Uptown, Memphis

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Uptown Memphis is a neighborhood located near downtown Memphis, Tennessee.

St. Jude Children's Research Hospital and the Pinch District are located in the general vicinity.


19th century[edit]

Uptown was established in the 1840s by the Greenlaw Brothers. Partners in the establishing of Uptown were Robert Looney, John and Isaac Saffarans and E.T. Keel. Streets were paved with cobblestone with granite curbs, and were lined with sycamore trees.

Prominent Memphis families built large stately homes in the area. By 1865, blue collar workers began to build smaller homes alongside these homes creating an economically diverse community. Ethnic diversity was the norm. Immigrants from Germany and Ireland moved into the area, as did Jewish immigrants from Europe. Because of this, the area now known as Greenlaw attracted mostly Northeastern and Mid-Western families, giving the area its own distinctive culture.

In 1870, Greenlaw and Chelsea were annexed into Memphis.

20th century[edit]

The Mississippi River flooded Greenlaw in 1912, stopping construction of homes for the affluent.

In the 1920s, political power players began to move out, and Greenlaw began to lose political muscle. The government began to bulldoze older mansions in the 1930s, leaving empty lots in many cases.

Phillip Belz began industrial development in north Memphis in the 1940s. The neighborhood attracted blue-collar workers and African Americans. Bars, liquor stores and juke joints also opened up, tarnishing the family-friendly atmosphere.

In an effort to attract more white residents, the Memphis Housing Authority built an all-white housing development called Hurt Village in the 1950s.

Racial tensions were at a high in the 1960s due to the sanitation strike and assassination of Martin Luther King. Most whites who lived in Hurt Village left the area. Since then, most businesses have closed as well as industries. Non-profit groups seek ways to assist the mainly African-American residents left in the area.

21st century[edit]

In 2000, Memphis was awarded the Hope VI grant for demolition of Hurt Village. Uptown is currently becoming a mixed community that is rich in culture and people. The Blind Side took place here.

Notable residents[edit]

At one time, Elvis Presley lived in Lauderdale Courts, a small government housing project in this area which has since been renovated into a nicer apartment complex. Michael Oher, a player in the NFL, spent most of his childhood growing up in Uptown Memphis, until the Tuohy family took him in.


External links[edit]

Coordinates: 35°09′55″N 90°02′33″W / 35.1653°N 90.0425°W / 35.1653; -90.0425