02 The Riverside Hotel, Clarksdale, Mississippi

The Riverside Hotel Clarksdale, Mississippi

The Riverside is located on Sunflower Avenue on the western edge of the black part of Clarksdale long known as New Africa. The Riverside is currently run by Frank ‘Rat’ Ratliff. The front section of the hotel was the old negro hospital and is where Bessie Smith was brought on Sept. 26, 1937, after being badly injured in a car accident north of Clarksdale. Justifiably billed as ‘The Empress of the Blues,’ Smith died of blood loss and internal injuries within two hours of her arrival. The room where she died remains a shrine in the hotel.  

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