Binghampton, Memphis

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Summer Ave in Binghampton (2010)

Binghampton (also spelled "Binghamton") is a neighborhood of Memphis, Tennessee.[1] It is named after Bingham Street, a street in this district. Binghampton is bordered by the CSX railroad in the North, Holmes Street in the East, Poplar Avenue in the South and East Parkway North and North Trezevant Street in the West. Neighborhoods surrounding Binghampton are Hollywood in the Northwest, Nutbush in the north east, Highland Heights in the east, Aulon in the south and Midtown in the west. Binghampton is considered a high crime area of Memphis, partly due to urban blight and gentrification.

History[edit]

Binghampton began as an independent and racially integrated rural Memphis town in the late 1800s and early 1900s. The town grew up around a boxcar factory, fabricating for a railroad. Binghampton was populated primarily by the blue-collar factory workers. Annexed by Memphis in 1919 when the city's growth pushed to the east, Binghampton was eventually surrounded by more affluent neighborhoods. Binghampton proper has experienced shifting character as a result of development, various stages of racial segregation, and a transition from owner to renter occupied housing.[2]

Revitalization attempts[edit]

Broad Avenue (2010)

Sam Cooper Boulevard is a highway owned by the City of Memphis which intersects the Binghampton neighborhood. In 2006, citizens from the Binghampton neighborhood of Memphis voiced concerns about negative effects that the completion of the western portion of Sam Cooper Boulevard has had on the community. Claims were made that construction of the road between North Highland Street and East Parkway North cut the Binghampton area in half by creating "high-speed traffic" and "confusing traffic patterns". It was mentioned that the routing of Sam Cooper Boulevard to the south of Broad Avenue had "effectively made" the circa 1.4 miles (2.3 km) long stretch of Broad Avenue a "ghost town", creating vacant lots in the partly industrial area and an unsafe neighborhood.[3]

The Memphis Flyer cites Robert Montague, executive director of the Binghampton Development Corporation: "When they built Sam Cooper, this area really got buried". Citizens suggested changes in the zoning and a re-design of the Broad Avenue area north of Sam Cooper Boulevard and south of Summer Avenue to re-vitalize that part of the neighborhood and attract business and residents.[3]

The following year, trees and shrubs were planted alongside Sam Cooper Boulevard and in the median west of North Highland Street. A few decorative flowerbeds were also installed in the median of the road to enhance the parkway design of the road.

In August 2010, there are plans to add a Farmers' Market on the corner of Tillman and Sam Cooper after making cosmetic updates to an abandoned gas station. The site will allow for at least 14 vendors for the Mid-South to come and sell produce to this "food desert" community, while attracting patrons from the East Memphis area due to the convenient location.

Crime[edit]

Random shootings at cars (2004)[edit]

In 2004, it was reported by local newsmedia that several cars driving on Sam Cooper Boulevard had been shot at in the section west of Tillman Street and east of North Hollywood Street in the Binghampton neighborhood. The Memphis Police Department (MPD) reported 13 shootings between August and October of that year. A spokesman of the MPD stated that only vehicle damage had occurred and that no persons were hurt in the shootings.[4] Police recovered a nine millimeter bullet from the front door of one vehicle.[5] A special police task force was assigned to the case.[4] It is not known if the shooter was caught.

The Lester Street Murders (2008)[edit]

On March 3, 2008, a brutal murder scene was discovered in a residence at 722 Lester Street. Upon responding to a call from a woman concerned about her son and his father, Memphis police discovered six individuals murdered and three seriously injured in the home. Among these victims, the three seriously injured and one of the dead were children. Autopsy determined that the adult victims had been shot multiple times with a semi-automatic weapon and the children had been stabbed multiple times and received blunt trauma to the head.[6]

Initially, police believed that the massacre was a result of gang activity. Upon further investigation, Jessie Dotson (who was related to all the victims) was found to be the murderer. Dotson confessed that he had gotten in an argument with his older brother Cecil Dotson and shot him to death. In order to eliminate witnesses, he attempted to murder the rest of the individuals that were in the house at that time.[7] In 2010, Jessie Dotson was sentenced to death. [8]

The massacre drew nationwide media coverage and was featured on A&E's The First 48. In 2013 Jessie Dotson's conviction was upheld on appeal. According to court records, Cecil Dotson was a member of the Gangster Disciples and Jessie was a member of the Crips.[9][10]

Education[edit]

Residents are zoned to Shelby County Schools. Before 2013 it was zoned to Memphis City Schools.

The two campuses in the Binghampton area are Lester Elementary School and Brewster Elementary School.[11] As of February 2014, Lester does not have an art program.[12]

In the fall of 2012 Cornerstone Preparatory School, a PreK-3 charter school with plans to expand to the sixth grade, opened in the Lester Elementary School building. It is a part of the Achievement School District (ASD). Jane Roberts of the Memphis Commercial Appeal wrote that the Binghampton families did not trust the school.[13] In 2012 parents in Binghampton accused the ASD of not allowing them to make local decisions regarding the education of their children.[14]

In addition to the public school options, residents may attend Binghampton Christian Academy a Pre-Kindergarten through 8th grade private, Christian school that has existed for over 20 years and was formerly titled The Neighborhood School.

References[edit]

  1. ^ USGS Geographic Names Information System (GNIS) Detail Binghampton, Memphis
  2. ^ http://bdcmemphis.org/binghampton.html
  3. ^ a b Mary Cashiola (2006-02-10). "Bringing Back Binghamton". Memphis Flyer. Retrieved 2009-05-17. 
  4. ^ a b "And then there were 13". WMC-TV, Action News 5. 2004-10-15. Retrieved 2009-05-18. [dead link]
  5. ^ "Four new reports about vehicles being shot at on Sam Cooper Boulevard". WMC-TV, Action News 5. 2004-10-13. Retrieved 2009-05-18. 
  6. ^ http://memphis.about.com/od/historyandfacts/a/The-Lester-Street-Murders.htm
  7. ^ http://www.commercialappeal.com/news/2008/mar/08/press-conference-scheduled-lester-street-murders-t/
  8. ^ http://www.wmctv.com/story/13312007/jurors-try-to-decide-fate-of-lester-street-killer
  9. ^ TN Court of Appeals
  10. ^ Jessie Dotson conviction upheld by appeals court
  11. ^ "Transition to The Achievement School District" (Archive) Cornerstone Preparatory School. Retrieved on March 12, 2014.
  12. ^ "Kids work to brighten Binghampton with wooden hearts" (Archive). WMC-TV. February 14, 2014. Retrieved on March 12, 2014.
  13. ^ Roberts, Jane. "State-appointed charter school getting heat in Binghamton." Memphis Commercial Appeal. December 21, 2012. Retrieved on March 11, 2014.
  14. ^ Roberts, Jane. "Memphis parents lash out against Achievement School District leaders." Memphis Commercial Appeal. December 19, 2012. Retrieved on March 12, 2014.

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 35°09′00″N 89°58′10″W / 35.1501°N 89.9695°W / 35.1501; -89.9695