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Author Topic: Memphis and Jackson questions
sojourner
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I am hoping next year to visit New Orleans for the first time. While I may meet a friend there, she is flying--I was going to go by train and take the City of New Orleans, which I've never done before, stopping for 2 nights in Memphis and 1 in Jackson (part of my capitals visits), two cities I've also never visited. However, some travel sites and magazines have said stuff about a recent crime wave in Memphis? I think the Atlantic (or do I mean Atlantic Monthly) even had an article that Memphis is the new South Bronx!!! Does anyone know about this recent turn of events? Will I be OK downtown by myself in this city? And what about Jackson? I am usually fine in most places but I don't want to have to worry either, that's no vacation!

Also, are there any downtown hotels you particularly recommend in these cities? I like Hampton Inns, Holiday or Comfort Inns if comfortable . . . cannot afford really expensive places (like the Peabody!) As always, I want to stay downtown and will not have a car.

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Henry Kisor
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Memphis does not seem to be a place where one should tarry even for a couple of nights. The current issue of the Atlantic has a dismaying article on the explosion of crime in that city:

http://www.theatlantic.com/doc/200807/memphis-crime

It says Memphis is not alone, that there has been a similar growth in the crime rate in many other mid-sized cities.

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George Harris
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I grew up in and near Memphis, and it is barely recognizable compared to what it was in the 50's, at that time one of the nicest and cleanest cities it the US. It has been approximately 10 years since I have been downtown, and over 25 years since I worked there, so my information is not really current.

I would consider Mud Island worth seeing, and it is something that is right at downtown Memphis, but again, it has been something like 20 years since I was there, so I could not comment on the safety or current condition. Suggest that you go early in the day. Downtown places to stay? I have no idea.

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sojourner
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Further investigation (including the article link) suggests that the downtown, where tourists stay, is not where the high crime is, so perhaps it's OK. I really need to talk with people who have been in Memphis recently, since it seems to be a new phenomenon. David P, what do you think (if you see ths post)? Anyone else?
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RRRICH
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"Cinco de Mayo in Memphis
Mariachis singing the blues
Southern belles and senoritas
All sporting blue suede shoes...."

--- (words and music by Guy Clark, recently covered by Jimmy Buffett!)

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Geoff Mayo
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I'm surprised there wasn't more response to this so I'll add my own experiences of both - but bear in mind this is going back 5-7 years now.

Jackson, MS was rather quiet. The hotel I stayed in was about 5 blocks east of the Amtrak station. There was nothing around of any interest except a park, which I steered clear of due to some youths grouped together, and a diner. When I entered the diner it felt like everybody was staring at me, saying "who is this stranger"! I only stayed overnight; it was just a quick fling on a train from NOL "just to do it". I'm not saying don't go there, but don't expect anything like Denver's mall area or San Antonio's riverwalk - but I only saw a small part of town.

Memphis, well I can't comment on the crime now, but there were areas I shouldn't have gone even back then. However, the downtown area is very touristy and friendly. Mud Island was interesting with a scale model of the Mississippi and again fairly touristy - but I'd only go there during the day. You can get a tram (streetcar?) down to the MLK motel/museum but to be honest I was a little bit wary of that neighborhood - whether unfounded or not, I was just a little uneasy. Quick look round the museum and straight back on the tram back to the hotel. Apparently a singer used to live in Memphis - I drove there but I suspect there is plenty of public transport and/or organised tours to get there.

Sorry, I can't remember the name of either hotel, but a bit of research on sites like www.tripadvisor.com should get you some experiences at various hotels.

Thinking of tours, are there any Gray Line or other tours you can hop on and off in either/both cities? They'd probably be your safest bet.

Geoff M.

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George Harris
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quote:
Originally posted by Geoff M:
Apparently a singer used to live in Memphis - I drove there but I suspect there is plenty of public transport and/or organised tours to get there.

It it maybe Elvis Presley you are thinking bout?
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Geoff Mayo
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quote:
Originally posted by George Harris:
quote:
Originally posted by Geoff M:
Apparently a singer used to live in Memphis - I drove there but I suspect there is plenty of public transport and/or organised tours to get there.

It it maybe Elvis Presley you are thinking bout?
That's the one! Mind you, I guess there are a few from there - I should have said the most famous singer.

Geoff M.

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Geoff M.

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Henry Kisor
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Elvis was the Benny Hill of the United States?
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George Harris
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quote:
Originally posted by Henry Kisor:
Elvis was the Benny Hill of the United States?

No No NO.
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Henry Kisor
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Just yankin' yo' chain, George!

Actually, Geoff being a Brit, I was trying to think of a performer who would have been a household word in the U.K. but not in the U.S. (Presumably Elvis the Pelvis and his brother Enos were not well known in Blighty. Or were they?)

I am a little afraid to ask Ira about this.

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notelvis
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quote:
Originally posted by sojourner:
Further investigation (including the article link) suggests that the downtown, where tourists stay, is not where the high crime is, so perhaps it's OK. I really need to talk with people who have been in Memphis recently, since it seems to be a new phenomenon. David P, what do you think (if you see ths post)? Anyone else?

Hey Sojourner -

I've seen the thread.......the first two weeks of August are the most difficult of the year for me job-wise........12 hour days and virtually no time for recreational internet time.....

I lived on the outskirts of Memphis (Bartlett, TN) for a year in 1983......that's been 25 years now, wow. I also passed through Memphis this past spring. I don't have much information regarding hotels for you as we have friends with a guest bedroom just across the stateline in Mississippi.

I will add voice to Geoff's post in that to me when I was there it seemed like Memphis had not yet put the 60's behind it and there was an unspoken racial tension. Might be the case still. The Civil Rights museum at the site of the Martin Luther King assassination is a significant attraction only a few blocks from the Amtrak station BUT it's in an area of town I'd be nervous about after dark or even an hour or so before dark.

My opinion.....and it's just that.....is that the downtown tourist areas Beale Street, the Riverfront, Mud Island are reasonbly safe during daylight hours. I'd be a little nervous about venturing out after dark by myself......but then the same thing could be said about most cities including New York, Atlanta, St. Louis, etc.

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David Pressley

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Climbing toward 5,000 posts like the Southwest Chief ascending Raton Pass. Cautiously, not nearly as fast as in the old days, and hoping to avoid premature reroutes.

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Geoff Mayo
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I was being somewhat sarcastic about Elvis! [Roll Eyes]

Elvis the Pelvis is well known in Blighty. Enos rings a bell but I can't place him - but bear in mind I was born around the time Elvis popped his clogs.

Benny Hill was a comedian - but he did sing "The fastest milkman in the west". He really isn't a comparison to Elvis! In fact, I can't think of a person quite like him. The only ones I can think of which are (were) big in the UK:
- Morecombe & Wise
- The Two Ronnies (Four candles / Fork handles sketch)
- Some mothers do 'ave 'em
- Fawlty Towers
- Only fools & horses
All the above comedies.

Going back to Memphis, mentioning the 60s reminds me of seeing a 2+2 coloured family dressed up in their Sunday best for church. It was a sight to see, something you see precious little of these days. Of course, people do dress up for church, but these were immpecably dressed. At least some of the better things from days of yore are still alive and well, even if the city itself suffers a little from tensions.

Geoff M.

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sojourner
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Well, I just found out that Mud Island isn't even open when I plan on going. So I think I will skip Memphis on this trip.

As for Jackson, I hope it isn't too terrible;there do seem to be some interesting museums there, as well as the capitol. If anyone has any more info, or any food recommendations), feel free to chime in!

Thanks, everyone, for your input.

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Henry Kisor
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Looks like there are other perils besides crime in Memphis:

http://www.commercialappeal.com/news/2008/aug/15/repairing-of-sinkhole-downtown-under-way/

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Geoff Mayo
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At least Amtrak can still get around the obstruction by using that eastern bypass that I used a few years ago when trackwork just north of the station forced us to go around and do a long back-up move into Memphis from the south.

Where are Amtrak bussing the passengers to/from? A temporary stop?

Geoff M.

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Geoff M.

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George Harris
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Yes, it is a temporary stop, but I do not know where it is. Best guess seems to be somewhere to the south of the city where the bypass joins the regular route.
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notelvis
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quote:
Originally posted by Henry Kisor:
Looks like there are other perils besides crime in Memphis:

http://www.commercialappeal.com/news/2008/aug/15/repairing-of-sinkhole-downtown-under-way/

I would be interesting in seeing photos of the 'temporary facility' Amtrak is using in Memphis. I wonder of anyone has some.

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David Pressley

Advocating for passenger trains since 1973!

Climbing toward 5,000 posts like the Southwest Chief ascending Raton Pass. Cautiously, not nearly as fast as in the old days, and hoping to avoid premature reroutes.

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