There is at least one positive result of having days with temperature and humidity in the 90 degrees/per cent range—few travelers venture out in the morning to walk Beale Street.
So, one recent morning, we hopped on—no, slowly boarded—the Riverfront Trolley and tripled the number of riders at that time.
Since we were ahead of schedule, the driver stopped at Vance Park, a little park atop the Mississippi River bluff. It offers a view of the the Hernando de Soto Bridge, which is shaped like the letter "M" and carries Interstate 40 traffic across the River to West Memphis.
John Medwedeff’s 18-feet modernist whirligig, simply called Whirl, “…transcends conventional boundaries with his metalwork, forged painted steel to mimic the wind and water that whip the South Bluffs.” It also doubles as a park bench.
The trolley ride provided an introduction to the Memphis downtown, but we had come to walk along Beale Street. Officially declared the Home of the Blues by an act of Congress on December 15, 1977, Beale Street’s history seems to exemplify the blues.
It was created in 1841 by entrepreneur and developer Robertson Topp (1807–1876), who named it for a forgotten military hero.
In the 1870s, the population of Memphis was rocked by a series of yellow fever epidemics, leading the city to forfeit its charter in 1879.
In the 1960s, Beale became run down and many stores closed, although on May 23, 1966, the section of the street from Main to 4th was declared a National Historic Landmark. Despite this national recognition of its historic significance, Beale was a virtual ghost town after a disastrous urban renewal program with every building except Schwabs boarded up.
The Beale Street Tap Room, "with big-screen televisions and a vast selection of draft beers, is a true tap room."
In 1899, Robert Church paid the city to create Church Park at the corner of 4th and Beale. It became a recreational and cultural center, where blues musicians could gather.
In 1903, Mayor Thornton was looking for a music teacher for his Knights of Pythias Band and called Tuskegee Institute to talk to his friend, Booker T. Washington, who recommended a trumpet player in Clarksdale, Mississippi, named W. C. Handy.
The Club is described as "featuring the best in local and international entertainment. A very classy club. Probably Beale's classiest."