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. The paving project began in 1859-61 and resumed following the Civil War in 1866-68, with another new phase being completed in 1880-81. The landing 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. It has not been used in connection with commercial shipping for decades, although it served during some of those decades as a free parking lot and as a riverboat tour embarkation site. It became mostly neglected as a waterfront amenity, although from time to time the City of Memphis or the landing’s manager, the Riverfront Development Corporation, funded 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 RDC’s successor, Memphis River Parks Partnership, continues to manage it today, and in early 2019 filed a $6.3 million permit to restore the landing. In March 2020 it was announced that renovation would begin later in the summer, now updated to a cost of about $7.1 million. Plans are to reset six blocks of cobblestones by hand, take down utility poles and bury new utilities underground, provide new signalization of the railroad and Riverside Drive, and make the landing handicap-accessible with overlooks and new signage. Today the Memphis Landing is the most-intact cobblestone landing on the major inland waterways of the United States and continues to be a tourist destination.

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