Sunday, July 02, 2006

Great Moments in Memphis Cultural History: the Overton Park Ruling

Occasionally I'll be talking to some Goober from East Bugtussle (to mix my sitcom metaphors) and they'll opine that "they should have just built that interstate through the park." Besides making me despair of the ignorati who live at the far edges of our shared metropolitan area, I'm pretty sure that they wouldn't have used this fast lane to downtown (or even a transporter beam if they could find a friend who knew how to turn it on and fill it with gasoline) except once or twice, and then only to give them a chance to complain about parking or crime. Then they would move further away from Memphis, but never away.

Here's a recent story on the Supreme Court case which stopped I-40 from passing through Overton Park. It's a very modest story given its importance at the time and it's historic importance to Memphis. The Citizens to Preserve Overton Park attorney Charles Newman states:
"Interstates are wonderful between cities and around cities," he said.

"When they're built through cities they become Chinese walls dividing one part of the city from the other and doing a great deal of damage."

Adding a physical divide to Memphis' economic and racial divides wouldn't have killed Memphis, but it would have reduced it to a constant vegetative state, minus the vegetation.

The Citizens to Preserve Overton Park saved Memphis.


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