Memphis in Motion

Feature story for Cloud 9 (the in-flight magazine for SeaPort Airlines)

Fall 2013

Building on its multi-layered history, business-friendly background and rich cultural heritage, Memphis pushes forward into the 21st century

Thanks to its convenient geographic placement, Memphis is known as “America’s Distribution Center.” With the busiest cargo airport in the country, five intermodal railroad facilities, the fourth largest inland port in the country,and its place on Interstate 40 as it bisects the country, Memphis has made a business out of moving all manner of raw goods,manufactured products, food, supplies and people from place to place.

But the most influential product distributed may be homegrown: Memphis culture.

The city’s founders set Memphis up as a grid atop the Chickasaw Bluff. Organized around four public parks, it looked out over the Mississippi River and the floodplains of Arkansas across the way. That grid was meant to evoke orderliness—these were businessmen, and they had businesslike dreams for their new venture.

But Memphis would not know order. It would fall under siege by the North early in the Civil War, be overtaken by the yellow fever more than once, and it would go bankrupt and lose its charter with the state. It would act as fuse for the Civil Rights movement, and home to the tragedy that would reverberate throughout the nation and pull the city apart, a tragedy that would forever be associated with Memphis . . . (read more; pg. 49)