Historic Markers Across Tennessee

Beale Street #1

Marker ID:  1
Location: Beale Street, Memphis, TN
County: Shelby
Coordinates: N 35° 8.4    W 090° 3.229
  35.14    -90.05381666
Waymark: None


Beale Street #1

392 Beale Avenue
"There were two types of culture, I guess you could say, on Beale Street. There were the sinners and there were the saved. You had your professional people, your doctors and business folk. Then you had those who worked to have some night life."
Rev. James Jordan

"Well, old Beale Street. Just like Broadway. That's what it was! Broadway in miniature. All the entertainment and everything to eat. All the sharp men, pretty girls. The works! It was right here!"
Andrew Chaplin Jr.

You're standing on the street where W.C. Handy wrote the first published blues; where Robert R. Church Sr., the South's first Black millionaire, made his mark; where General Ulysses S. Grant had a Civil War headquarters and where he returned years later to speak as President; where President Dwight Eisenhower visited; where Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. marched; where B.B. King and Elvis Presley got their start. As you walk down Beale Street you'll find illustrated panels like this one that tell a story of Beale in its heyday from the 1890s through 1960s. They feature the words and images of people who knew the street first-hand and who helped create the legend that was Beale.

These panels were developed by the Center for Southern Folklore with generous support from Holiday Corporation, the L.J. Skaggs and Mary C. Skaggs Foundation, and the National Endowment of the Humanities.