(Home) Coming to a New Memphis

three downtown Memphis street signs

Over the years, Rhodes students have witnessed a lot of change in the city of Memphis. Although they still enjoy Alex’s Tavern and walks through Overton Park, other Memphis institutions have faded into memory, only to be replaced by new traditions. With Homecoming almost here, we thought we'd spotlight some some of the new, improved, or just different sites of Memphis today—places that some of our alums might not recognize from their time at Rhodes.

Overton Square

In its heyday, Overton Square was anchored by the (old) Lafayette’s, a hopping TGI Friday’s, and the original Silky Sullivan’s. Today, with Studio on the Square, Playhouse on the Square, Hattiloo Theatre, and the currently under construction headquarters of Ballet Memphis, Overton Square is the theater and gastronomical heart of Midtown Rhodes students flock to local favorites such as Boscos, Memphis Pizza Cafe, Babalu, and Robata every weekend. There’s also live music and plenty of retail shopping. There were some lean years for Overton Square, but, just like back in the day, the Square is again teeming with activity. Plus, it’s just a short shuttle ride to the historically hip Cooper-Young district, where you can find more restaurants, music, and shopping.

Broad Avenue Arts District

Nestled between Sam Cooper and Summer Avenue, in the Binghamton neighborhood, lies the ever-changing Broad Avenue Arts District. Wiseacre Brewery draws the most press, but the Rec Room is the headquarters for classic, blast-from-the-past arcade games. City and State is a polished coffee bar and gift shop, and Bounty on Broad and Maximo’s serve as the hippest restaurants. 

South Main

While Beale Street is the tourist capital of Memphis, Rhodes students know that the best place downtown is really the South Main Arts District. This is perhaps where the old and the new interact the most. The Arcade, a diner-style restaurant, is only blocks away from the delicious gastropub South of Beale (SOB). Loflin Yard serves as the newest hangout spot, as its massive outdoor area could fit nearly the whole school, while Earnestine and Hazel’s keeps on serving its soul burgers and cheap beer. Finally, the National Civil Rights Museum, just recently renovated, is a must-see for anyone living in or visiting Memphis.

Shelby Farms Park

First opened to the public in the 1970s, Shelby Farms has certainly been around for a while. But within the last five years, it has undergone substantial work that has certainly paid off. Patriot Lake, the body of water parallel to Walnut Grove, has been expanded, and the new walking paths, visitor center, and trees surrounding it are beautiful. The Kitchen, a new restaurant opened by Kimbal Musk, serves fresh, locally sourced food as you watch the sunset over the lake. The park now features an incredible children’s playground and a zipline adventure through the forest canopy.

The Pyramid

Yes, it’s just a Bass Pro Shop. But this place is unreal. It’s free to visit, and the nominal charge to ride the elevator to the top is worth it. Head to the river for one of the most unique places in Memphis. And speaking of views, while you’re downtown check out the newly opened Big River Crossing, which spans the Mississippi River and is the country’s longest pedestrian and biking walkway.

By Sam Clark ’17

Photo by Thomas R Machnitzki