City Stories

North North: Streets of North Memphis


North Memphis:

Inside the Streets of the Memphis Ghetto

Made popular through the music of Project Pat and Three 6 Mafia, North Memphis is one of the country’s roughest communities with the possibility for building true character by growing up in area where only the strong truly survive.

7th Street

north memphis ghetto

In a section officially known as Uptown lies one of Memphis’ most gentrified area, 7th Street, a community of single family homes and small apartment complexes.

Before the destruction of the majority of the Memphis housing projects the Uptown neighborhood housed mostly all of the North Memphis housing complexes, like Dixie Homes, Lauderdale Courts and the Hurt Village Memphis projects, all being the first public housing projects in Memphis.

This section of North Memphis was an all-white community with the legendary housing project of Hurt Village being strictly for white families and was forbidden for African-Americans until the 1960s and 1970s as the community became predominantly black.

Currently, as previously stated, the 7th Street community has loss a bulk of its population due to the amount of vacant properties and the demolishing of the nearby housing projects, even though there has been much rebuilding in the community.

Smokey City / Klondike

Two communities that are just separated by Interstate 40 are some of North Memphis’ most respected neighborhoods, while sitting between Vollintine and Jackson Avenue.

Klondike was one the North Side’s first African-American communities, along with nearby New Chicago that is just minutes north of the two communities.

After the Martin Luther King assassination riots, white families fled the area which would lead to places like Smokey City and other North Side communities to gain an African-American population.

From Ayers to Breedlove in Smokey City or the legendary intersection of Speed and Henry of Klondike, this a breakdown of the heart of North Memphis.

Chelsea Avenue ‘Hoods

north memphis ghetto

The North Memphis ghetto of Watkins and Brown

Traveling along Chelsea, from Thomas Street to Jackson Avenue or from the gentrified sections of North Memphis to Memphis’s Hispanic community, anyone can get a good example of the culture of Memphis’ North Side.

Neighborhoods like New Chicago, Watkins and Brown, Evergreen, Hyde Park and Douglas are just some of the few areas that are located just off of Chelsea Avenue.

As Project Pat made North Memphis popular, the legendary rapper also made the communities of Hyde Park, Hollywood, and Cypress Gardens, which is off Springdale, famous as these reputable neighborhoods of Memphis has been some of the city’s most active areas.

The historic African-American neighborhood of Douglas was allegedly founded by former slaves as the community is one of the oldest areas in the city of Memphis with the neighborhood dating back to the late 1800s.

Bay Area (Further North Memphis)

Starting with the Frayser neighborhood, the urban population of North Memphis has expanded from the Frayser community to the Raleigh neighborhood and later into the Bartlett area.

While the actual housing projects of the North Memphis ghetto have been demolished, the low income apartment complexes of the Frayser community have seemed to filled that void as the area has numerous of housing complexes.

As cities across America are getting away from the traditional public housing projects and making low-income apartment complexes into subsidized or section 8 voucher type of housing, the North Memphis Frayser neighborhood, or the Bay Area, has become home to the modern day housing projects.

Mitchell Heights / Binghampton

north memphis ghetto

Two of Memphis’ oldest areas as much of the two neighborhoods date back to the early 1900s with the areas playing key roles in the development of North Memphis and the city itself.

While today the majority of Memphis’ population is greatly African-American, the city’s black community has always made up a large portion of the city since the late 1800s, especially in many of the North Memphis neighborhoods.    

During the 1800s, African-Americans made up a total of 44% of the city’s population as many worked as servants or in the cotton industry during the days after slavery.

Decades later, many of the North Memphis neighborhoods that black workers once were only allowed to work and serve in would later become key parts of the city’s residential black communities.

Follow link to check out more on the communities of Memphis, Tennessee.

*Note: All information is provided through people of the community, outside sources, and research.  Some information might not be current and/or 100% accurate.

History Resources:

Bond, Beverly G., and Janann Sherman. Memphis in Black and White. Charleston, SC: Arcadia, 2003. Print.
McPherson, Larry E. Memphis. Santa Fe, NM: Center for American Places, 2002. Print.
Williams, Charles. “African American Life and Culture in Orange Mound”. Lexington Books, 2013