As part of our Places in Blues History, here is a page about the “Mississippi Bridge.”
Chuck Berry’s 1958 recording “Memphis, Tennessee” contains the lyrics:
“…Her home is on the south side, high up on a ridge
Just a half a mile from the Mississippi Bridge….”
The Mississippi Bridge that Chuck Berry referred to still exists. The photo above shows how it appears today.
The “Mississippi Bridge” is better known as the Harahan Bridge. It was completed in 1916 and was originally called the Rock Island Bridge. It was renamed the Harahan Bridge in honour of James T. Harahan, the President of the Memphis Bridge Company and retired President of the Illinois central Railroad, who had been killed in a railway collision in 1912.
The south side of Memphis in 1958 was (and it still is) a predominantly African-American neighbourhood.
Unless Chuck Berry was referring to the bluff along the banks of Mississippi River, there is no land feature we could see on Memphis’ south side resembling anything “high up on a ridge” within half a mile of the Mississippi Bridge. We’re speculating he included the word “ridge” in the lyric simply because it rhymed with “bridge,” but perhaps we’re interpreting it too literally.
Here are some online sources for more information on Memphis bridges:
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