Memphis is best known for Elvis and his home “Graceland”. Graceland is a mansion on a 13.8-acre (5.6 ha) estate, that was owned by Elvis Presley. It is located at 3764 Elvis Presley Boulevard in the vast Whitehaven community, about 9 miles (14.5 km) from Downtown. It currently serves as a museum. It was opened to the public on June 7, 1982. The site was listed in the National Register of Historic Places on November 7, 1991, and declared a National Historic Landmark on March 27, 2006. Graceland is the second most-visited house in America with over 650,000 visitors a year; second only to the White House. It is also across Elvis Presley Dr from a “Disney” type park celebrating Elvis’s fame and life.
I found Graceland to be unsurprising and ordinary in many ways which I think describes the type of person Elvis appears to have been away from the fame. He maintained many of his childhood friends had great affection for his mother and father (Mum Dad and his Aunt are buried at Graceland) and whilst he spent big on toys he also seems to have been quietly philanthropic in many ways to the community of Memphis. However, it did have its moments with the Louis Comfort Tiffany stained glass panels in the piano room and the (original?) Matisse on the wall and the Tiffany light shades in the pool room. I enjoyed the fact that the Mario Lanza album is on display in his den (Lanza was a poor immigrant Italian boy who made good singing opera and had a movie career singing opera in film – just like Presley sort of). Starting at the front door we entered into the sitting room and piano room then around to Mum and Dad’s bedroom (they lived with Elvis) then to the dining room kitchen (with carpet) downstair to the bar, the media room with its Mario Lansa album the pool room the Picasso(?) and the graveyard.
The park as opposed to his home is made up of various pavilions (some of which are only available on the VIP tour) each pavilion focusing on different aspects of his life (eg) his military service, his toys, his music etc. And each one having its own gift shop of course. You walk through the yard of the house through the cemetery then cross to the pavilions. We saw his cars his bikes his awards his fatigues then over to the planes. Although not in a pavilion you can visit Elvis’s two planes parked casually to one side of the other pavilions. Overall worth the visit.
Memphis is struggling to regain its economy with a number of buildings boarded up and the town centre seemingly on holiday all the time. But one of its highlights is the Peabody Hotel. There are a number of Peabody Hotels around the USA but none like the Memphis Peabody. The Peabody Memphis is a luxury hotel and is known for the “Peabody Ducks” that live on the hotel rooftop and make daily treks to the lobby where they swim around in a fountain in the main lobby. The Peabody is a member of Historic Hotels of America, a programme of the National Trust for Historic Preservation. It also has as a tenant the clothier to dress Elvis whilst he was getting fame and throughout his life. We were told on our tour into Memphis that Elvis continued to use the same barber that he used before getting fame.
The Peabody has a roof top party at various time of the year on a Thursday night and we were there at the right time to visit the ducks in the duck palace on the roof (the ducks had been fed and gone to bed). The following day we took a walk along the Mississippi watching acrobatics by a couple of stunt planes.
Our trip has come to an end with an early start for the airport. Unable to get an Uber (4.30am) the hotel security guard offered to drive us to the airport (I suspect he does this regularly) but he took us on a different trip to what I had expected. When I commented that I had not seen any signs directing to the airport he commented that he doesn’t use the freeway because of the random drive by shootings that occur at night ever since the gangs had moved up from New Orleans following Hurricane Katrina. That may explain the downturn that Memphis appears to be stuck in. However, we left safely to enjoy a 12 hour layover in LA where we encountered complete disarray with our travel arrangements leaving us shuttling between terminal 2 and Tom Bradly terminal trying to determine where we caught our flight back home. All is well that ends well – we are home safely.