Memphis Moves Into Its Third Century

Memphis Moves Into Its Third Century

In 2019 Memphis Tennessee will be celebrating its two hundredth birthday. While Memphis has had a colorful and unique history, as the bicentennial approaches, the city is looking to its future.

Founded in 1819 – 1919

Memphis was founded on May 22, 1819 by a group of investors, John Overton, James Winchester, and Andrew Jackson, and was incorporated as a city in 1826. The founders planned for a large city to be built on the bluffs of the Tennessee side of the Mississippi river. The city was to be laid out on a plan featuring a regular grid of streets interrupted by four town squares, to be named Exchange, Market, Court, and Auction. The city grew in the 19th century as a center for transporting, grading and marketing the growing volumes of cotton produced in the nearby Mississippi Delta.


1919 – 2019

Memphis developed as the world's largest spot cotton market and the world's largest hardwood lumber market, both commodity products of the Mississippi Delta.

Throughout the twentieth century Memphis came to be known for its music, its food, its unique culture and its key role in the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960’s.

In 1962, entertainer and philanthropist Danny Thomas helped to open the St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital and since then the city has become home to several of the nation’s largest companies including FedEx and International Paper.

As Memphis grew it developed into the nation’s distribution hub. Access to world class transportation in the form of railways, highways and air cargo continues to entice many of the world’s largest companies to headquarter their warehousing and distribution facilities in the city.


2019 and Beyond


As the city enters its third century, Memphis is planning for growth in communities, jobs, culture and opportunities. These are a few of the great things on the horizon.

Bicentennial Gateway Project

St. Jude Children’s Hospital has grown substantially since its founding in the 1960s. The hospital draws doctors, technicians, students and caregivers of all levels to the city and has helped to make Memphis one of the leading medical centers in the U.S. St. Jude is currently planning a billion-dollar expansion of its facilities in the heart of the city and a multi-million-dollar renovation of the Memphis Cook Convention Center This will provide opportunities not only for more research and care, but opportunities for local employment.

The Bicentennial Gateway Project (named for the city’s 200th birthday in 2019) is a multi-billion-dollar plan to revitalize the Pinch and Uptown districts of the city. These areas, once home to urban blight and abandoned structures, will be cleaned up and revitalized for the patience of St. Jude and their families as well as the hospital’s employees.

Memphis 3.0

Memphis 3.0 Is a project that looks to the future and is designed to let people in Memphis participate in the growth of their communities. City planners will be working together with people in neighborhoods to make decisions pertaining to future developments. Under Memphis 3.0 several rallies will be held, inviting community members to openly share their concerns while offering suggestions about ways to improve conditions throughout the city.

The strategy consists of four components: sustainability, livability, opportunity, and connectivity. It’s the first time a plan of its kind has been introduced since 1981. According to planners working on Memphis 3.0, this time the emphasis is on community involvement.

Memphis Regional Megasite

Tennessee took over a 4,100-acre rural tract of land in 2005, and since that time this property has been in development to attract industries and companies to the state.  The Megasite covers more than six square miles and is located about 25 miles east of the city of Memphis.

Tennessee has spent $140 million on the Megasite to prepare the property for industrial development. Officials estimate an additional $75 million expenditure is necessary to fully prepare the site for industry. Due to its size, the site can contain an array of manufacturers in different industries.

The Megasite could provide nearly 10,000 jobs in the industrial park and another 24,000 jobs at supplier plants located elsewhere in West Tennessee.


Every day, more and more of the world's most respected brands choose to operate in Tennessee.




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