Monday, July 13, 2009

Garrow: Historical Summary of the Memphis Landings (Timeline)

Reproduced below is a convenient historical timeline of the development of the Memphis Landings. It appears as a table in chapter 6 of the Garrow Report, Part 1.

The following material is reproduced from The Memphis Landing Part 1: Cultural Resource Assessment, Garrow & Associates, January 1996, by Guy G. Weaver, John L. Hopkins, Marsha R. Oates, and Gary Patterson. The text below is identical, with only minor formatting changes. (To download scanned PDFs of the original document, go to this page.)

Table 3: Historical Summary of the Memphis Landings


Public Promenade is established from the mouth of Bayou Gayoso to Beale Street. The Public Landing extends from Auction Street to Winchester Street.


A sandbar accretes across the west and southwest frontages of the Public Landing. A wooden walkway and wharf are built across the bar in 1837 at the end of Winchester Street.


Captain William W. Hart, wharfmaster, moves the wharfbcat south to the vicinity of Union Street.


The City formalizes the development of the Batture. Center Landing is established between the extensions of Poplar and Washington streets. A "public levee" extends along the frontage of the river on both sides of Center Landing. At least portions of Center Landing are paved before 1859.


In March, the City "introduces a plan for paving the wharf with limestone or granite, of not less than four nor more than eight inches in surface, to be laid on gravel not less than five nor more than eight inches in depth; the width of the pavement to be 100 feet, the length 3300." Amendments establish a uniform grade and set the depth of the paving at 12 inches. The completed revetment is to stretch from the north end of Jefferson Street to the south line of Union Street at Howard's Row.

In September, the first stones of the pavement at the city wharf are put down by the contractor, John Lowdon.


Audit shows Lowdon has paved 12,428.88 square yards between Adams and Jefferson (Union?) streets and 7,129.39 square yards between Union and Beale streets. Also mentioned is the requirement for Loudon to "grade from the wharf" some 40,000 cubic yards of earth. Lowdon is already obliged to repair "that portion of the nine inch pavement between Union and Beale Streets which has given way and sunk." The settling of the grade is attributed to the lack of "sewers or drains underneath said pavement necessary to conduct all water beneath it to the river."


Mayor and board receive proposals "for the sinking of a barge or other river craft with sufficient stone or other material to hold it in place at the landing below Poplar Street where the bank is now being washed away."


In June, Federal forces arrive in Memphis.


Changes in the currents of the Mississippi slowly begin to erode the Batture. By 1886, the paved frontage flanking the open square of the landing slips into the river.


The City awards a contract to John Loudon for new paving from Jefferson to Monroe streets, "to be one hundred feet in width, composed of square blocks of stone."


Loudon calls attention to caving conditions of public landing northward from Jefferson Street; a strip 700 x 100 already had disappeared, carrying away $20,000 worth of paving. Caving could be stopped by sinking two or three old barges loaded with gravel opposite the head of "Old Hen." Resolution extends the contract of M. & J. Lowden to include unpaved portion of city wharf from Court to Union; the work is to be done within 60 days.


City Engineer instructs J. & M. Loudon to pave Landing at the foot of Union Street.


The Vicksburg & St. Louis Anchor Line's massive freight elevator is constructed at the foot of Beale Street.


Freight elevator is destroyed by fire.


Ordinance requires "parties laying sewers to the River to use Iron pipe under the Landing."

City Engineer recommends completing the levee south of Union Street. Contract is awarded to M. Larkin & Co. Material for the paving project is provided under a separate contract with James A. Loudon.

In March, T. C. Betts is awarded the contract to construct a "dump or dredge boat" at the elevator site.


In June, Grider begins paving, breaking ground at the lower end of the old elevator and working up to Beale Street."

In July, newspapers report a renewed contract for Larkin & Company to finish "paving of the wharf & Landing from the north edge of the elevator to the south edge of Beale Street, a distance of about 400 feet by 200." Also in July, the City Engineer designs new specifications and advertises for bids to pave the area of the wharf from the elevator to Beale Street. A contract calling for "paving the wharf from N side of old elevator to S. side of Beale Street [with] the district reserving the right to do any or all of the grading" was awarded to O. H. P. Piper. The fire and police commissioners are authorized to insure more rapid progress by W. H. Grider & Co. to complete work.

In August, a diver cuts away the burned pilings at the bottom of the river at the old St. Louis Packet Company elevator at the foot of Beale Street.


In October, the contract with Grider & Co., "having done the paving and not the rip rap & repairing" because of the "stage of water and other reasons," is canceled.

In December, a status report indicates the progress over the "past three years in grading and extending the wharf and landing southward from Union street and to the south side of Beale. About thirty thousand square yards of new pavement has been laid, making the new levee front some eleven hundred feet, by two hundred and fifty feet with the slope. Two-thirds of this work is of first-class block stone and the remainder first-class rubble-range work. About four thousand cubic yards of stone rip rap has been placed at this levee as a protection against washing and undermining of same." The city's paved landing surface extends in an unbroken line from Beale Street north to Jefferson Street, a distance of more than one-half mile, averaging 225 feet in width.


The uppermost (eastern) edge of the Landing pavement is altered during the construction of the Mississippi & Tennessee Railroad. These efforts also require the removal of "all of the bluffs out of their line between Beale and Jefferson (save that between Union and Monroe), amounting to over fifty thousand cubic yards."

ca. 1912

The massive Memphis Siphon storm sewer is constructed beneath the Landing between Union and Gayoso avenues.


Riverside Drive is constructed.

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