We’re celebrating 200 years of hip-shaking, culture-quaking, history-making in Memphis, so come join the party! Start by exploring our interactive timeline. It snaps Memphis’ most legendary moves in history, culture, music, food, outdoor recreation and sports. Then discover authentic Memphis stories—and a list of all the 200th birthday parties you’re invited to. Ready to catch the bicentennial buzz?  

Memphis Timeline

1819

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2019

1819
Memphis is founded by three entrepreneurs, including future U.S. President Andrew Jackson, along the Mississippi River. It’s still a good spot to dream up big ideas—or stroll, kayak, watch a sunset...

1869
The Peabody opens, beginning a 150-year tradition of hospitality, people-watching and ducks that march on cue. Watch the ducks, then linger for a cocktail or an overnight stay.

1884
Civil War soldiers are treated at a new hospital, now home to the country’s only Metal Museum. Walk the grounds overlooking the Mississippi River and watch smiths at work.

1890
The Grand Opera House opens on the site of today’s Orpheum Theatre. Check the lineup for those Broadway shows and concerts you can’t wait to see.

1899
Robert R. Church, Sr., Memphis’ first African-American millionaire, helps to develop Beale Street as a center for black culture. Explore America’s most iconic street by day or night.

1906
A bear exhibited in Overton Park provides the inspiration for building Memphis Zoo. The bear is no longer with us, but two rare pandas are. Meet Ya Ya and Le Le on your visit.

1909
W.C. Handy writes the first blues song inside a Beale Street saloon. Walk the Blues Foundation’s Blues Hall of Fame to hear it.

1916
Piggly Wiggly, the country’s first self-service grocery store, opens in Memphis. Walk through a replica and see Making Memphis: 200 Years of Community at the Pink Palace Museum. The bicentennial exhibit debuts in March.

1916
The Memphis Brooks Museum of Art debuts. Stop in to see how the permanent collection has grown to include African art and modern sculpture.

1918
The Little Tea Shop opens downtown. Do lunch at one of Memphis’ oldest restaurants for home-cooked Southern favorites, daily specials and a hug from owner Su Lauck.

1922
Leonard’s opens with a nickel sandwich, establishing Memphis’ first barbecue restaurant. Nod to tradition with the Big Leonard sandwich, topped with house-made sauce and slaw.

1923
The Negro League Red Sox heighten baseball fever in Memphis. In 2000, we began cheering on a new home team, the Memphis Redbirds, in AutoZone Park. Join us.

1933
The Civilian Conservation Corps begins restoring 13,000 acres of forest just north of Memphis. Explore it on the shaded trails of Meeman-Shelby Forest State Park.

1942
The New Daisy Theatre opens on Beale Street. Treat yourself to a concert, Daisyland dance club night or a luxe VIP room in the historic venue.

1946
The Four Way opens in Soulsville. Come get a heaping plate of home cooking the way MLK and Stax recording artists did.

1948
Charlie Vergos’ Rendezvous begins dry-rubbing and chargrilling ribs. Follow the smoky, savory aroma to this restaurant tucked into a downtown Memphis alley.

1951
Jackie Brenston and his Delta Cats arrive in Memphis with a damaged amp. Hear what happened next at Sun Studio, the birthplace of rock 'n' roll.

1954
Elvis Presley records “That’s All Right (Mama)” inside today’s Sun Studio. The rest is rock 'n' roll history.

1955
Memphis Riverboats begins operating sightseeing cruises on the Mississippi River. Hop aboard at Beale Street Landing.

1957
Stax Records fuses gospel and R&B into Memphis Soul. Dance through the genre's hall of hit records at Stax Museum of American Soul Music.

1962
St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital opens. In time, local events begin raising funds for the fight against childhood cancer, including the St. Jude Memphis Marathon Weekend.

1966
Ardent Studios opens, making a name for bands from Big Star to ZZ Top. Hunt for memorabilia at the Memphis Rock ‘n’ Soul Museum.

1968
A sanitation workers strike brings Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. to Memphis, where he rallies supporters at Clayborn Temple. Visit the site's I Am A Man Plaza, commemorating the workers and the 50th anniversary of Dr. King's death.

1969
Hi Records producer Willie Mitchell meets a singer named Al Green. See Mitchell’s trumpet at the Memphis Music Hall of Fame.

1977
We celebrate the first Memphis in May, including Beale Street Music Fest. Join us in 2019, when Memphis in May celebrates the city, and Beale Street Music Fest promises to be bigger than ever.

1977
The Robinsons open Cozy Corner, where family members continue to stoke the fire today. Ask for the two ribs/two wings plate to Cozy like a local.

1978
The first World Championship Barbecue Cooking Contest goes off in downtown Memphis. Join this weekend-long party on the Mississippi River during Memphis in May.

1982
Graceland opens to the public. Take a picture at the gates, then tour the mansion and Elvis Presley’s Memphis entertainment complex.

1984
The first International Blues Challenge goes down on Beale Street. Visit in January to experience the world’s largest battle of the blues bands.

1991
The National Civil Rights Museum opens at the Lorraine Motel, where Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. spent his final night. In 2014, a $28-million renovation ensured that the site’s power to educate is as strong as ever.

1992
Corky’s Bar-B-Que begins FedExing its hickory- and charcoal-smoked meats across the country. Dine in any of three Memphis-area restaurants and skip the shipping fee.

1992
Boscos opens as the first brewpub in Tennessee. Get a taste in Overton Square.

2001
NBA excitement comes to Memphis when the Grizzlies move to town. Catch a game at FedExForum and learn what it means to grit and grind.

2010
The Shelby Farms Greenline opens, revolutionizing bike-ability in Memphis. Follow it to Shelby Farms Park, the largest urban park in the country, where a $70-million renovation means you can choose just about any adventure.

2012
A renaissance sweeps the Overton Square Entertainment District, infusing a variety of restaurants and creating Memphis’ theatre district. How about dinner and a show?

2014
Wiseacre begins brewing high-gravity beers on Broad Avenue. Sip one on their deck.

2014
Hattiloo Theatre, established in 2006 as Memphis’ black repertory theater, opens in a sleek new building in Overton Square, completing Memphis’ theater district.

2014
Lafayette’s Music Room reopens in the Overton Square Entertainment District. Pop in any day of the week for live music by local favorites.

2015
Bass Pro opens at the Pyramid. Shop or enjoy aquariums, a bowling alley and a glass-bottom observation deck–perfect for viewing the nightly Mighty Lights show featuring two iconic Memphis bridges over the Mississippi River.

2016
Big River Crossing opens, creating the longest pedestrian bridge over the Mississippi River. Explore it by foot, bike or scooter (look for Explore Bike Share stations and Bird scooter rentals nearby).

2017
Old Dominick Distillery reopens, reviving a spirited homegrown brand in downtown Memphis. Take a tour, then grab a seat at the bar.

2017
Mempho Music Festival launches, mixing national headliners with local legends and up-and-comers. Join in for two full days of concerts and glamping in Shelby Farms Park.

2018
River Garden, a new park on the Mississippi, debuts. Visit to enjoy native meadow plantings that change with the season, view the river from an elevated treehouse or claim a hangout designed in the style of a bird nest.

2019
In a major win for sports fans, 2019 marks Memphis' first year hosting the World Golf Championships-FedEx St. Jude Invitational, Memphis 901 FC USL Soccer and Memphis Express AAF Football. Who will you cheer for?

2019
During Women’s History Month in March, the Memphis Women’s History Trail will be unveiled. Follow it across the city to celebrate Memphis women who led the way in fields from entertainment to social justice.