Trivia Tuesday: Beale Street becomes a landmark - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

Trivia Tuesday: Beale Street becomes a landmark

But in the 60s, the area was anything but vibrant, many closed stores remained boarded up on Beale as it became more run down. This photo was taken at Beale and Fourth in 1970. (Source: Contributor Donald E. Williams via Memphis & Shelby County Room) But in the 60s, the area was anything but vibrant, many closed stores remained boarded up on Beale as it became more run down. This photo was taken at Beale and Fourth in 1970. (Source: Contributor Donald E. Williams via Memphis & Shelby County Room)
A. Schwab Dry Goods managed to cling on the 1.8-mile strip among the vacancies. (Source: Contributor John Findlay via Memphis & Shelby County Room) A. Schwab Dry Goods managed to cling on the 1.8-mile strip among the vacancies. (Source: Contributor John Findlay via Memphis & Shelby County Room)
Even with the national spotlight, for mostly its contribution to popular American music, the downtown landmark struggled. (Source: Creator John Collins via Memphis & Shelby County Room) Even with the national spotlight, for mostly its contribution to popular American music, the downtown landmark struggled. (Source: Creator John Collins via Memphis & Shelby County Room)
Elkington credits Memphians who believed for making Beale Street into something like nothing else in the world. Elkington credits Memphians who believed for making Beale Street into something like nothing else in the world.
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(WMC) - As many tourists, and locals, identify Beale Street with the blues, barbecue, and large beer—historic and iconic also come into play on the cobblestone path that more than four million people walk on each year.

USA TODAY readers named the most visited attraction in Tennessee one of America's favorite streets in 2013, but even further back during this week on May 12, 1966 the world-famous Beale was added to the Register of National Historic Landmarks.

U.S. Secretary of the Interior Stewart Udall made the announcement recognizing the stretch from Main to Fourth from his office in Washington D.C., according to G. Wayne Dowdy's compilation "On this Day in Memphis History."

A bow to Memphis composer W.C. Handy, known as the father of the blues, accompanied the city's accomplishment. Handy's wife in Yonkers, N.Y. said the action made the street a fine tourism attraction.

But in the 60s, the area was anything but vibrant, many closed stores remained boarded up on Beale as it became more run down. Even with the national spotlight, for mostly its contribution to popular American music, the downtown landmark struggled.

"They were just buildings, destroyed or falling apart," said John Elkington, who helped revitalize the street. "It wasn't magic. It wasn't a miracle. It was hard work, dedication, and perseverance."

Elkington managed Beale Street for 33 years. He handed over the reigns to the city of Memphis in January, but when his company, Performa Entertainment, took over in the 80s the streets were dust and the paint was peeling.

A. Schwab Dry Goods managed to cling on the 1.8-mile strip among the vacancies.

Elkington credits Memphians who believed for making Beale Street into something like nothing else in the world.

"This was not anybody from out of town. These were people who lived here, grew up here, loved the city," he said. "We only had neon signs. We wanted to make sure we emphasized the history, music, and the culture.

Since the renovation, the most iconic street in America has generated $60 million in sales for the city. 


WMC Action News 5 brings you a week of history every week with Memphis Trivia Tuesday. Join the conversation with #MemphisTriviaTuesday on Twitter or Facebook.


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