In 1957 the already-famous 22-year old Elvis spent the then staggering amount of $100,000 on this mansion, where he died of heart failure only 20 years later. He had just decked out the place in textbook ostentatious 70s style, which can be admired here today. Be inspired by yellow vinyl walls, green shag-carpet ceilings and a fake waterfall and impressed by his car collection and two custom aeroplanes.
2. Beale Street
By the early 1900s Beale Street was the hub of black social and cultural activity – and soon became the birth street to blues.Today it’s a touristy but fun pedestrian street filled with buskers and beer-to-go counters.
3. Stax Museum of American Soul Music
Once the epicentre of 1960s Soul Music this museum is filled with out of this world memorabilia, including 70s peacock clothing and Isaac Hayes’ 1972 Superfly Cadillac complete with shag –fur carpeting and a 24 karat gold trim.
4. Sun Studios
Ground Zero for Rock and Roll music this is where all the blues legends, including BB King and Ike Turner, as well as Elvis Presley recorded their songs. A 40-minute guided tour led by local musicians gives an opportunity to listen to original recordings and hear the inside gossip.
5. Civil Rights Museum, Lorraine Motel
Sadly, for all the good influence black culture and its performers had on music and the liberalisation of society there is still a long way to go and one of the great setbacks for the black community and civil rights in general also took place in Memphis. It was here, at the Lorraine Motel, that Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King was fatally shot on 4thApril, 1968.
Today the turquoise 50s motel houses a civil rights museum dedicated to King’s life and the civil rights movement in general. Two interior rooms are kept as they were in during King’s stay.
The mission of the museum, which opened in 1991, is to chronicle key episodes of the American civil rights movement and the legacy of the movement with exhibitions and educational programmes.
Examples include a recreation of rosa parks Montgomery bus of 1955; the original Greensboro, South Carolina Woolworth’s lunch counter, and a depiction of the four African American college students who launched the first sit-in when they were refused service.
And the original motel rooms where martin Luther king stayed, left intact, the day he was assassinated.
It’s a good reminder of the things that are important in life. Luckily things have changed for the better.Even Memphis isn’t the little commercial backwater it once was.
6. Fed Ex Headquarters, Memphis International Airport
The company that launched here in 1973 with just 14 small aircraft now has the 2ndlargest commercial fleet in the U.S. and 290,000 employees worldwide, 15,000 of them here at the hub. More than 5,000 flights delivering an average of 1.5 million packages pass through this hub every month.
7. Memphis Cotton Exchange
Cotton was as important to the America economy in the 19th century as oil was in the 20th Century. American cotton supplied the world, and most of it was bought and sold in Memphis , in the cotton exchange.
Cotton was grown right across the Deep South on plantations by slaves, and brought here to be sold.. It. was then shipped off around the world, but particularly to the US east coast and Manchester, UK In the 1980s, trade switched to cotton futures. Entire harvests were bought by computers here before even being planted. The trading floor fell into disuse.
8. The Peabody Hotel
This is a legendary downtown Memphis landmark famed for its 1869 architecture, old time elegance and a quirky tradition that started as a prank in the 1930s and has now become a true phenomenon. – its ducks!
The ducks’ routine runs like clockwork.
Every day at 10 am they come down from their roof palace in an elevator, parade through the lobby to the lavish marble fountain, where they swim all day, and every night at 5 pm they march home, all aided by their full-time duck master.
During their tour of duty, they live in their luxury rooftop palace, which has some of the best views in Memphis.