The city of Memphis was founded in 1819, built alongside the banks of the Mississippi River, which had been the lifeblood of the area for centuries before the new city sprang up. This heritage is celebrated throughout the city. The Native American river peoples, who made the area their home from the 11th to the 15th centuries is well documented in the form of reconstructions, archeological finds and other exhibits at the Chucalissa Archeological Museum. The Mississippi River itself has a museum to itself as well, located on Mud Island, a very unique park that occupies a small island in the river. The museum even features a mock gun boat battle on a daily basis.

The other driving influence on Memphis is of course the music. W.C.Handy moved from Alabama to Mississippi in 1902, drawn to what was already a thriving music scene. Here he wrote and produced the great blues songs that made him famous. However the recent history of the legendary Beale Street has reflected that of the whole of Memphis. Serious economic decline throughout the latter part of the 20th century brought the city to the brink of ruin. The assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. at the Memphis Lorraine Motel was another serious blow.

However, the city has enjoyed a renaissance of sorts over the last several years, and with corporate giants like Fed Ex choosing Memphis for their headquarters the city seems to have been brought back to life, and Beale Street is once again a thriving and bustling music mecca.

For most of the world though, one name springs immediately to mind in connection with Memphis; Elvis Presley. He was actually born just across the state line in Tupelo, Mississippi but he made Memphis home and really put the city on the world map.

Thousands of fans every year make a pilgrimage to Graceland, the home where he lived worked and died, and where he is buried. Graceland is an industry in itself. The Heartbreak Hotel is one example of how the Elvis name and history still make a lot of money in Memphis. The 128 room boutique hotel is located very close to Graceland, making it the perfect spot for vacationing Elvis fans to rest their weary heads. The hotel is devoted to Elvis in some subtle, and some not so subtle ways. Every room is decorated in a 1950's kitsch decor and features a number of black and white Elvis pictures on the wall. For the fan wanting more there are four themed suites, truly devoted to the King of Rock and Roll. The Graceland Suite models itself after the rooms in Elvis' home, while the Burning Love suite is awash with fiery red furniture. Guests in any of the rooms can watch free Elvis movies 24 hours a day. But this hotel is far from the only business thriving off the Presley legacy. There are a large number of stores selling all kinds of memorabilia, at all kinds of price ranges.