If you want to delve into the history and character of Memphis music, look no farther for a starting point than Beale Street, home of the blues.
A combination of forces led Beale Street to its place in musical history and popular culture. Named in the 1840s after a war hero, Beale Street was originally part of South Memphis, a separate city that rivaled Memphis  during the 1840s.
Beginning in the 1850s, and continuing in greater numbers during and after the Civil War, African Americans began to settle along the western part of Beale Street. By the 1880s and 1890s, a middle class of black professionals began to emerge, and Beale Street became the center of commerce, entertainment, and life for many of them. Together with black-owned businesses on Beale Street there were also immigrants from Eastern Europe, Ireland, China, Greece, and Germany who operated laundries, bars, restaurants, pawn shops, and more.
From the 1880s until the 1960s, Beale Street was the epicenter of African-American life, not just for Memphians but also for the entire Mid-South region. It was here that blacks felt free from many of society’s restrictions.
Beale Street’s decline began in the mid-20th century and by the 1970s, it was a shadow of its former self. Investment during the 1980s and ’90s led to the street’s rebirth as a destination for tourists and source of pride for residents, who could now show off the street that gave birth to the blues.
Today, Beale Street has two distinct personalities. During the day it is a laid-back place for families or adults to stroll, buy souvenirs, and eat. You can also stop at one of several museums and attractions located on the street. At night, Beale Street is a strip of nightclubs and restaurants, a great place to people-watch, and the best place to catch live blues seven nights a week.