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Memphis is a city along the Mississippi River in southwestern Shelby County, Tennessee, United States. Its 2020 population was 633,104, making it Tennessee's second-most populous city behind Nashville, the nation's 28th-largest, and the largest city proper situated along the Mississippi River. Greater Memphis is the 42nd-largest metropolitan area in the United States, with a population of 1,348,260 in 2017. The city is the anchor of West Tennessee and the greater Mid-South region, which includes portions of neighboring Arkansas, Mississippi, and the Missouri Bootheel. Memphis is the seat of Shelby County, Tennessee's most populous county. One of the more historic and culturally significant cities of the southern United States, Memphis has a wide variety of landscapes and distinct neighborhoods.
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The first European explorer to visit the area of present-day Memphis was Spanish conquistador Hernando de Soto in 1541 with his expedition into the New World. The high Chickasaw Bluffs protecting the location from the waters of the Mississippi was then contested by the Spanish, French, and the English as Memphis took shape. Modern Memphis was founded in 1819 by three prominent Americans: John Overton, James Winchester, and future president Andrew Jackson.Memphis grew into one of the largest cities of the Antebellum South as a market for agricultural goods, natural resources like lumber, and the American slave trade. After the American Civil War and the end of slavery, the city experienced even faster growth into the 20th century as it became among the largest world markets for cotton and lumber.
Home to Tennessee's largest African-American population, Memphis played a prominent role in the American civil rights movement and was the site of Martin Luther King Jr.'s 1968 assassination. The city now hosts the National Civil Rights Museum—a Smithsonian affiliate institution. Since the civil rights era, Memphis has become one of the nation's leading commercial centers in transportation and logistics. Its largest employer is the multinational courier corporation FedEx, which maintains its global air hub at Memphis International Airport, making it the busiest cargo airport in the world. In addition to being the global air cargo leader, the International Port of Memphis also hosts the fifth-busiest inland water port in the U.S., with access to the Mississippi River allowing shipments to arrive from around the world for conversion to train and trucking transport throughout the United States, making Memphis a multi-modal hub for trading goods for imports and exports despite its inland location.
Memphis is a regional center for commerce, education, media, art, and entertainment. It has long had a prominent music scene, with historic blues clubs on Beale Street originating the unique Memphis blues sound in the early 20th century. The city's music has continued to be shaped by a multicultural mix of influences: the blues, country, rock and roll, soul, and hip-hop. Memphis-style barbecue has achieved international prominence, and the city hosts the World Championship Barbecue Cooking Contest, which attracts over 100,000 visitors to the city annually.
West Memphis is the largest city in Crittenden County, Arkansas, United States. The population was 26,245 at the 2010 census, ranking it as the state's 18th largest city, behind Bella Vista. It is part of the Memphis metropolitan area, and is located directly across the Mississippi River from Memphis, Tennessee.
DeSoto County is a county located on the northwest border of the U.S. state of Mississippi. As of the 2010 census, the population was 161,252, making it the third-most populous county in Mississippi. Its county seat is Hernando.DeSoto County is part of the Memphis, TN-MS-AR Metropolitan Statistical Area. It is the second-most populous county in the MSA. The county has lowland areas that were developed in the 19th century for cotton plantations, and hill country in the eastern part of the county.
Tunica is a town in and the county seat of Tunica County, Mississippi, United States, near the Mississippi River. Until the early 1990s when casino gambling was introduced in the area, Tunica had been one of the most impoverished places in the United States. Despite this economic improvement, Tunica's population continues to decline from its peak in 1970.
Holly Springs is a city in and the county seat of Marshall County, Mississippi, United States, at the border with southern Tennessee. Near the Mississippi Delta, the area was developed by European Americans for cotton plantations and was dependent on enslaved Africans. After the American Civil War, many freedmen continued to work in agriculture but as sharecroppers and tenant farmers. As the county seat, the city is a center of trade and court sessions. The population was 7,699 at the 2010 census, which, compared to the 2000 census, slightly decreased. Holly Springs has several National Register of Historic Places-listed properties and historic districts, including Southwest Holly Springs Historic District, Holly Springs Courthouse Square Historic District, Depot-Compress Historic District, and East Holly Springs Historic District. Hillcrest Cemetery contains the graves of five Confederate generals, and has been called "Little Arlington of the South".