10 Great Things That Happened in Memphis in 2011

Posted by Holly Whitfield | December 27th 2011 1871 0

It may have been a little rough at times, but I wholeheartedly believe that Memphis won 2011. Here are 10 great things that happened to the city in 2011:

1. The Grizzlies go to the NBA Playoffs (and win!)

Belive Memphis Mural

Few things unite Memphians like baskteball, and 2011 was the year when the city finally came around to (and fell in love with) the Grizzlies. We got to know the players (and their catchphrases), we waved our yellow towels with pride and stayed for triple overtime. We got unexpectedly emotionally involved in baskebtall in mid-May. Most importantly, we believed.

2. "Memphis: the Musical" opens in Memphis

"Memphis: the Musical" may have opened on Broadway in 2009, but the show's touring production started in Memphis in 2011. The uplifiting, exciting muscial played to sold-out crowds at the Orpheum Theatre for two weeks in October before heading off to bring the spirit of our city to the rest of the country.

3. Food trucks hit the streets

Food Truck Faire, Court Square, Memphis, Tenn.

The city passed legislation in April that allowed food trucks to park in Memphis. It may have taken a few months for them to get rolling, but now we can grab meals on wheels from more than 50 trucks (with more on the way). If you're still searching for them, check the food truck parking space by the Barking Lot and the Levitt Shell and Shelby Farms on the weekends.

4. Obama Speaks at Commencement

President Obama made his first trip to Memphis in 2011 to deliver a special graduation address to the senior class of Booker T. Washington High School. BTHS won the honor of hosting the President by winning the Race to the Top contest, which was partially determined by votes from Memphians.

5. The Tigers Go to the Big Dance

They may have gotten knocked out in the first round in a nail-biter against Arizona, but the important thing is that the University of Memphis Tigers made it to the Big Dance despite all the odds.

6. Memphis' Most Epic Playground Opens

Woodland Discovery Playground at Shelby Farms

Memphis kids have no excuse to go outside now – 2011 saw the construction of the Woodland Discovery Playground, which is possibly the most epic play area in the south. The giant, environmentally sustainable playground has five "nests" that have everything from slides to sandboxes to climbing nests and bouncy swings. Now, all we need is a chance for the adults to try it.

7. City Streets Get Bicycle Lanes

In 2012, Mayor A C Wharton announced that 55 miles of bicycle lanes would be added to city streets. In 2011, it happened. Streets all over the city have been repaved and striped to make them safe for cyclists. The biggest (and hardest fought) bike lane win was in Madison Ave., where the city managed to not only add lanes, but also increase street parking.

8. Bass Pro Finally Started to Happen

After a lot of talking, a lot of back and forth and a whole lot of waiting, Bass Pro Shops finally started turning the Pyramid into a giant new sportsman's emporium. The iconic building is being turned from an arena into a giant shop, boat dock, aquarium, bowling area and attraction. I can't wait to see the finished product in 2012.


9.  Memphis' First Skate Park Opens

Memphis' First Public Skate Park

Boarders of all ages got a safe place to skate in 2011. Memphis' first public skate park opened in mid-November. It's a nice one, too – there are plenty of bowls, rails and ramps in the $500,000 park for skaters and bikers of all levels.

10. Tons of New Food Options

So many new eateries popped in up in Memphis in 2011 that it's hard to list them all. Here are a few of the new dining options we  got in 2011: The Brass Door (Irish Pub), Imagine Vegan Cafe, Alchemy, East Tapas, Eighty3, Stone Soup Cafe, Slider Inn, Southern Belle, Bleu, the Elegant Farmer.


What were your favorite things to happen in Memphis in 2011?

Author: Holly Whitfield

I write about what’s going on with Memphis music, food, arts, events, sports, people, and culture. Memphians love Elvis and barbeque with a passion that must be seen to be believed, but there is so much more to this place.

Show Comments


  1. Grizz says:

    Technically the Grizz had "made the playoffs" in years past. They got their first win (and then some) last season.

  2. marci hendrix says:

    Memphis is getting better and better all the time!!

  3. Kate says:

    Damien Echols and Jason Baldwin spent their first night of freedom.

  4. Christina says:

    The University of Memphis just had their 100 Commencement ceremony.

  5. Bas-O-Matic says:

    I'm fairly certain that the Tigers lost in the first round of the Tournament (well they call it the second round now, but they never advanced past the round of 64), two rounds before the Sweet Sixteen.

  6. Jeffy says:

    What do those 3 have to do with Memphis?  They don't live in Memphis.  The events didn't happen in Memphis or Tennessee for that matter.  The title of the story says MEMPHIS.  Geez, some folks can't resist the chance ot get on a soap box.

  7. Overton Square deal finally goes through, for sure.  Also, the making of the I Love Memphis murals is a big advancement in city pride.

  8. ChelleBell says:

    Can't believe the way the city came together with the flood this year didn't make the list.

  9. Darrell Hugueley says:

    Consolidation! Will ultimately be the best thing to happen to the children of Memphis in its history…

  10. Tennosheela says:

    Millions of dollars were donated to many excellent nonprofit orgs by many wonderful local philanthropists to make Memphis a better place for all.

  11. Funny says:

    Can't stand the Memphis Mid-town attitude – it just wreaks on so much of this site and this list.  Hypocrites.  This list missed on a number of points.
    Obama Speaks at Commencement – turns out he shouldn't have been there since the results for the school were rigged – not too much media coverage on that of course – do some research before following what the liberal anc conservative media tell you to say
    Memphis' Most Epic Playground Opens – are you serious??? It's cool but small and why at Shelby Farms?   Why not in "multi-cultural" land known as Midt-town?  And why can't Mid-town get it's own Target or large grocery – why do you have to come out and ruin East Memphis attitudes?
    City Streets Get Bicycle Lanes – seriously?  This "addition" to crowded streets does not help with traffic – just some paint on an already existing street that creates more problems than it solves – if you really wanted to build bike lanes then BUILD bike lanes without taking up street resources

    Real accomplishments as noted earlier:
    – Damien Echols and Jason Baldwin spent their first night of freedom.
    – The University of Memphis just had their 100 Commencement ceremony.
    – city came together with the flood this year
    – Millions of dollars were donated to many excellent nonprofit orgs by many wonderful local philanthropists
    I love this one – "consolidation! Will ultimately be the best thing to happen to the children of Memphis in its history…"  that is the funniest thing – because so many schools that are ran by the city are doing so well!!!  The proof is in the results – anything the city or local govt owns turns to s*** because its all about handouts and Memphis has too many that are more than eager to accept handouts


  12. MEL_Memphis_Lady says:

    Dear Funny:  *Please* don't be this way. Even iff you disagree, you can still be respectful.

  13. Aaron says:

    Great post Kerry!  2011 was indeed a banner year for our City!  I can't wait to see what happens in 2012.

  14. cecelia says:

    Great list and a couple of things I had forgotten about. 2011 was really a great year for Memphis – Midtown and otherwise.

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