Midtown, Memphis, Tennessee
Architecturally, Midtown Memphis, Tennessee is marked with residential vintage housing, specialty stores, and high-rise buildings, often all located on the same avenue. This is partly because much of Midtown was constructed prior to the enactment of Euclidean zoning laws, and it is not uncommon to see an apartment complex nestled inside a neighborhood.
 Midtown Is Memphis
Culturally, Midtown has a very diverse population, having an evenly distributed black and white population, as well as a notable Asian population. For this diversity Midtown Memphis has been noted in several magazines for having "the best Memphis has to offer right at your doorstep." This slogan eventually inspired a bumper sticker that can be seen throughout the city, which proclaims "Midtown is Memphis."
Within Midtown are several distinct sections that offer residents completely different experiences and choices close to home. Overton Square boasts many restaurants, is home to a great number of playhouses and a movie theater known in Memphis for showing both main stream and high quality independent films. There is a large concentration of Vietnamese businesses and housing on a section of Cleveland Avenue sometimes referred to as "Little Hanoi". The section of midtown highly populated with bars, restaurants, and heavily involved in the Memphis music scene is Cooper Young, typified by the Cooper Young Festival. Most of the bars and nightlife in Midtown have a homey, comfortable feel while still holding its share of higher end establishments and dives. Beale Street is where tourists will go to hear the blues, but it is in Midtown that the authentic Memphis music scene thrives.
The Midtown area of Memphis is one of the most unique and diverse parts of Memphis and where people go to find not Elvis and Graceland, or blues on Beale Street, but the real and thriving Memphis culture. Midtown's importance to the City of Memphis was typified by the slogan and bumper sticker "Midtown Is Memphis" which were created in 1993 by Midtowners John Branston and Tom Foster as part of a promotional campaign. More recently people have been putting on bumper stickers that simply read "38104", one of Midtown's most prominent zip codes; if you are from Midtown you will understand its meaning, otherwise it is easily overlooked.
The exact boundaries of Midtown are often disputed. Generally, it is the area between the Medical District to the west and East Memphis to the east. Some will say the eastern boundary line is East Parkway, others the CN RR line just past East Parkway, others as far east as Highland Street. The northern boundary is just as difficult to find agreement on. Some will say North Parkway, others the abandoned L&N RR line that runs NE, still others put it as far north as Jackson and even Vollintine. The southern line to Midtown is roughly the Union Pacific/CSX RR line east to McLean, south down McLean to Norfolk Southern RR line and east the eastern boundary, be it East Parkway, CN RR, or Highland. The least disputed boundary of Midtown is the western border, which is commonly regarded as the Midtown section of Interstate 240.
Midtown is bisected by three primary east-west avenues:
- Union, which since World War II has served as the area's main commercial artery;
- Poplar, which is largely fronted by 1920s apartment buildings;
- Madison, which served as pre-war Memphis' main east-west corridor. Madison Avenue was once the location of the "Dummy Line", the main east-west streetcar line that went from downtown to the Fairgrounds (east along Madison, south down Cooper, and east along Young), and many commercial and residential structures along the avenue date to the beginning of the twentieth century. Most of this stretch of Madison contains its original granite curbs, and in a few locations the original brick pavers can be seen in the gutters.
 Primary and secondary education
Midtown public schools include Bellevue Jr. High School, Snowden Elementary, Central High School and East High School, all of which offer optional programs. Several private and parochial schools are also found throughout Midtown, including Grace-St. Luke's Episcopal School, Immaculate Conception Cathedral School and Memphis Catholic High School.
 Higher education
Christian Brothers University, LeMoyne–Owen College, Memphis College of Art, Memphis Theological Seminary, Rhodes College, The University of Memphis the Southern College of Optometry and Victory University (formerly Crichton College) are located in Midtown Memphis.
 Points of interest
Midtown contains Overton Park which includes the Memphis Brooks Museum of Art, the Memphis Zoo, and the Memphis College of Art. It is also known for its many bars and restaurants, many of them featuring live music at night. These include Alex's Tavern, Bosco's, Huey's, Side Street Bar & Grill, Zinnie's, and others. Located in the Cooper-Young neighborhood are also coffeehouses, restaurants and bars, including Young Avenue Deli,Goner Records,First Church of the Elvis Impersonator, Cafe Olé, Celtic Crossing, and Java Cabana. Located in Midtown Memphis is also a local movie theatre, Studio On The Square, and the city's only professional theatre troupe, Playhouse on the Square, which currently runs three separate theatres. Grace-St. Luke's Tiffany windows are thought to be the largest collection of Tiffany windows in a parish church in the South. Central Gardens is a historic neighborhood in Midtown.
Tennessee Williams wrote his first publicly performed play, Cairo, Shanghai, Bombay! while staying the Midtown home of his grandparents, 1917 Snowden. It was first performed in 1935 at 1780 Glenview, also in Midtown.
The Cooper-Young Festival is also held annually at the intersection of Cooper and Young, in Midtown. Another area, Overton Square holds a St. Patrick's Day celebration.
Midtown was also home to the Mid-South Fair for 152 years. However, the year 2008 was the last year that the Mid-South Fair was held in Memphis. Starting in 2009, the Mid-South Fair was held on newly acquired land at Tunica Resorts, Mississippi.
 Gallery of Landmarks in Midtown
Levitt Shell in Overton Park
Memphis Zoo entrance gate
Memphis Theological Seminary of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church
Grace-St. Luke's Episcopal Church
Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium Entrance
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to: Midtown, Memphis, Tennessee|
- Overton Square - Overton Square History and Tourism Guide
- Kimberly Richard and Christina Rossini. Theatre Three, Inc. The Education Zone. Author Biography — Tennessee Williams. (Thomas Lanier Williams III). 2006.
- Tennessee State Historical Marker 2 May 2008.
- Callahan, Jody (2008-05-18). "Mid-South Fair moving to Tunica". The Commercial Appeal.
- Thomas, Peter (2008-05-22). "County lands Mid-South Fair". The Tunica Times.
- Sheffield, Michael (2008-05-20). "Tunica new home of Mid-South Fair starting in 2009". Memphis Business Journal.
||This article needs additional citations for verification. (April 2008)|