Memphis Trivia

...and a lot of "Firsts"   


  • Memphis was named by American Heritage Magazine as the Great American Place for 1998.
  • Memphis is the Pork Barbecue Capital of the World.
  • Memphis' Official City flower is a shrub, the crepe myrtle.
  • Memphis' Official City tree is the dogwood.
  • Memphis is the home of the first Greyhound and Continental Trailways bus lines.
  • Memphis is home to FedEx, the world's largest overnight package delivery company.  It was created by Memphian Fred Smith in 1973.
  • Memphis is the busiest cargo airport in the world - because of FedEx.
  • Memphis is home to St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, founded in 1962, by entertainer Danny Thomas. St. Jude is one of the world's premier centers for research and treatment of catastrophic diseases in children. Peter Doherty, Ph.D., chairman of the hospital's immunology department was awarded the Nobel Prize for Medicine in 1996.
  • Memphis is home to one of the busiest cement terminals in the country, which is located at the foot of the Interstate 240 bridge across the Mississippi River. The Lone Star Industries terminal supports the Memphis "Home of the Blues, Birthplace of Rock'n'Roll" neon sign. More than 400,000 tons of cement are shipped each year through the Memphis port.
  • The Piggly Wiggly, the world's first self-service grocery store, opened in Memphis in 1916.
  • Memphis is the site of the first Welcome Wagon, founded here in 1928.
  • Memphis was home to the first lodging chain, Holiday Inn, which opened in 1952 by Memphian Kemmons Wilson.
  • Cleo Wrap of Memphis is the world's largest manufacturer of Christmas wrapping paper producing two billion feet of gift-wrap each year.
  • Memphis is the hardwood capital of the world.
  • Memphis is the largest spot cotton market in the world, with nearly half of the U.S. cotton crop going through Memphis.
  • Memphis has one of the top urban park systems in the nation covering 7,000 acres.
  • The Port of Memphis is the second largest inland port on the Mississippi.
  • Memphian Joseph R. Hyde created AUTO ZONE in 1979.  Today there are over 4,000 AutoZone stores nationwide.
  • Memphis is the #6 City in the nation for listings of properties in the National Register of Historic Places - behind Washington DC, Baltimore, Philadelphis, Boston, and New Orleans
  • Memphis has the world's largest artesian well water system.  Artesian well water first became available to the city in 1887.
  • Memphis is the only five-time winner of the nation's cleanest city award.
  • The Memphis Zoo was founded in 1905 when Natch, a black bear mascot for a Memphis baseball team, was kept chained to a tree in Overton Park.
  • The Rotary Lift (used by mechanics at all auto garages) was invented in Memphis in 1924.

    Memphis celebrities include Academy Award-winning actress Kathy Bates, Cybill Shepherd, Michael Jeter, Tim McCarver, and Elvis.  Other current or former area residents include: Dixie Carter, Rick Dees, Wink Martindale, Peter Taylor, W. C. Handy, Morgan Freeman, George Hamilton, Aretha Franklin, Pat Kerr Tigrett, June Haver, Dana Buchman, Shelby Foote and Justin Timberlake.
  • 24 of the 97 stars featured in the Rock'n'Roll Hall of Fame are from within a 100-mile radius of Memphis.
  • The Memphis Musicians Union, founded in 1873, is the oldest musicians' union in the country.
    Already known as the "Father of the Blues," W.C. Handy was told by George Gershwin, "Your work is the grandfather of mine."

  • W.C. Handy published the first blues song ever - The Memphis Blues - from his Pace and Handy Publishing office on Beale Street.
  • Memphis is officially recognized at the "Birthplace of the Blues"
  • "Memphis" is sung in over 1,000 song lyrics and titles, according to Billboard Magazine - more than any other name of a city in the world.
  • Memphis is the site for some major motion picture films: Great Balls of Fire, Silence of the Lambs, The Firm, The Client, A Family Thing, The People VS Larry Flynt, Cookie's Fortune, Cast Away, 21 Grams, 40 Shades of Blue, Walk the Line, Hustle & Flow and Black Snake Moan.
  • The Great Bridge at Memphis, was the first steel bridge to span the lower Mississippi in 1892.  At that time it was the longest in the nation and the 3rd longest in the world.
  • Volney, the lion who roared at the beginning of all the old MGM movies, lived at the Memphis Zoo until his death in 1944.
  • In 1954, Elvis Presley recorded "That's All Right, Mama" at Sun Studio, making Memphis the "Birthplace of Rock 'n Roll".
  • The Orpheum theatre is reported to be haunted by a little girl named Mary.  The staff has repeatedly fallen victim to her childish pranks.
  • The Hunt-Phelan Home on Beale Street was once used by Ulysses S. Grant as his headquarters during the Civil War.
  • The Orange Mound, a neighborhood in southeastern Memphis, was the first African-American neighborhood in the United States to be built FOR and BY African-Americans.
  • Tom Lee Park right on the bank of the Mississippi River is named after the hero that saved 32 people from drowning when the steamship Norman sunk in the Mississippi river.
  • Poplar Ave (highway 72) is reported to be the longest street in Tennessee beginning at front street downtown and ending in Chattanooga.
  • Neil Diamond wrote "Sweet Caroline" and "Brother Love's Traveling Salvation Show" while holed up in Memphis hotels.
  • WDIA Radio Station became the first "all-black formatted" radio station in the world in 1948.
  • In 1957, Sam Phillips and Kemmons Wilson began the first all-female staffed radio station in the world - WHER.
  • Graceland, the last home of Elvis Presley, is the second most visited historic home in America - second only to the White House.
  • Dale Evans lived and worked in Memphis prior to her marriage to singing cowboy Roy Rogers. The couple often returned to Memphis to perform and to do charity work.
  • Memphian "Machine Gun Kelly" was the nation's first "Public Enemy Number One" and the first one captured by the FBI - in Memphis, in 1934.
  • The Memphis Pyramid, at 321 feet tall, is the 3rd tallest pyramid structure in the world - behind the Pyramid of Giza, Egypt and the Luxor Hotel-Casino in Las Vegas.



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