South Main Arts District - Antique Shopping. Photo by Phillip Parker.

South Main Association

South Main St.
South Main Historic Arts District
Memphis, TN 38103

The South Main Historic Art District is filled with art galleries, shops, restaurants and great tourist attractions like the Arcade Restaurant, Earnestine & Hazel's and the National Civil Rights Museum. The main artery is the trolley line that runs down South Main Street

EXPERIENCE: While visiting the South Main Historic Art District, make sure you do not miss the National Civil Rights Museum, located at the Lorraine Motel, chronicles key episodes of the American civil rights movement. Top that off with the treasure of shops and galleries offering art, objects and apparel from local craftspeople and designers as well as internationally known artists. And after all the touring and shopping, you'll need to stop in one of the many Memphis-favorite eateries like Earnestine & Hazel's, the famous former brothel and the Arcade Restaurant known for their sweet potato pancakes. The district has been featured in many films such as The Firm, 21 Grams, Hustle and Flow, Walk the Line, Black Snake Moan, Great Balls of Fire, The Client and more. The views of the Memphis skyline and the Mississippi River from the South Main Historic Art District truly are breathtaking.

HISTORY: Located in downtown Memphis encompassing an area that runs from Linden to Crump, north to south, and Third to the Mississippi River, east to west. This district grew up in the hustle and bustle of the boom era of the train stations – Union Station and Central Station. Most of the South Main buildings were built between 1910 and 1920. The area's businesses catered to the railroad passengers and employees – hotels, bars, restaurants and other small businesses. But when railroad days ended in the 1960s, that marked the end of South Main. It became warehouses and empty buildings. In 1982 eleven blocks and 105 buildings were designated as an Historic District and the early 90s the district started its comeback. Today there are restaurants, upscale apartments, galleries, photographers, graphic designers and retail with more and more buildings being renovated for lofts, condos and apartments. The South Main Historic Arts District attracts a diverse group of people who love the urban living experience.

INSIDERS TIP: There is a street festival the last Friday of every month known as Trolley Night where all of the businesses open and serve wine from 6-9pm. This is the largest monthly held public event in the city and is a great way to introduce people to the eclectic, artsy community of South Main.

OTHER INFO: In addition to the retailers, there are several great meeting spaces including Central Station, a renovated train station at the corner of South Main and GE Patterson across from the Arcade Restaurant.

  • Area
    • Downtown
  • Facility Amenities
    • Bus/Motorcoach Parking
    • Free Admission
    • Handicapped Accessible
  • General Information
    • Hours of Operation: Vary by business
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