A Southern Girl’s View… World Famous Beale St | Memphis Travel Photographer

    It is a beautiful afternoon in Memphis Tennessee… yes home to Elvis but also home to historic Beale St.   Beale St is one of my absolute favorite spots in Memphis, but for many reasons.   I enjoy the night ambiance but also the daytime ambiance.   To me, the culture of this historic street just oozes out.   Below are my images from my viewpoint from a recent walk down Beale…

    Beale St (originally known as Beale Ave.) was created in 1841 by Robertson Topp (b 1807- d 1876) who was a local entrepreneur and developer.  Topp named the street for a forgotten military hero.  In the beginning, Beale was home to shops, who mainly traded with ships traveling on the Mississippi River.   Beale St is located perpendicular to the River – the west end of Beale ends almost at the banks of the river.  In the 1860’s, traveling black musicians began stopping in Memphis and performing on Beale during their stay.  The first musicians to call Beale home was the group Young Men’s Brass Band formed by Sam Thomas in 1867.  In the 1870’s, Memphis was devastated by Yellow Fever resulting in Memphis forfeiting its charter in 1879.  The fever dramatically effected the commerce and activity on Beale St.  It was during this time that Robert Church (first black millionaire in the south) began purchasing land around Beale.  Church created Church Park at the corner of 4th & Beale, which became a recreational and cultural center.   The park attracted not only blues musicians, but also speakers such as Woodrow Wilson, Booker T Washington and Franklin D Roosevelt.  On Dec 15, 1977, Congress officially declared Beale St. to be “The Home of the Blues”.     Sadly at the time of this historic congressional act, many of the shops on Beale were boarded except for Schwabs.   It was not until the mid 1980’s that revitalization took over with shops, bars, museums and musicians coming back to the place where the blues were born.

Beale St is a…

  • U.S. National Register of Historic Places
  • U.S. National Historic Landmark