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cdarr

Memphis Image Problems

Memphis Image Problems   53 members have voted

  1. 1. Which factor hurts the statewide/national perception of Memphis the most?

    • Crime Rate
      14
    • History of Racial Tensions
      5
    • Large Black Population (people not liking Memphis because of its racial makeup)
      17
    • Skyline/Lack of Skyscrapers
      3
    • Topography/Flat Terrain
      0
    • Blighted Areas
      5
    • Slower Pace
      1
    • Political Figures/Corruption
      3
    • Poor City Schools
      2
    • Other
      3
  2. 2. What single thing do you think would improve Memphis' image the most?

    • Violent crime rate reduced by 50%
      22
    • Herenton replaced as city major
      8
    • Ford political machine dismantled
      5
    • New 700 foot skyscraper downtown
      3
    • Major auto plant built
      0
    • City and county goverments merge
      4
    • Grizzlies win NBA title
      4
    • UofM Tigers win the Final Four
      0
    • Nothing
      2
    • Other
      5

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61 posts in this topic

While most people on this forum are pretty positive about Memphis, my experience has been that the city suffers from a generally unfavorable image statewide and nationally compared to, say, Nashville.

What do you think is the most significant factor contributing to Memphis' image problem?

What single event would do the most to change perceptions about Memphis?

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OK, who's the wiseacre who voted the Grizzlies winning a title would improve Memphis's image ? :blink:

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I do not think you can put your finger on any one item that hurts Memphis. I think it is a combination of several and that would go for the solution as well.

I was talking to a NW Airlines pilot yesterday and I guess that he lived in Collierville and he said I was right. I can always tell for some reason where those guys live. We were talking about the problems there and he mentioned several that were listed here. I know he did mention white flight to the burbs and every time Memphis annexes anything then people move. So to Metro Govt. that would probably not be the solution. There is a lot of corruption there and a lot of blighted areas and I think the one thing that could change Memphis is a very progressive strong leader with outstanding character to improve the image. There are also a lot of false misconceptions by residents from other parts of this state about Memphis. Its just like any large city, there are bad parts and good parts.

There is not going to be any one thing that will help. It has to be a combination of solutions just as there is not anyone item or person to blame here. Memphis is a great city that has not realize its potential.

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I think Memphis not only has a bad image with Tennesseans, but with Memphians as well. Its seen as a crime ridden city that is going downhill. When I lived in the Nashville area, I heard comments like "Memphis is dangerous" and "Memphis is a city of Jefferson Avenues." Obviously that latter comment was probably racialy motivated but is Memphis really dangerous? According to cdarr, your 13% more likely to be a victim of a crime in metro Memphis than you are in metro Nashville. I did some comparisons of crime in Shelby and Davidson County and here is what I found...

In total crimes reported:

9/100 Davidson County residents reported a crime

7.6/100 Shelby County residents reported a crime

In murder:

1/10,000 Davidson County residents were murdered

2/10,000 Shelby County residents were murdered.

Shelby county has twice the murder rate.

Rape:

Both counties were equal with 7/10,000 residents reporting to have been raped

Robbery

Davidson County 4/1,000

Shelby County 5/1,000

Assault

Davidson County had 112/10,000

Shelby County had 59/10,000

Do you think assults in Shelby don't get reported as much or that Davidson will beat you but not kill?

Buglary

Davidson 14/1,000

Shelby 18/1,000

Larceny

Davidson 5/100

Shelby 3.5/100

Motor Vehicle Theft

Davidson 1/1,000

Shelby 10/1,000

Your 10 times more likely to have your car stolen in Shelby than in Davidson! If your a Shelby County resident that probably doesn't surprise you lol. I remember Andy Wise going around the Oak Court Mall Parking Garage to check how many people actually locked thier cars and found many that didn't!!! Has anybody else noticed you can usually tell how safe a neighborhood is in Memphis is the number of cars parked on the streets?

After I added up all the crimes, I found out the number of these crimes and the total crimes didn't add up so I added an others category. I guess this is a combination of prositiution, DUI, arson, etc.

Others

Davidson 9/1,000

Shelby 1.2/1,000

I wonder what these crimes are. I noticed Memphis doesn't have much arson.

I think crime is a big factor in why Memphis is viewed so negatively. The news in Memphis doesn't make it any better. For example, in Memphis, Fox 13 does "Memphis' Most Wanted" while Fox 17 in Nashville calls it "Tennessees Most Wanted". This can have a factor in how people view the city. WMC does the Campus Crime Report and scares people to send thier kids in school. I just got out of high school so I know that weapons, assults, and gangs/drugs are a normal thing nowadays but parents don't know how common it is until the media talks about it. I think Memphis needs to redevelop the Graceland area. Its one of the biggest tourist attractions in the world and its in the middle of a slum. Thats not the impression we should give the world. I think when the Mall of Memphis shut down, it made many of the old residents say "Memphis is rotting." A once thriving area is now dead. Remember the 90's when American Way was packed? Now its just and empty 3 lane road. We should get our budget balanced with better leadership and less courruption and use the CSX line as light rail. It basically fell into our laps for free. It will give the suburban teens a chance to experience the city that their parents may consider "dangerous" and "dead" and they wont have to fear that their car will get stolen or worry about parking, gas, insurance or anything. Also it'll make them feel as if they live in a progressive city. Look at St. Louis. Thier metrorail is popular with suburban teens and it gives them a positive view on thier city. Word of mouth is our best advertising but now, teens are leaving Memphis saying "Its boring" "theres nothing to do here" when honestly, you can do everything that doesn't involve an ocean or amusement park ( :cry: RIP Libertyland). The grizzlies winning a championship can help. It'll give the city more media coverage and slight 30 second aerial shots and video of Beale Street, Fedex Fourm, and other parts of our city is displayed to millions of people for free. It'll be like CMT music videos and Nashville. Loud and active fans won't hurt either.A huge tower probably won't help. The pyramid will get all the attention. If we get an awesome skyline then maybe that will work, but one tower won't get the attention of a passerby unless thier a skyscraper enthusiast. Do for Memphis what you did for Downtown. Broadcast Definetly Downtown and other independent Memphis films and documentaries throughout the region. it'll take a while, but one day memphis will be world class if its potential is met.

To tell you the truth cdarr, once your out of the south, nobody knows the difference between Memphis & Nashville. Nashville is country music and hicks and Memphis is Graceland and white trash

:lol: so both cities need to work hard to improve their national image.

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Lots of great points, Bears. I also agree with smeagolsfree that there's no single cause for Memphis' image problems, nor one cure-all.

Crime certainly plays a major factor. "Dangerous" seems to be one of the first things people say when you ask them about Memphis. There are some statistics, such as the murder rate, that support that perception. For other types of crime, it's not so clear. Check out this link:

http://www.morganquitno.com/cit04a.pdf

The 2004 violent crime rates of Memphis and Nashville (cities, not msa) are almost identical, at around 1,550 per 100,000 people. Miami, Orlando, Tampa and St. Petersburg all concluded 2004 with worse violent crime rates than Memphis. Performing only slightly better than Memphis (within 20%) are West Palm Beach, Kansas City, Dallas and Tulsa. Perhaps I'm wrong, but I don't think any of those other cities is as widely regarded to be as "dangerous" or "ghetto" as Memphis. Orlando, Tampa, St. Pete and West Palm are all fun in the sun. Dallas is rich and glitzy. Miami, well, everybody knows there's all sorts of rough stuff going on there, but thanks to shows like Miami Vice and CSI it's a cool, sexy kind of crime.

What makes Memphis different from those other cities? It's the only one with a majority African-American population. This is where I think race plays a role. Most big cities rank poorly, but the common perception is that Memphis must be especially bad because it is more black. Perhaps only New Orleans has a more dangerous image than Memphis and (gasp!) it has an even larger black majority than Memphis.

I am not black, yet I've always believed that so much of the disdain that both Memphians and non-Memphians have for the city starts with race. Older, native Memphians talk about how much cleaner/safer the city was 25+ years ago (this just happens to be prior to the emergence of a black majority). Outsiders who have moved here from elsewhere say Memphis is so much more "ghetto", "slummy", "gangsta", "hip hop", "hoopty", "hood", or "darker" than where they came from...and there are obvious racial overtones.

I have lived in Memphis most of my life. We have unsafe, run-down areas. We have always had them. Perhaps we have more than we did before. Maybe we have more than other similar-sized cities. But the automatic association of "Memphis" with "dangerous ghetto" angers me like nothing else. Metropolitan Memphis is not uniformly run-down and crime-ridden. The majority of neighborhoods in the city are not unsafe to drive through. Just like most cities, if you were to surgically remove certain sections of the city Memphis would be as attractive and safe a city as any in the US.

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OK, who's the wiseacre who voted the Grizzlies winning a title would improve Memphis's image ? :blink:

Depends on whether we have a riot afterwards (see Detroit or L.A.). :P

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To tell you the truth cdarr, once your out of the south, nobody knows the difference between Memphis & Nashville. Nashville is country music and hicks and Memphis is Graceland and white trash

:lol: so both cities need to work hard to improve their national image.

Memphis' worst image is among Memphians. The further away you get from Memphis, the image improves.

Up here in Minnesota, those who have visited think it's a cool place with its urban, music heritage. For those who haven't visited many confuse, as you say, Memphis and Nashville. For others, they wouldn't have a clue--sorta like asking Memphians what the image of Hartford, Connecticut is.

One thing I've noticed up here is that people use the term "a river city"--say, for example, Dubuque or Davenport in Iowa--to denote a city that's old and gritty. I've heard people refer to St. Paul as being more a "river city" than Minneapolis. I think some up here would put Memphis in that vein.

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Word of mouth is our best advertising but now, teens are leaving Memphis saying "Its boring" "theres nothing to do here" when honestly, you can do everything that doesn't involve an ocean or amusement park ( :cry: RIP Libertyland).

Kids everywhere say that. When I taught high school in New Orleans, all the students said how boring it was, and how they loved to go to Houston where there was more to do. Kids in Houston probably wanted to go to New Orleans. I've had students from Minneapolis say how there's nothing to do there and they all want to go to Chicago. I guess Chicago kids want to go to NYC. lol

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Kids everywhere say that. When I taught high school in New Orleans, all the students said how boring it was, and how they loved to go to Houston where there was more to do. Kids in Houston probably wanted to go to New Orleans. I've had students from Minneapolis say how there's nothing to do there and they all want to go to Chicago. I guess Chicago kids want to go to NYC. lol

So true. It's the greener grass syndrome. Maybe one could make a case for Memphis having little to do 15 years ago, but not now. Our sports scene has come so far just in the past 5 years....Autozone Park, Calipari, Grizzlies, and most recently winning Tiger Football. Beale Street, Peabody Place, South Main and Cooper Young are cool places to hang out. We have the largest collection of casinos outside of Vegas about 30 minutes away. The Cannon Center is an awesome concert hall. The Orpheum can host just about any Broadway show now. Memphis may not be NYC or LA but it can't be tagged as some nowhere place, either.

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Oh I know people who actually go to Memphis love it, but its the people who haven't. Especially people from the Northeast. I met people from Philly and Boston who just moved to Memphis just before I left and they were surprised by how much bigger the city was than they expected. I think Memphis' image is beginning to change, especially in this decade. The grizzlies were a big boost in Memphis' reputation and the "Rumble on the River" brought an amazing amount of media attention. I hope it continues the rest of this decade.

The Ford family are courrupt but the congressman Harold Ford Jr. seems to have been doing a good job. His office staff is very kind and helpful and he hasn't been charged with any crimes that I am aware of. Does anyone remember the mayoral race when it was King Wille, Jerry Lawler, and Prince Mongo? If Mongo got elected, Memphis would have been quite an intresting place. :rofl: Herington has done a good job with downtown and the med district but his attiude towards suburban mayors must change.

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Oh I know people who actually go to Memphis love it, but its the people who haven't. Especially people from the Northeast. I met people from Philly and Boston who just moved to Memphis just before I left and they were surprised by how much bigger the city was than they expected. I think Memphis' image is beginning to change, especially in this decade. The grizzlies were a big boost in Memphis' reputation and the "Rumble on the River" brought an amazing amount of media attention. I hope it continues the rest of this decade.

The Ford family are courrupt but the congressman Harold Ford Jr. seems to have been doing a good job. His office staff is very kind and helpful and he hasn't been charged with any crimes that I am aware of. Does anyone remember the mayoral race when it was King Wille, Jerry Lawler, and Prince Mongo? If Mongo got elected, Memphis would have been quite an intresting place. :rofl: Herington has done a good job with downtown and the med district but his attiude towards suburban mayors must change.

I think most people from places like Philadelphia or Boston who have moved to Memphis have probably stereotyped the south in general--not just Memphis. With the exception of Atlanta, Miami, or New Orleans, many people from the Northeast think folks in most southern cities walk around barefoot eating watermelons. Maybe not that bad, but close.

Yeah,with the exception of Junior, the Ford family is crooked , but crooked as he is, Sen. John Ford had a reputation for being very constituency minded and being able to help anyone who had a problem. That's probably why he was able to hold his office as long as he did.

Herenton was imho a good mayor for 2 terms. But I think he's outlived his usefulness. It's time for him to retire. At this point, he's accumulated too much baggage.

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Herenton was imho a good mayor for 2 terms. But I think he's outlived his usefulness. It's time for him to retire. At this point, he's accumulated too much baggage.

Agreed. I liked the job Herenton was doing until about 3-4 years ago, when he kinda went bonkers. He's just not a very good politician anymore, which is to say he has lost the ability to make deals in order to get anything done. No, I take it back. If he wants something done, all he has to do now is advocate the opposite course of action.

A.C. Wharton has proved, I think, that we can have leaders who are popular with both blacks and whites. There are other prominent African-Americans in Memphis who would make fine city mayors. I have always heard good things about Herman Morris, the former MLGW director, from a friend whose wife worked at MLGW.

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Agreed. I liked the job Herenton was doing until about 3-4 years ago, when he kinda went bonkers. He's just not a very good politician anymore, which is to say he has lost the ability to make deals in order to get anything done. No, I take it back. If he wants something done, all he has to do now is advocate the opposite course of action.

A.C. Wharton has proved, I think, that we can have leaders who are popular with both blacks and whites. There are other prominent African-Americans in Memphis who would make fine city mayors. I have always heard good things about Herman Morris, the former MLGW director, from a friend whose wife worked at MLGW.

I guess getting the NBA made him big headed lol. When is the next city mayor election? Hopefully we can get some good candiates this time. Wharton has been good as both a mayor and in the community. He's the a boy scout troop leader along with being mayor of Shelby County.

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I think the primary issue is the demeanor of Memphians. There's a self-deprecating nature to them. We pride ourselves on our hospitality, our humility. But many take that to an extreme, to the level of an almost self-loathing. There have been so many improvements in the community, but the attitude that has developed the past couple of decades has become almost like an addiction. I think if the community has more vocal, unapologetic boosters among the young professional middle class, folks that confront (but not berate) the self-loathing attitude that has seemed to predominate earlier generations, that tend to dominate the tv and radio waves, then more and more folks will realize it's "ok" to like Memphis better than Atlanta, St. Louis, etc. Because, to be honest, it is ok to prefer Memphis. I do, and I've lived in other cities for prolonged periods of time. Many Memphians don't really realize that the grass isn't all that green on the other side. There seems to be an elitist nature to the perspective; like you have to be negative about Memphis in order to be perceived as better. I think organizations such as MPACT are reducing this misguided perspective.

I think there needs to be a concerted effort to attract outside talent. Whether they come from Asia or Detroit, it needs to be an aggressive pursuit to communicate the message that they should consider Memphis. There's a lot that's attractive about Memphis that doesn't get a lot of publicity.

And, one note about crime, there have been numerous rankings (Ii don't have the cites right off-hand) that have shown that Memphis statistically is worse than Nashville . . . BUT, not by much. So I think there are many portrayal discrepancies that contribute to the image, much of which is caused by a combination of ignorance from the portrayers and the lack of an effort to correct (which I attribute to a misguided perception from Memphians that aggressively correcting incorrect stereotypes is somehow "unbecoming" and contrary to being neighborly or hospitable). Kind of like how some initially misperceived the quality of sports fans in Memphis during the Oilers debacle, b/c most didn't realize the factors that contributed to the result.

Aside from that, I think replacing the governance of the public schools to make them more accountable and merging the governments would generate the most benefit to the region. Next on that list is to somehow eliminate the animosity that seems to be generated from Mississippi (where they seem to want to improve their status/economy at the expense of everyone else in the region instead of working in cooperation for the mutual benefit of all). The Mississippi issue seems to be reducing slightly, in part by cooperation generated by boxing pursuits, as well as probably other efforts as well. To this end, the best thing to do for Memphis would probably be to get some casinos. That would eliminate an issue of contention, and both sides can get over that aspect and settle down and cooperate on other issues. As it is, it looks like Mississippi is trying to raid Memphis instead of focusing on, say, raiding Alabama, or Oklahoma, or some other place.

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Mayor Herenton like him or not, if you ever meet him in person, is a very impressive politician to talk to. He actually listens and has a real conversation with folks he meets, while others might go through the motions or try to cut things short, he really does talk to those he meets. He impressed me quite alot the time I met him and saw him in action talking to others. I think he has done a lot of good for the city of Memphis, and its seems his biggest critics come from the outer limits and upper end parts of Memphis, not to metnion from the burbs and county areas outside the city limits which seem to dislike anything Memphis does no matter who does it.

Memphis is a totally different city than what I remember as a kid, and thats a good thing. I think most of that positive change had to do with Mayor Herenton's leadership. Yes, it still has alot of negative baggage from its past, its racial makeup, crime, urban decline/blight, etc, but there so many positive developments starting to take hold in the city that those negatives will hopefully be mitigated more in the coming years, which will hopefully improve the city's image in the coming years.

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^hmm...intresting point. I think we can all agree that Herenton has done a great job improving the city's image. He is may be the most vocal about making Memphis a world class city. He is probably the best mayor since Crump, if not better. Like crump, the CA reported about Herenton reprimanding officers he saw goofing off on the job outside his mothers house. The problem most have with him is maybe his bluntness with the city council and suburban mayors. As cdarr said, nobody wants to deal with him anymore. Could it be that he is taken out of context? Herenton enthusiasm could be seen as arrogance. I haven't lived in Memphis for almost 3 years now so im not sure of the entire story. I know he said something like "let people move out, who cares" and "the suburbs would be nothing w/o Memphis". Maybe what he meant was that Memphis is a city whose success will greatly benifit the whole county and people who don't like it are free to leave and miss out. as i said, i don't know the whole story

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When is the next city mayor election? Hopefully we can get some good candiates this time.

The next mayoral election will be November, 2007. I believe Herenton has already expressed his intention to run for a 5th term.

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Well, some things that indicate HizHonor's gone off his rocker:

1. Telling the city that he was called by God to lead Memphis. (two years ago, state of the city/New Years address). Voters go "uh oh, what's up with that."

2. Telling certain council members to "take it outside" with him, a former golden gloves boxer. Actually, I don't mind that. :P

3. Fishtailing on the city's budget problems--saying Memphis is in great financial shape, then acting shocked when there's a $25 million deficit a year later.

Again, I don't think he was a bad mayor during his first two terms. It's primarily his recent inability to foresee the city's budget problems--or hire competent people who could do the books accurately--that does it for me.

And, too, wasn't it Herenton who when he was elected in 1992 by 200 votes, referred to voters in East Memphis as "white devils"? To the credit of then Mayor Hackett, Hackett didn't call for a recount which would have torn the city apart.

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I know he said something like "let people move out, who cares" and "the suburbs would be nothing w/o Memphis". Maybe what he meant was that Memphis is a city whose success will greatly benifit the whole county and people who don't like it are free to leave and miss out. as i said, i don't know the whole story

Yeah, he did say something to the effect of "love it or leave it", which I actually agree with to some extent. I've had it up to here (I'm motioning to my neck) with the negative crap I hear, especially from the people in their 40s-50s I work with. These are native Memphians - nice in all other respects, but they have absolutely nothing good to say about the city anymore. It's as if Memphis of the 1960s and 70s was the golden era for Memphis. Sorry, but here's what I remember about that era:

-A sanitation workers' strike that split the city and a mayor (Henry Loeb) whose unnecessarily hard line turned what would have been a simple labor dispute into a civil rights showdown.

-The murder of the nations' formost civil rights leader in Memphis, after which news outlets like Time Magazine and NBC refered to the city as a "backwater river town".

-The wholesale abandonment of downtown Memphis by business and retail

-The Peabody Hotel boarded up in 1975

-The entire area around Beale Street bulldozed in the name of "urban renewal".

-A string of municipal stikes in the 70s, including one in 1978 in which both the firefighters AND police walked off the job simultaneously, fires were set all over the city, and the National Guard had to be called in to restore order.

-The rapid decline of manufacturing, culminating with the close of Firestone and International Harvester around 1980.

Yep, those were the good 'ole days. But anytime I try to bring up some of the progress that has been made in Memphis, they look at me like I'm some kind of naive idiot!!!

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And, too, wasn't it Herenton who when he was elected in 1992 by 200 votes, referred to voters in East Memphis as "white devils"? To the credit of then Mayor Hackett, Hackett didn't call for a recount which would have torn the city apart.

That was actually Harold Ford, Sr. who said that, on election night, after he brought a mob of folks into the Election Commission to "ensure things were done fairly". "We're not going to let some white devils and white Republicans come down here and take this election from us."

You can fault Herenton for lots of things, but playing the racial politics isn't one of them. I can't ever remember him saying or doing anything to specifically offend whites. In fact, about a year after he was elected, he parted company with the Ford machine and basically supported Jim Rout against their hand-picked candidate. It's one reason he actually got more white votes in the '95 and '99 elections than any of the white candidates.

And yes, Hackett did a very noble thing by not contesting that election.

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I don't believe its because of the large black population. Atlanta has a large black population and is a very well respected city.

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I don't believe its because of the large black population. Atlanta has a large black population and is a very well respected city.

Atlanta is already a "world class city." They hosted the Olympics and its an international business hub.

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Yeah, he did say something to the effect of "love it or leave it", which I actually agree with to some extent. I've had it up to here (I'm motioning to my neck) with the negative crap I hear, especially from the people in their 40s-50s I work with. These are native Memphians - nice in all other respects, but they have absolutely nothing good to say about the city anymore. It's as if Memphis of the 1960s and 70s was the golden era for Memphis. Sorry, but here's what I remember about that era:

-A sanitation workers' strike that split the city and a mayor (Henry Loeb) whose unnecessarily hard line turned what would have been a simple labor dispute into a civil rights showdown.

-The murder of the nations' formost civil rights leader in Memphis, after which news outlets like Time Magazine and NBC refered to the city as a "backwater river town".

-The wholesale abandonment of downtown Memphis by business and retail

-The Peabody Hotel boarded up in 1975

-The entire area around Beale Street bulldozed in the name of "urban renewal".

-A string of municipal stikes in the 70s, including one in 1978 in which both the firefighters AND police walked off the job simultaneously, fires were set all over the city, and the National Guard had to be called in to restore order.

-The rapid decline of manufacturing, culminating with the close of Firestone and International Harvester around 1980.

Yep, those were the good 'ole days. But anytime I try to bring up some of the progress that has been made in Memphis, they look at me like I'm some kind of naive idiot!!!

As I said, Memphis media is usually negative (except wreg as I remember). Older people who live in the city probably don't cruise around downtown and might not even know harbor town and southend exist! They may remember Southland Mall(1st mall in Memphis) which is now considered "ghetto". Mall of Memphis ("dangerous area") so it was torn down. Hickory Ridge and Hickory Hill (hickory hood) now considered ghetto. So when they see graffiti on overpasses in SE shelby county and hear the news talking about assaults at school (was known as school fights before columbine) they believe that the city is on a path downhill. Because downtown is so far to the west and suburbanites are so far in the east, they might not freqent downtown but projects like this should make people have a nicer impression of suburban Shelby County.

http://www.commercialappeal.com/mca/local_...4342088,00.html

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I don't believe its because of the large black population. Atlanta has a large black population and is a very well respected city.

Perhaps Atlanta is thought of less as a "black" city than Memphis because whites have a sizable majority in its metro area. Consider these 2000 figures:

Atlanta MSA: 2.6m white, 1.2m black (64% vs 28%)

Memphis MSA: 601k white, 493k black (53% vs 43%)

It's true that the city of Atlanta has a similar black majority as Memphis, but the city of Atlanta comprises a much smaller part of the total MSA (400k out of 4 million) compared to Memphis (600k out of 1.1 million).

Or it could be as Bears suggested that other things have shaped the national image of Atlanta (96 Olympics, Turner/CNN, rapid growth, etc.). Personally, when I hear the word Atlanta I immediately think of its airport!

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