On Saturday, October 19th, Richie, Robert, and I completed our 7th annual Memphis Walk, where we start at the cobblestones in downtown Memphis, at the Mississippi River, at sunrise and walk in a general direction (usually east-ish) until sunset.
The day started off cloudy, cool, and a bit rainy, and it stayed cool and cloudy most of the day. By the afternoon, the sun started to break through the clouds, and we finally started warming up a bit.
This year, our route took us from South Main to Germantown, largely following Barron St., which turns into Rhodes, which turns into Quince. We ended up on Poplar Pike, entering Germantown. Highlights included the (finally open, maybe) Beale Street Landing, safety warnings from firemen near Foote Homes, walking through Orange Mound on Barron Ave., crossing the MUS campus, and finally leaving Memphis.
Beale Street Landing has been under construction since at least our 2008 walk, and it seemed that they would never finish the project. In fact, they haven’t, as half of the site is still construction. Why it has taken 5 years to get this far and still not be finished is a mystery to me. The whole project smells like a boondoggle, but the views from the grass top of the main building are impressive.
Beale Street Landing is supposed to be a dock for passenger riverboats that travel up and down the Mississippi, but the use of the structure is very light right now.
We traversed some old downtown underpasses on our way to our traditional coffee spot on South Main, Bluff City Coffee.
We turned east after the Tennessee Brewery, ever the eyesore with enormous potential.
The vacant lot beside Ernestine and Hazel’s is now partially an art installation, with a grassy yard in the back that, strangely, meets the original tile floor.
Walking down Mississippi Boulevard near Foote Homes, a fireman called out to us and asked us what we were doing there. Apparently, he thought we were lost tourists, wandering through a bad neighborhood. After showing off their bulletproof wall in front of the fire station, he (perhaps only half-jokingly) asked us to write our social security numbers on our forearms for identification. We ignored him and strolled on.
Within a few blocks on or just off Peabody Ave., you can find older Victorian-style homes in various states of decay near stately homes only slightly newer but in much better shape.
While not as interesting as Summer Avenue, Lamar Avenue always holds lots of interesting sights, such as the old Lamar Theater, which appears to have a newly painted sign.
We discovered a cool entrance from Lamar to Glenview Park, under the railroad tracks.
To me, Barron Ave. was a real surprise. For all of the time I’ve been in Memphis, I’ve never traveled down the street, with runs through the southern part of the Orange Mound neighborhood. We ended up walking the length of the street, as far east as Ridgeway, watching the city transition from a troubled, working-class neighborhood to East Memphis homes and finally ending up at high-end, exclusive private schools, a real contrast.
When Neil’s in Midtown Memphis burned down a couple of years ago, we wondered where he relocated. We found his new building by accident at Quince at I-240.
I had never been on the Memphis University School (MUS) campus, so we strolled across it. The athletic fields reminded me of Rhodes College.
Balconies without doors or windows to access them, anyone? Another example of East Memphis architecture run amok.
By the time we reached the Germantown city limits on Poplar Pike, we had walked about 18.5 miles.