[Book Review] A Guide to Historic Downtown Memphis

*Unless explicitly stated otherwise, all book reviews on Alternative Muses are for volumes I’ve read as part of my J biography research. I hesitated to use the word review, as this series heavily focuses on WHY I chose to read a book and what I got out of it research-wise. As a compromise, I’ll end each post in this series with a short review of the actual book.*

A Guide to Historic Downtown Memphis by William Patton


J grew up near downtown Memphis in the first two decades of the 20th century. In reading this book, I hoped to get a better idea of what it was physically like to live in the Bluff City during her childhood and that of her parents/grandparents. That’s it: I wasn’t looking for anything deep or world-shifting, just practical, useful information. What were the buildings, streets, businesses, and neighborhoods like? Those are the questions I wanted A Guide to Historic Downtown Memphis to answer.

It did, to a great degree! I walked away with information that suited my research AND new leads to help further it along. That is always my ultimate goal in choosing which books to read.


This is a nifty little book ideal for anyone interested in Memphis history lite. Each chapter tackles a different area of downtown and its buildings and their backstories, from restaurants to houses of worship and all points between. It’s a quick, fun read worth your time.

The below image is not in the book but it’s a scene J would have recognized from her childhood.

Kansas City and Memphis Railway Bridge (Memphis, TN). Public Domain.

Helpfulness scale: 8/10

Entertainment value: 6/10


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