Hello, Memphis! It’s a new year and a new decade, and the future looks brighter than ever for our beloved Bluff City. As I look back at the most unforgettable moments of 2019, I’m also thinking about what we can look forward to in 2020. Let’s dig in.
Downtown Memphis looks and feels different than it did twelve months ago. Mud Island River Park received a facelift and a brand new MEMPHIS sign that’s now a staple of social media posts. There are millions of dollars in development for projects in The Pinch, South Main, the Medical District and the heart of downtown, including One Beale, Union Row, St. Jude’s expansion, Wiseacre’s second brewery, and more. We can expect the skyline to continue to evolve in exciting ways in 2020.
Several new boutique hotels opened downtown in 2019 including Central Station, Hotel Indigo, Arrive, Hilton Garden Inn, and the Moxy, each with a unique look and feel. Their respective bar and restaurant concepts - including French brasserie Bishop, Longshot shuffleboard bar, and 3rd & Court diner - are already hip hangouts for hotel guests and locals. More hotels are scheduled to open or are in various stages of development for 2020 and beyond.
In 2019, Memphis celebrated our bicentennial with Memphis In May’s Celebrate Memphis festival, with live music, the World’s Longest Picnic Table, food, shopping, and a fireworks finale over the river. In November, Shelby County celebrated 200 years with a county showcase at Shelby Farms, with more fun, food, and fireworks over the lake.
Memphis sports had a very exciting year. The Grizzlies said goodbye to Mike Conley, but hello to No. 2 NBA Draft Pick Ja Morant, who just won Rookie of the Month and is an early favorite for Rookie of the Year. The Memphis 901 FC soccer team proved popular and announced that internationally renowned goalkeeper Tim Howard would take over as General Manager of the club for the 2020 season.
But let’s talk about football! The Memphis Tigers team gave us an explosive season with a 12-1 record, including an unforgettable ESPN College GameDay that started with thousands of fans flocking to Beale Street in the wee hours of the morning for the TV program, and then filling the Liberty Bowl to capacity for a Tiger victory over SMU. As I write this, fans and players prepare for a December 28th Cotton Bowl game in Texas. Win or lose, the team should be proud of how they’ve represented the city this year. Go Tigers Go!
All around town, you’ll find new murals (including a new I Love Memphis billboard on Beale Street and a new Memphis mural in The Edge), more electric and motorized scooters, and more new restaurants than we can cover in this article. NBC filmed a network legal drama starring Jimmy Smits, Bluff City Law, on location and aired ten episodes. Fingers crossed for a second season.
In August, the I Love Memphis Blog marked 10 years of spreading the word about Memphis greatness and we had a big party at Railgarten with live music, cake, champagne, giveaways, and puppies (all of which were adopted!). Thank you for a decade of loving Memphis and making this blog possible.
Finally, the Convention Center broke ground in early 2019 for a multi-million dollar renovation and announced a new name: the Renasant Convention Center. If the finished space is half as impressive as the construction renderings, the city and our visitors are in for a treat once it’s finished in late 2020.
What were your favorite Memphis memories for 2019, and what are you looking forward to most in 2020? Drop me a line and let me know!
Holly Whitfield is the writer behind the I Love Memphis Blog and a part of the Memphis Convention and Visitors Bureau.