After Memphis’ black community became settled, the legendary community of Beale Street became the heart of Memphis’ black culture as families were moving to Memphis after the Civil War.
In the early days of South Memphis the black and urban community was only based in the area of the legendary Beale Street and later expanded down to communities along South Parkway.
From neighborhoods around Walker Avenue to the area of the former LeMoyne Gardens public housing complex, which was Memphis’ first project to be demolished, the black area of South Memphis was a large community with much room for growth.
As white flight led to the exit of the Memphis’ older population, the urban community grew from only being based around areas that were located north of South Parkway.
Around the time of white flight from South Memphis, the Memphis housing projects soon became part of the streets and urban neighborhoods of Memphis, which included Fowler Homes, LeMoyne Gardens, Lamar Terrace, 3rd Wall (Cleaborne Homes), and Foote Homes.
Currently, all of the old South Memphis housing projects have been completely demolished and rebuilt into mix income apartment units, as the days of the streets roaming in the complexes are officially of the past.
Eventually the South Memphis ‘hoods would become Rivacide (Riverside), Longview Heights, Kerr Street, Bunker Hill, Glenview, Castalia, Magnolia, Bethel Grove, Alcy Road, 3rd World, and numerous of others.
While sections of South Memphis were some of the first locations for blacks in the city of Memphis, the community of Orange Mound was one of the first all-black communities in the country that was solely built and constructed for African-Americans.
Orange Mound, which has been around since the late 1800s, is a large area that is not necessarily considered to be South Memphis as Lamar Avenue separates the area from the other South Memphis ‘hoods.
What began as a thriving all-black neighborhood changed as black flight with those who were economically sufficient enough to leave the community for areas like East Memphis decided to leave the community, especially after the ending to Memphis’ segregation laws.
Westwood / BlackHaven / East Memphis
Outside of the Walker Homes, which was created as an all-black subdivision during the 1950s, communities south of highway’s I-55 and I-240 were all-white neighborhoods until the beginning of the 1980s.
The areas from East Memphis to Westwood are filled with low-income apartment complexes and working class subdivisions, like Kingsgate, the old Graves Manor (aka P***y Valley) and Walter Simmons housing complexes.
Today, many of the neighborhoods in BlackHaven Memphis (Whitehaven) and East Memphis, which were built around the 1950s and 1960s for white families, have the majority of the black population on the city’s South Side.
Today’s black population has expanded into areas like Blackhaven and especially East Memphis, since Blackhaven has had an African American presence for some time now. This is mainly due to the large amount of vacant properties in South Memphis, while gentrification has made its way into numerous sections of South Memphis.
The streets of the North Memphis ghetto has been made popular through the music of Project Pat and Three 6 Mafia as 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 Area
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 and 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.
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.
Mitchell Heights and Binghampton
Mitchell Heights and Binghampton are two of Memphis’ oldest communities as much of the two neighborhoods date back to the early 1900s with certain sections of the area 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 equaled a total of 40% 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 homes for thousands of Memphis’ black residents
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.