"The river is central to everything Memphis ever was and to everything that it now represents." So remarks Frederick W. Smith in his introductory essay to Memphis: Delivering the Future. As a founder, president, chairman, and CEO of locally based FedEx Corporation, he knows well what the Mississippi River means to Memphis' history, its present, and its future success.
Founded in 1819 and incorporated in 1826, Memphis was, in its early years, a crossroads of trade and transportation. Tall steamboats delivered cotton and other goods to and from the city, establishing it as an important commerce station on the Mississippi River. Today, Smith says, Memphis remains a vital transportation hub-although the emphasis is now on air travel-and the city also has come into its own as a medical and technology center. Aided by hundreds of images culled from some of the area's finest photographers, Smith portrays Memphis as city of innovation and entrepreneurship. From music to industry, from politics to business, "Memphis seems to have always been a good place for entrepreneurs." It is after all, the birthplace of both the blues and rock and roll, not to mention such widely successful ventures as Holiday Inn and Piggly Wiggly, the first self-service supermarket in the country. Says Smith, "It's an environment in which, for whatever reason, people feel free to try all sorts of innovations."