Friday, January 28, 2005

Letter: Honor Promenade's vision, promise

The Commercial Appeal
Letters to the Editor

Your Jan. 26 edition included a 50-year-old photograph of the almost-completed two-story parking garage on the Public Promenade. In the early 1950s, many questioned whether a parking garage was an appropriate use of that public space. To garner support for the project, the city attorney explained that the garage would be built underground with a beautiful park at street level "with walkways, flowers, grass and shrubbery." (The Commercial Appeal, Nov. 5, 1950)

The Riverfront Development Corp. now says it will put a lot of green space under privately developed high-rise offices and apartments it wants to build on the promenade's remaining few acres?

Why not replace the garage with a beautiful park, as promised by the city attorney in 1950 and envisioned by city founders in 1819?

Hite Mclean

(Also see: Bygone days: Paving Paradise)

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Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Bygone Days: Paving paradise

The following items about the Front Street/Monroe Avenue parking garage have appeared in the "Bygone Days" columns in the Commercial Appeal.

April 19, 1950
Studies of the Mississippi River bluff between Union and Monroe just west of Front will be made by the city to determine if the incline could be hollowed out and used for an underground parking garage. The site is now occupied by Central Headquarters of the Memphis Fire Department, and it is understood Mayor Overton favors keeping the Front Street level of the area for the fire station.

September 19, 1950
Plans for a 500-car underground parking garage in part of the city-owned bluff now occupied by Central Fire Department headquarters between Union and Monroe were released yesterday by Mayor Overton. The suggestion includes using the top of the garage at the level of Front Street for a 125- by 300-foot park with a clear view of the Mississippi River. The location is near the center of the department store district and other large com-mercial establishments.

September 3, 1952
Memphis' old fire training tower at Front and Monroe, which must be razed to make way for the city's new underground garage, will be replaced elsewhere by a new $90,000 multi-purpose structure, City Commissioner Claude A. Armour said last night. The commissioner said the new building will be as modern as any in existence, if not the most modern. Its location has not been determined. However, Commissioner Armour favors the old rodeo arena in the northeast corner of the Fairgrounds, just west of the National Guard Armory.

January 24, 1953
Mayor Watkins Overton reported yesterday he is pushing a city public works program for 1953, which will cost an estimated $10 million or more. The mayor's suggestions come at a time when the various city agencies are compiling lists of projects for which they will need bond funds the next two years. The state Legislature will be asked to authorize bond issues for amounts city officials finally agree upon. Mayor Overton disclosed that he met Wednesday with school officials and finds they will need "at least two million dollars" this year for new construction. Other big projects the mayor said should be started this year are: the Negro hospital and nurses home at Dunlap and Jefferson (estimated to cost more than two million dollars); the underground parking garage at Front and Monroe ($1,250,000); and the new central library at Peabody and McLean ($750,000).

July 31, 1954
Final official action necessary before construction of a parking garage at Front and Monroe was taken yesterday by the City Commission. Sitting in special session, the officials approved a lease agreement with Southern Builders, Inc., and National Retail Centers Inc. to build and operate the long-delayed, much-needed facility.


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Monday, January 10, 2005

Letter: Restore CCC as Downtown planner

Commercial Appeal
Letters to the Editor

As this community faces the threat of higher taxes, our leaders are making a great show of efforts to reduce expenditures. Consolidation has become Memphis Mayor Willie Herenton's solution to the looming shortfalls. He has an opportunity to show his belief in consolidation within his own domain.

Memphis has two semiprivate organizations that oversee the development of our city, the Center City Commission and the Riverfront Development Commission. Both organizations, funded to a large extent by taxpayers, are staffed with highly paid individuals, and both maintain executive office suites in Downtown Memphis.

Before the RDC was created, Downtown development efforts were led solely by the CCC. By removing the riverfront from CCC purview, the mayor was able to provide highly paid jobs for ex-city employees who carried on his vision of a grand-scale rebuilding of the city, centered on a land bridge and lake. In light of the current budget crisis, these plans have taken a low profile.

With the view that consolidated organizations are more efficient than divided and often duplicated efforts, now would be a great time for the mayor to consolidate the efforts of the CCC and the RDC, returning the development of Downtown to the CCC. This act would save millions by reducing duplicated costs, and allow costly planning efforts to return to a more realistic level, benefiting the city and taxpayer alike.

Thomas Kroll

Copyright 2004 - The Commercial Appeal is an E.W. Scripps Company newspaper.

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Saturday, January 01, 2005

About the Library

Here are some things you will want to know about how this Library is managed.

Scope of coverage

The news articles and other readings in this Library are by no means a complete record of all that has been written about the Memphis Riverfront. They are a historical sketch, focusing primarily on the era of the Riverfront Development Corporation (1999 through today), with some coverage of Mayor Herenton's pre-RDC initiatives (1992 through 1999), as well as earlier riverfront plans and events.

As we add material, we will choose articles or readings for one or more of the following reasons:

  • To mark significant events and transitions along the timeline of the Memphis Riverfront Master Plan (and its direct antecedents);
  • To illuminate the historical context or mark related events (such as the disbanding of the Parks Commission);
  • To provide background or supporting detail for an article posted at the FfOR blog;
  • In general, to fill the "memory hole"

Library organization

Unlike a typical blog, where the articles are dated when posted, the Library articles are posted as of their original dates. For example, you can go to the May 2004 archive (listed on the sidebar) and scan news stories written in the periods just prior to and after the City Council meeting on the 18th of that month.

Remember that the home and archive pages show only the first couple of paragraphs of the story. You need to click through to the complete-article page. Click the headline or the "Read the Complete Article..." link at the bottom. When you are on any complete-article page, click "Next Item" or "Previous Item" at the top to move forward or backward chronologically.

This preserves the historical continuity and context -- but at the expense of your not easily being able to see what has been added to the Library most recently. To help make up for that, we will also keep an index of recent additions; look for that index in the sidebar. Other indexes will bring up all the articles mentioning a particular topic or quoting a certain person -- or all articles written by a reporter or commentator who regularly covers the riverfront.

All historical material dated prior to 1990 will be found in the January 1990 archive.


Within the Library, we will highlight editorial comments by boxing them -- like this paragraph.

If we make a significant change to an article after the date posted, we add mention of the update within the article.

The HTML for this website is very fluid. It permits you to enlarge the text for readability, or make it smaller for compact printing. Look on your browser menu for the Text Size setting (it's on the View menu in Internet Explorer).

To print an article, first go to its complete-article page (click the headline). Click Print from your browser menu. On your printout, the sidebar should disappear and the article will expand to fill the page width -- if you are using a recent version of your browser. Tip: If you really like to conserve paper, make your text size smaller before printing.

To email the URL of a complete-article page, click the little envelope at the bottom. This will work even if you are looking at an article's summary on the main or archive page. If you want to link to an artcile from your own site or blog: Be sure to click through to the complete-article page and use the URL for that page.

The Librarian


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