The Pyramid, built 20 years, is recent history.
Much earlier, from 1844-1854, the Memphis Naval Yard sat on this site. Envisioned as "the" U. S. Navy's western construction facility and ropewalk, it owed its rise and fall to regional politics, Congressional funding, and local development hopes.
According to Goodspeed Publishing Company's 1887 History of Shelby County, Tennessee, "Helena, Ark., had a Government Hospital, and Vicksburg had a lighthouse, which was, it is believed, actually lighted up during one entire month, and Memphis, to stand on a par with her sister cities of the valley, must have a navy yard, though hundreds of miles from the sea." The history's description of the facility says, "a wall was erected, twelve feet thick at the base as also a rope walk, a large store, a commandant's house, a blacksmith shop, a carpenter shop, a saw-mill, an office building resembling the Coliseum at Rome, with columns all around."
One steamship, the USS Allegheny was outfitted here before the Yard closed in 1854.
For more information on the Memphis Naval Yard, click HERE to read A Naval Depot and Dockyard on the Western Waters: The Rise and Fall of the Memphis Naval Yard, 1844–1854, by Stanley J. Adamiak for the Journal Naval History.