The station thrived during the era of the passenger train. During its heyday, in fact, passenger and cargo trains came and went from the station 50 time a day. Memphis Central Station was owned by the Illinois Central Railroad but was also used by a number of other railroads and railways including the Louisville and Nashville Railroad, the St. Louis-San Francisco Railway, and the Chicago, Rock Island, and Pacific Railway.
The success of the train station led to rapid business development in the surrounding area. Restaurants, shops, and hotels sprung up to accommodate travelers coming to and going from Memphis. Of these businesses, perhaps the most notable are the Lorraine Motel (now the National Civil Rights Museum) and the Arcade Restaurant which is still in operation.
Throughout the 1960's, passenger trains declined in popularity and by the early 1970's Amtrak operated the only train running through Memphis and Central Station was falling into disrepair. In 1995, however, the Memphis Area Transit Authority purchased Central Station and by the end of 1999 had completed renovations on it.
Today, Memphis Central Station is used by Amtrak's City of New Orleans and is a stop on MATA's trolley line. The upper floors of the station were converted into moderately priced apartments appropriately named Central Station Apartments. There is also a banquet/reception hall housed in the station and on Saturdays, the Memphis Farmer's Market is held beneath the station's pavilion.
Memphis Central Station
545 South Main Street
Memphis, TN 38103