Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Won't You be My Neighbor?

When we get to a new city, both Dan and I love to get out and explore it. In most cases, we sign up for guided bus tours to get the full lay of the land. But when we don’t have the time to take a longer form tour, we do the next best thing - hit the streets and try to figure out the city’s transportation systems. Coming from the complex NYC transit system, we like to think that we can figure out pretty much any city’s mass transit. In most cases, we have been successful…minus that one night in San Francisco….but that’s another story!

One thing we don’t have in NYC is street trolleys, so whenever we are in a city that has them, we try and go for a ride. When we were eating dinner in Memphis, the waiter told us about the awesome vintage streetcars that run throughout the city. Since we weren’t in Memphis that long, we decided to give them a whirl.

The MATA has three lines – the Main Street Trolley, Madison Avenue and Riverfront Loop. We walked down to the Mississippi River and grabbed the Riverfront Loop Trolley where $1.50 gets you a 2.5 mile ride around the entire city in one of the heritage trolleys. (I was pretty stoked that our trolley was purple.)

According to the MATA website, the Main Street Trolley operates along the beautifully updated Main Street Mall and serves many downtown landmarks. The famous Pinch District, Cook Convention Center, Civic Center Plaza, Court Square, Peabody Place, Beale Street, National Civil Rights Museum, FedEx Forum and the South Main Historic Arts District can all be easily accessed by the Main Street Trolley. Riders can take the Riverfront Loop Trolley to visit the Tennessee Welcome Center, the grounds of the Pyramid Arena and Mud Island with its Mud Island Monorail, the 5-block long River Walk, and the Mississippi River Museum. The Madison Avenue line features public art at each trolley station along the route. Each of the six artworks - which range from mosaic murals to sculptures - are designed to reflect the community in which the transit station is located.

If you find yourself in Memphis, I highly recommend taking a ride on one of these streetcars. It’s the perfect way to take in all the sites for peanuts!

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