Memphis is a city located along the Mississippi River in the southwestern corner of the U.S. state of Tennessee. With an estimated 2017 population of 652,236, it is the cultural and economic center of West Tennessee and the greater Mid-South region that includes portions of neighboring Arkansas and Mississippi. Memphis is the seat of Shelby County, the most populous county in Tennessee. Approximately 315 square miles in area, Memphis is one of the most expansive cities in the United States and features a wide variety of landscapes and distinct neighborhoods.
Memphis was founded in 1819 as a planned city by a group of wealthy Americans including John Overton and future president Andrew Jackson. The plantation economy of the Antebellum South established Memphis as a major domestic trading post for African-American slave labor and agricultural commodities, especially cotton. Memphis seceded with Tennessee in 1861 during the American Civil War but was recaptured by Union forces in 1862 and occupied for the duration of the war. Slaves escaped to Union lines here and formed camps, where they started schools before the end of the war.
Home to Tennessee's largest African-American population, Memphis played a prominent role in the American civil rights movement and was the site of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s 1968 assassination. The city now hosts the National Civil Rights Museum - a Smithsonian affiliate institution. Since the civil rights era, Memphis has forged forward to become one of the nation's leading commercial centers in transportation and logistics. The city's largest employer is the multinational courier corporation FedEx, which maintains its global air hub at Memphis International Airport, making it the second-busiest cargo airport in the world.
Today, Memphis is a regional center for commerce, education, media, art, and entertainment. The city has long had a prominent music scene, with historic blues clubs on Beale Street originating the unique Memphis blues sound during early 20th century. The city's music has continued to be shaped by a mix of African-American and White influences across the blues, country, rock n' roll, soul, and hip-hop genres. Memphis barbecue has achieved international prominence due to the World Championship Barbecue Cooking Contest, which attracts over 100,000 visitors to the city annually. Continued social and economic problems in the city have resulted in persistently high rates of crime and poverty in recent decades. Unlike most major American cities, Memphis is currently experiencing depopulation.
Learn more about Memphis, TN