Harahan - Important Role Then & Now

This is the fascinating history of Harahan Bridge and the role it played in Memphis and U.S. history.

Big River Crossing - Big News

A huge hit! Big River Crossing opened Sat., Oct. 22, 2016. It's the transformation of the historic Harahan Bridge that adds a bike and pedestrian crossing from TN to AR across the Mississippi River at Memphis.

The brainchild of Charles McVean, Big River Crossing is "nearly a mile long, the longest public, pedestrian bridge across the Mississippi." Harahan Bridge was built as a railroad bridge with "wagon ways" on each side, boardwalks for wagons and automobiles.
It's the boardwalk on the north side that is becoming the new pedestrian/bike pathway. Big River Crossing is a major component in what's being called the green renaissance in the Memphis, and it brings that green vision downtown to our riverfront.

At a cost of $17.5M, Big River Crossing is part of the larger 10 mile "Main to Main" $43M connector project between Main Street in Memphis and Broadway Ave. in downtown West Memphis. It has led to the creation of a 1,700 acre Delta Regional Park adjacent to the Bridge in AR that includes a seven-mile trail system and to the Big River Parkway Levee trail (73-miles) funded and under construction in Eastern Arkansas.

Sunset Ride across Big River Crossing - video by Carol Lee Royer

Update on Memphis Industrial Port

Wayne Risher, for the Commercial Appeal, takes a brief look at the condition of Memphis's Industrial Port -- the need for an update and its cost.

Memphis in May on the River

Beale Street Music Festival on the River in Tom Lee Park!
Apr. 29 - May 1
Click HERE for line-up, ticket information, and more. 

10 City Parks Changed America

Do you realize that Memphis has an almost connected system of parks and public spaces along our waterfront? 

This PBS series, "10 City Parks that Changed America," shares the history of our urban parks and their potential to change our cities environmentally, socially, economically, aesthetically, ....

Memphis's own Overton Park is one of the 10!

Don Richardson (1950 - 2016)

Donald Sanders Richardson (aged 66),  died in Memphis on Feb. 3rd.  Lovingly nickmaned “the tree man,”  Don was widely respected as a conservationist and advocate for sustainability, environmental justice, and public parks.

Born in Covington, KY, the younger son of a Southern Baptist minister, Don’s love of nature started early. He was active in the Boy Scouts of America, becoming an Eagle Scout and member of Order of the Arrow.  In the 1950s Richardson lived with his family in West Germany. He returned  to the U.S. to  attend Wake Forest University in N. C. where he received a B. A. in political science.  After college, Don served for two years in the U.S. Army Military Police Corps and was stationed in Fort Belvoir, VA. Don remained in the Washington area, working for various computer software stores, in marketing for “Army Times,” and as a reporter for “Sport Scene Magazine.” 

In 1995, Don moved to Midtown Memphis to help care for his father and quickly became involved in the community. Don served as chair of the TN Chapter, Sierra Club as well as in various offices in the local organization. He was involved in sustainability plans for the region and a leader in developing the 2000 Old Forest trail map and arboretum. He shared his vast botanical knowledge with many on his monthly Old Forest hikes—introducing participants to the wonderful Shumard Oaks, aromatic leaf of the spice bush, and abundant wildflowers. He served as a board member of Park Friends from 2002 to 2009. In 2004 Don helped organize Friends for Our Riverfront and served on its board until his death. 

Survivors include the many trees and parks and public spaces Don helped save; an older brother Coleman and his wife Kathy, who live in College Park, MD; a niece, her husband and a grandnephew, in St Louis MO; and various first cousins, many residing in TN.

Funeral arrangements are under the auspices of Canale Funeral Directors. A memorial service will be held at Canale Funeral Home, 2700 Union Ave. Extended, on Sunday, Feb 7, at 1 p.m. Memorials may be sent to an organization of the donors choice.

Has the Bloom left Bass Pro/Pyramid?

With it looking like Bass Pro had something to do with illegally clear-cutting the bank and floodplain along Wolf River Harbor and that they have no intention of rebuilding the pedestrian bridge to Pinch historic district, citizens are again shocked by the retailer.  The Commercial Appeal reports: City on Hook to build Bass Pro garage  It seems that buried in the complex contract between the City and Bass Pro, the City committed to build a parking garage for the megastore.This expensive detail comes as a shocker to many, including former City Councilmen Harold Collins and State Senator Lee Harris.

And if that were't enough, questions are surfacing about whether Bass Pro is actually making money at the Pyramid. A tourist site, yes, but is it generating the kind of sales taxes earmarked to repay the $191M  in bonds used to renovate the Pyramid, buy out the County's stake in the Pyramid and Cook Convention Center, and purchase the adjacent Lone Star Cement Co.?

Maybe it's time to go through that contract with a finer toothed comb, get some detailed numbers on Bass Pro's revenues at the Pyramid, and reread Scott Reeder's 2012 article "Why Have So Many Cities and Towns Given Away So Much Money to Bass Pro Shops and Cabela's?" - before anybody seriously considers getting them involved with Mud Island River Park.

What Now? Call for Action

After the floodplain and Harbor Path were clear-cut, the City filed an after-the-fact request. They are asking the Corps of Engineers and TDEC for approval for what they've already done plus for what they want to do - clear-cut an additional 1000-feet of Wolf River Harbor. They've ironically named it the Wolf River Greening Project.

To prevent more clear-cutting and to begin a discussion to determine how to environmentally restore Wolf River Harbor, write or email

Tell them your interest in the area and your concerns. Request that they deny the after-the-fact permit request, prohibit more clear-cutting, and begin a collaborative process to environmentally stabilize the bank and restore the area.


Where were the Trees?

Before Dec. 12, trees and shrubs stabilized the floodplain and bank of Wolf River Harbor 
from point #1 to point #2 -- a 3,658-foot stretch.
They lined the harbor bank, providing a gentle beautiful walking path and some shade in the summer and a natural habitat for fish and birds, especially migratory birds and butterflies.

The trees and shrubs were clear-cut without plan review or permits.


Help Keep Memphis Beautiful

On Dec. 12, a 3,658' stretch along the eastern side of Wolf River Harbor (from the TN Visitors Center to the Auction Street/Willis Bridge) was clear-cut. After the fact, the City has requested a permit to approve what they did and to continue cutting for 1000 more feet.

They call it the Wolf River Greening Project. You be in the judge --

To prevent further clear-cutting and set the stage for a collaborative effort to restore the floodplain, natural habitat, water quality, and public path along the harbor, please email

Bob.Martineau@tn.gov (TN Dept. of Environment & Conservation). 

Send them comments, concerns, and request for a public meeting before Jan. 21. Help Keep Memphis Beautiful!


Corps Notifies Public of After-the-Fact Application to Clear-Cut Harbor & Seeks Public Comments

Click on document pages to enlarge.

Debbie Singleton, listed as applicant above, was deputy director of Housing and Community Development (HCD) under Robert Lipscomb and became interim director when Lipscomb was removed from office. Her online biography says she "has over 30 years experience in Mortgage Banking, Federal Regulatory Compliance and Redevelopment Project Management" and has worked at HCD for 19 years.  

Alan Barner is the senior project manager with O. T. Marshall Architects on the Bass Pro/Pyramid project.


Clear-cutting Destroys Beautiful Path Along Harbor

Today the online Commercial Appeal reported Tree-clearing near Bass Pro stopped by order of Corps of Engineers. It appears that the action was given the go ahead by someone within the City Administration and was done outside of standard and required review and permitting procedures.

Some of the trees were 75-100 years old and provided shade and beauty around the TN Visitor Center and extending north along Wolf River Harbor past Pyramid/Bass Pro to the U.S. Coast Guard facility.

We're reposting a slideshow of a walk through the area in 2011 --

Strolling the Harbor - Public Access in Mind

Public access along the harbor has long been a downtown goal, and with bikeways and greenways becoming a reality, a few "friends" strolled the section between the Visitor's Center and the Willis/Auction Street Bridge cameras in hand.

Starting out on the blufftop at the new pedestrian bridge that connects the law school to Confederate Park, down the steps off the bluff to the lower-level and the TN Welcome Center, heading north on the west side of the floodwall behind Lone Star and the Pyramid, past the public boat ramp to the Coast Guard facility, and linking back to Willis/Auction Street and the Trolley stop on Main Street. Take a look. (Click below to activate slideshow.)


A Summons to Memphis 2015 - Mayor Mick Cornett

The Memphis Flyer is bringing Mayor Mick Cornett to Memphis to share with us the success stories of Oklahoma City. From the sound of his 2015 State of the City Address, there seem to be many comparisons that can be made with Memphis and lessons we can learn.

Monday (9/14), at 11am, Peabody Hotel's Grand Ballroom. Cost: $50. Click HERE to purchase tickets.

Cities Reinventing a Relationship with Their Rivers

Think what could happen in Memphis if we thought of and planned our riverfront as a system of connected parks and historic sites for citizens to enjoy? 
Seoul. Ljubljana, Madrid, Paris, Qinhuangdao City, Lyon, Bordeaux, Moscow, Singapore, and New York City -- 10 cities that have found ways to improve the quality of life and reintroduce nature sustainably back into the heart of their cities.

Take a look at this article by Yuliya Georgieva posted on the Landscape Architects Network.

Towers on the Bluff?

It's hard to imagine two skyscrapers on the west side of Wagner between Beale and Pontotoc, but that's what the Land Use Control Board (LUCB) will consider on June 11.

As proposed the Towers could be 45 and 35 stories tall and would cut off public access to the Bluffwalk and trolley stop. Planning regulations in the South Main District prohibit the massive scale of development proposed, however staff at the Office of Planning and Development recommends approval.

To some this is desired downtown economic development. To others there are concerns that it is short-sighted development that will block views and radically alter the unique historic charm of the area.  Others favor postponing a vote on the project until adequate drawings and information on the project's seismic, environmental, and economic viability is available.

Created with flickr slideshow.
At 45 stories, the northern tower will be the tallest building downtown and dwarf Waterford Tower (17 stories), Auto Zone Headquarters, Belz Tower, and buildings on Main, Beale, and the adjacent Candy Factory, considered a role-model for S. Main redevelopment. 
Staff Report: Click on project and then on pdf link to download report.
Towers   PD 15-308

Links to newspaper articles: Daily NewsCommercial Appeal


Land Use Control Board Meeting 
Thursday, 10 am, City Hall, City Council Chambers
or comments may be emailed to Troy.frasier@memphistn.gov

Public Access to Bluffwalk & Trolley Stop

Whatever position people take about the Towers being proposed on Wagner at Beale, a seperate but linked item on the Land Use Control Board agenda has met almost unanimous concern and opposition. It's the proposal to close Martin Luther King Blvd. (formerly Linden) to make way for a building and swimming pool between the Towers. 

Currently a tree-lined, cobblestone and concrete pathway, the public right-of-way leads from Wagner west one block to the Bluff's edge. From downtown, It provides important ADA-compliant, public access to the Bluffwalk and riverfront loop Trolley stop.


Staff Report: Click on project and then on pdf link to download report. Public Right-of-Way SAC 15-606

Careers on the River - An Option in Memphis

Memphis is the 4th largest inland port in America, so it makes sense to expose and educate high school students about career opportunities on the River. On Friday Apr. 24, that happened. It was the 1st Annual "Who Works the Rivers" program in Memphis.

100 students toured a Wepfer Marine towboat, took a hike down the "Mini MS riverwalk," visited the MS River Museum @ MI River Park, and met representatives from waterways industries to learn about maritime jobs and careers.

In New York City, there's a full-time version. The Harbor School is a public high school on Governor's Island that offers a maritime curriculum to educate and prepare students in marine science and technology. As Memphis focuses on jobs for the future, the 1-day workshop looks like fun and a great step in that direction.

Sponsors and career fair participants were Wepfer Marine, ACL - American Commercial Lines LLC, Dickson Marine, Economy Boat Store, Fullen Dock and Warehouse, International Port of Memphis, Lucy Woodstock Marine Terminal, Mid-South Community College, The Seamen's Church Institute, Memphis District Corps of Engineers, and United States Coast Guard. Chick-fil-A provided lunch.

Canoe Outfitting & Guiding 101

Interested in starting your own canoe/kayak river business and don't know how or where to start?

A 2-day course, May 2-3 at the University of Louisiana at Monroe will give you the answers.

Participants will learn techniques to safely guide canoeists through local bayous, rivers and lakes; the many challenges and opportunities associated with a nature tourism business; how to proceed in the pursuit of an outfitting business, and more.

No previous canoe experience is required, but participants must be comfortable in water settings, and must be capable of physical exertion, including lifting and loading.

The cost, $199 per person, includes all necessary canoeing gear and printed materials on starting a small business in nature tourism. John Ruskey of Quapaw Canoe Company will teach the course, assisted by Mississippi River Guides Braxton Barden and Mark River.

For more information, or to register for this course, click HERE.

South Main Mosaic Artwalk

Last October, 8 pieces of public art went up in South Main, the perfect addition to downtown's art district. This Friday, after "Hook Up, Clean Up, Bottoms Up," take a stroll and check them out.

Click map to enlarge.
The art is by 13 artists: Jonathan Auger, Brendan Lawton,Ben Avant,Ryan Morris, Chris Hoal, Marcellous Lovelace, Brandon Marshall, Kenny Hayes, The Metal Museum, Nick Pena, Lance Turner, Stephanie Crosby, and Esther Szisk.

Photographs and descriptions are posted on the S. Main Assoc. website.  Click HERE.

South Main Mosaic Artwalk is a Downtown Memphis Commission project.

How appropriate and exciting that this Earth Day 2015, our Mid-South Regional Greenprint and Sustainability Plan has been awarded the prestigious Excellence in Sustainability Award by the American Planning Association. John Zeanah, Administrator of the Memphis-Shelby County Office of Sustainability, accepted the award at the APA conference in Seattle, WA.

The Mid-South Regional Greenprint and Sustainability Plan was funded by a $2.6M Sustainable Communities Regional Planning Grant awarded to Shelby County Government from the U.S. Dept. of Housing and Urban Development in Nov. 2011. From 2012 to 2014, the Memphis-Shelby County Office of Sustainability led a consortium of over 80 organizations, among them Friends for Our Riverfront, and 300 individuals toward the development of the Greenprint plan and related studies. The final plan, GREENPRINT 2015/2040, was published in Nov. 2014. For more information or to download the plan, click HERE.