What’s beautiful about the city of Memphis is that there is so much history tucked under the surface. Even if you have lived in the city your entire life, there’s probably a factoid or two that will still surprise you. So here are a number of Memphis facts you might not know about and may find interesting (and want to share with your friends).
1. The First European in Memphis
If you had to name the first European in Memphis, who would guess that person to be? This question is a bit tricky because your first guess is probably someone who was English, but that is not correct. And the French did not make it to what would become Memphis either (at least yet). No, Hernando de Soto of Spain was the first European to march into what would eventually be known as Memphis.
Of course, thanks to the Mississippi River, this area of the New World became especially important, which led to a number of skirmishes between the English, Spanish and French. And while this initial fighting happened around the region, the area also became the initial cultural melting pot Memphis would eventually become.
2. Second Largest Cargo Shipping Airport in the World
Atlanta is pretty well documented as having the largest airport in the world when it comes to passengers coming in and out of Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport. But when it comes to the most cargo coming and going, Atlanta doesn’t even make the top 20. However, Memphis is the second-largest mover of freight cargo in the world and the largest in North America. That means we have a lot of job opportunities in this sector here in Memphis.
Hong Kong International Airport is the largest, moving over 5.1 million metric tons of cargo in 2018. Memphis International Airport is second at 4.4 million metric tons. The next highest-performing U.S. airport? You’d probably never guess it, but it’s Anchorage Alaska (Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport) at 2.8 million metric tons.
Other U.S. airports to make the top 20 include those in Louisville, Los Angeles, Miami and Chicago.
3. When the Spanish Moved Out they Took their Fort with Them
Following the American Revolution and the United State’s claim to independence (which was backed by the French as the French wanted nothing more than to see their longtime rivals the British lose a valuable colony), other European nations didn’t simply pull up their stakes and move.
In fact, the Spanish remained in what would become modern-day Memphis until 1795, when they signed the Treaty of San Lorenzo (also known as Pinckney’s Treaty). Following the treaty, the Spanish pulled up their fort lumber log by lumber log and took everything with them.
4. Discovering Memphis Anew
Perhaps you didn’t know all of these interesting facts. Or maybe you’re a Memphis historical genius and you had all of these bookmarked in your brain already. However it went, there’s always something fantastic to learn about the city, which is what makes it so great. It also helps keep the city new and fresh.
To dig deeper into what makes Memphis the city it has become today, make sure to visit a branch of your local library and, of course, keep it right here with We Are Memphis.