|Tom Lee Park|
|Area||30 acres (12 ha)|
|Operated by||City of Memphis|
|Status||Open all year from dawn to 10 pm|
|Public transit access|
Tom Lee Park is a city park located to the immediate west of downtown Memphis, Tennessee, overlooking the Mississippi River. Encompassing about 30 acres (12 ha) parallel to the Mississippi River for about one mile (1.6 km), it offers panoramic views of the Mississippi River and the shores of Arkansas on the opposite side. The park is named after Tom Lee, an African-American riverworker, who saved the lives of 32 passengers of the sinking steamboat M.E. Norman in 1925.
Tom Lee Park is a popular location for walkers, joggers, roller bladers and cyclists, and hosts one event per year, the Beale Street Music Festival that kicks off Memphis in May.
Tom Lee Park is approximately one mile (1.6 km) long, but not more than 400 ft (120 m) wide at any point. It encompasses about 30 acres (12 ha), running south from Beale Street, bounded by the Mississippi River to the west, and Riverside Blvd to the east, offering panoramic views of the Mississippi River.
Luxury homes and condominiums line the top of the bluff overlooking the park and the river.
The park is named after area resident Tom Lee (1885–1952).
Late during the afternoon of May 8, 1925, Lee steered his 28 ft (8.5 m) skiff Zev upriver after delivering an official to Helena, Arkansas.
Also on the river was the steamboat M.E. Norman, carrying members of the Engineers Club of Memphis, the American Society of Civil Engineers, and their families. [ dead link ]
Tom Lee witnessed M.E. Norman capsize in the swift current 15 mi (24 km) downriver from Memphis at Cow Island Bend. Although he could not swim, he rescued 32 people with five trips to shore. Lee acted quickly, calmly and with no regard for his own safety, continuing to search after night fell. Because of his efforts, only 23 people died.
To honor the hero, the Memphis Engineers Club raised enough money to purchase a house for Lee and his wife.
Tom Lee died of cancer on April 1, 1952 at John Gaston Hospital. Two years after his death, the park along the Memphis Riverfront was named in his honor and a granite obelisk was erected. The obelisk was destroyed once in 2003 in the aftermath of Hurricane Elvisand again during strong storms in May 2017.
In October 2006, a bronze sculpture by artist David Alan Clarkwas erected in the park to commemorate the event and to honor the civil hero. The sculpture depicts the rescue of a survivor saved from drowning in the Mississippi River.
Among several events held throughout the year, the park is well known throughout the city and region as the site of different outdoor events.
The annual Memphis in May celebration is a high-profile event in the park.
The Beale Street Music Festival is a three-day event during the Memphis in May celebration, hosting over 60 musical acts each year on four stages, in diverse genres such as blues, hip-hop, and metal.
The Sunset Symphony concert, since discontinued, the largest annual performance event of the Memphis Symphony Orchestra, was a highlight in the park during Memorial Day weekend, marking the end of the Memphis in May celebration. It has been replaced with a "Celebrate Memphis" event marking the end of the monthlong affair.
The World Championship Barbecue Cooking Contest, held the third weekend of May, is the world's largest pork barbecue cooking competition, attracting hundreds of competitors to Tom Lee Park from around the world.
The Mississippi River is the second-longest river and chief river of the second-largest drainage system in North America, second only to the Hudson Bay drainage system. From its traditional source of Lake Itasca in northern Minnesota, it flows generally south for 2,340 miles (3,766 km) to the Mississippi River Delta in the Gulf of Mexico. With its many tributaries, the Mississippi's watershed drains all or parts of 32 U.S. states and two Canadian provinces between the Rocky and Appalachian mountains. The main stem is entirely within the United States; the total drainage basin is 1,151,000 sq mi (2,980,000 km2), of which only about one percent is in Canada. The Mississippi ranks as the thirteenth-largest river by discharge in the world. The river either borders or passes through the states of Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa, Illinois, Missouri, Kentucky, Tennessee, Arkansas, Mississippi, and Louisiana.
Memphis is a city in the U.S. state of Tennessee. It is the seat of Shelby County in the southwest part of the state; it is situated along the Mississippi River. With a population of 633,104 at the 2020 U.S. census, Memphis is the second-most populous city in Tennessee after Nashville.
Rufus C. Thomas, Jr. was an American rhythm-and-blues, funk, soul and blues singer, songwriter, dancer, DJ and comic entertainer from Memphis, Tennessee. He recorded for several labels, including Chess Records and Sun Records in the 1950s, before becoming established in the 1960s and 1970s at Stax Records. He is best known for his novelty dance records, including "Walking the Dog" (1963), "Do the Funky Chicken" (1969), and "(Do the) Push and Pull" (1970). According to the Mississippi Blues Commission, "Rufus Thomas embodied the spirit of Memphis music perhaps more than any other artist, and from the early 1940s until his death . . . occupied many important roles in the local scene."
Beale Street is a street in Downtown Memphis, Tennessee, which runs from the Mississippi River to East Street, a distance of approximately 1.8 miles (2.9 km). It is a significant location in the city's history, as well as in the history of blues music. Today, the blues clubs and restaurants that line Beale Street are major tourist attractions in Memphis. Festivals and outdoor concerts frequently bring large crowds to the street and its surrounding areas.
The Mid-South Derecho of 2003 was a severe derecho event that affected parts of the Southern United States, particularly southwestern Tennessee and northern Mississippi, including the Memphis metropolitan area. It left 7 people dead and enormous damage across the region.
Belle of Louisville is a steamboat owned and operated by the city of Louisville, Kentucky, and moored at its downtown wharf next to the Riverfront Plaza/Belvedere during its annual operational period. The steamboat claims itself the "most widely traveled river steamboat in American history." Belle of Louisville's offices are aboard Mayor Andrew Broaddus, and also appears on the list of National Historic Landmarks.
Downtown Memphis, Tennessee is the central business district of Memphis, Tennessee and is located along the Mississippi River between Interstate 40 to the north, Interstate 55 to the south and I-240 to the east, where it abuts Midtown Memphis.
Memphis in May International Festival is a month-long festival held in Memphis, Tennessee. The festival, which is saluting Ghana in 2022, honors a specific foreign country every year and features many events. The Beale Street Music Festival takes place the first weekend in May and showcases an eclectic lineup of national and local musical talent. International Week is a series of exhibits, screenings, arts and performances dedicated to each year's honored country. The World Championship Barbecue Cooking Contest has become one of the most popular barbecue contests in the country and has been observed for 45 years. The Great American River Run Half Marathon & 5K welcomes runners of all experience levels through the streets of Memphis and along the banks of the Mississippi River, while 901Fest includes a salute to all things Memphis.
M.E. Norman was a sternwheel steamboat operated by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. On May 8, 1925, M.E. Norman sank after capsizing in the Mississippi River. Tom Lee, an African American riverworker, saved the lives of 32 passengers.
James Govan was an American blues soul singer. His most recent album, I'm in Need, was released in 1996. He had also performed alongside such artists as The Boogie Blues Band and Charlie Wood. Govan had become one of the favorite musicians on Beale Street, known for his cavernous baritone voice. He routinely performed for over two decades at the Rum Boogie Café.
Robert E. Lee, nicknamed the "Monarch of the Mississippi," was a steamboat built in New Albany, Indiana, in 1866. The hull was designed by DeWitt Hill, and the riverboat cost more than $200,000 to build. She was named for General Robert E. Lee, General in Chief of the Armies of the Confederate States. The steamboat gained its greatest fame for racing and beating the then-current speed record holder, Natchez, in an 1870 steamboat race.
The history of Memphis, Tennessee and its area began many thousands of years ago with succeeding cultures of indigenous peoples. In the first millennium, it was settled by the Mississippian culture. The Chickasaw Indian tribe emerged about the 17th century, or migrated into the area. The earliest European exploration may have encountered remnants of the Mississippian culture by Spanish explorer Hernando de Soto. Later French explorers led by René-Robert Cavelier, Sieur de La Salle likely encountered the Chickasaw. The European-American city of Memphis was not founded until 1819. The city was named after the ancient capital of Egypt on the Nile River in North Africa. It rapidly developed as a major trading center for cotton cultivated at the region's large plantations and dependent on the work of enslaved African Americans. In the 19th century, and especially 1878 and 1879, the city suffered severe yellow fever epidemics. In 1878 tens of thousands of residents fled and more than 5,000 died, with hundreds more dying in the next year's epidemic, causing the city to go bankrupt and give up its charter until 1893.
Memphis, Tennessee has a long history of distinctive contributions to the culture of the American South and beyond. Although it is an important part of the culture of Tennessee, the history, arts, and cuisine of Memphis are more closely associated with the culture of the Deep South than the rest of the state. For example, the city's influence on 20th-century music has had worldwide impact. Memphians have had an important role in founding or establishing several important American music genres, including blues, gospel, rock and roll, and "sharecropper" country music.
Tourism in Memphis includes the points of interest in Memphis, Tennessee such as museums, fine art galleries, and parks, as well as Graceland the Beale Street entertainment district, and sporting events.
Barbecue is a tradition often considered a quintessential part of American culture, especially the Southern United States.
M/V Mississippi is a United States Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) towboat operating on the Mississippi River. It is the largest diesel towboat on the river.
Randolph is a rural unincorporated community in Tipton County, Tennessee, United States, located on the banks of the Mississippi River. Randolph was founded in the 1820s and in 1827, the Randolph post office was established. In the 1830s, the town became an early center of river commerce in West Tennessee. Randolph shipped more cotton annually than Memphis until 1840. In 1834, the first pastor of the Methodist congregation was appointed. The fortunes of the community began to decline in the late 1840s due to failed railroad development, an unfavorable mail route and other factors. The first Confederate States Army fort in Tennessee was built at Randolph early in the Civil War in 1861, a second fortification at Randolph was constructed later that same year. During the Civil War, the town was burned down twice by Union Army forces.
Major floods along the Mississippi River in April and May 2011 were among the largest and most damaging recorded along the U.S. waterway in the past century, comparable in extent to the Great Mississippi Flood of 1927 and Great Flood of 1993. In April 2011, two large storm systems deposited record levels of rainfall on the Mississippi River drainage basin. When that additional water combined with the springtime snowmelt, the river and many of its tributaries began to swell to record levels by the beginning of May. Flooding occurred in Illinois, Missouri, Kentucky, Tennessee, Arkansas, Mississippi, and Louisiana.
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