Destination Information - Memphis, Tennessee, USA
Set high on the eastern bank of the mighty Mississippi River, in the southwestern corner of Tennessee, Memphis is known the world over as an immensely musical city - the cradle of the blues, the birthplace of rock 'n' roll and the location of Graceland, Elvis Presley's flamboyant mansion.
However, there is much more to Memphis than music. Named after the capital of ancient Egypt (a reference to the Mississippi being the Nile of America) this city is a hustler, an enterprising metropolis with trade running through its veins.
There is evidence that its origins as a settlement date back to at least AD1000, when Native Americans lived and worshipped here. The modern town was founded in 1819, after its strategic position, high enough above the river to escape flooding, had attracted the attention of European settlers.
A natural crossroads between New Orleans, St Louis and Chicago, Memphis became an important trading centre in the mid 19th century and the main shipping port for cotton grown in the Mississippi Delta. Its climate is not inhospitable (although summers are hot and humid, the winters are generally mild) and the city soon grew, spreading eastwards from the river.
Today, Memphis is an intriguing mix of old and new, with shabby warehouses and serene Victorian villas jostling for space with modern skyscrapers and gleaming shopping malls. Construction is booming, and a striking new landmark building is planned to house retail and office space, a hotel and restaurants. The work ethic is strong and the city is home to many contemporary companies, although traditional industries are still important - as evidenced by the cotton exchanges in the Downtown area, which are still at the heart of the world cotton trade.