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For Further Study
Founded: 1779; Incorporated: 1784
Location: On the Cumberland River in Central Tennessee
Motto: "Agriculture and Commerce" (state motto)
Flag: Royal blue field with white center and gold elements on the city seal.
Flower: Iris (state flower)
Time Zone: 6 am Central Standard Time (CST) = noon Greenwich Mean Time (GMT)
Ethnic Composition: White, 74.1%; Black, 24.3%; Native American, 0.2%; Asian, 1.4%
Elevation: 137 m (450 ft)
Latitude and Longitude: 36°16'N, 86°78'W
Climate : Temperate climate with hot, humid summers and occasional snow in winter
Annual Mean Temperature: 15.3°C (59.5°F); January 3.7°C (38.7°F); July 26.3°C (79.4°F)
Seasonal Average Snowfall: 27.2 cm (10.7 in); Average Annual Precipitation (total of rainfall and melted snow): 121.9 cm (48 in)
Weights and measures: Standard U.S.
Monetary Units: Standard U.S.
Telephone Area Codes: 615
Postal Codes: 37201–49
Located in the rolling hills of middle Tennessee, Nashville is the state capital. Home of the Grand Ole Opry since the 1920s, it is the country-and-western music capital of the world. The city of Andrew Jackson, it combines the grace and warmth of the Old South with the economic vitality of today's Sun Belt states. The rising popularity of country music in the past two decades has created a booming entertainment industry in Nashville, spurring tourism and attracting new residents with jobs at all levels of the music business. The city retains its traditional strength in the trucking and financial services sectors and has also become the capital of privatized health care with the growth and merger of HCA and Columbia Health Care.
As home to the first public education system in the South, as well as the site of the pilot project on which the nationwide Head Start programs were modeled, Nashville is also a leader in the field of education. When it merged its city and county governments in the 1960s, the city also became a pioneer in the development of metropolitan government.
Nashville, which has one of the largest geographical areas of any U.S. city, is located in central Tennessee, on both banks of the Cumberland River and surrounded on three sides by the Highland Rim, which rises up to 122 meters (400 feet) above the elevation level of the city.
More than 129 kilometers (80 miles) of interstate highway pass through Nashville. The major interstates are I-65 (north-south) and I-40 (east-west between Knoxville and Memphis and further in both directions). I-265 forms a ring around Downtown Nashville, and I-440 encircles midtown Nashville. I-24, running southeast to northwest, also leads into the metropolitan area, merging into I-40 to the south and I-65 to the north.
Bus and Railroad Service
Interstate bus service to all parts of the country is available on Greyhound, whose terminal is downtown on Eighth Avenue South. Amtrak service is not directly available in Nashville; the closest connection is through Memphis.
Originally constructed as a Works Progress Administration (WPA) project and opened as Berry Field in 1937, today Nashville International Airport provides air service to almost 90 cities in the United States, Canada, and Mexico, averaging 388 arriving and departing flights daily. The airport, which covers 76,178 square meters (820,000 square feet) and has 47 carrier gates, is serviced by 16 carriers. In 1998, Nashville International Airport handled over eight million passengers.
Nashville Population Profile
Area: 1,225 sq km (473 sq mi)
Ethnic composition: 74.1% white; 24.3% black; 0.2% Native American; and 1.4% Asian
Nicknames: Music City USA, Garden Spot of the World, The Athens of the South
Description: Nashville and Davidson County
Area: 10,549 sq km (4,073 sq mi)
World population rank 1: approx. 320
Percentage of national population 2: <1%
Ethnic composition: 82.6% white; 15.7% black; and 1.4% Asian/Pacific Islander
- The Nashville metropolitan area's rank among the world's urban areas.
- The percent of the United States' total population living in the Nashville metropolitan area.
Nashville's extensive network of interstate highways and 100 freight terminals have made the city an important regional trucking center, and it is served by 135 trucking carriers. The city is also a rail hub for the Southeast, with local railroads handling about 80 freight trains per day. Another major mode of shipping in the area is barge traffic on the Cumberland River, which connects Nashville to both the Mississippi River and the Gulf of Mexico.
Nashville is laid out in a grid pattern that straddles and is oriented to the Cumberland River. Numbered streets run parallel to the river in a northwest to southeast direction while the perpendicular named streets run southwest to northeast. Bridges cross the river at Jefferson and Spring streets, the James Robertson Parkway, Union and Woodland streets, and Shelby Avenue.
Bus and Commuter Rail Service
The Metropolitan Transit Authority of Nashville operates hourly bus service to most areas of the city, as well as a motorized trolley in the downtown area during daytime hours. Private automobiles are the preferred mode of transit for most Nashville residents, and use of public transportation is relatively light.
A one-and-a-half hour guided walking tour of the city beginning at Fort Nashborough is offered by the nonprofit Historic Nashville, Inc. on Saturday mornings in May through October. The Metropolitan Nashville Historical Commission provides maps for self-guided walking and driving tours, including the African-American Historic Sites Tour and the Battle of Nashville Driving Tour. Commercial companies offering tours include Grand Old Opry Tours, Johnny Walker Tours, and Country & Western/Gray Line Tours.
In 1990, the population of Nashville was 488,000, with the following racial and ethnic composition: 74.1 percent were white; 24.3 percent black; 1.4 percent Asian; and 0.2 percent Native American. The population estimate for 1994 was 505,000.
The population of the Nashville Metropolitan Statistical Area was reported as 985,026 in 1990 and estimated at 1,134,524 as of 1997. The region's racial composition was listed by the U.S. Census Bureau in 1996 as 82.6 percent white; 15.7 percent black; and 1.4 percent Asian/Pacific Islander. The percentage of residents of Hispanic origin (an ethnic rather than a racial designation) was 1.1 percent.
Dominated by the state capitol building and War Memorial Plaza, downtown Nashville is located near the riverfront and the site of historic Fort Nashborough, built by Nashville's early settlers. In addition to the capitol, the city's historic landmarks, and its older commercial buildings, this area is home to Bicentennial Capitol Mall State Park, commemorating Tennessee history with gardens and stone inscriptions and located at the foot of the capitol. Also located in the downtown area are a two-story shopping arcade between Fourth and Fifth Avenues, built in 1903; the Printer's Alley Historic District and the Nashville Farmers Market; the Ryman Auditorium, original home of the Grand Ole Opry; and two other well-known musical landmarks—Ernest Tubb's Record Shop and Gruhn Guitars. Riverfront Park, at First Avenue and Broadway, is a popular venue for musical events. In recent years, lower Broadway and Printer's Alley have developed into the commercialized and crowded area known as "the District," which attracts crowds of both tourists and locals.
Midtown Nashville, encompasses an area bounded roughly by I-70 on the north, Fourteenth Avenue on the east, Blair Boulevard on the south, and Natchez Trace and Centennial Park on the west. This district is home to both Vanderbilt University and Belmont University, as well as Centennial Park. The Music Row area on Sixteenth and Seventeenth Avenues includes a number of country music-oriented museums and souvenir shops, the Country Music Hall of Fame, and a variety of recording studios and music publishers.
The area north of I-40 is home to a historic visitors center built at the site of the first Dutch settlement in the region. Tennessee State University and Fisk University are also located in this area, as is the Nashville Zoo. To the east of I-65 and north of I-40 is Opryland USA, a large music and entertainment complex that includes the Grand Ole Opry House, an associated theme park and museum, a theater, and the studios of TNN (The Nashville Network) television, scene of regular performance tapings open to the public.
|City Fact Comparison|
|Population of urban area1||505,000||10,772,000||2,688,000||12,033,000|
|Date the city was founded||1779||AD 969||753 BC||723 BC|
|Daily costs to visit the city2|
|Hotel (single occupancy)||$72||$193||$172||$129|
|Meals (breakfast, lunch, dinner)||$40||$56||$59||$62|
|Incidentals (laundry, dry cleaning, etc.)||$2||$14||$15||$16|
|Total daily costs||114||$173||$246||$207|
|Number of newspapers serving the city||1||13||20||11|
|Largest newspaper||The Tennessean||Akhbar El Yom/Al Akhbar||La Repubblica||Renmin Ribao|
|Circulation of largest newspaper||184,979||1,159,339||754,930||3,000,000|
|Date largest newspaper was established||1812||1944||1976||1948|
|1United Nations population estimates for the year 2000.|
|2The maximum amount the U.S. Government reimburses its employees for business travel. The lodging portion of the allowance is based on the cost for a single room at a moderately-priced hotel. The meal portion is based on the costs of an average breakfast, lunch, and dinner including taxes, service charges, and customary tips. Incidental travel expenses include such things as laundry and dry cleaning.|
|3David Maddux, ed. Editor&Publisher International Year Book. New York: The Editor&Publisher Company, 1999.|
South and west of the city lie natural and recreational areas, such as the Cheekwood mansion and gardens, Percy Warner Park and Golf Course, and Radnor Lake State Natural Area. Residential areas are primarily found in the north and east, including the suburbs of Belle Meade, Green Hills, and Harpeth Hills.
The area of present-day Nashville was occupied by Cherokee and Chickasaw Indians when the first Europeans—French traders—arrived there in the eighteenth century and built trading posts. The first permanent settlement was founded at Christmas time of 1779 by pioneer families from North Carolina and eastern Tennessee led by James Robertson. A second party led by John Donelson arrived the following spring, and the new settlement, consisting of log cabins, was named Nashborough for General Francis Nash, a Revolutionary War hero. Most of the settlers retreated to Kentucky later the same year as a result of Indian attacks, incited by the British as part of the ongoing Revolutionary War (1776–1783).
Nevertheless, the remnant of the community was incorporated in 1784, and its name changed to the less British-sounding "Nashville." The settlement prospered, as schools, churches, and businesses were founded, and Tennessee gained its statehood in 1796. In the early years of the nineteenth century, a young lawyer named Andrew Jackson (1767–1845) gained increasing prominence in Nashville as a military hero of the Creek War and the War of 1812, a member of Congress, and, by 1830, the seventh president of the United States. During this period, steamboats were introduced to Nashville, and the city became a center for river trade. New waves of settlers from the east, as well as immigrants from England, Scotland, and Ireland, boosted its population and work force. In 1843 Nashville was named the capital of Tennessee.
In 1861 Nashville's citizens joined their fellow Tennesseans in voting to secede from the Union, and Tennessee became the eleventh and last state in the Confederacy. The following year, the city was invaded by Union forces, which occupied it for the next three years, commandeering its railroads and river transport facilities. Tennessee's Confederates made a final, unsuccessful attempt to retake the city in Battle of Nashville—one of the bloodiest of the war—in December 1864.
By the mid-1870s the city had largely recovered from the war and began to enjoy consistent economic progress and development, accompanied by cultural and educational advances, including the establishment of Vanderbilt and Fisk universities. A milestone in the city's postwar progress was the 1897 Tennessee Centennial Exposition. The Union Station railroad terminal was built for the exposition, and a replica of the Parthenon, also built for the occasion, was later duplicated in the permanent version that still stands today. Also on display was the technological innovation of electric lighting.
In the twentieth century, both financial services and manufacturing thrived in Nashville, the former led by the National Life and Accident and Life & Casualty insurance companies, and the latter boosted by wartime demand during the world wars. It was on National Life's radio station, WSM, that the Grand Ole Opry broadcasts were inaugurated and grew into a popular local phenomenon. In the 1930s and 1940s, federal projects, including the Works Progress Administration (WPA) and the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA), brought new jobs and infrastructure modernization to the city. Nashville also benefited greatly from the development of the federal highway system, which made the city a trucking and rail freight center. The TVA made electricity for home heating available in the 1940s.
In the postwar years, the new highways and the ascendance of the automobile brought suburbanization to Nashville, as well as other cities throughout the country, and city services became increasingly fragmented. In the 1950s a pioneering plan for consolidated city-county administration was proposed; it became a reality in 1963 with the formation of the Nashville-Davidson metropolitan government. Efficient government has enabled the city to launch urban rehabilitation and development projects that have boosted the economy by spurring downtown retail and commercial development, as well as tourism.
With the introduction of country-and-western music into the commercial mainstream since the 1970s, Nashville has won new prominence as one of the nation's musical capitals. Even though its traditional insurance, publishing, education, and health sectors remained strong, Nashville in the late 1990s was positioned as a major sports and entertainment venue with the construction of a major new sports arena and other development projects.
The Nashville Metropolitan Charter, drafted in 1962, made Nashville a leader in the development of a consolidated city-county government. The Nashville-Davidson County metropolitan government was inaugurated in 1963 and is still in place, headed by a mayor and a 40-member metropolitan council consisting of five members at large and 35 representatives elected by district. Its bi-monthly meetings are televised on a cable government-access channel.
In 1995, Nashville-Davidson's incidence of reported violent crimes per 100,000 population was 1,790, including 20 murders, 93 rapes, and 511 robberies. The incidence of property crimes was 8,920 and included 1,573 burglaries and 1,560 motor vehicle thefts.
Banks and insurance companies were among Nashville's first businesses and have remained an important part of the economy. Banks headquartered in the city include Bank of Nashville, First American, and Citizen's Bank. Nashville is also home to the securities firm J. C. Bradford. American General Life Insurance has remained in the city after acquiring two other locally based companies and is now linked to Nashville's entertainment industry as a subsidiary of the Gaylord Entertainment Network, which owns the Ryman Auditorium, former home of the Grand Ole Opry, and the Opryland Theme Park.
Nashville is also a center of the private healthcare industry as home to Columbia-HCA, the largest operator of for-profit hospitals in the country. This sector has also gone in new directions, spinning off companies in child care and prison management.
Nashville's location in the Sun Belt puts it in prime manufacturing territory. Nissan Motors located its first U.S. plant here in the early 1980s. In the 1990s, a Saturn plant was operating in nearby Spring Hill, and the area is also home to a Bridgestone-Firestone plant.
Media and communications are represented by BellSouth, headquartered downtown, and the publishing and electronic media firm Ingram Industries.
Nashville is situated amid rolling hills and abundant natural vegetation. The Highland Rim forms a natural escarpment around the city, encircling it on three sides. Nashville extends across both banks of the Cumberland River, and there are two lakes—Old Hickory Lake and the J. Percy Priest Lake—east of the city.
As in many other American cities, much of Nashville's retail trade has relocated to malls in the surrounding areas. Urban shopping centers include Church Street Centre, in the heart of the city's traditional retail district; Market Street, which houses a variety of small shops and restaurants; the Eighth Avenue antique district; and Hillsboro Village, a two-block shopping area with clothing, housewares, crafts, and other retailers. Suburban malls in the Nashville area include Bellevue Center, Coolspings Galleria, Hickory Hollow Mall, the Mall at Green Hills, and One Hundred Oaks Mall.
Souvenirs can be purchased at the Country Music Hall of Fame and the Centennial Park museum shop. With an encyclopedia inventory that occupies three floors, Gruhn Guitars is considered by some to be the best guitar store in the country.
The nickname "Athens of the South" comes not only from the Nashville's replica of the Greek Parthenon but also from its reputation for educational excellence. It was home to the first public education system in the South, established in 1855. One-hundred years later, three prominent African-American residents of Nashville mounted one of the nation's first school desegregation lawsuits. Nashville was also a pioneer in early-childhood education for disadvantaged children—the prototype for Head Start programs was developed by a teacher there.
The Metropolitan Nashville Public Schools, the nation's forty-ninth largest urban school district, are attended by 83 percent of the city's school-aged children. The system encompasses 127 schools, including magnet programs, special education schools, alternative schools, and an adult education center. Total enrollment in 1998–99 was 69,400. The racial and ethnic breakdown was 47.7 percent white, 45.4 percent black, 3.3 percent Hispanic, 3.2 percent Asian, and 0.2 percent Native American. The schools are administered by a nine-member elected school board and an appointed director of schools.
Nashville is home to more than a dozen institutions of higher education, including Vanderbilt University, Tennessee State University, Scarritt College, George Peabody College, Belmont University, and Fisk University. Vanderbilt University, founded in 1873 and funded by rail and shipping magnate Cornelius Vanderbilt, is a private teaching and research university. Its ten schools, including schools of engineering, nursing, law, and medicine, enroll approximately 10,000 students in undergraduate, graduate, and professional programs. Fisk University, established in 1866, was one of the nation's first black colleges.
Tennessee State University, a coeducational land-grant university located on a 182-hectare (450-acre) campus west of downtown Nashville, enrolls some 8,200 students. It is one of 46 public colleges and universities administered by the Tennessee Board of Regents.
13. Health Care
Vanderbilt University Medical Center (VUMC) encompasses Vanderbilt Hospital, the Vanderbilt Clinic, the university's schools of medicine and nursing, and a variety of other facilities. VUMC employs over 8,000 persons, making it middle Tennessee's largest private employer and the second largest in the state. Vanderbilt University Hospital has 658 beds housed in a twin-towered facility that is also home to the region's only Level I trauma center and Level I burn center. Several of the hospital's departments, including cancer, endocrinology, and gynecology, have won nationwide recognition. In 1997, the Vanderbilt clinic recorded nearly 29,000 admissions and scheduled 473,000 outpatient visits. Specialty clinics associated with VUMC include the Henry-Joyce Cancer Clinic and Clinical Research Center. The School of Medicine was ranked fourteenth nationwide in a U.S. News & World Report survey in 1997.
Other major hospitals in the Nashville area include Baptist Hospital, Metropolitan General Hospital, Nashville Memorial, St. Thomas Hospital, and the following Columbia Health System hospitals: Centennial, Hendersonville, Southern Hills, and Summit.
The Tennessean, a morning daily, is Nashville's major newspaper. In 1998 it has a circulation of 184,979 during the week and 269,959 on Sunday. Nashville also has a daily afternoon newspaper, the Nashville Banner, as well as a weekly alternative paper, the Nashville Scene, which covers local news and entertainment. Both the Metropolitan Times and Nashville Pride are weekly newspapers serving Nashville's black community. Trade magazines published in Nashville focus on insurance, banking, agriculture, music, education, and other fields.
All major television networks have affiliates in Nashville, which has a total of seven commercial television stations, and about 30 am and FM radio stations provide news, music, and local features to the Nashville area.
Nashville is home to the former Houston Oilers football team, now the Tennessee Titans, who began playing at the brand-new 67,000-seat Adelphia Coliseum stadium in 1999. The city also has a Triple-A minor league baseball team, the Nashville Sounds (the farm team for the Chicago White Sox), and a Central Hockey League team, the Nashville Night Hawks.
College sports have an enthusiastic following in Nashville, home to both Vanderbilt University and Tennessee State University, both of which are known for their football teams and other sports.
The Nashville Speedway hosts stock-car racing every weekend. Special sporting events held in Nashville annually include the Iroquois Memorial Steeplechase, held at Percy Warner Park each May, and the Sara Lee Classic Ladies Professional Golfer's Association Tournament, also in May at Hermitage Golf Course. Pro wrestling is a popular spectator sport in the area.
Nashville has about 70 city parks, both large and small, giving the city roughly 2,833 hectares (7,000 acres) of park land altogether. In addition, the surrounding areas include several state parks and nature reserves, such as Long Hunter and Radnor Lake.
Nashville's newest park is the 8-hectare (19-acre) Bicentennial Capitol Mall State Park, downtown next to the capitol building. Built to celebrate the bicentennial of Tennessee's statehood in 1997, the park features river fountains, an amphitheater, and a 61-meter (200-foot) map of Tennessee carved in granite. Park rangers offer organized tours of the park. The Tennessee centennial celebration 100 years earlier also left Nashville with a park: Centennial Park at West End and Twenty-Fifth Avenue, whose best-known feature is its replica of the Greek Parthenon. The park also includes a small lake, statues, sports facilities, and a band shell.
The adjoining Percy Warner and Edwin Warner Parks (covering approximately 834 hectares/2,060 acres combined) make up one of the country's largest urban parks and offer riding and biking trails, a nature center, picnic shelters, playing fields, and a racing course. Other city parks include Reservoir Park, Sevier Park, Shelby Park, and Two Rivers Park. Adding to the city's green space are the Cheekwood Botanical Gardens and International Garden.
Bledsoe State Park, northeast of Nashville, offers lodging and campgrounds, horse trails, hiking, and swimming. Recreational activities are also offered at Long Hunter State Park about 30 minutes southeast of Nashville. Radnor Lake State Natural Area to the south is a nature preserve and sanctuary for observation, research, photography, and hiking.
Swimming in the area's pools, lakes, and rivers is the number-one recreational activity during Nashville's hot, humid summer. The area's rolling terrain is enjoyed by cyclists, equestrians, and golfers. Camping, boating, canoeing, and fishing are other popular outdoors activities in the region.
17. Performing Arts
Although known primarily as the capital of country-and-western music, Nashville also has regular classical music concerts by the Nashville Symphony and Nashville Opera. The music departments of the city's universities also enrich the classical music scene through such resources as the Vanderbilt Orchestra and both student and faculty performances sponsored by Vanderbilt's Blair School of Music and the Belmont University School of Music. In addition, the Friends of Music brings touring artists and ensembles to the city, and the Scarritt-Bennett Center Series features free performances by local musicians.
Nashville's theater troupes include the Tennessee Repertory Theater, Circle Players, Lakewood Theater Company, the Nashville Shakespeare Festival, and Mockingbird Public Theatre. The American Negro Playwright Theater presents plays focusing on the African American experience and heritage, as does Blue Wave Productions. The Nashville Ballet has been offering regular dance concerts since the 1980s, and the Tennessee Dance Theater concentrates on modern dance. Touring dance groups are brought to Nashville in concert series sponsored by such groups as Friends of Music, the Tennessee Performing Arts Center, and Vanderbilt University.
As the home of the Grand Ole Opry and the major center for recordings of country-and-western music, Nashville is the world's undisputed capital of country music, a position celebrated in the city's nickname of "Music City USA." Live performances by both established and up-and-coming country artists can be heard weekly at the Grand Ole Opry House in Opryland USA. Country, folk, and rock concerts still take place at historic Ryman Auditorium, home of the Opry from its inception in the 1920s until the 1970s and newly restored in 1994. Other Nashville venues for country music are the "Midnight Jamboree" at Ernest Tubb's Record Shop, which is broadcast live on WSM-AM radio; taping sessions of the "Prime Time Country" television show at the TNN studios; and Nashville on Stage. A variety of local clubs also feature country music.
Founded in 1904, the Public Library of Nashville and Davidson County operates a central library downtown and 18 neighborhood branches. With a total of 262,800 book titles and 781,800 volumes, the library serves a population of more than half a million and employs a staff of 248. It has special collections in the subject areas of business, Nashville genealogy and history, children's literature, drama, and oral history.
Although Nashville has several art collections, none is actually housed in a building designed as a museum (a downtown museum building is in the planning stages, however). The Cheekwood Museum of Art, in the Depression-era Cheek Mansion, displays a permanent collection of American art and a variety of temporary exhibits. Nashville's full-scale replica of the Greek Parthenon, built in the 1920s to replace the temporary version erected for the 1897 centennial celebrations, houses the Cowan Collection of paintings by American artists and other artifacts. Yet another non-traditional venue for art exhibits is Nashville International Airport, where the works of regional artists are showcased in the terminal's atrium, as well as in the airport's halls and lobbies. These include large suspended sculptures and Dale Eldred's "Airport Sun Project," an installation of solar reflecting panels. Art collections are also housed in galleries at Vanderbilt University and Fisk University.
The Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum traces the history of country music in a colorful variety of exhibits that include musical instruments and other artifacts, videos, and such unique items as a gold Cadillac that belonged to Elvis Presley. The Grand Ole Opry Museum focuses on performers associated with this famed performance venue. The Lotz House Museum is dedicated to the Civil War (1861–1865), and the Hartzler-Towner Multi-cultural Museum displays artifacts that highlight cultures around the world. Other museums include the Cumberland Science Museum, the Museum of Tobacco Art and History, the Nashville Toy Museum, and the Tennessee State Museum.
Nashville's music industry generates considerable tourism, which has become one of the city's major sources of income. Tour buses are a common sight throughout Nashville, as visitors attend live performances and radio or television tapings or wander through the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum. The white-columned Opryland Hotel, located on 12 hectares (30 acres) of land and renovated in 1996, is located adjacent to the Grand Ole Opry House, and the Opryland USA theme park is nearby. Both the hotel and the Nashville Convention Center also offer convention facilities, including meeting and exhibit space, as does the recently completed Nashville Arena. Another of the city's high-profile hotels is the Loew's Vanderbilt Plaza Hotel next door to Vanderbilt University.
Nashville Boat & Sport Show
Antiques & Garden Show of Nashville
Heart of Country Antiques Show
Nashville Lawn & Garden Show
Americana Sampler Craft Folk & Antique Show
Main Street Festival
Colonial Fair Day
Hermitage Spring Garden Fair
Historic Edgefield Tour of Homes
Opryland Gospel Jubilee
Tennessee Crafts Fair
Tennessee Renaissance Festival
Dancin' in the District
Chet Atkins Musician Day
International Country Music Fair
Southern Gospel Music Fest
Independence Day Celebration
Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration
African Street Festival
Belle Meade Fall Fest
Italian Street Fair
TACA Fall Crafts Fair
Tennessee State Fair
Boo at the Zoo
Grand Ole Opry Birthday Celebration
NAIA Pow Wow
Longhorn World Championship Rodeo
Sinking Creek Film & Video Festival
A Country Christmas
Nashville's Country Holidays
21. Famous Citizens
President Andrew Jackson (1767–1845).
Vice President Al Gore (b. 1948).
Artist Red Grooms (b. 1937).
Comedienne Minnie Pearl (1912–1996).
Flutist Paula Robeson (b. 1941).
Singer Dinah Shore (1917–94).
Track star Wilma Rudolph (b. 1940).
Rock star Greg Allman (b. 1947).
CitySearch Nashville. [Online] Available http://nashville.citysearch.com (accessed December 8, 1999).
Nashville City Net [Online] Available http://www.city.net/countries/united_states/tennessee/nashville (accessed December 8, 1999).
Nashville.Net. [Online] Available http://www.nashville.net/ (accessed December 8, 1999).
205 Metro Courthouse
Nashville, TN 37201
107 Metro Courthouse
Nashville, TN 37201
Nashville City Hall
107 Metro Courthouse
Nashville, TN 37201
Tourist and Convention Bureaus
Nashville Convention and Visitors Bureau
161 4th Ave. N.
Nashville, TN 37219
The Nashville Business Journal
222 2nd Ave.
Nashville, TN 37201
Nashville, TN 37203
Ben-Amotz, Noa. Discover Another Nashville: An Essential Guide for Natives & Newcomers. Nashville, TN: Common Ground, 1994.
Doyle, Don Harrison. Nashville Since the 1920s. Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press, 1985.
Faragher, Scott. Nashville: Gateway to the South. An Insider's Guide to Music City, U. S. A. Nashville, TN: Cumberland House, 1998.
Goodstein, Anita Shafer. Nashville, 1780–1860: From Frontier to City. Gainesville: University of Florida Press, 1989.
Kingsbury, Paul. The Country Reader: Twenty-Five Years of the Journal of Country Music. Nashville, TN: Vanderbilt University Press, 1996.
Kreyling, Christine M. Classical Nashville: Athens of the South. Nashville, TN: Vanderbilt University Press, 1996.
Squires, James D. Secrets of the Hopewell Box: Stolen Elections, Southern Politics, and a City's Coming of Age. 1st ed. New York: Times Books, 1996.
A Tour of Nashville, Tennessee. [videorecording] City Productions Home Video. Memphis, TN: City Productions, 1994. 1 videocassette (ca. 45 min.).
Nashville Music City U.S.A. [videorecording] Video Postcards, Inc., 1986. 1 videocassette (45 min.).
Major Industries and Commercial Activity
Nashville's strength as a community truly rests on one solid foundation—its economic diversity. The city is a great "neighborhood" of private and public business and industry, where people are as likely to go to work each morning in banks, hospitals, or government offices as to drive trucks, punch cash registers, or work on assembly lines. The area has benefited from low unemployment, consistent job growth, heavy outside investment and expansion, and a broadening of the labor force. Although the city's economy is not reliant on any one area of production, Nashville is a leader in finance and insurance, health care, music and entertainment, publishing, transportation technology, higher education, biotechnology, plastics, and tourism and conventions. In June 2003, Moody's Investors Service placed Nashville 8th in a ranking of the top 10 most diversified local economies. Also in 2003, Nashville ranked 25th in Forbes magazine's May issue listing top places for business and careers.
Health care is one of Nashville's top industries; according to the Nashville Health Council, the city is known as the nation's health care center. Twenty-one healthcare companies are based within the city; in total 350 health care companies have operations here. Many service firms specializing in the industry (including accounting, legal, and others) are based in Nashville, including 12 investment and venture capital companies dealing primarily with health care. Health care services companies based in Nashville control more than 2,400 operations outside the city, as well. In 2002, almost 90,000 people in the Nashville metro area worked in the health care industry, earning more than a $4 billion payroll.
Nashville is the largest publishing center in the Southeast and one of the top ten largest in the country. Some of the nation's leading printers operate alongside scores of small, family-owned shops. The city is home to Thomas Nelson, the world's foremost publisher of Bibles, and two of the country's largest religious publishing houses. Nashville is also becoming a major distribution center for books and other print media.
Of all of the products manufactured in the city, music is what makes Nashville most famous. The local recording industry and its offshoots have not only brought worldwide recognition to what was once a sedate southern city, but they have also pumped billions of dollars into the local economy, created a thriving entertainment business scene ranked behind only New York and Los Angeles, and given the city a distinctly cosmopolitan flavor. Nashville music—country, pop, gospel, and rock—generates well over a billion dollars in record sales each year. As a result, spinoff industries have flourished: booking agencies, music publishing companies, promotional firms, recording studios, trade publications, and performance rights associations such as BMI, the Broadcast Music Inc. There are approximately 200 recording studios in Nashville, and most major record labels have offices on Nashville's Music Row, Sony, RCA, Mercury Nashville, MCA, Warner Brothers, Capitol, and Columbia. As Nashville remains a center for the music industry, it continues to draw support businesses and industry to the area. Local music-related advertising firms (especially jingle houses) bring in vast revenues, music video production in the city is at an all-time high, while a burgeoning radio, television, and film industry has enticed some of the country's top producers, directors, and production houses to set up shop in Nashville. The music industry in Nashville is responsible for a good chunk of the city's tourism activity.
An influx of new industry in recent years has resulted in hundreds of jobs and on-site training opportunities for local actors, editors, artists, technicians, and other production people. Nashville's entertainment scene brings in more than revenue, however. It draws millions of people to the city each year as well. Tourism is one of Tennessee's biggest businesses with annual revenues of $2.2 billion, and Nashville is known as the hottest spot in the state.
New technology is a burgeoning factor in the Nashville economy. Dell Computers operates a manufacturing and technical support center near the airport, which opened in 1999 and employs about 3,000 people. The plastics industry is growing here, as is the biotechnology (including pharmaceuticals and life sciences) industries.
Partnership 2010 (formerly Partnership 2000) was created as a regional, public-private economic development initiative for the region. The four cornerstones of the program strategy are business recruiting of corporate headquarters and administrative offices, retention of existing businesses, entrepreneurship through fostering growth and supporting start-up businesses, and community improvement. By 2005 the initiative has resulted in more than 350 companies relocating their corporate headquarters to Nashville. Expectations for the initiative include a $10 billion impact on the region's economy as well as the creation of 50,000 new jobs. Partly as a result of the initiative, Nashville ranked among Expansion Management's 2005 "America's 50 Hottest Cities."
Items and goods produced: printing and publishing, automotive products, trucks, automotive parts, clothing, shoes, lawnmowers, bicycles, telecommunications equipment, aerospace products, thermos bottles, kerosene lamps, computers
Incentive Programs—New and Existing Companies
The One Stop Business Assistance Program helps new and expanding businesses avoid delays by expediting their dealings with local, state, and federal government offices regarding regulatory permits, and by assisting with any problems they may have in the process. The Payment in Lieu of Tax (PILOT) program offers qualifying businesses a property tax freeze or reduction on projects involving a large capital investment or creating large numbers of new jobs. Requests for PILOT assistance are considered on a case-by-case basis by the city and county. Industrial Revenue Bonds are available to eligible companies for land, building, or equipment purchases.
The Jobs Tax Credit incentive provides qualified new or expanding businesses with a $2,000 tax credit when the business creates at least 25 new full-time jobs and makes a capital investment of $500,000. The Corporate Excise Tax Credit allows companies a one percent tax credit on industrial machinery for new or expanding businesses. Sales tax exemptions or reductions are available to qualified companies purchasing industrial machinery, or products used in the manufacturing of resale items. The program also offers credits of 5.5 percent towards building materials, equipment, and machinery for company headquarters with a construction price tag over $20 million. The Economic Development Loan Fund assists new and expanding industrial companies with loans for up to $2 million.
Job training programs
The State of Tennessee FastTrack Job Assistance program offers training assistance for new or existing businesses that are investing in facilities, equipment, or new jobs. FastTrack utilizes educational facilities and FastTrack staff to develop and implement customized training programs. The Tennessee Job Skills program is a work force incentive grant program for new and existing businesses that focuses on elevating employees skill levels.
Nashville's aggressive Partnership 2010 program was responsible for a flurry of business activity in the early part of the new century, including company relocations, expansions, and new corporations. According to the Partnership 2010 annual report for 2003-2004, Asurion relocated its corporate headquarters to Nashville in 2003, creating 800 jobs by late 2004. In that year, 90 companies announced expansions or relocations to the Nashville region.
A major private investment in Nashville marks Dell's first U.S. expansion outside of Central Texas. In fall of 2000, Dell opened new manufacturing and office facilities in Nashville, and has since increased its Tennessee workforce from approximately 200 to nearly 3,000. Nashville has been building upon its considerable cultural cache in recent years, with the opening of the First Center for the Performing Arts, and a new main public library four times the size of the former library. Nashville expects to reap significant benefits when the state completes I-840, a limited-access highway that will form another outer ring of roadway around the city. The new highway, partially complete at the end of 2004, had already influenced business location decisions in Middle Tennessee.
Economic Development Information: Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce, 211 Commerce Street, Nashville, TN 37201; telephone (615)743-3000
Nashville's central location has made it one of the busiest transportation centers in the Mid-South. Today more than 80 miles of interstate highways weave in and out of the city, making Nashville a vital link to every corner of the region.
The bulk of local transportation services are designed to move freight. For high priority or overnight deliveries Nashvillians often turn to the rapidly expanding air freight industry. However, Nashville's strength as a distribution center for the Southeast still lies in the traditional and highly competitive industries of trucking, rail freight, and river barge.
Millions of tons of goods are moved through the city each year via truck by a multitude of motor freight lines serving the area. Nashville has become a regional headquarters for the trucking industry primarily because of its tight, efficient network of accessible interstate highways, its conveniently centralized location, and the fact that approximately 150 local terminals provide easy break-bulk distribution and specialized services for products such as produce (refrigeration), gasoline, and hazardous waste.
Since the turn of the century, Nashville has historically been considered the hub of railway activity for the Southeast. The local division of CSX provides service over 2,700 route miles to 23 states, the District of Columbia, and two Canadian provinces. An average of 90 trains pass through Nashville each day. The CSX Intermodal provides Nashville with a piggyback loading/unloading system that is one of the most modern in the nation, handling about 8,300 containers or trailers each month. Rail service is also provided by the Nashville Eastern and the Nashville Western short line railroads.
The Cumberland River, an artery of the Ohio River that weaves in and out of the Nashville Metropolitan area, links the city to points on the Mississippi River and the Gulf of Mexico coast. More than 30 commercial operators operate barges on the river. The distance to Gulf ports was cut by 563 miles in the mid-1980s when the United States Army Corps of Engineers opened its $1.8 billion Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway, connecting the Tennessee River in northern Alabama with the Tombigbee River of southern Alabama 234 miles away. This ambitious man-made water route connected Nashville to the port of Mobile, resulting in an estimated savings of millions in shipping costs.
The Nashville Air Cargo Link is designated as foreign trade zone and is an all-cargo complex serving the Nashville International Airport. In 2003, more than 65 thousand tons of cargo was shipped through Nashville.
Labor Force and Employment Outlook
Nashville has experienced significant economic expansion in recent years, to the extent that employers in certain sectors, such as skilled production and the hospitality industry, are experiencing labor shortages. Population growth continues, however, especially in suburban Nashville, which offers a long-term solution to the labor supply problem. With the influx of expansions and new businesses, and in concert with Nashville's diverse and stable economy and growing population, continued economic expansion is predicted.
The following is a summary of data regarding the Nashville metropolitan area labor force, 2003 annual averages.
Size of nonagricultural labor force: 680,800
Number of workers employed in . . .
trade, transportation and utilities: 139,000
financial activities: 44,300
professional and business services: 82,600
educational and health services: 93,100
leisure and hospitality: 71,000
other services: 30,200
Average hourly earnings of production workers employed in manufacturing: $14.44
Unemployment rate: 3.5% (December 2004)
|Largest employers (excludes government agencies)||Number of employees|
|Vanderbilt University & Medical Center||13,601|
|HCA, The Healthcare Company||10,525|
|Nissan Motor Manufacturing USA||6,500|
|The Kroger Company||3,350|
|CBRL Group Inc.||3,275|
|Dell Computer Corporation||3,000|
Cost of Living
The following is a summary of data regarding key cost of living factors for the Nashville area.
2004 (3rd Quarter) ACCRA Average House Price: $194,533
2004 (3rd Quarter) ACCRA Cost of Living Index: 94.5 (U.S. average = 100.0)
State income tax rate: Limited to dividends and interest income
State sales tax rate: 7.0%
Local income tax rate: None
Local sales tax rate: 2.25%
Property tax rate: For 2005 the tax rate was $2.52 per $100 of assessed value; residential property is assessed at 25 percent
Economic Information: Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce, 211 Commerce Street, Nashville, TN 37201; telephone (615)743-3000
A roster full of sports, the unspoiled countryside, and an endless choice of attractions have made Nashville one of the most popular vacation spots in the nation. Foremost among the city's historical attractions is The Hermitage, home of the seventh president of the United States, Andrew Jackson. The beautiful 1821 plantation house sits nestled in rolling farmland on the eastern edge of the city. The mansion has been a national shrine since the years shortly following Jackson's death there in 1845. Its vintage rooms display original pieces such as the Jackson family's furniture, china, paintings, clothes, letters, books, and wallpaper. Also on the grounds are the president's official carriage, his wife's flower garden, and both of their tombs.
Beautiful Belle Meade Plantation on the west side of the city is also open to the public. The restored antebellum farm has been called "Queen of the Tennessee Plantations." The mansion itself, built in 1853, displays period furniture and decor, while the mammoth stables on the grounds provide a glimpse of one of the most famous thoroughbred horse farms of that time.
Perched on a hill in the center of the downtown area is the Tennessee State Capitol Building, a renowned architectural monument constructed in 1859. Also open for tours is Belmont Mansion, an 1850s Italianate villa on the Belmont University campus, recognized as one of the most elaborate and unusual houses in the South. Cheekwood Botanical Garden and Museum of Art is a horticulturalist's delight. The sprawling complex, nestled in Nashville's prime residential area, showcases 55 acres of lush gardens, including a color garden, water garden, seasons garden, and the woodland sculpture trail. The huge Georgian mansion houses a permanent display of 20th-century American art and American and English decorative arts.
More than 10,000 acres of land in 99 parks and greenways are operated by the Metro Board of Parks and Recreation, including Centennial Park, famous for its full-size replica of the ancient Greek temple to the goddess Athena, the Parthenon. Sitting in the midst of the busy central city near Vanderbilt University, the Parthenon was originally built as part of Tennessee's Centennial Exposition of 1897, but it has remained one of the most popular places in town for a century. The city maintains impressive gardens around the structure, which houses rotating art exhibits in a permanent gallery. Just down the street in the heart of the historical district is Riverfront Park, home to historic Fort Nash-borough. Here the public can stroll along the banks of the Cumberland River or listen to concerts under the stars. The Tennessee Fox Trot Carousel by artist Red Grooms is housed in Riverfront Park. The 36 "horses" are actually characters depicting the state's history and culture.
The Nashville Zoo features exotic animals from around the world, including a 300-pound anaconda, in a themed setting plus educational programs. Cumberland Science Museum underwent a $2.7 million renovation and emerged as Adventure Science Center in 2002. The center offers unique health and science programs, hands-on exhibitions, live animal shows, and the Sudekum Planetarium. The Nashville Toy Museum presents a priceless display of more than 1,000 antique toys, including an entire room of rare toy trains from the U.S. and Europe.
The Grand Ole Opry, America's oldest and most cherished live country music show, is one of the most popular attractions in the city. Fans from all over the world pack the 4,400-seat Opry House each weekend to see top stars of traditional and country music. Begun in 1925 as the WSM Barn Dance, the Opry is still broadcast over WSM Radio to points all along the Eastern seaboard, providing audiences with a rare behind-the-scenes look at a tradition that literally launched popular country music. The Opry House, built in 1974 at a cost of $22 million, is said to be one of the most acoustically perfect auditoriums in the country; another is the famed Ryman Auditorium, home of the Opry from 1943-1974, recently renovated and now used as a performance venue for concerts and plays. The Opryland complex also includes the impressive Gaylord Opryland hotel, Opry Mills shopping and entertainment complex.
Arts and Culture
Taking center stage in the area of performing arts, the Nashville Symphony Orchestra has a reputation as one of the leading city orchestras in the Southeast. Since 1980, the symphony has regularly performed on the stage of the Tennessee Performing Arts Center (TPAC), the first state-funded facility of its kind in the nation, which also is home to the Nashville Ballet, the Nashville Opera, and the Tennessee Repertory Theatre. Built in a cantilevered style that allows large auditoriums to be column-free, TPAC houses state offices, the State Museum, and three acoustically advanced theaters with expansion capabilities for nearly any kind or size of production imaginable. One of the oldest companies in town is the Nashville Children's Theater, a group that has been entertaining the area's children and young adults for six decades. Started by the Junior League as a strictly volunteer organization, the Children's Theater is now partially funded by the metropolitan government and stages its shows in facilities especially built for the group by the city of Nashville. Nashville is also home to the American Negro Playwright Theatre, Darkhorse Theatre, and Tennessee Dance Theatre, which presents dance with a Southern theme.
In the area of visual arts, Nashville is a city-wide gallery of creativity. Cheekwood is the area's foremost cultural arts center and its most physically impressive gallery as well. Part of a 55-acre complex that once formed the estate of prominent Nashville businessman Leslie Cheek, the fine arts center is housed in a magnificent 60-room Georgian mansion that sits high atop a hill overlooking most of West Nashville. The Van Vechten Gallery at Fisk University houses more than 100 pieces from the collection of Alfred Stieglitz. Donated to Fisk in 1949 by Stieglitz's widow, noted artist Georgia O'Keeffe, the collection includes works by Cezanne, Picasso, Renoir, Toulouse-Lautrec, and O'Keeffe. The seat of Tennessee's government overlooks a plaza of government office buildings that house parts of the State Museum, a collection of more than 2,000 historical objects from the city's past. The museum includes 15,000 square feet of artifacts from the period in Tennessee history between 1840 and 1865. As it did in mid-nineteenth-century life, the Civil War dominates the collection: battle flags, pistols, and portraits of the war's most colorful personalities are displayed alongside period silver, sewing handiwork, furniture, and photographs. A vast collection of permanent and traveling exhibits is on display at the Frist Center for the Visual Arts downtown, which opened in 2000 with an exhibit on loan from Ontario, featuring works by Rubens, Renoir, Monet, Van Gogh, Picasso, Sargent, and others.
In downtown Nashville, the heart of the country music business beats on a single square mile of city streets known to the world as Music Row. A hodgepodge of contemporary office buildings and renovated houses, Music Row houses complexes belonging to all the major record labels and many individual recording artists. The top attraction on Music Row is the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum, a quaint building resembling a chapel, which anchors the neighborhood to the surrounding business community. This is the most visited museum in the South, and it houses one of the country's finest collections of country music artifacts and memorabilia. The Hall of Fame moved from its home on Music Row to a new state-of-the-art downtown facility in 2001. Admission includes a visit to RCA Studio B, the oldest surviving recording studio in Nashville, where Elvis Presley, Dollie Parton, Charlie Pride and other music greats recorded their hits.
Visitor Information: Nashville Convention and Visitors Bureau, 211 Commerce Street, Nashville, TN 37201; telephone (615)259-4700
Festivals and Holidays
Nashville's musical heritage is the focus of many of the city's festivals, including Tin Pan South and Gospel Week, both in April; Nashville River Stages in May; and Fan Fair, held in June. Dancing is added to the mix during Dancin' in the District, a huge street party held on Thursdays throughout the summer. The three-day Fest de Ville Nashville premiered in September 2000; this three-day outdoor festival on the streets of downtown Nashville features 60 hours of the best of the commercial and non-commercial music and entertainment made and performed in Nashville.
The winter holidays are celebrated in a series of events taking place throughout November and December. Highlights are A Country Christmas at the Opryland Hotel, and Victorian Celebrations at Belle Meade Plantation. Other events include decorated antebellum homes and the Christmas Sampler Craft, Folk Art and Antique Fair, which features 200 craftspersons and artisans from 28 states.
Sports for the Spectator
The Tennessee Titans play football at The Coliseum, a 67,000-seat, open-air, natural-grass venue. The Gaylord Entertainment Center is home to the National Hockey League Predators, the Nashville Kats arena football team, and the new Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame.
Each spring and summer, crowds turn out in record numbers at Herschel Greer Stadium to cheer on the Nashville Sounds, the local Triple A minor league baseball club that is the farm team for the Pittsburgh Pirates. In college action, fall brings Southeastern Conference football with the Commodores of Vanderbilt University. The university also boasts outstanding basketball and tennis teams. Across town, Tennessee State University's Tigers have consistently been a power-house in football. The school is also famous for its internationally recognized track team, the Tiger Belles, which has produced Olympic runners like Wilma Rudolph.
On weekends, NASCAR stock-car racing takes off at the Nashville Speedway, where top drivers compete in the weekly Winston Racing series. Special events are also held throughout the year at the speedway. Each May, Percy Warner Park is the site for what Nashville sports writers call the city's "Rite of Spring," the Iroquois Memorial Steeple-chase, 2- to 3-mile amateur races that pit the area's top riders and ponies in a benefit run for Vanderbilt Children's Hospital. And the Electrolux Ladies Professional Golfer's Association Golf Tournament in May at Hermitage Golf Course is just one of the special events that bring top U.S. golfers to Nashville.
Sports for the Participant
Two major lakes flank the city of Nashville, Old Hickory to the north and Percy Priest to the east. They offer miles of peaceful, accessible shoreline to the entire Middle Tennessee region. Just a short drive from downtown, these man-made wonders are favorite weekend spots for local outdoor enthusiasts. A series of public docks houses nearly every kind of freshwater craft and campgrounds are plentiful. The 385-acre Nashville Shores, with more than 2,500 feet of white sandy beach and three miles of lakefront, is Nash-ville's largest water playground. Here families can enjoy waterslides, a waterfall, pools, a pond, a young children's play area, parasailing, jet skiing, and banana boat rides.
Nashville is an angler's dream and fishing enthusiasts seek out the crystal-clear reservoirs that lie beneath Nashville area dams. Although most popular in the spring and summer, fishing is excellent year-round. The Harpeth River, which meanders through the western part of Davidson County, provides a peaceful look at the quiet countryside for canoers, while a little further west the Buffalo River, one of the few designated "wild" rivers in the nation, provides the challenge of white water.
Nashville has more than 10,000 acres of city, state, and federal parks in or near its borders, providing a full range of activities for people of all ages. The Metro Board of Parks and Recreation operates 99 parks and greenways that include 85 ball fields, 16 indoor and outdoor swimming pools, 7 golf courses, and 26 community centers. Percy and Edwin Warner Parks provide 2,665 acres of woods and meadows that dominate the southwestern side of Nashville.
Shopping and Dining
Shopping opportunities in Nashville include unique choices that reflect the local attractions. For instance, shoppers seeking musical recordings might visit the Ernest Tubb Record Shop, where radio's "Midnight Jamboree" is broadcast live on Saturday nights. Cowboy boots and western clothing are featured in several Nashville-area establishments, such as Robert's Western World, by day a shop and by night a musical free-for-all. On the banks of the Cumberland River, The District is a trendy shopping scene housed in Victorian-era buildings. Shoppers interested in collectibles frequent the city's many antiques malls, or attend the Tennessee State Fairgrounds Flea Market, a monthly gathering of hundreds of traders considered among the top 10 flea markets in the country. CoolSprings Galleria, one of the city's largest shopping centers, also houses a variety of eating establishments; other area malls include Hickory Hollow, Rivergate, and Bellevue Center, home to the Tennessee Museum Store. Exclusive shops are found at the Mall of Green Hills. More than 28 stores can be found at Factory Stores of America, across from the Opryland Hotel. Alongside the Opry House is the 1.2-million-square-foot Opry Mills. This shopping/dining/entertainment complex features top designers and manufacturers, theme restaurants such as Rainforest Café and Jillian's, and entertainment venues including an IMAX theater and the Gibson Bluegrass Showcase.
Nashville restaurants offer diners a wide range of cuisines, including continental, oriental, Mexican, French, Italian, and German menus, as well as traditional choices of steaks and seafood. Regional specialties (and often music) are showcased at several Nashville-area establishments that feature entrees such as fried chicken, catfish, barbecue, and country ham; side dishes such as okra, turnip greens, black-eyed peas, yams, cornbread, beans and rice, and biscuits; and desserts such as chess pie, fudge pie, and fruit cobblers.
Visitor Information: Nashville Convention and Visitors Bureau, 211 Commerce Street, Nashville, TN 37201; telephone (615)259-4700. The Visitor's Center, main entrance of the Gaylord Entertainment Center, corner of Fifth and Broadway; telephone (615)259-4747.
Director: Robert Altman
Production: Paramount Pictures; Metrocolor, 35mm, Panavision; running time: 159 minutes. Released 1975. Filmed on location in Nashville.
Producer: Robert Altman; screenplay: Joan Tewkesbury; title design: Dan Perri; photography: Paul Lohmann; editors: Sidney Levin and Dennis Hill; sound: Jim Webb and Chris McLaughlin; music director: Richard Baskin.
Cast: David Arkin (Norman); Barbara Baxley (Lady Pearl); Ned Beatty (Delbert Reese); Karen Black (Connie White); Ronee Blakley (Barbara Jean); Timothy Brown (Tommy Brown); Keith Carradine (Tom Frank); Geraldine Chaplin (Opal); Robert Doqui (Wade); Shelley Duvall (L. A. Joan); Allen Garfield (Barnett); Henry Gibson (Haven Hamilton); Scott Glenn (Pfc. Glen Kelly); Jeff Goldblum (Tricycle man); Barbara Harris (Albuquerque); David Hayward (Kenny Fraiser); Michael Murphy (John Triplette); Allan Nichols (Bill); Dave Peel (Bud Hamilton); Christina Raines (Mary); Bert Remsen (Star); Lily Tomlin (Linnea Reese); Gwen Welles (Sueleen); Keenan Wynn (Mr. Green).
Awards: Oscar for Best Song ("I'm Easy" by Keith Carradine), 1975; New York Film Critics' Awards for Best Motion Picture, Best Direction, and Best Supporting Actress (Tomlin), 1975.
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* * *
Robert Altman's Bicentennial epic about one weekend in the lives of people in Nashville, Tennessee, conveys his personal reflection on the state of the nation and his political call to fellow Americans on the nature of the state. Altman's artistic success results from the way he shapes uniquely American materials and sensibilities into a complex ideological network.
After three prologue scenes, Altman introduces a staggering total of 24 characters in one long location sequence at the Nashville airport (only Connie White—Karen Black—is not there, but her poster image represents her). The interweaving of characters, music, sights, and sounds in the airport and freeway sequences establishes them and their lives within a modernist context, a barrage of sensory impressions which Altman choreographs into a bombardment of movement and timing. The continuously moving camera, rhythmic cuts between characters, background band music, TV announcer both on screen and as off-screen voice-over commentator, airport noises, characters talking and overlapping each other, continue to build in momentum until all characters are on the freeway on the way to town. The freeway sequence incorporates wider perspectives in aerial and high angle shots, highway noises, conversations and arguments until, as screenwriter Joan Tewkesbury said, "Everything has whirled and spun and played through your senses."
Following this barrage-like exposition, Altman departs from stylistic sensational overload and moves to a "floating narrative," much like the style of TV soap operas in which the lives and events of many characters are presented by cutting back and forth between them. Altman periodically brings together and connects his 24 characters through devices of communication: telephones and telephone conversations, radio programs, tape recorded songs, the p.a. announcements of a presidential campaign van. He presents events happening simultaneously while slowly allowing for the evolution of time. Altman then cuts between four simultaneous church scenes, offering perspectives on as many characters as possible, then moves forward by cutting events into a progressive 24-hour period. Fewer things occur simultaneously as the camera begins more and more to catch each character impressionistically rather than following them all at the same time.
Cutting back and forth between gestures, reactions, and responses, their dynamic personalities of the characters emerge. But nothing is hinted at of their internal workings. They remain the sum of their exposed surfaces as no psychological or narrative meaning is assigned to their existences. Country singing star Barbara Jean (Ronee Blakley) comes the closest to exposing an internal emotional depth, but that is because her emotions have become her raw surface, both as a star and as a person, turning her into a fragile human being. Because she is the key narrative character, her fate and its meaning is more unresolved than anyone else's at the film's end.
In the last sequence of the film, the rally at the Nashville Parthenon, Altman reunites and refocuses on all his characters in one place. Unlike the airport scene, here the characters are united by a single event on which their reactions and responses depend. The Parthenon rally and the subsequent assassination act as the narrative's culminating hub, while all the characters move like spokes of a wheel in relation to it. Altman moves from the barrage of simultaneous moments in many characters' lives to a progressively more linear pattern until he is once again able to present many perspectives simultaneously responding to one single unifying element.
By creating a mosaic of contemporary American life, Nashville suggests a cultural view of reality that is made up of fragmented images and their incomprehensibility. But Altman overturns a bleak finale with the optimism that learning to live with uncertainty yields an affirmation and assignment of meaning to life in and of itself.
When influential New Yorker critic Pauline Kael first saw the film, she applauded Altman's vision, "I've never before seen a movie I loved in quite this way." Her laudatory review, based on a screening of a pre-release version of the film, caused a minor flurry of controversy about critical responsibility and was not able to help the film out of its box-office doldrums. But despite its lack of popular success, Nashville has since been heralded as one of director Altman's finest films and one of the quintessential American movies of the 1970s.
First Settlers Face Perils
The first settlers in the area that now forms Nashville were attracted by the fertile soil, huge trees, plentiful water, and an abundance of animal life. Native Americans such as the Cherokee, Chickasaw, and Shawnee hunted throughout Middle Tennessee in the 1700s, but ongoing fighting over hunting rights kept them from establishing any permanent settlements. The first Europeans to reach the area were French fur traders, who built trading posts in the dense woods. As more and more hunters brought glowing reports back to settlements in the East of the abundant, unoccupied land in the "west," 400 people in North Carolina eventually decided to band together and move to the area.
On Christmas Eve 1779, they reached the future site of Nashville. The men, women, and children of the James Robertson party (named for the man who would eventually become an early community leader) first survived in primitive camps at the base of what is now the state Capitol Hill. As spring arrived, they spread out to build cabins, the largest group settling on the banks of the Cumberland River in a "fort" of log blockhouses. They christened the community "Nashborough" for North Carolina's General Francis Nash, a hero of the American Revolution. Months later the pioneers found themselves swept up in war as the settlement became a western front for the American Revolution. Incited by the British, the Native Americans in the area turned on the white settlers, which caused most of them to move to safer ground in nearby Kentucky. The 70 people who remained gathered in the fort and managed to hold off their attackers until frontier conditions became less hostile.
In 1784 the community incorporated and changed its name to Nashville, dropping the English "borough" as a result of anti-British sentiment. The years following the war were a time of growth and prosperity. James Robertson helped to establish Davidson Academy, which would later become the University of Nashville. Churches were erected, public buildings developed, doctors' offices opened, and stores began doing business. In 1796, Tennessee became the sixteenth state of the Union.
"The Age of Jackson"
The period in Nashville history between 1820 to 1845 is quite simply known as "The Age of Jackson." Andrew Jackson, a brash, young local lawyer and public prosecutor, was a formidable figure in the new frontier. He first came to national attention as a hero of the Creek (Native American) War. When he trounced the British army in New Orleans at the end of the War of 1812, he was wildly embraced as a national hero. Jackson served in the U.S. House of Representatives and the Senate, and he was eventually elected the seventh president of the United States in 1829. Jackson's popularity gave Nashville considerable prestige, power, and clout in the nation's eye, and the city was made the permanent capital of Tennessee in 1843. State leaders soon commissioned construction of a new state capitol building, an impressive neo-classic structure erected over the next 14 years on the summit of the city's highest hill. Designed by noted nineteenth-century architect William Strickland, the Capitol ushered in an era of unprecedented building and design in Nashville of which Strickland was the uncontested leader. His distinct, clean, classic structures shaped the frontier town into a city, and left a lasting imprint on the community. Many buildings, such as the Capitol and St. Mary's Roman Catholic Church, are still in use today.
The mid-1800s was also an era of unprecedented development for the city. Traffic on the Cumberland River made Nashville a shipping and distribution center. Wealthy businessmen built lavish estates. A medical school was founded. The Adelphi Theater opened with a series of plays by Shakespeare. The first passenger train pulled into the depot. A board of education was established. P. T. Barnum even brought Jenny Lind, the world-renowned singer, to town. By 1860, all the qualities that had made Nashville such a boom town in times of peace also made it a city of strategic importance in times of war. At first a giant supply arsenal for the Confederates, Nashville was soon taken during the Civil War by Union troops who seized control of the railroad and river. They occupied the city for three years. In a last attempt to turn the war around, Southern troops tried to retake the town in December of 1864. The Battle of Nashville was one of the bloodiest confrontations between the North and South, and the last major conflict of the Civil War.
It took nearly ten years to pick up the pieces, but Nashville recovered to experience new growth in business and industry. The city became a printing center, an educational center (both Vanderbilt University and Fisk University were established in 1873), and an important distributing and wholesale center. An elegant new hotel, the Maxwell House, opened its doors and began serving a special blend of coffee that President Teddy Roosevelt said was "good to the last drop." One hundred years after Tennessee was admitted to the Union, the city celebrated with a giant Centennial Exposition that attracted visitors from throughout the United States. A wood and stucco replica of the Parthenon built for the fair was such a popular attraction that the city constructed a permanent version that now stands in Centennial Park. The railroad built a magnificent terminal building, Union Station, making Nashville a major railway center and greatly spurring population growth.
Development During Twentieth Century and into Twenty-First Century
The twentieth century brought business and skyscrapers. The National Life and Accident Company was formed along with Life & Casualty Insurance Company. In the area, local financial institutions blossomed, manufacturing reached all-time highs, and the city's neighborhoods swelled with workers as a result of World War I and World War II. After the wars, Nashville was part of the country's new wave of technology with a new airport, factory automation, and even a local television station. In time, the recording industry became a mainstay of the local economy, and tourism and convention business became big business. By the 1960s, Nashville was infused with a spirit of urban renewal. Surrounding Davidson County had become a fragmented collection of local governments that lacked unified direction. On April 1, 1963, the city voted to consolidate the city and the county to form the first metropolitan form of government in the United States.
The system of metropolitan government has streamlined the city's organization and become an effective agent of progress. The city has undergone major municipal rehabilitation projects, and has renovated the historical district near the old Ft. Nashborough site. Second Avenue, once a row of dilapidated turn-of-the-century warehouses, has become a bustling center of shopping, offices, restaurants, clubs, and apartments. In recent years, many historic buildings have been saved from the wrecking ball. The Hermitage Hotel, built in 1910 as a showplace of Tennessee marble floors and staircases, was totally renovated in the 1990s and is once again packed with guests. Renovation has also come to Union Station, the massive railroad house that now towers over Broadway as one of Nashville's premiere hotels. Unprecedented investment in Nashville in the mid-1990s placed the city on the verge of explosive growth as a sports and entertainment venue. Its Gaylord Entertainment Center, home of the National Hockey League team the Nashville Predators, has become a major catalyst for urban development, which continues into the twenty-first century. In addition to Nashville's mainstay industries of banking, insurance, printing, education, health, and medicine, the city is becoming recognized for its growth as a hotspot for biotechnology and plastics companies, and growing real estate market. Nashville enters the twenty-first century as a thriving metropolis with extensive kudos for its quality of life, business climate, diversified economy, and top tourist destinations.
Historical Information: Nashville Public Library, The Nashville Room, 615 Church Street, Nashville, TN 37219; telephone (615)862-5782. Tennessee State Museum Library, Fifth and Deaderick Streets, Nashville, TN 37243; telephone (615)741-2692. Tennessee Western History Association Library, PO Box 111864, Nashville, TN 37222; telephone (615)834-5069
Nashville: Education and Research
Nashville: Education and Research
Elementary and Secondary Schools
In 1855 Nashville became the first southern city to establish a public school system. A program started in Nashville in 1963 became the prototype for Head Start. That same year the Metropolitan Nashville Public Schools, the 42nd largest urban school district in the country as of fall 2004, was formed when the city and Davidson County governments were consolidated. The schools offer diverse educational opportunities recognized statewide for their innovation. There are programs in Nashville for the gifted, the handicapped, and the foreign student who wants to catch up. Sixty-four percent of the city's high-school students continue their education after graduation. A nine-member elected board and its appointed director of schools are responsible for the running of the public schools.
The following is a summary of data regarding the Metro Nashville-Davidson County public schools as of the 2002-2003 school year.
Total enrollment: 67,954
Number of facilities elementary schools: 72
junior high/middle schools: 38
senior high schools: 23
Student/teacher ratio: 14.7:1
Teacher salaries average: $40,440
Funding per pupil: $6,648 (2001)
Numerous school-age children in Davidson County attend private schools. There are 66 preparatory academies, church-affiliated, and alternative schools operating in the area, focusing on specific academic and religious needs. A number of widely renowned preparatory schools are found on this list.
Public Schools Information: Nashville Metropolitan Schools, 2601 Bransford Avenue, Nashville, TN 37204; telephone (615)259-8400
Colleges and Universities
Perhaps the most famous school in Nashville is Vanderbilt University, alma mater of Vice President Al Gore and recording artist Amy Grant. The private, independent institution is highly competitive, maintains impeccable standards, and prides itself on what it calls a "quality liberal arts" undergraduate program. In addition, the school is widely known for its advanced academic offerings in medicine, law, business, nursing, divinity, and education. U.S. News and World Report, in a recent study of U.S. universities, named Vanderbilt's Peabody College 4th (among graduate schools of education); ranked Vanderbilt's law school 17th; and ranked Vanderbilt 18th overall.
The first predominantly African American institution in the country to be awarded university status—Fisk University—is also located in Nashville. Fisk, alma mater of social critic and NAACP co-founder W. E. B. DuBois, is a four-year, private school designed to meet the special needs of minority students. Fisk offers three bachelors degrees along with a master of arts. Nashville's Meharry Medical College, established to train African American physicians, provides specialized instruction in medical science, public health, and dental surgery.
Nashville's largest state-operated university, Tennessee State University (TSU), maintains two campuses in the city. TSU offers undergraduate and graduate programs in arts and sciences, agriculture, health professions, business, education, engineering and technology, nursing, and public administration.
Belmont University, a private, four-year Baptist school located near downtown's Music Row, offers 50 undergraduate degree programs as well as graduate programs in accountancy, business administration, education, English, music, nursing, occupational therapy, physical therapy, and sport administration. Belmont's notable Mike Curb College offers majors in Audio Engineering Technology and Music Business, and a specialization in Entertainment and Music Business is offered within the University's M.B.A. program. Students from all over the country who want a career in the record industry have enrolled in specialized courses ranging from record promotion to studio engineering.
Libraries and Research Centers
The Public Library of Nashville and Davidson County boasts more than 1.4 million volumes and more than 3,100 periodical subscriptions in a system that includes 20 branches and a bookmobile. Annual circulation is approximately four million. The main library also holds recordings, audio- and videotapes, compact discs, and maps. Its special collections include government documents, business, ornithology, genealogy, and oral and regional history. A new Main Library of approximately 300,000 square feet, quadruple the size of the library it replaced, was completed in 2001; it faces the Tennessee State Capitol building.
Special libraries in the Nashville area include two at Cheek-wood Botanical Garden and Museum of Art. The Botanical Gardens Library specializes in works on environmental studies, garden design, horticulture, landscape architecture, plant science, wildflowers, arranging, and botanical illustration. The art museum library collects works on art, art history, decorative arts, contemporary U.S. artists, and photography.
Many research facilities in the city are linked to the academic community. Fisk University supports research on computing and molecular spectroscopy. Meharry Medical College's research activities focus on health sciences and the college has a research center devoted to the study and treatment of sickle cell disease. Research centers affiliated with Tennessee State University conduct studies in such areas as agriculture and the environment, information systems, business and economics, health, and education. Vanderbilt University is quite active in the research sector, promoting research through more than 120 centers and institutes devoted to a wide variety of subjects in such fields as sociology and culture, medicine, and science.
Public Library Information: Nashville Public Library, 615 Church Street, Nashville, TN 37219; telephone (615)862-5800
NASHVILLE, the capital of Tennessee, is in the north-central region of the state. In many ways a typically "New South" metropolis, the city has always exercised disproportionately large political and cultural influence over the mid-South. Nineteenth-century American presidents Andrew Jackson, James Polk, and Andrew Johnson all adopted Nashville as their hometowns, as did Vanderbilt University's "Fugitives," a southern literary movement led by Robert Penn Warren and John Crowe Ransom.
Nashville was founded by a group of settlers led by James Robertson in the winter of 1779/80. Investors and speculators from North Carolina and Virginia were soon attracted to Nashville's prime location in the fertile Cumberland River Valley, and by 1806, the fledging town was officially incorporated. The city grew steadily throughout the nineteenth century, never booming like neighboring Memphis and Atlanta, but growing in population from 17,000 in 1860 to 80,000 by 1900. During this time, Nashville became known as the "Athens of the South" for its cultural institutions and highly regarded universities such as Fisk and Vanderbilt, and the city gained somewhat of a genteel reputation.
Nashville began to grow into a major metropolis with the onset of the Great Depression and the subsequent New Deal programs like the Tennessee Valley Authority, which provided cheap and plentiful power. The city's economy boomed throughout the remainder of the twentieth century. Never a major industrial center, Nashville's banking, insurance, and entertainment industries allowed it to take advantage of the national shift to a more service-centered economy. The entertainment industry provided Nashville with a new image, as the Grand Ole Opry helped make Nashville into "Music City," the center of the country music recording industry.
After World War II, the civil rights movement forced the South to end segregation de jure, and Nashville followed suit somewhat more peacefully than other Southern cities. In contrast to many American cities in the postwar era, Nashville's population rose the fastest during the 1960s, from 170,000 to 426,000, largely because of the city's governmental functions merged with Davidson County.
As of 2000, the Nashville-Davidson population had risen to 569,891, an eleven percent increase from 1990. The metropolitan area reached 1,231,311, a twenty-five percent increase, making Nashville the fastest-growing metropolitan area between Atlanta and Dallas. The city's economy remains diverse, with religious publishing joining tourism, banking, auto manufacturing, and health care as major growth sectors.
Doyle, Don Harrison. Nashville in the New South: 1880–1930. Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press, 1985.
———. Nashville since the 1920s. Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press, 1985.
See alsoMusic: Country and Western ; Tennessee .
Nashville: Health Care
Nashville: Health Care
Nashville boasts more than 350 health care companies operating in the city, 21 of which are headquartered in the city. More than 2,700 doctors work in Nashville's 30 hospitals, medical centers, and specialty centers. Nashville is home to HCA Inc., which manages 191 hospitals and 82 outpatient surgery centers throughout the U.S.—including Nashville's Centennial, Skyline, and Southern Hills medical centers—as well as in England and Switzerland. Centennial Medical Center is recognized for its work in cardiology, stroke, orthopaedics, and breast cancer management. Its campus includes The Women's Hospital at Centennial, and the Parthenon Pavilion, a full-service mental health center. Skyline Medical Center, a 59-acre campus overlooking downtown Nashville, opened in September 2000. It is notable for its treatment of stroke, back and neck surgery, and spinal fusion. Southern Hills Medical Center is a smaller, community hospital with a full range of heart, oncology, orthopaedic, and neurology services. Baptist Hospital is the Nashville region's largest not-for-profit medical center, with 685 beds. It offers a number of specialty units, including the Mandrell Heart Center, Institute for Aesthetic and Reconstructive Surgery, and Sports Medicine Center. St. Thomas Hospital, with 515 staffed beds, was founded by the Daughters of Charity and is nationally recognized for its heart and cancer units, while Meharry Medical College, one of the country's most prestigious predominantly African American colleges, has been a leading producer of African American physicians and dentists since its founding in 1876. Two Veterans Administration medical centers exist within the city.
The Vanderbilt University Medical Center, which adjoins the university's campus near downtown Nashville, is one of the most noted research, training, and health care facilities in the country. The main hospital boasts 658 beds, ultra-modern surgical units, a labor and delivery area designed around the birthing room concept, a comprehensive burn center, and a coronary care wing. Vanderbilt Children's Hospital, formerly housed within the University Medical Center, moved to a new eight-floor facility in 2004. Patients and their families were involved in planning the new hospital, which took five years to build at a cost of $172 million. The hospital offers comprehensive pediatric care, boasting 19 specialty services. For adults and children who need immediate medical attention because of accident or sudden illness, Vanderbilt University also operates a helicopter ambulance service called "Life Flight," which quickly moves patients within a 130-mile radius of the city to the hospital.
Nashville, city (1990 pop. 487,969), state capital, coextensive with Davidson co., central Tenn., on the Cumberland River, in a fertile farm area; inc. as a city 1806, merged with Davidson co. 1963. It is a port of entry and an important commercial and industrial center. The city has railroad shops and diverse manufacturing, including wood, glass, and rubber products; shoes; aircraft parts; and steel. Nashville is noted for its music industry; it is a major recording center, especially for country music. It also has many publishing houses producing religious materials, school annuals, magazines, and telephone directories. Large health-care, insurance, and finance companies have their headquarters in Nashville.
The city was founded (1779) by a group of pioneers under James Robertson (who is buried there). Fort Nashborough was built on the banks of the river, and the next year 60 families arrived to settle the area. As the northern terminus of the Natchez Trace, the settlement developed early as a cotton center and river port and later as a railroad hub. It became the permanent capital of the state in 1843. After the fall of Fort Donelson in Feb., 1862, Nashville was abandoned to Union troops under D. C. Buell and became an important Union base for the remainder of the Civil War. Union Gen. G. H. Thomas won a decisive victory (Dec. 15–16, 1864) over J. B. Hood there.
Sometimes called the "Athens of the South," Nashville has many buildings of classical design, including a replica of the Parthenon, built in 1897. Among its many institutions of higher education are Vanderbilt Univ., Fisk Univ., Tennessee State Univ., Meharry Medical College, American Baptist College, Lipscomb Univ., and Belmont Univ. Points of interest include the capitol (completed 1855), with the tomb of James K. Polk; the War Memorial Building; Ryman Auditorium, the home of country music's Grand Ole Opry from 1943 to 1974; the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum; the Bluebird Cafe, drawing songwriters and new and established performers; the Schermerhorm Symphony Center; a replica of Fort Nashborough; and several old churches and antebellum homes. The Predators (hockey) and Tennessee Titans (football) are the city's professional sports teams. Nearby is the Hermitage, home of Andrew Jackson.
Newspapers and Magazines
The Tennessean, the daily paper, is published every morning and prints the Opry lineup in its Friday edition. Nashville Scene, a weekly alternative newspaper, offers the most in-depth coverage of local events. Urban Journal is a weekly alternative newspaper representing Nashville's African American community; Nashville Pride, a weekly, is read by a large portion of the African American community. Professional periodicals published in Nashville serve the furniture, insurance, banking, logging, agriculture, and paper industries, and the music and education fields. Numerous directories and newsletters are published in Nashville.
Television and Radio
Nashville-area television viewers are served by seven stations affiliated with PBS, ABC, NBC, CBS, UPN, and Fox plus two independents. 30 AM and FM radio stations in Nashville offer educational, cultural, religious, and foreign language programming as well as rock and roll, gospel, blues, jazz, and country music.
Media Information: The Tennessean, 1100 Broadway St., Nashville, TN 37203; telephone (615)259-8000
Metropolitan Government of Nashville and Davidson County. Available www.nashville.gov
Metropolitan Nashville-Davidson County Schools. Available www.nashville-schools.davidson.k12.tn.us
Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce (including JobsLink). Available www.nashvillechamber.com
Nashville Convention and Visitors Bureau. Available www.nashvillecvb.com
Nashville/Davidson County Public Library. Available www.nashv.lib.tn.us
The Nashville Digest. Available www.nashvilledigest.com
Tennessean. Available www.tennessean.com
Goodstein, Anita S., Nashville, 1789–1860: From Frontier to City. (Gainesville, FL: University Press of Florida, 1989)
Squire, James D. The Secrets of the Hopewell Box: Stolen Elections, Southern Politics, and a City's Coming of Age. (New York: Times Books/Random House, 1996)