Once crumbling and forgotten, the South Main Arts District has come a long way in recent years.
Art galleries, shops, and restaurants now dominate the area, and in keeping with the district's overall improvement, the South Main Association (SMA) is hosting a series of neighborhood cleanups this spring. To start, four volunteers painted the railroad trestle near Front and Butler streets red last week.
"We're painting the bridge to add to the artsy quality of the neighborhood," said Becky Beaton, a member of the SMA. "A group of artists had a meeting, and red was the color they chose."
But red entered into the project another way too. Beaton says the association feared there would be too much red tape if they asked for the city's permission to paint the bridge.
"We thought it'd be best to do it first and apologize later," she said.
Last year, the trestle over G.E. Patterson was painted red, and on April 29th, the trestle on Butler near South Main will be painted as well.
The April 29th event will also be a neighborhood-wide cleanup and planting in conjunction with the Hands On Memphis Servathon.
Three weeks ago, Memphis City Beautiful helped the South Main Association organize an event to pick up litter.
"We cleaned up some eyesores [and trash] that businesses had accumulated in their alleys," said Beaton. "We cut down tall weeds, trimmed some trees, and picked up some garbage. We just want the neighborhood to have an overall cared-for feeling."
The association is also organizing an effort to have artists paint their work on parking meters along South Main.
"When I used to come down here in 1996 for the Blues Music Awards, this area was a ghost town," said SMA member Priscilla Hernandez as she painted. "With all the galleries and residential construction, the neighborhood's made a phenomenal change for the better."