The City of Memphis Engineering Division built two pedestrian bridges over Black Bayou River in the Normal Station neighborhood, which allowed for a public art project to be installed in the area. Local blacksmith, John Golightly, was chosen to create a fence that would run along Black Bayou. The fence includes five decorative panels, which Golightly worked with community members in order to incorporate the neighborhood’s history into his designs.
The fence features a clean, 1930s Art Deco Style to match the design of the nearby bridge. It features railway cars and commuters, referencing the history of the Normal Station neighborhood.
Until the early 20th century, the neighborhood was part of an area known as the Eckles Tract. In 1911, construction of the new normal school , now the University of Memphis, began in the neighborhood. To serve the construction, the Southern Railroad built a stub track northward from its main line. A streetcar line was extended eastward to serve the site. When the school opened in 1912, the railroad converted the terminus of its stub line into an official stop and built a waiting station in front of the school, near what is now the intersection of Highland Street and Southern Avenue, to serve passengers using the railroad and the streetcars. The Normal railway station closed in 1949 and was demolished the following year, but its impact in the neighborhood remains.
About the Artist
John Golightly is a local blacksmith who has owened and operated his studio for over 15 years. He uses traditional and modern metalworking techniques to produce architectural furnature, railings, lighting, and many other items for public and commercial use. He has produced previous works for the UAC, including the MATA trolly stop project. He has also produced metalwork and exhibits for St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, Memphis International Airport, and St. Mary's Cathedral.