights during this period include:

  • Death of Martin Luther King in 1960’s
  • Struggle for Civil Rights peaked
  • Memphis Sanitation Strike
  • Death of Elvis Presley – the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll in the 1970’s
  • Beale Street became a popular tourist destination in the 90’s
  • The new NBA team was formed in Memphis

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated at Lorraine Motel. This motel was renovated into a museum and is now called as the National Civil Rights Museum.

The City Today

The city is a pure delight for all music lovers. In addition to this, the city also houses well equipped medical facilities. People interested in art and history can visit many of its renowned museums, art galleries and exhibits.

Some of the most inhabited places by tourists in the city are:

  • Sun Studios
  • Graceland, formerly the home of Elvis Presley
  • FedEx Forum for all sports enthusiasts
  • Mud Island
  • Stax Museum
  • Cotton Museum
  • Dixon Gallery and Gardens
  • Pink Palace

If you happen to be on Beale Street, you can try out the barbeque restaurants and burger joints. They also house antique shops wherein you can carry some memories of this beautiful city back home.


This wonderful city has so much to offer for tourists. Even though the city had its ups and downs, it bounced back up and still tends to bring a lot of tourists to visit every year.

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