Memphis Landing

Status: Preserved; renovation in progress

Location: East side of Wolf River Harbor between Court and Beale Streets, in Memphis

Built: 1838, 1859-61, 1866-68, 1880, with later innovations and repairs

Architectural Style: Cobblestone Landing

Original Function/Purpose: Transportation

The Memphis Landing was placed on the National Register on Nov. 25, 2011.

History: The Memphis Landing is a nationally significant inland-river port associated with the unacknowledged but vast economic contributions of black producers of pre-mechanized cotton in the United States. Established in 1838, the landing was later improved with cobblestones during several phases before and after the Civil War. Beginning in 1859-61, the cobblestone paving project resumed after the Civil War in 1866-68, with another new phase being completed in 1880-81. It still features the diverse types of paving stones laid down in the nineteenth century, steamboat mooring rings, drainages, culverts and an historic river gauge once used to keep track of the Mississippi River level for cotton shippers. Today the Memphis Landing is the most-intact cobblestone landing on the major inland waterways of the United States. It has not been used in connection with commercial shipping for decades, but it served during some of those decades as a parking lot, and always as a boat landing. It continues to be a tourist destination and riverboat tour embarkation site. For several decades now, however, the historic landing has mostly been neglected as a waterfront amenity, although from time to time the City of Memphis or others fund another study of what to do with it. The latest such effort was undertaken in 2017 by Studio Gang, out of New York and Chicago. The landing was formerly managed by the Riverfront Development Corporation, whose name recently changed to Memphis River Parks Partnership. Hundreds of cobblestones were loaned to the 16th International Venice Architecture Biennale in April 2018 for display in that city. They will be part of an exhibit at the United States Pavilion called Dimensions of Citizenship, representing “what is considered the nation’s largest remaining intact cobblestone landing,” the stones of which were quarried and laid by immigrant laborers. It has been promised the cobblestones will be returned to Memphis.

Map:

Outline of the property (outlined in red) used in its National Register nomination.

City Council District: 6

Super District: 8

County Commission District: 8

DON NEWMAN