South Main Street Historic District

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    Introduction to the South Main Street Historic District

    ••• South Main Street Historic District. Photo by Teresa R. Simpson
    Tucked away on the southern end of downtown Memphis is a quiet yet colorful community with a flavor all its own. Welcome to the South Main Historic District. In the early 1900's this area was bustling with activity. Every day fifty trains could be heard rumbling through Central Station. Passengers on those trains could eat at any one of the neighborhood's eight restaurants or stay in one of its eleven hotels. Merchants ran their shops while their families lived upstairs and even manufactures and warehouses had their place in the district.

    The Depression took its toll on the businesses in the area and then later, in the 1950's, the declining railroad industry caused many of the neighborhood's businesses to fail. Through the 1960's and 70's, the southern end of downtown Memphis sat idle and virtually abandoned. It wasn't until the 1980's that the South Main District began to see life again. Now, more than twenty years since the first present-day business opened up...MORE on South Main Street, there are dozens of shops, restaurants, galleries, and nightspots which keep the district vibrant. On the pages ahead we will take a look at these places which make the South Main District unique.

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    Art Galleries

    ••• Art Village Gallery at 410 South Main, the district's oldest international gallery. Inside, you'll find the colorful and eclectic work of artist Ephraim Urevbu, a long-time resident of Memphis, but originally from Nigeria. Photo by Teresa R. Simpson

    There is a prominent artistic presence in the South Main district that is evidenced by its multiple art galleries. In these galleries you will find a variety of painting styles, photography, sculpture, and other art forms. To showcase the art of the South Main district, as well as art from all over the country, the district is home to the annual art festival, the River Arts Fest. Below are the galleries of the South Main Historic Arts District.

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    Restaurants

    ••• At 540 South Main, the Arcade has the distinction of being Memphis' oldest restaurant. It was established in 1919. Photo by Teresa R. Simpson

    There is no shortage of places to eat in the South Main Historic Arts District. And just like everything else in the area, the food here is eclectic, too. Sure, you can get a burger and fries. Then again you could try a salmon BLT, artichoke quiche, Spanish tapas, or Jamaican ribeyes. Below are the many restaurants that bring a variety of tastes to the South Main district.

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    Shopping

    ••• Muse Inspired Fashions is a fun and eclectic little boutique with clothing and accessories for the "funky diva" and "metrosexual male." Open Monday through Saturday, 10:00 a.m. - 6:00 p.m. (c) 2006 Teresa R. Simpson, Licensed to About.com, Inc.

    In addition to art, the South Main Historic District has a variety of other merchandise for sale. In the districts shops and boutiques you can find apparel, jewelry, housewares, and even bikes. Below are the stores in the South Main district.

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    Special Attractions and Events

    ••• The National Civil Rights Museum is a world-renowned cultural attraction that draws thousands of visitors each year. This institution examines the civil rights struggles faced by both our city and our nation throughout history. Photo by Teresa R. Simpson

    Among the historic locations in the South Main district are two that should not be missed.

    • Memphis Central Station, 545 South Main Street
  • Memphis Railroad and Trolley Museum, 545 South Main Street
  • The National Civil Rights Museum, 450 Mulberry Street
  • Although there are all sorts of events going on at any given time in the South Main district, these three are perhaps the most popular.