The Rubik's Cube on Top of Beale Street Landing

Posted by John Branston on Thu, Nov 1, 2012 at 1:09 PM

I have written enough about Beale Street Landing. Like Chief Joseph, I will fight no more forever. In May, when the "colorful topper" was in its infancy, I collected renderings from the Riverfront Development Corporation and Friends For Our Riverfront. An RDC spokesperson said colors in the final product might be "more muted."

Is this muted?
Is this good urban design for a prominent public space?
Does this make the widely-mocked-as-inappropriate Bass Pro "bait shop" logo look like the Mona Lisa?
Was this created by a child with a box of LEGOs?

You make the call.



Comments (31)

Showing 1-25 of 31

I have to stare at it from my office. It's horrible.

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Posted by downtown on 11/01/2012 at 1:51 PM

I was in Memphis for a few days a couple of weeks ago, and I was walking a friend's dogs in Vance Park, so I got a good look at "the cube". When you say "it's horrible" I think you are being much too kind. Maybe the most impressive view in the Mid South and those knuckleheads are spoiling it. That bridge to nowhere that it sits on top of is bad enough, but that thing is inexcusably BUTT UGLY!!
And John, I think this things make Bass Pro look like a Monet.

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Posted by Drift Boat on 11/01/2012 at 2:47 PM

I drive down Riverside on my way to work every morning, and passing by this monstrosity is certainly the low-point of my commute. What was beginning to look like a lovely, rolling, clean addition to the skyline now appears to be some horrible joke rising from the mound. It does resemble LEGOs, but without that fun "ooo I want to go over there and play" feeling.

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Posted by bluffcitybritt on 11/01/2012 at 2:48 PM

Butt Ugly is right! The designer must have been tripping on some bad LSD to think this is an attractive addition to our riverfront.

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Posted by Pamela Cate on 11/01/2012 at 4:21 PM

OMG it's so ugly. It makes me want to get all worked up over nothing!

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Posted by cdel on 11/02/2012 at 3:01 PM

& all for a mere $42M cost to taxpayers.

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Posted by justwondering on 11/02/2012 at 5:04 PM

Truly a Design Flaw with a Bad cover-up....$42 Mil !!!

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Posted by smoothiemovie on 11/02/2012 at 5:21 PM

Obviously it's there even though there was some attempt to stop it before it was completed. The next thing to do is to decide how it could possibly be improved without costing another $42,000,000.00. (I like to have the zeros to remember just how much money we're talking about). I think it ought to be painted, NOW!!!! Not 10 years from now when it's still the biggest joke next to a Fishing emporium in the shape of a pyramid. Maybe some of the urban youth will cover it with graffitti and then it would have to be painted.

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Posted by Kay Courrege Guenther on 11/02/2012 at 6:40 PM

"We, writers, painters, sculptors, architects and passionate devotees of the hitherto untouched beauty of Paris, protest with all our strength, with all our indignation in the name of slighted French taste, against the erection…of this useless and monstrous Eiffel Tower … "

- Committee of Three Hundred

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Posted by GWCarver on 11/02/2012 at 8:54 PM

GWCarver, et al

Who cares what you think of the, so called, rubik cube.

Memphis has finally gotten back the reins of Beale Street, where it was known world-wide as a black entertainment district. It is back where it belongs.

Like you say, we are taking back america, well, the african americans are taking back Beale Street. So, get over it!

We will reshape the street in to what it was and what it should be; the hub of black entertainment. We will get rid of the commercial only feeling, no sould whatsoever, parts of the street. Prices will come down, because we are not going to pay those outrageous prices.

If the tourist stop coming, so be it. There are enough of us to not only sustain the street, but make it prosper and not comprising our culture for the dollar.

Doing the do se do on Beale Street, what a abomination!

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Posted by oldtimeplayer on 11/03/2012 at 10:17 AM

Are you off your meds again?

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Posted by mad_merc on 11/03/2012 at 12:35 PM

Do you have to put race into everything? What in the hell does a rubiks cube have to do with race. You have a mental problem.

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Posted by clarion on 11/03/2012 at 5:55 PM

Beale Street is about race. Always was and still is.

Why are you trying to dictate to our traditional street? We are not trying to tell you what to do with Graceland.

Hell, you gave us the street many, many years ago, because you didn't want us in your establishments and your part of town.

So, leave Beale Street alone!

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Posted by oldtimeplayer on 11/03/2012 at 6:08 PM

OTP, even I am starting to worry about you. You do realize Beale Street Landing is on Riverside Drive, right? It has about as much in common with "Beale Street" as The Orpheum. Also, just for the record, since no one else has mentioned it, your Electoral College guess doesn't add up, literally.

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Posted by BruceVanWyngarden on 11/03/2012 at 6:34 PM


I know where Beale Street landing is. I also know that my electoral votes don't add up.

But just like other posters bend the truth and misinform, let an ol man have a little fun.

I thought, with the prospect of a loss by Romney, the conservatives needed a bit of shaking up.

In all honesty, I really mean the bottom half of Beale, east of Main Street.

Wy don't you fact check some of the ridiculous statements made by others?

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Posted by oldtimeplayer on 11/03/2012 at 6:56 PM

One might even argue that Beale Street Landing has mostly to do with white cotton merchants and little to do with black blues men. In my estimation it has little to do with either. It looks to be an expensive, ill conceived attempt to revitalize an area that probably doesn't need much revitalization. It is my favorite part of Memphis and I hate to see a blemish like "the cube" block even a small part of what is an impressive view of the bridge and the river.

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Posted by Drift Boat on 11/03/2012 at 7:04 PM

Drift Boat

How astute of you. I see you read history, I wonder why you only read half of it?

Yes beale Street Landing had more to do with the white cotton merchants, making money, however, you overlooked one important piece. Who do you think unloaded all of that cotton, baled it, etc? Why do you think there are still capture rings in the ground ( that is where slaves were tied down pending auction down on auction street. It seems that you conveniently left that part of history out. Yes, think about all the people that were off loaded at Beale Street Landing and who toiled in the cotton warehouses all along front street.

The other half of Beale Street, east of Main Street, was reserved for the colored people as their entertainment, business and social district. As a matter of historical record, The Annual Cotton Carnival was held down Main Street and concluded on Riverside for the whites, The Annual Cotton Makers Jubilee, I was in the band and marched in it for years, always concluded on Beale Street, with the reviewing stand in front of Handy Park. Also the carnival, for coloreds, was in Church Park on Beale, the official carnival was on riverside.

So, all I am saying is that we have a historical link to Beale Street, always have. I remember when the first two colored police were hired by Memphis. The police, white, had their lineup at the old police headquarters on Madison, the two colored officers had their separate on Beale Street. Of course, they had no cars, they had to take the bus, could write tickets or arrest any whites. WDIA, the first pre-eminant colored radio station was located on Beale Stree, the most coveted colored social club was located on Beale Street, the most prominant colored church, yes, you guessed it, was also on Beale Street. The hub of Beale Street was Church Park, built and named in honor of Robert Church, probably the richest colored in the U. S. and the richest man in Memphis.

So, you and Bruce have no business at all trying to school me about Beale Street. Hell, I use to go walk there, after school, Porter Jr. High and later, Booker T. Washington, to roam, hangout and play in Church Park.

Yes, Beale Street has always been a sore spot in the hearts of Memphis' african americans, especially after you literally took over the entertainment district. And yes, it was and still is all about race and economics based on race. Yes, african business thrived on Beale Street back in the day and will do so again, of course, under our control. If that is racist, then let it be so.

Btw, the frist two colored policemen wer R. B. Sugarmon and Marshall. I knew them well.

So, Bruce and others, get off of me and tell the history how it really was, including the takeover of the street by white businessmen. Now that the street is back in the city's control, that unsightly Rubik Cube will be changed by us if we think it is neccessary.

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Posted by oldtimeplayer on 11/04/2012 at 9:45 AM

In the 1960's Beale became run down as a result of the effects of the "Great Society", and was a ghost town with every store but Schwabs closed and boarded up.

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Posted by Honey Nuts on 11/04/2012 at 11:20 AM

Honey Nuts

The great society had nothing to do with the state of Beale Street in the 60s. It had everything to do with businessmaen coming to the realization that Beale Street was a valuble resource. They just couldn't outright take it, so they pulled financial support away from it.

It is the same thing that has happened to neighborhoods in Memphis. The land developers and businessmen wanted Rozelle/ Annesdale. What did they do? They pulled financial support from it, waited for it to deteriorate, bought if for pennies on the dollar, renamed it a historical district and reaped all kind of redevelopment money . Now look at it. You can go all over the city and see the same thing. The easiest way to get a prime piece of real estate, neighborhoods, is to pull financial support from it. Wait, then get for pennies on the dollar.

You really need to check your urban history before you post on something you know absolutely nothing about.

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Posted by oldtimeplayer on 11/04/2012 at 12:58 PM


You just kinda make it up as you go, don't you.

In the 1960's they almost buldozed the entire street because it was so run down.

Heck, it never really came back after the depression, and a bulldozer is what the place needed.

"pulled financial support"?

What a laugh!

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Posted by Honey Nuts on 11/04/2012 at 1:32 PM

Honey Nuts

I forgot. At the time of the Beale Street Development Corporation was formed, I was a community organizer for ACORN. I sat in on the meeteings before this corporation was approved.

It took a long time to finalize the deal because we and other civic groups objected to the orginal plans put forth. Beale Street was revitalized with a lot of government money. We wanted a seat at the table also.

The biggest problem was getting black businessmen to locate, should I say, relocate there. The problem was that they didn't own the and and could not use it for collatoral for a loan. The banks considered loaning money to the enterprise to individuals was risky. But, we got the terms as best we could. All a person had to do was pay 1 $ rent, but there was a catch 22 involved. The development corp. adopted a set of rules for how the buildings could be renovated, with a size each could not exceed. Sure, the rent was 1$, however the renovation was over 100,000 dollars per building. Previous owners of businessess, clubs, on the street could not get the money from the banks, so they were legally froze out. Their were a few, 2, I think it was, that were made members of the board and one actually had long term leases on some of the buildings. He sold out for the money and eventually was paid off and pushed out. So, I know what I am talking about because I was there.

The same thing was tried to the neighborhood along the Poplar corridor a few years ago. The difference is that poor, mostly african americans had learned their lesson. They formed a consortium and refused to sell their poperty individually. Instead, they banned to gether and sold the entire neighborhood as a bloc. Guess what, they were well rewarded. You can google it on the internet and get the details.

So, you and others are greatly mistaken about neighborhoods being destroyed by the residents. In most of these areas, the resident were mostly rental property. The owners along with the city and the complicitity of the banks let the neighborhood decay, not putting any money back into them from the profits from rent. After everyone move out, they sold them for a handsome profit. It is not entirely about race, it was about money. It just so happened that the areas were mostly inhabited by poor african americans. The same scenario has also happened to poor whit people also.

By the same token, you can go to residental neighborhoods where most of the inhabits are owner occupied and you will see well keep properties, albeit older. But you can tell the minute that some developer has his eyes on it by looking at thet the lack of infra-structure maintenance, the lack of adequate police and fire services. If you see with your eyes what is there and not with the lies that are told to you, it will become abundantly clear.

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Posted by oldtimeplayer on 11/04/2012 at 2:04 PM

@ Honey Nits

It would'nt have mattered if they bulldozed the street or not, the die was already cast. The reason they didn't bulldoze the street is because if would not have qualified for the government grants, money, that the city ande investors wanted. Hisotrical value and what qualifies an area for government money is the preservation of the structures, not neccessarily the street.

As for your information, Beale Street was the best kept secret in Memphis after the depression. The street thrived. Even after slavery and reconstruction, Beale thrived. Find somewhere you can read the true history of Beale Street. Stop reading the sanitized, white version of the street.

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Posted by oldtimeplayer on 11/04/2012 at 2:34 PM


Do you mean to say that infra-structure support, like Optional Schools and stuff, are good for the neighborhoods that receive them and bad for the neighborhoods that do not?

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Posted by Honey Nuts on 11/04/2012 at 2:49 PM

Bruce, you really need to talk to your website CMS vendor and see if there's a way for individual website users to permanently ignore someone in the comments. OTP's garbage doesn't rise to the level of a bannable offense, but I'd still like to never have to read any of it ever again. Dude is just embarrassing.

On the actual topic of the thread, there is no way we'd have to suffer through the indignities of BSL, Bass Pro, Peabody Place, the Pyramid itself, and hell, even the money pit that Mud Island turned into if we all got together and worked toward a coherent, sustainable, and realistic vision for our city, as opposed to letting the friends of developers pitch their ideas virtually unopposed. RDC deserves some blame for this outcome, but a lot of it falls on our shoulders, too, for failing to present a competing vision that was compelling enough to overcome their, in this case, nearly literal quilt-work of ideas, as represented perfectly by this patched-together Minecraft reject on top of Beale Street Landing.

For the price of this plus the Pyramid, Memphis could have turned MATA into a world class mass transit system. For a little over twice as much, we could have finished work on a subway or light rail system by now. Imagine how different Memphis would be if MATA could get you to to work on time for a couple of bucks. What if we worked toward creating a city with an infrastructure and an economy that could sustain all these fancy-pants development projects BEFORE we poured all our money into the projects themselves?

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Posted by autoegocrat on 11/04/2012 at 3:19 PM


Optional school attendance is not neccessarily neighborhood based. A student can reside anywhere within the borders of Memphis and attend any optional school on a space available basis. The only stipulation is that you meet the academic requirements, which are not that onerous, such as, passing your last years TCAP, not flunking any core subjects and not having more than 2 c's in any report period. You must also supply your own transportation for the student.

John P. Freeman Jr High and White Station High are the most popular and therefore, they very seldom have space available. But there are other optional and IB programs open in other schools that have space available.

Btw, Beale street took 30 years after the end of the great depression before it collapsed.

Infra structure is, streets that need repair, unmaintained, clogged sewage drains, missing street lights, poor response in emergencies and after diasters, etc. You can go to any urban city in the U. S. or, hell, any city and you can tell when you have reached a african american community by the condition of the roads, street lighting, numerous street leve railroad tracks, etc. If everything is so equal, why is that?

Back to your snide remark about optional schools, once the merger is complete, any student in the unified school district, regardless of where he/she resides, can also avail themselves of the optional or IB programs at schools so designated. The same stipulations will apply that I mentioned above.

There are a good number of county students that pay tuition to attend optional or IB schools in Memphis.

Anything else smarty pants? Lol

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Posted by oldtimeplayer on 11/04/2012 at 7:51 PM
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