Heights Line
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History of National Street

A mixed-use corridor in the heart of Memphis.

History of the Memphis Street Car

 National Street Line, 1947 ( source  Bill Pollard)

National Street Line, 1947 (source Bill Pollard)

National Street got its name from the National Cemetery located near its northern terminus. The National Cemetery dates back to the Civil War.

Trolleys ran along National until the late-1940s. Neighborhoods located along historic trolley lines still contain many of the characteristics that an increasing number of people are looking for in a place to live – historic homes, walkability, nearby shops and restaurants, and close proximity to downtown.

Many of these elements did exist in the Heights neighborhood, but have become underdeveloped over time. However, much of this historic fabric remains and can be rediscovered in a way that leads to a broader community renaissance.


The Raleigh Streetcar line ran along National St. in the heart of Highland Heights

The Memphis Street Railway was created in March 1895 through the merger of several smaller systems including the Memphis & Raleigh Springs Railroad, East End Street Railway, Citizens Street Railroad and City & Suburban Railway. In 1890, when The Citizens Street Railroad of Memphis, Tenn., suffered a financial setback, Mr. Albert Merritt Billings of Chicago, bought the company for over $2,000,000. Billings placed electric power on the roads and the company became a great success.[2] Billings recruited Mr. Frank G. Jones from Iowa to operate the company as vice-president. At its peak the interurban operated nearly 77 miles of trackage, 51 one of which was double-track. Service lasted until the 1940s when operations were abandoned in favor of buses. - from wikipedia


History of Highland Heights Neighborhood

In the 1830s, the Heights neighborhood was due east of Memphis and largely controlled by the Pope Cotton Plantation. In the late 1880s, Shelby County acquired the western side of Holmes Road (Lamphier and neighboring streets) for the Shelby County poor farm, work house, and insane asylum. Today you can see these small identical buildings, now private homes, in the northwest section of census track 13. In 1905, the Raleigh Street Car Line fostered development of bedroom communities for those who worked in Memphis. The street car line ran along Broad Avenue from Memphis to Binghampton, turned north along National Street, and continued east after crossing the Wolf River. Access to public transportation sparked commercial and retail development along Summer, National, Highland and Macon. The neighborhood between these primary arteries was called Highland Heights.

The neighborhood of Highland Heights was distinctly different in character from the communities from most of the other neighborhoods which had emerged in Memphis over the prior hundred years.
— Fred Morton Treadwell High School Class of 1959

Heights Community Development Corporation

The Heights CDC builds community through just housing redevelopment and a commitment to serve with and learn from our neighbors. This young non-profit was incubated by Binghampton Development Corporation and serves the neighborhoods north of Summer Ave. Although its primary focus is on rehabbing blighted properties, the Heights CDC seeks to revitalize the community by creating shared green spaces that act as catalysts for civic engagement and promote residential and economic development. Prior to the Heights Line, the Heights CDC has lead in the creation of a community walking trail, neighborhood mural, basketball court, and three community gardens.