The Trolley Tour: Downtown Memphis

LV Burns of with Elvis

The revival of Downtown Memphis has been helped along the way by many programs. The Retail Loan Forgiveness Program, which has been successful in places like Milwaukee, St. Louis and New Jersey, has provided start up business owners the opportunity to earn a loan up to 45,000 dollars if the business opens in several areas throughout downtown, The Pinch District or South Main. The business then has to stay in that location for a specified amount of time and the loan is forgiven. This program has led to a growing retail district in Downtown Memphis and to a monthly event to help promote the retail areas. That monthly event is called The Trolley Tour.

In Memphis there alway seems to be nothing to do. That is exactly what the issue is, it seems this way. In reality there are small pockets of entertainment and opportunities that are always present. They are not very well promoted in the various forms of media, but the events are out there. The Downtown Memphis website does a great job of providing up to the day information regarding Downtown. The Commecial Appeal newspaper website also lists events, but in the body of the website it is sometimes easy to overlook.

The Memphis Trolley transit utilizes a system that can be described as San Francisco ‘lite’. The system is not as extensive as that but on a smaller scale the trolley transit in Memphis provides visitors and locals alike the chance to ride. ‘The Main Street & Riverfront Trolley Line can take you just about anywhere you’d want to go in Downtown. Over 1 million riders each year use trolleys which make a five-mile loop along Main Street and the Mississippi River, and connects the Downtown Core to the Memphis Medical Center.’

Enough about the general transit system, The Trolley Tour is the point. Every month on the last Friday of the month the city allows visitors to the downtown area to hop on the trolley for free and experience an ‘open house’ for the South Main District. Starting at 6pm and ending at 9pm, the visitors can jump on the trolley, year around, and feel the cool breeze as the trolley rocks back and forth on the metal tracks rolling between the apartments and small businesses, down the riverside in front of the Pyramid and through the Pinch District. Riders can exit anywhere on the trolley line, but on this night South Main becomes alive with sound. DJ’s spin records outside of various stores and bands bring art galleries to life, while business owners collect e-mails to solidify their base. The idea of the Trolley Tour by the Center City Commission is beautiful in its presentation and by taking advantage of the setting, dusk in Downtown Memphis, when Beale Street is coming alive the whole area is vibrant.

The various events of the Trolley Tour will be laid out over the next few days in a series of discussions on new businesses to the area and some very cool spots on the Trolley Tour. Eveyone in Memphis who claims that they don’t have anything to do should take the time to build a roster of events for themselves. The first event should be The Trolley Tour on Friday Nights at the end of each month, year around: rain, snow, sleet or heat starting at 6pm and ending at 9pm.