From top left: Downtown Memphis Skyline from Clark Tower, the Hernando de Soto Bridge, the Statue of Elvis, Beale Street and Main Street MATA Trolleys
|Nickname(s): The River City, The Bluff City, Blues City, MEM, Birthplace of Rock and Roll, The BBQ Capital of the World|
Location in Shelby County and the state of Tennessee
|Founded||May 22, 1819|
|Incorporated||December 19, 1826|
|Named for||Memphis, Egypt|
|• Mayor||A C Wharton (D)|
|• City||324.0 sq mi (839.2 km2)|
|• Land||315.1 sq mi (816.0 km2)|
|• Water||9.0 sq mi (23.2 km2)|
|Elevation||337 ft (103 m)|
|• City||670,132 (2,012) (20th)|
|Time zone||CST (UTC-6)|
|• Summer (DST)||CDT (UTC-5)|
|ZIP Codes||37501, 37544, 38002, 38016, 38018, 38028, 38088, 38101, 38103–38109, 38111–38120, 38122, 38124–38128, 38130–38139, 38141, 38145, 38147–38148, 38150–38152, 38157, 38159, 38161, 38163, 38166–38168, 38173–38175, 38177, 38181–38182, 38184, 38186–38188, 38190, 38193–38194, 38197|
|GNIS feature ID||1326388|
|Waterways||Mississippi River, Wolf River|
|Interstates||I-40, I-55, I-69, I-240, I-269|
|Regional rail||Main St. Trolleys, Riverside Trolleys, Medical District Trolleys|
Memphis is a city in the southwestern corner of the U.S. state of Tennessee, and the county seat of Shelby County. The city is located on the 4th Chickasaw Bluff, south of the confluence of the Wolf and Mississippi rivers.
Memphis had a population of 670,132 in 2012, making it the largest city in the state of Tennessee, the largest city on the Mississippi River, the third largest in the Southeastern United States, and the 20th largest in the United States. The greater Memphis metropolitan area, including adjacent counties in Mississippi and Arkansas, had a 2010 population of 1,316,100. This makes Memphis the second-largest metropolitan area in Tennessee, surpassed only by metropolitan Nashville. Memphis is the youngest of Tennessee's major cities. A resident of Memphis is referred to as a Memphian, and the Memphis region is known, particularly to media outlets, as "Memphis & The Mid-South".
- 1 History
- 2 Geography
- 3 Demographics
- 4 Economy
- 5 Arts and culture
- 6 Sports
- 7 Parks
- 8 Law and government
- 9 Education
- 10 Media
- 11 Infrastructure
- 12 Notable people
- 13 Sister Cities
- 14 See also
- 15 References
- 16 Further reading
- 17 External links
Because it occupies a substantial bluff rising from the Mississippi River, the site of Memphis is a natural location for human settlement. The area was first settled by the Mississippian Culture and then by the historic Chickasaw Indian tribe. European exploration came later, beginning in the 16th century with Spanish explorer Hernando de Soto and French explorers led by René-Robert Cavelier, Sieur de La Salle.
In 1795 the Spanish governor of Louisiana, Manuel Gayoso de Lemos, acquired land for a fort from the Chickasaw. Fort San Fernando de las Barrancas was built in the summer of 1795 on the fourth Chickasaw Bluff, just south of the Wolf River. It gave Spain control of navigation on the Mississippi River in the region, but they abandoned it after Spain ceded the territory to the United States under Pinckney's Treaty. The Spanish dismantled the fort, shipping its lumber and iron to their other locations in Arkansas.
In 1796, the site became the westernmost point of the newly admitted state of Tennessee, located in the Southwest United States. Captain Isaac Guion led an American force down the Ohio River to claim the land, arriving on July 20, 1797. By this time, the Spanish had departed. The fort's ruins went unnoticed twenty years later when Memphis was laid out as a city.
The European-American city of Memphis was founded on May 22, 1819 (incorporated December 19, 1826) by John Overton, James Winchester and Andrew Jackson. They named it after the ancient capital of Egypt on the Nile River. Memphis developed as a transportation center in the 19th century because of its flood-free location high above the Mississippi River. Located in the low-lying delta region along the river, its outlying areas were developed as cotton plantations, and the city became a major cotton market and brokerage center.
The cotton economy of the antebellum South depended on the forced labor of large numbers of African-American slaves, and Memphis became a major slave market. Through the early 19th century, one million slaves were transported to newly developed plantation areas from the Upper South, in a huge forced migration. Many were transported along the Ohio and Mississippi rivers. In 1857, the Memphis and Charleston Railroad was completed, connecting the Atlantic Coast and this major Mississippi River port; it was the only east-west railroad constructed across the southern states prior to the Civil War.
The city's demographics changed dramatically in the 1850s and 1860s. Due to increased immigration since the 1840s, ethnic Irish made up 9.9 percent of the population in 1850, but 23.2 percent in 1860. They had encountered considerable discrimination but by 1860, they constituted most of the police force, and had gained many elected and patronage positions in city government, including the mayor's office.
Tennessee seceded from the Union in June 1861, and Memphis briefly became a Confederate stronghold. Union ironclad gunboats captured the city in the naval Battle of Memphis on June 6, 1862, and the city and state were occupied by the Union Army for the duration of the war. The Union Army commanders allowed the city to maintain its civil government during most of this period but excluded Confederate veterans from office, which shifted dynamics in the city. As Memphis was used as a Union supply base, associated with Fort Pickering, it continued to prosper economically throughout the war. Meanwhile, Confederate General Nathan Bedford Forrest harassed Union forces in the area.
The presence of the Union Army attracted many fugitive slaves to the city; they sought protection behind Union lines, and contraband camps were set up to accommodate them. The black population of Memphis increased from 3,000 in 1860 to nearly 20,000 in 1865. The rapid demographic changes, added to the stress of war and occupation, and uncertainty about who was in charge, resulted in growing tensions between the Irish policemen and black Union soldiers following the war. In early May 1866 the Memphis Riot erupted, in which white mobs made up of policemen, firemen and mostly ethnic Irish attacked and killed black men, women and children, wounding many more, and severely damaged black settlements: houses, churches and schools, in South Memphis in three days of rioting. Many blacks permanently fled Memphis after the riot, especially as the Freedmen's Bureau continued to have difficulty in protecting them. Their population fell to about 15,000 by 1870.
In Memphis, unlike disturbances in some other cities, ex-Confederate veterans were generally not part of the attacks against blacks. The outrages of the riot in Memphis and a similar one in New Orleans in September (the latter included Confederate veterans) resulted in support outside the South for Congress to pass the Reconstruction Act and the Fourteenth Amendment.
In the 1870s, a series of yellow fever epidemics devastated Memphis, with the disease being carried by river passengers along the waterways. The worst outbreak, in 1878, reduced the population by nearly 75%, as many people died or fled the city permanently. Property tax revenues collapsed, and the city could not make payments on its municipal debts. As a result, Memphis temporarily lost its city charter and was a taxing district from 1878–1893. The city was rechartered in 1893.
From the 1910s to the 1950s, Memphis was a place of machine politics under the direction of E. H. "Boss" Crump. During the Crump era, Memphis developed an extensive network of parks and public works as part of the national City Beautiful movement. Determined never to suffer plagues again, it rebuilt with meticulous sanitation and drainage. The city government did not encourage heavy industry and allowed Mr. Crump's censor to ban movies.
During the 1960s, the city was at the center of civil rights issues, notably a city sanitation workers' strike for living wages and better working conditions. They had been marching to gain awareness of their plight and had met with resistance. Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. came to lend his support to the workers' cause. He stayed at the Lorraine Motel in the city, where he was assassinated by a sniper on April 4, 1968, the day after giving his prophetic I've Been to the Mountaintop speech at the Mason Temple.
Looting and rioting from grief and rage began quickly in the city after news spread of King's murder. The governor ordered Tennessee National Guardsmen into the city within hours, while small, roving bands of rioters continued to be active. In 1970, the Census Bureau reported Memphis' population as 60.8% white and 38.9% black. Suburbanization drew off wealthier residents to newer housing in the suburbs, and the city developed a majority-black population, with a majority-white metropolitan area.
Memphis is well known for its cultural contributions to the identity of the American South. Many renowned musicians grew up in and around Memphis and moved from the Mississippi Delta. These included such musical greats as Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis, Muddy Waters, Carl Perkins, Johnny Cash, Robert Johnson, W. C. Handy, B.B. King, Howlin' Wolf, Isaac Hayes, Booker T. Jones, Eric Gales, Al Green, Alex Chilton, Justin Timberlake, Three 6 Mafia, The Sylvers, Jay Reatard and many others. Aretha Franklin was born in Memphis.
Memphis is located in southwestern Tennessee at  According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 324.0 square miles (839.2 km2), of which 315.1 square miles (816.0 km2) is land and 9.0 square miles (23.2 km2), or 2.76%, is water..
Downtown Memphis rises from a bluff along the Mississippi River, and the city sprawls outward over southwest Tennessee and into northern Mississippi and eastern Arkansas. Several large parks are scattered through the city, notably Overton Park in Midtown and the 4,500 acres (18 km2) Shelby Farms. The city is a national transportation hub and Mississippi River crossing for Interstate 40, (east-west), Interstate 55 (north-south), barge traffic, Memphis International Airport (FedEx's "SuperHub" facility) and numerous freight railroads that serve the city.
In both 2011 and 2012, the magazine Travel + Leisure ranked Memphis as a top ten "America's Dirtiest City," for unremoved, widespread, visibly littered public spaces, based on surveys by both readership and local citizens.
Also in 2013, USA Today readers voted Beale Street as America's Best Iconic Street and Graceland as the Best Iconic American Attraction. The National Civil Rights Museum placed third in the poll. 
Shelby County is located over four natural aquifers, one of which is recognized as the "Memphis Sand Aquifer" or simply as the "Memphis Aquifer". This artesian water is pure and soft. This particular water source, located some 350 to 1,100 feet (110 to 340 m) underground, is estimated by Memphis Light, Gas and Water to contain more than 100 trillion US gallons (380 km3) of water.
Memphis has a humid subtropical climate (Köppen Cfa), with four distinct seasons, and is located in USDA Plant Hardiness Zone 8. Winter weather comes alternately from the upper Great Plains and the Gulf of Mexico, leading to drastic swings in temperature. Summer weather may come from Texas (very hot and humid) or the Gulf (hot and very humid). July has a daily average temperature of 82.7 °F (28.2 °C), with high levels of humidity due to moisture encroaching from the Gulf of Mexico. Afternoon and evening thunderstorms are frequent during summer, but usually brief, lasting no longer than an hour. Early autumn is pleasantly drier and mild, but can be hot until late October. Late autumn is rainy and cooler; precipitation peaks again in November and December. Winters are mild to chilly, with a January daily average temperature of 41.2 °F (5.1 °C). Snow occurs sporadically in winter, with an average seasonal snowfall of 3.9 inches (9.9 cm). Ice storms and freezing rain pose greater danger, as they can often pull tree limbs down on power lines and make driving hazardous. Severe thunderstorms can occur at any time of the year though mainly during the spring months. Large hail, strong winds, flooding and frequent lightning can accompany these storms. Some storms spawn tornadoes.
The lowest temperature ever recorded in Memphis was −13 °F (−25 °C) on December 24, 1963, and the highest temperature ever was 108 °F (42 °C) on July 13, 1980. Over the course of a year, there is an average of 4.4 days of (sub-)freezing highs, 6.9 nights of sub-20 °F (−7 °C) lows, 43 nights of (sub-)freezing lows, 64 days of 90 °F (32 °C)+ highs, and 2.1 days of 100 °F (38 °C)+ highs.
Annual precipitation is high (53.68 inches (1,360 mm)) and is relatively evenly distributed throughout the year, though the period August through October can be much drier. Rainfall peaks again in March–May and November–December.
|Climate data for Memphis (Memphis Int'l), 1981−2010 normals|
|Record high °F (°C)||79
|Average high °F (°C)||49.8
|Average low °F (°C)||32.6
|Record low °F (°C)||−8
|Precipitation inches (mm)||3.98
|Snowfall inches (cm)||1.9
|Avg. precipitation days (≥ 0.01 in)||9.5||9.2||10.5||9.6||10.3||9.0||8.0||6.8||7.3||7.5||9.5||9.7||106.9|
|Avg. snowy days (≥ 0.1 in)||1.2||0.8||0.4||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0.1||0.4||2.9|
|Mean monthly sunshine hours||167.4||175.2||213.9||255.0||300.7||321.0||325.5||306.9||252.0||244.9||174.0||151.9||2,888.4|
|Source: NOAA (extremes 1875−present), Hong Kong Observatory (sun only, 1961−1990)|
For historical population data, see: History of Memphis, Tennessee.
- Black or African American: 62.6%
- White: 31.7% (Non-Hispanic Whites: 29.5%)
- Hispanic or Latino (of any race): 5.0%
- Asian: 1.7%
- Native American: 0.2%
- Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander: 0.1%
- Some other race: 2.7%
- Two or more races: 1.2%
As of the census of 2011, there were 652,078 people and 245,836 households in the city. The population density was 2,327.4 people per sq mi (898.6/km²). There were 271,552 housing units at an average density of 972.2 per sq mi (375.4/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 61.41% African American, 34.41% White, down from 62.8% in 1950, 1.46% Asian, 0.19% Native American, 0.04% Pacific Islander, 1.45% from other races, and 1.04% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 2.97% of the population.
The median income for a household in the city was $32,285, and the median income for a family was $37,767. Males had a median income of $31,236 versus $25,183 for females. The per capita income for the city was $17,838. About 17.2% of families and 20.6% of the population were below the poverty line, including 30.1% of those under age 18, and 15.4% of those age 65 or over. The U.S. Census Bureau ranks Memphis as the poorest city in the country.
The Memphis Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA), the 42nd largest in the United States, has a 2010 population of 1,316,100 and includes the Tennessee counties of Shelby, Tipton, and Fayette, as well as the Mississippi counties of DeSoto, Marshall, Tate, and Tunica, and Crittenden County, Arkansas. The total metropolitan area has a higher proportion of whites and a higher per capita income than in the city.
Since its founding, Memphis has been home to persons of many different faiths. An 1870 map of Memphis shows religious buildings of the Baptist, Catholic, Episcopal, Methodist, Presbyterian, Congregational, and other Christian denominations and a Jewish congregation. In 2009, places of worship exist for Christians, Jews, Hindus, Buddhists, and Muslims.
The international headquarters of the Church of God in Christ, the second-largest Pentecostal denomination in the United States, is located in Memphis. Named after the denomination's founder, Charles Harrison Mason, Mason Temple is where Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. gave his famous "I've Been to the Mountaintop" speech in April 1968, the day before he was assassinated in Memphis. The church's Temple of Deliverance is the venue of the National Civil Rights Museum's Freedom Awards.
Bellevue Baptist Church is a Southern Baptist megachurch in Memphis that was founded in 1903. Its current membership is around 30,000. For many years, it was led by the late Adrian Rogers, a three-term president of the Southern Baptist Convention.
Other notable and/or large churches in Memphis include Second Presbyterian Church (EPC), Evergreen Presbyterian Church (PCUSA), Colonial Park United Methodist Church, Christ United Methodist Church, Idlewild Presbyterian Church (PCUSA), The Pentecostal Church (UPCI), and Calvary Episcopal Church.
Memphis is home to two cathedrals. The Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception is the seat of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Memphis, and St. Mary's Episcopal Cathedral is the seat of the Episcopal Diocese of West Tennessee.
Memphis is home to Temple Israel, a Reform synagogue that has approximately 7,000 members, making it one of the largest Reform synagogues in the country. Baron Hirsch Synagogue is the largest Orthodox shul in the United States.
Memphis is home to an estimated 10,000 to 15,000 Muslims of various cultures and ethnicities.
A number of Seminaries are located in Memphis and the metropolitan area. Memphis is home to Memphis Theological Seminary and Harding School of Theology. Suburban Cordova is home to Mid-America Baptist Theological Seminary.
The city's central location has led to much of its business development. Located on the Mississippi River and intersected by five major freight railroads and two Interstate Highways, I-40 and I-55, Memphis is ideally located for commerce in the transportation and shipping industry. A third interstate, I-69, is under construction, and a fourth, I-22, has recently been designated from the former High Priority Corridor X. River barges are unloaded onto trucks and trains. The city is home to Memphis International Airport, the world's second busiest cargo airport (following Hong Kong), which serves as a primary hub for FedEx Express shipping.
Memphis is the home of three Fortune 500 companies: FedEx, AutoZone, and International Paper. Other major corporations based in Memphis include Allenberg Cotton, American Residential Services (also known as ARS/Rescue Rooter), Baker, Donelson, Bearman, Caldwell & Berkowitz, Cargill Cotton, City Gear, First Horizon National Corporation, Evergreen Packaging, Fred's, GTx, Guardsmark, Lenny's Sub Shop, Perkins Restaurant and Bakery, ServiceMaster, Thomas & Betts, True Temper Sports, Varsity Brands, and Verso Paper. Corporations with major operations based in Memphis include Carrier, Merck & Co., Medtronic, Sharp Manufacturing, Smith & Nephew, and Technicolor Home Entertainment Services. The Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis also has a branch in Memphis.
The entertainment and film industries have discovered Memphis in recent years. Several major motion pictures, most of which were recruited and assisted by the Memphis & Shelby County Film and Television Commission, have been filmed in Memphis, including Making the Grade (1984), Elvis and Me (1988), Great Balls of Fire! (1988), Heart of Dixie (1989), Mystery Train (1989), The Silence of the Lambs (1991), Trespass (1991), The Gun in Betty Lou's Handbag (1992), The Firm (1993), The Delta (1996), The People Vs. Larry Flynt (1996), The Rainmaker (1997), Cast Away (2000), 21 Grams (2002), A Painted House (2002), Hustle & Flow (2005), Forty Shades of Blue (2005), Walk the Line (2005), Black Snake Moan (2007), Nothing But the Truth (2008), Soul Men (2008), and The Grace Card (2011). The Blind Side (2009) was set in Memphis but filmed in Atlanta. The 1992 television movie Memphis, starring Memphis native Cybill Shepherd, who also served as executive producer and writer, was also filmed in Memphis. The city lost The Blind Side, whose production was lured to Georgia, and Memphis Beat, a television series on TNT set in Memphis, was lured to Louisiana.
Arts and culture
One of the largest celebrations of the city is Memphis in May. The month-long series of events promotes Memphis' heritage and outreach of its people far beyond the city's borders. The four main events are the Beale Street Music Festival, International Week, The World Championship Barbecue Cooking Contest, and the Sunset Symphony. The World Championship Barbecue Cooking Contest is the largest pork barbecue-cooking contest in the world.
In April, downtown Memphis celebrates "Africa in April Cultural Awareness Festival," or simply Africa in April. The festival was designed to celebrate the arts, history, culture, and diversity of the African diaspora. Africa in April is a three-day festival with vendors' markets, fashion showcases, blues showcases, and an international diversity parade.
During June, Memphis is home to the Memphis Italian Festival at Marquette Park. For over 20 years, the festival has hosted musical acts, local artisans, and Italian cooking competitions. It also presents chef demonstrations, the Coors Light Competitive Bocce Tournament, the Galtelli Cup Recreational Bocce Tournament, a volleyball tournament, and pizza tossing demonstrations.
Carnival Memphis, formerly known as the Memphis Cotton Carnival, is an annual series of parties and festivities in June that salutes various aspects of Memphis and its industries. An annual King and Queen of Carnival are secretly selected to reign over Carnival activities. From 1935 to 1982, the African-American community staged the Cotton Makers Jubilee; it has merged with Carnival Memphis.
A market and arts festival, the Cooper-Young Festival, is held annually in September in the Cooper-Young district of Midtown Memphis. The event draws artists from all over North America and includes local music, art sales, contests, and displays.
Memphis sponsors several film festivals: the Indie Memphis Film Festival, Outflix, and the Memphis International Film and Music Festival. The Indie Memphis Film Festival is in its 14th year and was held April 27–28, 2013.  Recognized by MovieMaker Magazine as one of 25 "Coolest Film Festivals" (2009) and one of 25 "Festivals Worth the Entry Fee" (2011), Indie Memphis offers Memphis year-round independent film programming, including the Global Lens international film series, IM Student Shorts student films, and an outdoor concert film series at the historic Levitt Shell. The Outflix Film Festival, also in its 15th year, was held September 7–13, 2013. Outflix features a full week of LGBT cinema, including short films, features, and documentaries. The Memphis International Film and Music Festival is held in April; it is in its 11th year and takes place at Malco's Ridgeway Four.
On the weekend before Thanksgiving, the Memphis International Jazz Festival is held in the South Main Historic Arts District in Downtown Memphis. This festival promotes the important role Memphis has played in shaping Jazz nationally and internationally. Acts such as George Coleman, Herman Green, Kirk Whalum and Marvin Stamm all come out of the rich musical heritage in Memphis.
Formerly titled the W. C. Handy Awards, the International Blues Awards are presented by the Blues Foundation (headquartered in Memphis) for Blues music achievement. Weeklong playing competitions are held, as well as an awards banquet including a night of performance and celebration.
Memphis is the home of founders and pioneers of various American music genres, including Memphis soul, Memphis blues, gospel, rock n' roll, Buck, crunk, and "sharecropper" country music (in contrast to the "rhinestone" country sound of Nashville).
Musicians like Jerry Lee Lewis, Johnny Cash, Elvis Presley, Carl Perkins, Roy Orbison, Booker T. & the M.G.'s, Otis Redding, Isaac Hayes, Shawn Lane, Sam & Dave, and B.B. King, all got their start in Memphis in the 1950s/60s.
Beale Street is a national historical landmark, and shows the impact Memphis has had on American blues, particularly after World War II as electric guitars took precedence. Sam Phillips' Sun Studio, the most seminal recording studio in American popular music, still stands, and is open for tours. Elvis, Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis, Carl Perkins, and Roy Orbison all made their first recordings there and were "discovered" by Phillips. Many great blues artists recorded there, such as W. C. Handy, Father of the Blues.
Stax Records created a classic 60s soul music, much grittier and horn-based than Motown. Booker T. and the M.G.'s were the label's backing band for most of the classic hits that came out of Stax, by Sam and Dave, Otis Redding, Wilson Pickett, and many more. The sound still lives on in the Blues Brothers movie, in which many of the musicians starred as themselves.
Several notable singers are from the Memphis area, including Justin Timberlake, Aretha Franklin, Ruth Welting and Kallen Esperian. The Metropolitan Opera of New York had its first tour in Memphis in 1906; in the 1990s it decided to tour only larger cities. Metropolitan Opera performances are now broadcast in HD at local movie theaters across the country.
In addition to the Brooks Museum and Dixon Gallery and Gardens, Memphis plays host to two burgeoning visual art areas, one city-sanctioned, and the other organically formed.
The South Main Arts District is an arts neighborhood in south downtown. Over the past 20 years, the area has morphed from a derelict brothel and juke joint neighborhood to a gentrified, well-lit area sponsoring "Trolley Night," when arts patrons stroll down the street to see fire spinners, djs playing in front of clubs, specialty shops and galleries.
Another developing arts district in Memphis is Broad Street. This east-west avenue is undergoing neighborhood revitalization from the influx of craft and visual artists taking up residence and studios in the area. An art professor from Rhodes College holds small openings on the first floor of his home for local students and professional artists. Odessa, another art space on Broad Street, hosts student art shows and local electronic music. Other gallery spaces spring up for semi-annual artwalks.
Memphis also has non-commercial visual arts organizations and spaces, including local painter Pinkney Herbert's Marshall Arts gallery, on Marshall Ave. near Sun Studios, another arts neighborhood characterized by affordable rent.
Many works of fiction and literature are set in Memphis. These include The Reivers by William Faulkner (1962), September, September by Shelby Foote (1977); Peter Taylor's The Old Forest and Other Stories (1985), and his the Pulitzer Prize-winning A Summons to Memphis (1986); The Firm (1991) and The Client (1993), both by John Grisham; Memphis Afternoons: a Memoir by James Conaway (1993), Plague of Dreamers by Steve Stern (1997); Cassina Gambrel Was Missing by William Watkins (1999); The Guardian by Beecher Smith (1999), "We are Billion-Year-Old Carbon" by Corey Mesler (2005), The Silence of the Lambs by Thomas Harris, and The Architect by James Williamson (2007).
Tourism and recreation
Museums and art collections
Media related to Museums in Memphis, Tennessee at Wikimedia Commons
Many museums of interest are located in Memphis.
National Civil Rights Museum
The National Civil Rights Museum is located in the former Lorraine Motel where Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated. It includes a historical overview of the American civil rights movement.
Brooks Museum of Art
The Memphis Brooks Museum of Art, founded in 1916, is the oldest and largest fine art museum in the state of Tennessee. The Brooks' permanent collection includes works from the Italian Renaissance and Baroque eras to British, French Impressionists, and 20th-century artists.
Belz Museum of Asian and Judaic Art
The Belz Museum of Asian and Judaic Art, founded in 1988, is located in downtown memphis near the historic Peabody Hotel. It is sometimes locally referred to as "The Jade Museum" because of the large collection of Asian art made out of jade. In addition to its extensive collection of Asian artwork, it contains a sizable collection of Judaic art.
Dixon Gallery and Gardens
The Dixon Gallery and Gardens, founded in 1976, focuses on French and American impressionism and features works by Monet, Degas, and Renoir, as well as pieces by Pierre Bonnard, Mary Cassatt, Marc Chagall, Honoré Daumier, Henri Fantin-Latour, Paul Gauguin, Henri Matisse, Berthe Morisot, Edvard Munch, Auguste Rodin, and Alfred Sisley, as well as an extensive collection of works by French Impressionist artist Jean-Louis Forain. The museum also houses the Stout Collection of 18th-century German porcelain. With nearly 600 pieces of tableware and figures, it is one of the finest such collections in the United States. The Dixon campus also contains a 17 acre public garden.
Children's Museum of Memphis
The Children's Museum of Memphis exhibits interactive and educational activities for children to take part in, including a skyscraper maze, an airplane cockpit (donated by FedEx), a fire engine, an art studio, grocery store, and, most recently, a mechanic's garage sponsored by AutoZone, Inc.
Graceland, the former home of music legend Elvis Presley, is one of the most visited houses in the United States (second only to the White House), attracting over 600,000 visitors a year. Featured at Graceland are two of Presley's private airplanes, his extensive automobile and motorcycle collection and other Elvis memorabilia. On November 7, 1991, Graceland was listed in the National Register of Historic Places.
The Pink Palace Museum serves as the Mid-South's major science and historical museum, and features exhibits ranging from archeology to chemistry. It includes the third largest planetarium in the United States and an IMAX theater. One exhibit features a replica of the original Piggly Wiggly store, the first self-service grocery store, commemorating the invention of the supermarket by Memphian Clarence Saunders in 1916.
Memphis Walk of Fame
The Memphis Walk of Fame is a public exhibit located in the Beale Street historic district, which is modeled after the Hollywood Walk of Fame, but is designated exclusively for Memphis musicians, singers, writers, and composers. Honorees include W. C. Handy, B.B. King, Bobby Blue Bland, and Alberta Hunter, among others.
Mud Island River Park
Mud Island River Park and Mississippi River Museum is located on Mud Island in downtown Memphis. The park is noted for its River Walk, a 2112:1 scale working model showing 1,000 miles (1,600 km) of the Lower Mississippi River, from Cairo, Illinois to New Orleans, Louisiana and the Gulf of Mexico. 30 inches (76 cm) in the model equal 1 mile (1.6 km) of the Mississippi River. The Walk stretches roughly 0.5 miles (800 m), allowing visitors to walk in the water and see models of cities and bridges along the way.
The Stax Museum is a museum located at 926 McLemore Avenue, the former location of Stax Records. The original building, a converted movie theatre where artists such as Otis Redding, Isaac Hayes, Booker T. & the M.G.'s, Sam & Dave and many others recorded throughout the 60's and 70's, was torn down, but the original front was reconstructed on the original property. It is operated by Soulsville USA, which also operates the adjacent Stax Music Academy. The original Satellite Record Shop was also reconstructed beside it. It is the only museum in the United States to be devoted entirely to soul music.
Chucalissa Indian Village
Chucalissa Indian Village is a Walls Phase mound and plaza complex that was occupied, abandoned and reoccupied several times throughout its history, spanning from 1000 to 1550 CE. Civilian Conservation Corps workers discovered Native American artifacts on the site in 1938 and archaeological excavations of this Mississippian mound complex were initiated. The facility has been operated by the University of Memphis since 1962. In 1973 Chucalissa Indian Village was added to the National Register of Historic Places. Later, in 1994, it was declared a National Historic Landmark. It is the site of the Southeast Indian Heritage Festival held annually in October.
Media related to Cemeteries in Memphis, Tennessee at Wikimedia Commons
Historic Elmwood Cemetery is one of the oldest rural garden cemeteries in the South, and contains the Carlisle S. Page Arboretum. Memorial Park Cemetery is noted for its sculptures by Mexican artist Dionicio Rodriguez.
Elvis Presley was originally buried in Forest Hill Cemetery, the resting place of his backing band's bassist, Bill Black, but after an attempted grave robbing, his body was moved to the grounds of Graceland.
|Memphis Sounds||ABA||1967 - 1975||Mid-South Coliseum|
|Memphis Grizzlies||NBA||1995 - Present||FedEx Forum|
|Memphis Redbirds||MiLB||1998 - Present||Autozone Park|
|Mississippi RiverKings||SPHL||1992 - Present||Lander's Center|
|Memphis Tigers(Basketball)||NCAA||1920 - Present||FedEx Forum|
|Memphis Tigers(Football)||NCAA||1920 - Present||Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium|
|Memphis Tigers(Baseball)||NCAA||1920 - Present||FedExPark|
|Memphis Tigers(Soccer)||NCAA||1920 - Present||Mike Rose Soccer Complex|
|Memphis Hound Dogs||NFL||(1993) Proposed||Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium|
|Memphis Showboats||USFL||(1984 - 1986) To Return in Spring 2015||Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium|
The University of Memphis college basketball team, the Memphis Tigers, has a strong following in the city due to a history of competitive success. The Tigers have competed in three NCAA Final Fours (1973, 1985, 2008), with the latter two appearances being vacated. The current coach of the Memphis Tigers is Josh Pastner, who coached the Tigers to NCAA appearances in three of his first four seasons.
The Memphis Grizzlies of the National Basketball Association is the only team from one of the "big four" major sports leagues in the city; however, the minor leagues are well represented. The Memphis Redbirds of the Pacific Coast League is a Class AAA baseball farm team for the St. Louis Cardinals. The Mississippi RiverKings, formerly the Memphis RiverKings, is a professional hockey team of the Southern Professional Hockey League which plays its home games at Lander's Center in Southhaven, Mississippi
Memphis is home to Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium, the site of University of Memphis football, the Liberty Bowl and the Southern Heritage Classic. The annual St. Jude Classic, a regular part of the PGA Tour, is also held in the city. Each February the city hosts the Regions Morgan Keegan Championships and the Cellular South Cup, which are men's ATP World Tour 500 series and WTA events, respectively.
Memphis has a significant history in pro wrestling. Jerry "The King" Lawler and Jimmy "The Mouth of the South" Hart are among the sport's most well-known figures who came out of the city. Sputnik Monroe, a wrestler of the 1950s, like Lawler, promoted racial integration in the city. Ric Flair also noted Memphis as his birthplace.
Memphis has been represented by several now-defunct professional sports franchises, including the Memphis Pharaohs of Arena Football, the Memphis Maniax of the XFL, the Memphis Xplorers of the AF2, the Memphis Showboats of the USFL, the Memphis Southmen of the WFL, the Memphis Houn'Dawgs of the ABA, the Memphis Sounds of the original ABA in the late 1960s and early 1970s, and the Memphis Mad Dogs of the CFL.
In the 1970s and early 1980s, the former WFL franchise Memphis Southmen / Memphis Grizzlies sued the NFL in an attempt to be accepted as an expansion franchise. In 1993, the Memphis Hound Dogs was a proposed NFL expansion that was passed over in favor of the Jacksonville Jaguars and Carolina Panthers. Memphis also served as the temporary home of the former Tennessee Oilers while the city of Nashville worked out stadium issues.
Media related to Parks in Memphis, Tennessee at Wikimedia Commons
Major Memphis parks include W.C. Handy Park, Tom Lee Park, Audubon Park, Overton Park including the Old Forest Arboretum, the Lichterman Nature Center (a nature learning center), the Memphis Botanic Garden, and Jesse H Turner Park.
Shelby Farms park, located at the eastern edge of the city, is one of the largest urban parks in the United States.
Other points of interest
Blues fans can visit Beale Street, which used to be the center of the Black community, where a young B.B. King used to play his guitar. He occasionally appears there at the club bearing his name, which he partially owns. Street performers play live music, and bars and clubs feature live entertainment until dawn.
The Memphis Zoo, which is located in midtown Memphis, features many exhibits of mammals, birds, fish, and amphibians from all over the world. The zoo's giant panda exhibit is one of only five in North America. The Memphis Zoo is one of few that have successfully resulted in live births of rhinoceros in captivity.
The Peabody Hotel is well known for the "Peabody Ducks" that live on the hotel rooftop, making the journey to the hotel lobby in a daily "March of Ducks" ritual.
Sun Studio is a highly influential recording studio opened on 3 January 1950 by rock pioneer Sam Phillips at 706 Union Avenue. It is available for tour, which is where Elvis Presley first recorded "My Happiness" and "That's When Your Heartaches Begin". Other famous musicians who got their start at Sun include Johnny Cash, Rufus Thomas, Charlie Rich, Howlin' Wolf, Roy Orbison, Carl Perkins, and Jerry Lee Lewis. It now contains a museum as well as the still-functioning and operating studio.
The Orpheum Theatre
The Orpheum Theatre was built in 1928 upon the former property of the Grand Opera House, which was burnt to the ground in 1923 during a strip tease performance by Blossom Seeley. After vaudeville's popularity waned, the building was purchased by the Malco Theatres theater chain in 1940 and presented first-run movies until Malco sold the building in 1976. The Orpheum is now managed by the Memphis Development Foundation and presents 10 to 12 Broadway shows each year. The theatre is also home to two of Memphis' local arts groups, Ballet Memphis and Opera Memphis.
The New Daisy Theater
The New Daisy Theater is an all-ages concert venue located on Beale Street. After 11 pm, only those at least 18 years of age are allowed on Beale—unless they are going to (or from) a destination point like the New Daisy. The New Daisy routinely presents some of the biggest acts to come to the Mid South. Possibly the most popular venue in Memphis, past acts have included Ani DiFranco, AFI, Cannibal Corpse, GWAR, Insane Clown Posse, Keller Williams, Lamb of God, Led Zeppelin, The Doors, and Black Sabbath among many others. The venue also, on occasion, hosts the Gorilla Production Battle of the Bands as well as Mixed Martial Arts fights.
Mud Island Amphitheater
Located on Front Avenue, the Mud Island Amphitheater is a concert venue with an approximate capacity of 5,000 viewers. As one of the two major concert venues in Memphis, past acts have included the likes of R.E.M., Phish, 311, The Black Crowes, Fall Out Boy, Journey, New Kids on the Block, O.A.R., Pat Benatar, Smashing Pumpkins, Steely Dan, and Willie Nelson.
The Pyramid Arena is a former athletic and music venue. It is one of the first sights seen when entering the city from West Memphis via the Memphis-Arkansas Memorial Bridge. The facility was built in 1991 and was originally owned and operated jointly by the city of Memphis and Shelby County. Its unique structure plays on the city's namesake in Egypt, known for its ancient pyramids. At 321 feet (98 m), it is the sixth-largest pyramid in the world behind the Great Pyramid of Giza 456 ft (139 m), Khafre's Pyramid 446 ft (136 m), the Luxor Hotel 348 ft (106 m), the Red Pyramid 341 ft (104 m) and the Bent Pyramid 331 ft (101 m). As a music venue, it was the largest in Memphis, presenting such acts as R.E.M., Phish, Aerosmith, Janet Jackson, The Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan, The Doobie Brothers, and Lynyrd Skynyrd. Bob Seger & The Silver Bullet Band was the last concert ever held in The Pyramid in 2008.
It has been host to the University of Memphis NCAA basketball team, the Memphis Grizzlies NBA team, the Great Midwest Conference basketball tournament, the Southeastern Conference basketball tournament, the Conference USA basketball tournaments, and the 2003 Conference USA women's basketball tournament. It has also hosted first and second rounds of the NCAA Tournament and a pay-per-view event by the WWF. The Pyramid was the venue of the boxing match between Lennox Lewis and Mike Tyson in 2002.
In 2008, the City of Memphis began leasing The Pyramid to Bass Pro Shops; the facility is to become Bass Pro's largest superstore in the country with a projected grand opening by August 2014.
Law and government
Memphis is governed by a mayor and 13 City Council members, six elected at large from throughout the city and seven elected from geographic districts. In 1995, the council adopted a new district plan which changed council positions to all districts. This plan provides for nine districts, seven with one representative each and two districts with three representatives each. The previous mayor of the city of Memphis was W. W. Herenton. He resigned from his office, effective July 30, 2009. After Herenton's resignation, Myron Lowery served as Mayor Pro Tem for less than three months, one of the shortest terms in Memphis history. Former Shelby County mayor A C Wharton is the current mayor.
In recent years, there have been often rancorous discussions of the potential of a consolidation of unincorporated Shelby County and Memphis into a metropolitan government. Consolidation was a referendum item on the 2010 ballot in Memphis and Shelby County, but failed with 85% of the county voting against it.
In 2004, violent crime in Memphis reached a decade record low. However, that trend subsequently reversed. In 2005, Memphis was ranked the fourth most dangerous city with a population of 500,000 or higher in the U.S. Crime in Memphis increased in 2005, and saw a dramatic rise in the first half of 2006. Nationally, cities follow similar trends, and crime numbers tend to be cyclical. Local experts and criminologists cite gang recruitment as one possible cause of the rise in crime in Memphis, as well as a reduction of 66% of federal funding to the Memphis Police Department due to sequestration and Republican cutbacks on taxes.
In the first half of 2006, robbery of businesses increased 52.5%, robbery of individuals increased 28.5%, and homicides increased 18% over the same period of 2005. The Memphis Police Department responded with the initiation of Operation Blue C.R.U.S.H. (Crime Reduction Using Statistical History), which targets crime hotspots and repeat offenders.
Memphis ended 2005 with 154 murders, and 2006 ended with 160; in 2007 there were 164 murders, 2008 had 138, and 2009 had 132. Violent crimes dropped from 12,939 in 2008 to 12,047. Robbery dropped from 4,788 in 2008 to 4,137 in 2009. Aggravated assault dropped 53,870 in 2008 to 47,158 in 2009 (FBI's UCR). In 2006 and 2007, the Memphis metropolitan area ranked second most dangerous in the nation among cities with a population over 500,000. It also ranked as most dangerous in 2002 and second most dangerous in 2001. In 2006, the Memphis metropolitan area ranked number one in violent crimes for major cities around the U.S., according to the FBI's annual crime rankings, whereas it had ranked second in 2005.
Recent statistics show a downward trend in crime in Memphis. Between 2006 and 2008, the crime rate fell by 16%, while the first half of 2009 saw a reduction in serious crime of over 10% from the previous year. The Memphis Police Department's use of the FBI National Incident Based Reporting System, which is a more detailed method of reporting crimes than what is used in many other major cities, has been cited as a reason for Memphis' frequent appearance on lists of most dangerous U.S. cities.
The city is served by Shelby County Schools. On March 8, 2011, residents voted to disband Memphis City Schools, effectively merging it with the Shelby County School District. The merger took effect effective the start of the 2013-14 school year.
The Shelby County School System is home to over 200 elementary, middle, and high schools.
The Memphis area is home to many private, college-prep schools: Briarcrest Christian School (co-ed), Christian Brothers High School (boys), Evangelical Christian School (co-ed), First Assembly Christian School (co-ed), Hutchison School (girls), Lausanne Collegiate School (co-ed), Memphis University School (boys), Saint Benedict at Auburndale (co-ed), St. George's Independent School (co-ed), St. Agnes Academy (girls), Bishop Byrne Middle and High School (co-ed), Immaculate Conception Cathedral School (girls), St. Mary's Episcopal School (girls), and Elliston Baptist Academy (co-ed). Also included in this list is Memphis Harding Academy, a co-ed school affiliated with the Churches of Christ.
Colleges and universities located in the city include the University of Memphis, including University of Memphis Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law, Rhodes College, Christian Brothers University, Memphis College of Art, LeMoyne–Owen College, Baptist College of Health Sciences, Memphis Theological Seminary, Harding School of Theology, Embry–Riddle Aeronautical University, Worldwide (Memphis Campus), Reformed Theological Seminary (satellite campus), William R. Moore College of Technology, Southern College of Optometry, Southwest Tennessee Community College, Tennessee Technology Center at Memphis, Visible Music College, and the University of Tennessee Health Science Center. Memphis also has campuses of several for-profit post-secondary institutions, including Victory University (formerly Crichton College), Concorde Career College, ITT Technical Institute, Remington College, and University of Phoenix.
Major broadcast television affiliate stations in the Memphis area include, but are not limited to:
- WREG, channel 3, CBS
- WMC, channel 5, NBC
- WKNO, channel 10, PBS
- WHBQ, channel 13, Fox
- WATN, channel 24, ABC
- WLMT, channel 30, The CW
- WPXX, channel 50, Ion
Memphis is the subject of numerous pop and country songs, including "The Memphis Blues" by W. C. Handy, "Memphis, Tennessee" by Chuck Berry, "Night Train to Memphis" by Roy Acuff, "Goin' to Memphis" by Paul Revere and the Raiders, "Queen of Memphis" by Confederate Railroad, "Memphis Soul Stew" by King Curtis, "Maybe It Was Memphis" by Pam Tillis, "Graceland" by Paul Simon, "Memphis Train" by Rufus Thomas, "All the Way from Memphis" by Mott the Hoople, "Wrong Side of Memphis" by Trisha Yearwood, "Stuck Inside of Mobile with the Memphis Blues Again" by Bob Dylan, "Memphis Skyline" by Rufus Wainwright, "Sequestered in Memphis" by The Hold Steady, and most notably, "Walking in Memphis" by Marc Cohn.
In addition, Memphis is mentioned in scores of other songs, including "Proud Mary" by Creedence Clearwater Revival, "Honky Tonk Women" by The Rolling Stones, "Dixie Chicken" by Little Feat, Who's Gonna Fill Their Shoes" by George Jones, "Daisy Jane" by America, "Life Is a Highway" by Tom Cochrane, "Black Velvet" by Alannah Myles, "Cities" by Talking Heads, "Crazed Country Rebel" by Hank Williams III, "Pride (In the Name of Love)" by U2, "M.E.M.P.H.I.S." by the Disco Biscuits, "New New Minglewood Blues" by The Grateful Dead, "You Should Be Glad" by Widespread Panic, "Roll With Me" by 8Ball & MJG, and many others.
The Interstate Highways, Interstate 40, Interstate 55, and Interstate 240, are the main expressways in the Memphis area. Interstates 40 and 55 cross the Mississippi River at Memphis from the state of Arkansas.
The nearly completed Interstate 22 connects Memphis with Birmingham, Alabama, via northern Mississippi (including Tupelo) and northwestern Alabama. This expressway follows the same route as U.S. Route 78. Other important federal highways though Memphis include the east-west U.S. Route 70, U.S. Route 64, and U.S. Route 72; and the north-south U.S. Route 51 and U.S. Route 61. The former is the historic highway north to Chicago via Cairo, Illinois, while the latter roughly parallels the Mississippi River for most of its course and crosses the Mississippi Delta region to the south, with the Delta also legendary for Blues music.
The future Interstate 69 from northeast to southwest will pass through Memphis when it is completed, linking Brownsville, Texas to the already-existing portion that runs from Indianapolis, Indiana to Port Huron, Michigan. Segments of this highway are complete in DeSoto County, just south of Memphis. The segment of the I-69 Corridor running through the Memphis area is scheduled for completion in 2015.
A large volume of railroad freight moves through Memphis, because of its two heavy-duty Mississippi River railroad crossings, which carry several major east-west railroad freight lines, and also because of the major north-south railroad lines through Memphis which connect with such major cities as Chicago, St. Louis, Indianapolis, Louisville, New Orleans, Dallas, Houston, Mobile, and Birmingham.
By the early 20th century, Memphis had two major passenger railroad stations. After passenger railroad service declined heavily through the middle of the 20th century, the Memphis Union Station was demolished in 1969. The Memphis Central Station was eventually renovated, and it still serves the city.
The only inter-city passenger railroad service to Memphis for many decades has been the daily City of New Orleans train, operated by Amtrak, which has one train northbound and one train southbound each day between Chicago and New Orleans.
Memphis International Airport is the global "SuperHub" of FedEx Express, and has the second largest cargo operations by volume of any airport worldwide, surpassed by Hong Kong International Airport. 
Memphis International ranks as the 41st busiest passenger airport in the US and served as a hub for Delta Air Lines until September 3, 2013. and had 4,390,000 boarding passengers (enplanements) in 2011, an 11.9% decrease over the previous year. Delta has reduced its flights at Memphis by approximately 65% since its 2008 merger with Northwest Airlines and operates an average of 30 daily flights as of December 2013. There are currently no international passenger flights operating at Memphis International Airport which has seen declining passenger and aircraft movements due to flight cutbacks. Delta Air Lines announced the closing of its Memphis pilot and crew base in 2012. Other airlines providing passenger service are: Southwest Airlines; American Airlines; SeaPort Airlines; United Airlines and US Airways.
Memphis has the second-busiest cargo port on the Mississippi River, which is also the fourth-busiest inland port in the United States. The International Port of Memphis covers both the Tennessee and Arkansas sides of the Mississippi River from river mile 725 (km 1167) to mile 740 (km 1191). A focal point of the river port is the industrial park on President's Island, just south of Downtown Memphis.
Four railroad and highway bridges cross the Mississippi River at Memphis. In order of their opening years, these are the Frisco Bridge (1892, single-track rail), the Harahan Bridge (1916, a road-rail bridge until 1949, currently carries double-track rail), the Memphis-Arkansas Memorial Bridge (Highway, 1949; later incorporated into Interstate 55), and the Hernando de Soto Bridge (Interstate 40, 1973).
Memphis's primary utility provider is the Memphis Light, Gas and Water Division (MLGW). This is the largest three-service municipal utility in the United States, providing electricity, natural gas, and pure water service to all residents of Shelby County. Prior to that, Memphis was served by two primary electric companies, which were merged into the Memphis Power Company. The City of Memphis bought the private company in 1939 to form MLGW, which was an early customer of electricity from the Tennessee Valley Authority.
MLGW still buys most of its power from TVA, and the company pumps its own fresh water from the Memphis Aquifer, using more than 180 water wells.
The Memphis and Shelby County region supports numerous hospitals, including the Methodist and Baptist Memorial health systems, two of the largest private hospitals in the country.
Methodist Le Bonheur Healthcare, the largest healthcare provider in the Mid-South, operates seven hospitals and several rural clinics. Modern Healthcare magazine ranked Methodist Healthcare in the top 100 integrated healthcare networks in the United States. Methodist Healthcare operates, among others, the Le Bonheur Children's Hospital, which offers primary level 1 pediatric trauma care, as well as a nationally recognized pediatric brain tumor program.
Baptist Memorial Healthcare operates fifteen hospitals (three in Memphis), including Baptist Memorial Hospital. According to Health Care Market Guide's annual studies, Mid-Southerners have named Baptist Memorial their "preferred hospital choice for quality".
The St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, leading pediatric treatment and research facility focused on children's catastrophic diseases, resides in Memphis. The institution was conceived and built by the late entertainer Danny Thomas in 1962 as a tribute to St. Jude Thaddeus, patron saint of impossible, hopeless, and difficult causes.
Memphis is also home to the Regional Medical Center at Memphis, which is locally referred to as "The Med". In recent years, the hospital has experienced severe funding difficulties that nearly led to a reduction or elimination of emergency room services. In July 2010, The Med received approximately $40.6 million in federal and local funding to keep the Elvis Presley Trauma Center operational.
Memphis is home to Delta Medical Center of Memphis, which is the only employee-owned medical facility in North America.
Memphis has two sister cities, as per Sister Cities, International:
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- MemphisTN.gov - Official City Website
- Memphis Convention & Visitors Bureau
- Memphis Chamber of Commerce
- Memphis History
- National Weather Service Memphis, TN
- Memphis Daily Newspaper – The Commercial Appeal
- Memphis, Back in the Day – slideshow by Life magazine
- Bird's eye view of the city of Memphis, Tennessee 1870. (Library of Congress)
- Perspective map of the city of Memphis, Tenn. 1887. (Library of Congress)
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