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Frayser

Frayser began as a suburban town built around the Illinois Central Railroad in the mid-19th century. Frayser was a passenger railroad stop between Memphis and Covington, Tennessee. Like many other developing communities of its time, Frayser developed around a railroad depot. The depot became known as Frayser Station.

By the late 1870s, Frayser was lightly populated with small farms and the summer homes of wealthy Memphians. The town was named in honor of Dr. J.W. Frayser– a medical doctor and wealthy Memphian. The traditional boundaries of Frayser include (1) Loosahatchie River to the north; (2) Mississippi River to the West; (3) Wolf River to the South and (4) Illinois Central Railroad to the east. As the twentieth century came it brought with it the automobile and a decline in railroad passenger traffic. Eventually, Frayser Station came to be known as simply Frayser.

Commercial and industrial development caused significant growth in Frayser’s population in the mid-20th century. Large employers, such as International Harvester and Firestone, began moving into the neighborhood. Shopping centers in subdivisions like Rugby Hills were being developed. Employment became plentiful for Frayser and Memphis residents. In 1958, Frayser was annexed by the City of Memphis.

Frayser continued to grow throughout the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s, largely in response to the need for an industrial workforce. New housing, schools and shopping centers were built to accommodate its growing population.

Frayser began experiencing population decline due to difficult economic times that began in the early 1980s after International Harvester eliminated nearly 1,500 jobs. In the mid-1980s, International Harvester discharged the rest of its employees and closed permanently. The loss of Firestone happened around the same time and added further damage to Frayser. Throughout the 1980s and 1990s, Frayser transitioned from a mostly white, middle-class area to predominately low-income African-American community.

Today, Frayser continues to suffer from lack of business and industrial investment. The neighborhood is one of the most economically depressed and highest crime-rated areas of Memphis.