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Beale Street, Memphis

3.3
#3 of 16 in Historic Sites in Memphis
Beale Street was created in 1841 by entrepreneur and developer Robertson Topp (1807–1876), who named it for a forgotten military hero.

The original name was Beale Avenue.

Its western end primarily housed shops of trade merchants, who traded goods with ships along the Mississippi River, while the eastern part developed as an affluent suburb.

In the 1860s, many black traveling musicians began performing on Beale. The first of these to call Beale Street home were the Young Men's Brass Band, who were formed by Sam Thomas in 1867.

In the 1870s, the population of Memphis was rocked by a series of yellow fever epidemics, leading the city to forfeit its charter in 1879. During this time Robert Church purchased land around Beale Street that would eventually lead to his becoming the first black millionaire from the south. In 1890, Beale Street underwent renovation with the addition of the Grand Opera House, later known as the Orpheum. In 1899, Robert Church paid the city to create Church Park at the corner of 4th and Beale. It became a recreational and cultural center, where blues musicians could gather. A major attraction of the park was an auditorium that could seat 2,000 people. Some of the famous speakers in the Church Park Auditorium were Woodrow Wilson, Booker T. Washington, and Franklin D. Roosevelt.

In the early 1900s, Beale Street was filled with clubs, restaurants and shops, many of them owned by African-Americans. In 1889, NAACP co-founder Ida B. Wells was a co-owner and editor of an anti-segregationist paper called Free Speech based on Beale. Beale Street Baptist Church, Tennessee's oldest surviving African American Church edifice built in 1864, was also important in the early civil rights movement in Memphis.
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TripAdvisor Traveler Rating
5,807 reviews
Google
2.7
TripAdvisor
  • August 14, 2017
    Went to Beale street on a Saturday night. Was interesting to see all the different nationalities and the street dancing. Lots of security but if u get there early enough you don't have to pay to get i...  more »
  • August 14, 2017
    Read several negative reviews Nashville much more enjoyable and that many people found, but I have that it is precisely the other way around. Found Nashville more fair, noise and advanced people. Atmosphere here appealed to me more, the music from the pubs also came. We're nowhere inside because that is difficult with young children but to eat at the Hard Rock Café.
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  • August 14, 2017
    The food is great! B B Kings and other fine restaurants, you can listen to the blues or watch the sun set on the levee or go to the Peabody hotel. Wonderful place.  more »
Google
  • May 10, 2016
    Beale Street Performa Entertainment Real Estate is no longer in business on Beale Street in Memphis. Been gone from the management of Beale Street since Jan 1 2014.

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