Recently, while shooting a story, someone said to me “It’s a shame you moved to Memphis when you did, it used to be so great.” I looked at him slightly confused.
And asked what he meant. He said “Years ago Memphis was thriving, there was businesses all over downtown and Overton Square, it was a vibrant community with so much happening.”
So I said “Do you live in Memphis?” He said no, that he moved out to the county years ago. I told him he should give it another try because it IS all of those things.
My husband, Scott, and I moved to Memphis in January 2013. We knew we wanted to live inside the loop and had our eyes set on downtown. After all, my parents had been here for 8 years already and we’d seen all the growth in the downtown area. So we rented in South Bluffs. We immediately fell in love with the downtown area. The connectivity, the art, the restaurants and the history. So much, we decided to buy a home in the South Main District.
People often ask me if we like downtown and whether I feel safe. The answer is ABSOLUTELY!!
The word that comes to mind best is connectivity. Here on South Main we have a trolley line that gets us to the downtown core very easily. We are steps away from the Civil Rights Museum, a place I have seen in history books all my life, but never imagined I’d live across the street. Down the street, Ernestine and Hazel’s, a dive bar featured in more movies that you can count. Across from that The Arcade, one of Elvis’ favorite places to eat in Memphis. Around the corner from that, the Memphis Farmers Market, open every Saturday in the Spring and Summer. Full of culture, life and diversity.
Behind our home, a view of the Mighty Mississippi, walking distance from Tom Lee Park, which happens to be one of my favorite places to run in the city.
Back on South Main there’s plenty of art, businesses and coffee shops. Not to mention friendly people. People who believe in this area and have played a role in making it a growing and vibrant community.
Now, let’s take a ride on the Trolley. Just down the way from the Civil Rights museum is South of Beale, one of our favorite downtown establishments. This may be because it’s walking distance. Aside from that, they have a GREAT monthly opportunity to give back. At the bottom of every receipt, every month, they showcase a different non-profit in Memphis. You can make a donation of any amount to the non-profit and they’ll add it to your bill and give it to the non-profit. It’s social giving and it’s REALLY easy and REALLY cool.
Just down from SOB, more art galleries and businesses, even a renovation of the Chisca Hotel. 150 apartments, 5,500 square feet for commercial space and PARKING. We can’t wait for that to be finished.
But let’s keep on riding…or walking if you prefer. Just down from the Chisca Hotel, we have the Orpheum Theater, welcoming talented musicians and actors to our neighborhood every week. It’s like having broadway in Memphis…just down the street from home.
If that’s not your style, Beale Street is down the street from there. Blues, BBQ and all sorts of events. 5K’s start and end there, people want to stop by when they visit. It’s WORLD FAMOUS. And always a treat to have close by.
Let us not forget the fact that FedEx Forum and Autozone Park are basically in our backyard. We welcome thousands of people down here each week, year round, for events at those locations. Events that really help give this area LIFE.
Further down, business, booming businesses, tall buildings, government buildings, activity everywhere. Things are happening, all the time. Downtown is even home for a some of my favorite homeless friends. Yes, I call them friends, they are here too. And it turns out if you treat them like human beings, ask their names and get to know them, you find out they aren’t all that different from you and that the resources available to them downtown help them get back on their feet. We are so happy to support that.
Finally, downtown is also where my husband and I attend church. We go to St. Peter’s Catholic Church, it’s the oldest Catholic Church in Memphis, in the heart of what I call the “justice district.” Down the street from 201 Poplar, right next to the Federal Court House. Surrounded by even more churches. It’s a place that reminds us of God’s presence in our daily life. And further supports the need for peace and justice in our world and our city.
Here’s the deal, downtown Memphis is THRIVING, there are so many businesses, organizations and PEOPLE who are making it better everyday. I’ve always lived with the motto that it’s the PEOPLE that make the place. Downtown Memphis is full of people and places that showcase the soul, grit, grind and faith this city has and will continue to build upon.
It’s not a shame we moved here when we did, it’s a blessing, an opportunity and a chance to be a part of a legacy, a part of history. History that starts NOW.
You can enjoy additional writings of Lauren at www.laurensquires.com and discover her talent as a photographer, editor, and storyteller. You may also recognize her and be familiar with her great workings as a reporter on Action News 5.