Sunday, February 8, 2015

Strive and Happiness

February is filled with challenge opportunities. You have Valentine's Day, President's Day and the whole month is Black History Month, so instead of choosing one I've attempted to combine a little from each.

Follow along because we're traveling all the way back to 1865 on President's Island (not actually named for any President, it's just the largest island on the Mississippi) where a camp for freed slaves was established by the Freedman's Bureau. (1) Years later more people fled to President's Island to escape the Yellow Fever Epidemic and devastated Memphis.

Around 1901, in an effort to rebuild after the Yellow Fever Epidemic the City of Memphis hired architect George Kessler to design a system of boulevards that would connect what is now Martin Luther King Jr Riverside Park to Overton Park. (2) The city wanted meandering parkways but Kessler said, "Nah boys, we're gonna race cars and carriages so we need straightaways, straight away!" (I'm paraphrasing there.) This is why we have our Parkway System: North, East and South. These beautiful straight streets have a tree-lined median (which would be great for a dirt running trail/ singletrack) and there are currently bike lanes on a lot of the length.

Fast forward about 50 years to a little street named Lauderdale that intersects South Parkway. On Lauderdale sat a little theater that in 1956 was converted into a recording studio called Royal. (3) Founded by Willie Mitchell, Royal recorded many acts and released them on a label called Hi Records. One of those acts is Al Green, maybe you've heard of him. He's got a song called "Love and Happiness", maybe you've heard of it. That brings us to our segment: a portion of South Parkway (that could possibly at one time have had race competitions) that starts a little after the I-240 overpass and ends at Lauderdale, which is now named Willie Mitchell Blvd. Coincidentally, Willie Mitchell Blvd runs from South Parkway to E McLemore. McLemore was one of Memphis's first 50 citizens. He claims this honor from buying Andrew Jackson's (the President) share of the city.

For this challenge I'm hoping for a little bit more competition so we'll award prizes to 3 categories: Team/Shop, Non-Team Men, Non-Team Women. No doubling-up, though. You have until the end of February!


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