Yellow fever decimated the city in 1878, with this sign noting those martyrs who bravely remained to try and save as many as they could. Perhaps there are similar parallels to the coronavirus today. The disease was spread by the number of river passengers who stopped off in Memphis during their journey along the Mississippi. The epidemic cost the city $200 million and killed 20,000 of its residents, but it also changed its demographics permanently. Many richer white residents moved to cities such as New Orleans and Atlanta, leaving Memphis with a predominantly black and poor white population.