Memphis's own highline, the Bluffwalk along the Mississippi River, started as an idea in the 1970s to help spur downtown's renaissance. Today it runs atop the bluff from Union Ave. to Martyr's Park with an additional short stretch in the core of downtown on the Public Promenade.
With its proven track record and popularity, it’s hard to imagine the controversy that almost blocked the public walkway in the 1990s.
The Bluffwalk had been a trail for decades and was part of the 1982 Center City and Riverfront Spaces Plan. By the 1990s, however, residential development of the South Bluffs on property previously owned by Burlington Northern Railroad was happening, and a public walkway became highly controversial.
The Chickasaw Bluff Conservancy was organized in 1990 to preserve public access and the public walkway along the blufftop. Two lawsuits later, the 1st section of the Bluffwalk officially opened in August 1999. Designed by Ritchie Smith and built for $2M, the walkway was extended south from Ashburn-Coppock to Martyr's Park in 2006. A disconnected stretch behind the law school and a pedestrian bridge to Confederate Park was added on a section of the Public Promenade in 2010. (Click on map to enlarge.)
Funding for a feasibility study of a pedestrian and bike pathway to extend further south and cross the Harahan Bridge will be considered by the Public Works, Transportation, & General Services Committee of the City Council today (7/19/11). For more info. on the Harahan Bridge Project, click HERE.