MEMPHIS, Tenn.--(EON: Enhanced Online News)--Memphians have long valued Beale Street as a source and symbol of the city’s musical heritage, and now the rest of the country agrees. Beale was named America’s favorite iconic street in a poll by USA Today and 10Best, beating out such well-known avenues as Bourbon Street in New Orleans, the Las Vegas Strip and Michigan Avenue in Chicago.
“We are thrilled to be named America’s most iconic street”
In online voting, respondents were asked to choose from among 20 nominees. Some of the nominated streets are known for shopping, some for history and some for entertainment. Beale Street, home of the blues and the birthplace of rock ’n’ roll, is known for fun.
Thirty years ago, Beale was an icon of urban decay, but then John Elkington and his company, Performa Entertainment, stepped in. Starting in 1983, they changed the street from wasteland to wonderland, replacing boarded-up storefronts with exciting places to party. The key to the resurrection was attracting unique venues that showcased Memphis music. The crowds followed the music.
“We are thrilled to be named America’s most iconic street,” Elkington said. “Our approach was to redevelop Beale as an icon of Memphis music and culture. We didn’t want a cookie-cutter entertainment district but a distinctive destination, a welcoming environment for everyone. This recognition shows we succeeded. Around the world, Beale Street stands for Memphis.”
The clubs, restaurants and shops in the three-block Beale Street Entertainment District in Downtown Memphis preserve the rich heritage of the historic street for new generations to experience. With millions of visitors each year, Beale is now one of the top tourist attractions in Tennessee and an anchor of Downtown revival.
Beale Street today remains true to its roots, with live music – from the blues to soul to rock to country – beckoning on every block. Honoring that tradition is the Beale Street Walk of Fame. Singer Ann “I Can’t Stand the Rain” Peebles recently received her brass note on the sidewalk, joining Memphis legends like W.C. Handy, Furry Lewis, Elvis Presley, Otis Redding, Jerry Lee Lewis, Isaac Hayes, Johnny Cash, Al Green, and Justin Timberlake.