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Shelandra Y. Ford
Historical Markers of Shelby County

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The Pinch

In the mid-1800s this twelve-block area became a stepping stone for European immigrants, and is known as Memphis' first commercial district. The name "Pinch" is traced to Irish settlers who fled the great potato famine. Their "pinch-gut" appearance prompted this slang description which became synonymous with the area. In the 1890s Jewish immigrants settled here, transforming the area to a merchant community. Pinch was home and business center to most of Memphis' Jews until the 1930s.