Memphis Central Station
|Location||545 S. Main Street|
Memphis, TN 38103
|Owned by||Memphis Area Transit Authority|
|Line(s)||Illinois Central (CN)|
|Platforms||1 side platform|
|Connections||MATA Main Street Trolley MATA Riverfront Loop|
|Passengers (2017)||73,637 2.09%|
Memphis Central Station, referred to as Grand Central Station prior to 1944, is a passenger terminal in Memphis, Tennessee. Located along Main Street and G.E. Patterson Boulevard in Downtown Memphis, it currently serves Amtrak's City of New Orleans route and the MATA Trolley system. The building was opened in 1914.
Central Station was built on the site of a former station known as Calhoun Street Station. Both stations were owned by the Illinois Central Railroad or its predecessors. Construction of Memphis Central Station began in September 1912, and the station was opened for service on October 4, 1914. The track design included five stub-end tracks (station tracks 1-5), and five through tracks (station tracks 6-10).
The station was also used by Yazoo and Mississippi Valley Railroad, St. Louis-San Francisco Railway, (also known as the Frisco) and Chicago, Rock Island and Pacific Railway (also known as Rock Island Railroad). Between April 1, 1964, and November 30, 1966, the Louisville and Nashville Railroad was also a tenant, during the time that Memphis Union Station was closed.
Lavender v. Kurn, 327 U.S. 645 (1946) was a case decided by the Supreme Court of the United States dealing with a negligent wrongful death case against a railroad employer under the station. The relatives of the switchtender sued for negligence under the Federal Employers Liability Act and the Supreme Court upheld the claim.
Decline and renovation
Like other large stations across America, the rapid decline of the passenger train network in the 1960s made Memphis Central Station an aging, nearly deserted monument to an earlier era. Rock Island passenger train service to Memphis ended in November 1967, and Frisco train service ended a month later, leaving Illinois Central as the sole occupant of the station.
On May 1, 1971, Amtrak took over nearly all passenger trains in the United States. Amtrak cut back service to a single train, the City of New Orleans, and large sections of Central Station were closed off and abandoned. Illinois Central offices were moved from the station, and it appeared that the station would eventually be razed, facing the same fate as Union Station.
After falling into disrepair, Memphis Central Station gained a reputation as one of the worst stations on the Amtrak system. The property was eventually acquired by Memphis Area Transit Authority, and a massive renovation project was undertaken. Much of the former waiting room area of the station would become a public meeting area, the Illinois Central office space on upper floors was converted to condominiums, and Amtrak retained a smaller presence in the former midway area of the station. The station renovation, which was completed in November 1999, helped to speed the renovation and redevelopment of this once deserted area of downtown Memphis.
Role during Hurricane Gustav (2008) evacuations
In anticipation of the landfall of Hurricane Gustav, the city of New Orleans began evacuating residents without the means to leave the city, starting on August 30, 2008. One thousand twenty-four evacuees arrived in Memphis via Amtrak.
Named trains serving Memphis Central Station
A partial list of named trains in the pre-Amtrak period that served Central Station:
- Chicago, Rock Island and Pacific Railway (Rock Island)
- Choctaw Rocket
- Hot Springs Special
- Memphis Californian
- Southwest Express
- Illinois Central Railroad
- Louisville and Nashville Railroad
- Southern Railway
- St. Louis-San Francisco Railway (Frisco)
- Kansas City-Florida Special
- Yazoo and Mississippi Valley Railroad
- Delta Express
toward Chicago Central Station
|Terminus||Memphis – Louisville||
|Yazoo and Mississippi Valley Railroad|
|Memphis – Greenwood||Terminus|
|Rock Island Line|
|Tucumcari – Memphis||Terminus|
- "Amtrak Fact Sheet, FY2017, State of Tennessee" (PDF). Amtrak. November 2017. Retrieved 4 January 2018.
- Tom Charlier (2008-08-30). "Amtrak bringing hundreds of storm evacuees to Memphis". Commercial Appeal. Retrieved 2008-08-30.
Media related to Central Station (Memphis, Tennessee) at Wikimedia Commons
- Condren, Mike. "Memphis Central Station," Memphis Historical Railroad Pages
- Parker, Tom. "IC-Memphis Central Station," Illinois Central Net
- Memphis Amtrak Station (USA Rail Guide -- Train Web)
- Memphis, TN (MEM) (Amtrak's Great American Stations)