History of Nashville
The first settlers in what is now known as Nashville were Indians of the Mississippian culture, who lived in the area about 1000 to 1400 A.D. They raised corn, made great earthen mounds, painted beautiful pottery and then mysteriously disappeared. Other Indians, the Cherokee, Chickasaw and Shawnee, followed and used the area as a hunting ground.
The first white men to come to the area were French fur traders, who established a trading post around 1717. The first settlement, however, was not established until 1779. It was then on the banks of the Cumberland River near the center of present downtown Nashville, then a band of pioneers led by Englishman James Robertson cleared the land and built a log stockade. This was Fort Nashborough, named in honor of General Francis Nash who won acclaim in the new community that was then a part of North Carolina. In 1784 the community’s name was changed from Nashborough to Nashville.
Tennessee became the sixteenth state in 1796 and Nashville was made its permanent capital in 1843.
By 1800, Nashville had grown from a string of forts located along various waterways to a thriving little town. It boasted a post office, newspaper, several stores and taverns, and Davidson Academy. In 1806, Davidson Academy was named Davidson College and had moved across the river to College Hill. Several years later when Thomas B. Craighead was replaced by James Preistly , the name was changed again to Cumberland College. The church yard was used as a community burying ground. In 1813, it was designated Craighead Spring Hill Cemetery.
Tennessee was divided during the Civil War: 167,000 men served in Confederate Gray while 31,000 in Union Blue. Nashville felt the effects of the war but fortunately was spared the devastation other southern cities faced. Trees were gone, and the land scarred by Union occupation. Because of its strategic location on the river and the railroad, the city was occupied by Federal troops for three years. The Battle of Nashville, fought in 1864, was the last aggressive action of the Confederate Army.
Recovery from the war took many years. New people arrived, transportation and trade revived, especially with the westward expansion of the railroads. The population increased three times from the pre-war era. Life was full of optimism and Nashville became the 4th largest city in the South.
As the city grew, the population spread outward encompassing the surrounding counties. A modern downtown area with skyscrapers, city park systems, electric street cars, automobiles and entertainment centers made Nashville a thriving city in the early 1900s. In 1925, the Grand Ole Opry was born and Nashville would soon become known as Music City.
Change accelerated with WWII. The war strengthened and rejuvenated the economy stimulating social change. Civil rights and the advent of radio and country music contributed to the freedom of expression. More industry arrived and contributed to the booming economy – banking, automobile manufacturing, printing and publishing, and government. Nashville emerged as the Athens of the South.
Under its present Metropolitan Charter, which became effective April 1, 1963, Nashville and Davidson County have a single government with its authority encompassing more than a half-million people and 533 square miles, a vice-mayor and a legislative council of 40 members.
Nashville is much more than country music and honky tonks. Nashville is a colorful, well-known capital city in several different areas. As such, it has earned various nicknames including:
- Music City, USA: WSM-AM announcer David Cobb first used this name during a 1950 broadcast and it stuck. It is now the official nickname used by the Nashville Convention and Visitors Bureau. Nashville is the home of the Grand Ole Opry, the Country Music Hall of Fame, and many major record labels. This name also dates back to 1874, where after receiving and hearing a performance by the Fisk Jubilee Singers, Queen Victoria of England is reported as saying that “These young people must surely come from a musical city.”
- Athens of the South: Home to 24 post-secondary educational institutions, Nashville has long been compared to Athens, the ancient city of learning and site of Plato’s Academy. Since 1897, a full-scale replica of the Athenian Parthenon has stood in Nashville, and many examples of classical and neoclassical architecture can be found in the city. The term was popularized by Philip Lindsley (1786–1855), President of the University of Nashville, though it is unclear whether he was the first person to use the phrase.
- The Protestant Vatican or The Buckle of the Bible Belt:Nashville has over 700 churches, several seminaries, a number of Christian music companies, and is the headquarters for the publishing arms of the Southern Baptist Convention (LifeWay Christian Resources), the United Methodist Church (United Methodist Publishing House) and the National Baptist Convention (Sunday School Publishing Board). It is also the seat of the National Baptist Convention, the National Association of Free Will Baptists, the Gideons International, the Gospel Music Association, and Thomas Nelson, the world’s largest producer of Bibles.
- Cashville: Nashville native Young Buck released a successful rap album called Straight Outta Cashville that has popularized the nickname among a new generation.
- Little Kurdistan: Nashville has the United States’ largest population of Kurdish people, estimated to be around 11,000.
- Nash Vegas or Nashvegas is a term given for a few possible reasons one is like Las Vegas many people go with dreams just to leave broke. Many people come to Nashville to make it big and very few people ever make it to the big leagues. Also like Las Vegas, Nashville was run down in many areas and especially downtown but thanks to being the “IT” city the last few years, Nashville is seeing an urban renewal on a scale never seen before.
Downtown Nashville Hotels: The most central lodging downtown is Hilton, Hyatt Place, Renaissance Hotel, Courtyard Nashville, Sheraton Nashville, Omni Hotel, Hampton Inn, Holiday Inn Express, The Capitol Hotel, Hilton Garden Inn
For those looking for a budget stay, check out Nashville Downtown Hostel. Hostels are small and less luxurious but I will stay at them for the money savings and location. FYI: I’ve stayed 3 nights at a hostel for the price of one hotel night.
Fun Entertainment Facts
The following famous movies were filmed in Nashville either in full or had parts.
- Robin Williams last movie ‘Boulevard’ was filmed in Nashville
- Ernest P. Worrell movies aka Jim Varney lived just north of Nashville in Whitehouse, TN and almost all his movies and ads were filmed in and around Nashville (Ernest Goes to Camp, Ernest Goes to Jail, Ernest Scared Stupid, etc)
- CMT is based here
- ‘Nashville’ the movie (Imagine that)
- Percy Jackson & The Lightning Thief (battle between a wizard and Hydra taking place inside the Parthenon in Nashville)
- The Matrix (The Nashville skyline is used as the darkened backdrop of the opening chase sequence.)
- The Green Mile with Tom Hanks
- Head of State with Chris Rock
- Walk The Line with Joaquin Phoenix and Reese Witherspoon
- Country Strong
- Hannah Montana because it is Miley Cyrus hometown (Franklin, TN)
Reality Shows Filmed in Nashville
- ‘Nashville’ the TV Show now on CMT (Filmed mostly at 444 Brick Church Park Dr)
- A&E Crazy Hearts: Nashville
- Thicker Than Water on Bravo
- Private Lives of Nashville Wives on TNT
- Chasing Nashville on Lifetime
- Junior Doctors a BBC documentary
Other interesting facts
- Oprah Winfrey’s pop culture began in Nashville TV when she turned into the primary female and African American news anchor while going to Tennessee State University.
- Within the Nashville Parthenon, there is a statue of Athena Parthenos standing at 42-feet-tall. She is the biggest indoor statue in the Western Hemisphere.
- Nashville local Bill Monroe is noted similar to the Father of Bluegrass.
- Nashville Zoo has two remarkable displays, Gibbon Island and Meerkat Habitats that the Animal Planet system perceived as the best in the nation.
- Segregation in the city was genuine, however when John Lewis proposed a sit-in development in February 1960 he effectively changed history. The dedicatory black and white stools in Bicentennial Mall serve as an indication of this courageous demonstration to shield human rights.
About Modern Nashville
Nashville has grown very rapidly over the last decade with 80-100 people moving here A DAY, Metro population with the surrounding small cities combined has a population of 1,830,345 with the city itself having 660,388 people in 2016. It is the largest city in Tennessee and in the top 25 in the country, about to over take Boston in population size. A lot of good information on Nashville can be found on the Nashville Wikipedia page.
If you are wearing a cowboy outfit or hat then you are probably a tourist. Although Nashville is renowned as a music recording center and tourist destination, its largest industry is health care. Nashville is home to more than 300 health care companies, including Hospital Corporation of America (HCA), the world’s largest private operator of hospitals. The automotive industry is large in the Middle Tennessee region. Nissan North America moved its corporate headquarters in 2006 from Gardena, California (Los Angeles County) to Franklin, southwest of Nashville. Nissan also has its largest North American manufacturing plant in Smyrna, Tennessee. GM has a plant in Spring Hill, TN as well.
Politically it always comes as a surprise to people that a Republican has not represented a significant portion of Nashville since 1874. Most country music fans identify as Republicans but Nashville is a Democrat stronghold in a very Red State. The following Country artist are considered Liberal / Democrat. Garth Brooks, Tim McGraw & Faith Hill, Willie Nelson, Toby Keith (Conservative Democrat to Independent), Dixie Chicks, Loretta Lynn, LeeAnn Rimes, Sheryl Crow, Brandy Clark, Kacey Musgrave and Reba McEntire. Dolly Parton supports gay and trans rights, along with Rascal Flatts.
The Top employers in Nashville are mostly Government and Education (Nashville area is home to 24 post-secondary educational institutions), the State of Tennessee has less than 40,000 full-time employees, Vanderbilt University is the largest private employer with about 25,000 full employees, the Federal Government with 12,000 full-time employees, Nissan with 10,000 full-time employees and then Metro Public Schools with about 10,000 full-time employees.
Bridgestone has their North American headquarters located in Nashville, with manufacturing plants and a distribution center in nearby counties. Amazon has two distribution centers nearby as well as one of the few cities in America to offer Amazon Prime Now where you get items within an hour.
Food Industry is popular as Cracker Barrel, O’Charley’s, Logan’s Roadhouse, J. Alexander’s, Captain D’s, Back Yard Burger’s, Shoney’s and CKE Restaurants Holdings, Inc the parent company of the Carl’s Jr., Hardee’s, Green Burrito, and Red Burrito quick-service restaurant are some of the chain restaurants headquartered in the Nashville region.
Other major industries in Nashville include insurance, finance, and publishing (especially religious publishing). The city hosts headquarters operations for several Protestant denominations, including the United Methodist Church, Southern Baptist Convention, National Baptist Convention USA, and the National Association of Free Will Baptists.
Fortune 500 companies with offices within Nashville include Dell, HCA, Bridgestone, Community Health Systems, Nissan North America, Tractor Supply Company, UBS and Dollar General.
In 2013, the city ranked No. 5 on Forbes‘ list of the Best Places for Business and Careers. In 2015, Forbes put Nashville as the 4th Best City for White Collar Jobs. In 2015, Business Facilities’ 11th Annual Rankings report named Nashville the number one city for Economic Growth Potential. Real estate is becoming a major driver for the city’s economy. Nashville ranked 7th nationally in terms of attractiveness to real estate investors for 2016.
Williamson County had the highest percentage of job growth compared to other large counties in the nation in 2015, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics and the U.S. Department of Labor.
For photos of Nashville, I’ve taken check out my photography website.