Then and Now: 100 Vintage Photos of Memphis

Then and Now: 100 Vintage Photos of Memphis

I love old photos, especially old photos of Memphis - they're just kind of hard to find, especially in one easy-to-see place.

But earlier this week, Memphis Heritage sent me a link to their archives of Don Newman's Memphis photography, and as a result, I've spent entirely too much time clicking through them, trying to place the Memphis of the early 20th century into the Memphis that I know now.

It's amazing how closely some of the vintage photos mirror the current ones, like this one of G.E. Patterson and Mulberry in 1961:

G.E. Patterson and Mulberry, Memphis, Tenn. 1961

(Copyright © 2012 Memphis Heritage, Inc./ Mrs. Don Newman. All rights reserved.)

And here's the same place in 2011:

G.E. Patterson and Mulberry, Memphis, Tenn. 2012

The left side of the street looks almost the same now as it did then, but the right side is totally different, especially without the Arcade Hotel (the one from Mystery Train).

Other places look totally different. Here's Madison and Front as it was in 1890:

Madison and Front St., Memphis, Tenn. 1890

(Copyright © 2012 Memphis Heritage, Inc./ Mrs. Don Newman. All rights reserved.)

And here's what it looks like in 2012. The only thing that seems to be the same are the trolley tracks.

Madison and Front St., Memphis, Tenn. 2012


Main Street also looks completely different now than it did when this photo was taken in 1955:


Main St., Memphis, Tenn. 1955

(Copyright © 2012 Memphis Heritage, Inc./ Mrs. Don Newman. All rights reserved.)

And here it is now:

Main St., Memphis, Tenn. 2012

It's almost impossible to tell that the photos are of the same street. Some of the buildings (like the Lincoln American Tower are still there, but things have clearly changed on Main. In a lot of ways, I wish that Main was still as bustling as it looked in 1955 - tons of stores and businesses, lots of people and great neon signs.

Speaking of the Lincoln American Tower, here's how it looked in 1961:

Lincoln American Tower, Memphis, Tenn. 1961

(Copyright © 2012 Memphis Heritage, Inc./ Mrs. Don Newman. All rights reserved.)

Here's what it looks like now:

Lincoln American Tower, Memphis, Tenn.

You can view about 100 of Don Newman's photographs on Newman's Memphis

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Thanks so much for sharing this with your followers...amazing images!  
January 26, 2012 7:38pm
Len Pipkin
Now, you're speaking my language... I have scores of links illustrative of those below :: Additionally, quite a few scans from texts discarded at the annual Cossitt library sale; ever have a day or so to get in the way-back machine - let me know ~ the imagery is mesmerizing. lp
January 27, 2012 1:11am
Juan Camilo sa…
Hi guys, I'm Juan Camilo from Colombia, I love Memphis, its a great City, can anyone tell me what happned with the Arcade hotel?  the one that appears in the  movie MISTERY TRAIN ,  ARCADE restaurant is still there... :) greetings from Colombia, I hope visit your city one day . 
March 2, 2014 2:42am
mike spencer
I grew up in Memphis. Moved there in 60 from Greenwood Ms. Went to Bishop byrne high-school. Class of 70. Live in mobile now. Miss memphis
April 4, 2014 10:18pm
Sylvia Henrard
Hi, I have a collection of photos taken of Memphis in the 1960s by my late father. Most are on negatives. Wondering how to share them, and copyright. Sylvia
October 26, 2014 11:13pm
Carole Fincher
Where can I buy a framed pictureof main street and its old cars in the 1940s-50s? I saw one on the wall at Otherlands as you go in to the left.  Got any ideas? want to give it to my mom for Christmas.
December 2, 2014 9:36pm
John Harwell
Hey Emily, I live in Charlotte and am 66. I grew up in Memphis living near the zoo , and went to Snowden school. My aunt lived across the street from Elvis on Audobon Drive, and he rode me on his 56 Harley Davidson. I was just 2 , but my aunt got him to sign an autograph which I have framed today in my house. My relatives owned Mulfords Jewelers downton. Thanks, Larry Harwell 704-617-5182
July 3, 2020 12:03pm
gerry gillespie

i would like information on St. Peters Orphanage and pictures that was located in memphis tn i was adopted from there in 1957 and there in NO info about it it should be in the historic section of your city since it was used as a hospital durring the yellow fever for OUR MILITARY 

November 20, 2022 6:01pm
Holly Whitfield

Hi Gerry — The Memphis Public Library's website might have more information, or you could give them a call! 

November 24, 2022 4:24pm