Pinch-North Main Commercial District once held much of the city’s first settlement and later became its earliest commercial district; in the early nineteenth century, this area was very near the then-location of the Memphis landing. Irish arriving here in those early years dismantled their flatboats and houseboats in order to construct shanties. It is said that the “pinch-gut” appearance of the poor and hungry residents was later applied to their “Pinch” neighborhood. Also, Irish, Italian, Russian, Greek and Jewish residents lived in the Pinch District (1890’s – 1930’s center of Memphis Jewish community) A few early residences still survive, but most buildings are commercial establishments from 1880 to 1910 whose architecture is utilitarian and unpretentious. The district also includes a portion of Auction Square, one of the city’s four squares shown in the original town plan. The Pinch district as a whole is currently enjoying a new vitality, with the Great American Pyramid again in use and a number of rehabilitation projects under way.
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