n many ways, the history, traditions, and lifestyles in Memphis all center around the city's location on the east bluffs of the Mississippi, midway between New Orleans and St. Louis. The city has grown and changed dramatically since its early days as a small river trading town. Healthcare has replaced the lumber and cotton markets as the largest dollar volume "industry" in the area, but the river remains a focus of commercial and recreational activity. Barges share the waterways with elegant old paddle wheelers, and the riverside parks are favorite spots for festivals, concerts, and family outings. The waterfront district is an important part of Memphis' urban "rebirth," with the conversion of old warehouses and office buildings into charming restaurants, nightclubs, and condominiums. Restored antique trolley cars ramble along Main Street Mall connecting Downtown area attractions, hotels, restaurants, and shops.
Memphis is headquarters for three Fortune 500 companies - FedEx, International Paper, and Autozone. Also headquartered in Memphis are Fred's Inc., Buckman Laboratories International Inc., First Horizon National Corporation, and ServiceMaster.
Outdoor activities in and around the city are equally diverse. The park system is one of the most comprehensive in the country, and water skiing and boating are popular activities on nearby lakes. State parks in Western Tennessee and Arkansas provide opportunities for canoeing, camping, hiking, fishing, and hunting. Favorite spots for weekend "getaway" experiences and vacations include the Ozark Mountains and the sandy beaches of the Gulf Coast. Memphis is a lush, green city, with many beautiful public and private gardens. Residential neighborhoods reflect the pride Memphians take in their city, and the wide range of housing opportunities offers something to suit every lifestyle.
Both rental and housing costs are quite reasonable in comparison with other large cities, and it is possible to live in the country-like setting just a short commute from the medical center.
Although Memphis is now estimated to be the 18th largest city in the U.S., the pace of life here is still a pleasant one, without the major traffic jams and pollution problems found in many urban areas. Newcomers and long-time residents alike believe that the Memphis lifestyle is in keeping with the original Egyptian meaning of the name - City of Good Abode.