Memphis Tennessee, located on the Lower Chickaswa Bluff above the Mississippi River was first the location for settlements by the Mississippian Culture and then by the Chickasaw Indian tribe. As of 2006, the city of Memphis had an estimated population of 672,277 (2005 U.S. Census), making it the largest city in the state. European influence in the area began with the reported visit by the Spanish explorer Hernando de Soto as early as the 1540s. French explorers were the first to establish a settlement with the building of Fort Prudhomme. The city of Memphis was officially founded in 1819 by Andrew Jackson, John Overton and James Winchester and named after the ancient capitol of Egypt. It became incorporated in 1826.
Memphis' economy began and grew with the mule, cotton and hardwood lumber markets. Current industry and commerce corporations to call Memphis home are FedEx Corporation, AutoZone Incorporated, International Paper, Northwest Airlines, Belz Enterprises, Buckeye Technologies, First Horizon National Corporation, Guardsmark, Hohenberg Bros. Co., Harrah's, Hilton, ServiceMaster and Back Yard Burgers.
The city has had a history of economic and political controversy during the civil rights movement in the 1960s, most notably a sanitation workers' strike, the place Martin Luther King, Jr. gave his famous "I've Been to the Mountaintop" speech, and as the location of the Lorraine Motel where he was assassinated. Memphis is also know for many cultural contributions in food and music - from their strictly porkbarbecue and southern blues artists Muddy Waters, Robert Johnson, B.B. King and Howlin' Wolf. Graceland, home and burial site of Elvis Presley draws thousands of people to the area yearly. Other area attractions and events include Memphis in May, Carnival Memphis, the World Championship Barbecue Cooking Contest, the FedEx St. Jude Classic PGA Tour golf tournament, and performances of the Sunset Symphony.
Memphis is home to the University of Memphis, Rhodes College, Le Moyne-Owen College, Crichton College, and Christian Brothers University. The National Civil Rights Museum, located in the former Lorraine Motel contains a historical overview of the American civil rights movement. The Memphis Brooks Museum of Art, the Dixon Gallery and Gardens, the Peabody Place Museum, The Art Museum at the University of Memphis and The Children's Museum of Memphis are all located in the city and draw tourists and residents alike to a wide range of exhibits covering everything from southern to Egyptian culture and history. The Stax Sound museum also commemorates the city's musical heritage with an extensive collection of artifacts, photographs, exhibits, commentary, and music. The Gibson Guitar Factory & Showcase is a popular destination for musicians and the curious alike. The Memphis Zoo is another city attraction with the panda exhibit being the most popular.