memphis then and now – Downtown South District
G.E. PATTERSON AT MAIN STREET
Facing west on G.E. Patterson (formerly known as Calhoun Street), Central Station and the Arcade Restaurant are visible in both images. Pantaze Drugs (right) is now home to Ernestine & Hazel’s, named for the two women who ran a salon upstairs and later owned the building, opening a jazz café downstairs.
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Image credit: South Main and Calhoun. Memphis Streetscapes Collection, DIG MEMPHIS.
Florida Street, looking south from Carolina Avenue, looked quite different before the construction of the railroad underpass. The back of the older photograph notes, “Florida, looking south – site of subway – ‘before’”. Today the block is home to Loflin Yard and the South Junction Apartments.
Image credit: Florida Street. Memphis Streetscapes Collection, DIG MEMPHIS.
UNDERPASS ON FLORIDA STREET
The 1938 photograph shows the “after” image of the previous photo. The railroad underpass is completed and cars are using what was then referred to as the “subway”. While the structures along the street have changed, the concrete wall on the right remains in place.
Image credit: Underpass on Florida Street. Memphis Streetscapes Collection, DIG MEMPHIS.
The Chisca is mostly obscured in the photo from the 1910s, blocked by a series of elaborate buildings on the east side of Main Street. Today, the entire block has been reshaped as the grounds of MLGW headquarters.
Image credit: Chisca Hotel. Memphis Streetscapes Collection, DIG MEMPHIS.
SOUTH MAIN STREET HOTELS
Main Street south of Beale was home to a number of different hotels, including the Ambassador, the Chisca, and the Tri-State Hotel (far right). Each can be seen in the 1948 image. Today, the Tri-State has been torn down. The Ambassador remains, but sits vacant. The Chisca, however, enjoys renewed life as The Chisca on Main, home to multiple restaurants and over 150 apartments.
Image credit: Ambassador and Chisca Hotels. Memphis Streetscapes Collection, DIG MEMPHIS.
Located on the southwest corner of Main Street and Linden Avenue (now known as Dr. MLK Jr. Avenue), the Adler Annex building was first constructed in 1904 as Hoadley’s Ice Cream. It was expanded in 1908 to become the Adler Hotel. In the early 1980s, it was purchased by Bishop W.L. Porter and renovated into apartments. In 2019, the building was renamed “The W.L.” in his honor.
Image credit: Adler Annex Hotel. Memphis Streetscapes Collection, DIG MEMPHIS.
THE ARCADE AND CENTRAL STATION
The view on Main Street looking south to G.E. Patterson may have changed some, but the buildings on each corner are still standing over 75 years later. Prominent on the southwest corner is Memphis Central Station, which opened in 1914 and began major renovations in 2019. On the southeast corner stands the Arcade Restaurant, which celebrated its 100th year in 2019.
Image credit: Main Street. Memphis Streetscapes Collection, DIG MEMPHIS.
SOUTH MAIN AND BUTLER AVENUE
Once empty and listed as “For Rent”, the building at the southeast corner of Main and Butler Avenue is now home to the popular downtown restaurant, Rizzo’s. The building next door, once occupied by Dixie Sheet Metal Works, is now obstructed by a Main Street Trolley stop. It houses several organizations, including The Memphis & Shelby County Film and Television Commission.
Image credit: Dixie Sheet Metal Works. Memphis Streetscapes Collection, DIG MEMPHIS.
MAIN ST. AT THE NATIONAL CIVIL RIGHTS MUSEUM
The image from 1953 shows billboards and buildings on the east side of S. Main Street, south of Huling Avenue. By 1968, the Young and Morrow building on the right and the building next to it had been converted into the rooming house where James Earl Ray stayed on the day of Dr. King’s assassination. Today, both buildings are part of the National Civil Rights Museum, where visitors are able to walk the space and examine information and evidence surrounding the assassination.
Image credit: Billboards on South Main Street. Memphis Streetscapes Collection, DIG MEMPHIS.
SOUTH MAIN NEAR VANCE AVENUE
South Main Street looking north toward Vance Avenue and the Chisca. In 1953, this stretch of Main Street was filled with business signs, both painted onto buildings and hanging above storefronts. Today, although the Chisca’s painted sign is still prominently displayed, the surrounding structures have removed most of their signs, reflecting the block’s more residential space.
Image credit: Street Life on South Main Street. Memphis Streetscapes Collection, DIG MEMPHIS.