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.
Nashville has a consolidated city-county government which includes seven smaller municipalities in a two-tier system. The population of Nashville-Davidson County stood at 619,626 as of 2007, according to United States Census Bureau estimates. The 2007 population of the entire 13-county Nashville Metropolitan Statistical Area was 1,521,437, making it the largest metropolitan area in the state.
By 1860, when the first rumblings of secession began to be heard across the South, antebellum Nashville was a very prosperous city. The city's significance as a shipping port made it a desirable prize as a means of controlling important river and railroad transportation routes. In February 1862, Nashville became the first state capital to fall to Union troops.
Though the Civil War left Nashville in dire economic straits, the city quickly rebounded. Within a few years, the city had reclaimed its important shipping and trading position and also developed a solid manufacturing base. The post-Civil War years of the late 19th century brought a newfound prosperity to Nashville. These healthy economic times left the city with a legacy of grand classical-style buildings, which can still be seen around the downtown area.
It was the advent of the Grand Ole Opry in 1925, combined with an already thriving publishing industry, that positioned it to become "Music City USA". In 1963, Nashville consolidated its government with Davidson County and thus became the first major city in the United States to form a metropolitan government. Since the 1970s, the city has experienced tremendous growth, particularly during the economic boom of the 1990s under the leadership of Mayor (now-Tennessee Governor) Phil Bredesen, who made urban renewal a priority, and fostered the construction or renovation of several city landmarks, including the Country Music Hall of Fame, the Nashville Public Library downtown, the Sommet Center, and LP Field.
The Sommet Center (formerly Nashville Arena and Gaylord Entertainment Center) was built as both a large concert facility and as an enticement to lure either a National Basketball Association or National Hockey League (NHL) sports franchise. This was accomplished in 1997 when Nashville was awarded an NHL expansion team which was subsequently named the Nashville Predators. LP Field (formerly Adelphia Coliseum) was built after the National Football League's (NFL) Houston Oilers agreed to move to the city in 1995. The NFL debuted in Nashville in 1998 at Vanderbilt Stadium, and LP Field opened in the summer of 1999. The Oilers changed their name to the Tennessee Titans and saw a season culminate in the Music City Miracle and a close Super Bowl game.
Nashville lies on the Cumberland River in the northwestern portion of the Nashville Basin. Nashville's topography ranges from 385 ft (117 m) above sea level at the Cumberland River to 1,160 feet (354 m) above sea level at its highest point.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 526.1 square miles (1,362.6 km²), of which, 502.3 square miles (1,300.8 km²) of it is land and 23.9 square miles (61.8 km²) of it (4.53%) is water.
The coldest temperature ever recorded in Nashville was −17 °F (−27 °C), on January 21, 1985, and the highest was 107 °F (42 °C), on July 28, 1952. The largest one-day snow total was 17 inches (432 mm) on March 17, 1892. The largest snow event in the recent memory was the storm on January 16, 2003, on which date Nashville received 7 inches (178 mm).
Nashville's long springs and autumns combined with a diverse array of trees and grasses can often make it uncomfortable for allergy sufferers. In 2008, Nashville was ranked as the 18th-worst spring allergy city in the U.S. by the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America.
Nashville has the largest metropolitan area in the state of Tennessee, spanning several counties. The Nashville Metropolitan Statistical Area encompasses the Middle Tennessee counties of Cannon, Cheatham, Davidson, Dickson, Hickman, Macon, Robertson, Rutherford, Smith, Sumner, Trousdale, Williamson, and Wilson.
Nashville is governed by a mayor, vice-mayor, and 40-member Metropolitan Council. It uses the strong-mayor form of the mayor-council system. The current mayor of Nashville is Karl Dean. The Metropolitan Council is the legislative body of government for Nashville and Davidson County. There are 5 council members who are elected at large and 35 council members that represent individual districts. The Metro Council has regular meetings that are presided over by the vice-mayor, who is currently Diane Neighbors. The Metro Council meets on the first and third Tuesday of each month at 6:00 p.m., according to the Metropolitan Charter.
Despite its size, all of Nashville has been in one congressional district for most of the time since Reconstruction. For most of the time, it has been numbered as the 5th District, currently represented by Democrat Jim Cooper. A Republican has not represented a significant portion of Nashville since 1875. While Republicans made a few spirited challenges in the mid-1960s and early 1970s, they have not made a serious bid for the district since 1972, when the Republican candidate gained only 38% of the vote even as Nixon carried the district by a large margin. The district's best-known congressman was probably Jo Byrns, who represented the district from 1909 to 1936 and was Speaker of the House for much of Franklin Roosevelt's first term. Another nationally prominent congressman from Nashville was Percy Priest, who represented the district from 1941 to 1956 and was House Majority Whip from 1949 to 1953. Former mayors Richard Fulton and Bill Boner also sat in the U.S. House before assuming the Metro mayoral office.
As of the census of 2000, there were 569,891 people, 237,405 households, and 138,169 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,134.6 people per square mile (438.1/km²). There were 252,977 housing units at an average density of 503.7/sq mi (194.5/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 66.99% White, 25.92% African American, 0.29% Native American, 2.33% Asian, 0.07% Pacific Islander, 2.42% from other races and 1.97% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 4.58% of the population. Metropolitan Nashville-Davidson County's estimated population for 2007 is 619,626 people.
There were 237,405 households out of which 26.7% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 39.9% were married couples living together, 14.3% had a female householder with no husband present, and 41.8% were non-families. 33.4% of all households were made up of individuals and 8.2% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.30 and the average family size was 2.96.
In the city the population was spread out with 22.2% under the age of 18, 11.6% from 18 to 24, 34.0% from 25 to 44, 21.1% from 45 to 64, and 11.1% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 34 years. For every 100 females there were 93.8 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 90.8 males.
The median income for a household in the city was $39,797, and the median income for a family was $49,317. Males had a median income of $33,844 versus $27,770 for females. The per capita income for the city was $23,069. About 10.0% of families and 13.0% of the population were below the poverty line, including 19.1% of those under age 18 and 10.5% of those age 65 or over. 4.6% of the civilian labor force is unemployed.
Because of its relatively low cost of living and large job market, Nashville has become a popular city for immigrants. Nashville’s foreign-born population more than tripled in size between 1990 and 2000, increasing from 12,662 to 39,596. Large groups of Mexicans, Kurds, Vietnamese, Laotians, Arabs, and Somalis call Nashville home, among other groups. Nashville has the largest Kurdish community in the United States, numbering approximately 11,000. During the Iraqi election of 2005, Nashville was one of the few international locations where Iraqi expatriates could vote. The American Jewish community in Nashville dates back over 150 years ago, and numbers about 6,500 (2001).
In 2009, the Signature Tower will begin construction in Downtown Nashville. Standing at more than 1,000 feet above the ground, it will be the largest skyscraper outside of either Chicago or New York City and will be the seventh tallest building in the United States.
Although Nashville is renowned as a music recording center and tourist destination, its largest industry is actually health care. Nashville is home to more than 250 health care companies, including Hospital Corporation of America, the largest private operator of hospitals in the world. As of 2006, it is estimated that the health care industry contributes $18.3 billion per year and 94,000 jobs to the Nashville-area economy. The automotive industry is also becoming increasingly important for the entire Middle Tennessee region. Nissan North America moved its corporate headquarters in 2006 from Gardena, California (Los Angeles County) to Franklin. Nissan also has its largest North American manufacturing plant in Smyrna, Tennessee. Largely as a result of the increased development of Nissan and other Japanese economic interests in the region, Japan moved its New Orleans Consulate-general to Nashville's Palmer Plaza.
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, and National Baptist Convention, USA., and the National Association of Free Will Baptists.
Nashville is often labeled the "Athens of the South" due to the many colleges and universities in the city and metropolitan area. The colleges and universities in Nashville include American Baptist College, Aquinas College, The Art Institute of Tennessee — Nashville, Belmont University, Draughons Junior College, Fisk University, Free Will Baptist Bible College, Gupton College, Lipscomb University, Meharry Medical College, Nashville School of Law, Nashville Auto Diesel College (a NAFTC´s Training Center), Nashville State Community College, Strayer University, Tennessee State University, Trevecca Nazarene University, University of Phoenix, Vanderbilt University, and Watkins College of Art and Design.
Within 30 miles (50 km) of Nashville in Murfreesboro is Middle Tennessee State University (MTSU), a full-sized public university with Tennessee's largest undergraduate population. Enrollment in post-secondary education in the city is around 43,000. Within the Nashville Metropolitan Statistical Area—which includes MTSU, Cumberland University (Lebanon), Volunteer State Community College (Gallatin), and O'More College of Design (Franklin)—total enrollment exceeds 74,000. Within a 40 mile (65 km) radius are Austin Peay State University (Clarksville) and Columbia State Community College (Columbia), enrolling an additional 13,600.
Much of the city's cultural life has revolved around its large university community. Particularly significant in this respect were two groups of critics and writers who were associated with Vanderbilt University in the early twentieth century, the Fugitives and the Agrarians.
Popular destinations include Fort Nashborough, a reconstruction of the original settlement; the Tennessee State Museum; and The Parthenon, a full-scale replica of the original Parthenon in Athens, Greece. The State Capitol is one of the oldest working state capitol buildings in the nation, while The Hermitage is one of the older presidential homes open to the public. The Nashville Zoo is one of the city's newer attractions.
Nashville was once home to the Opryland USA theme park, which operated from 1972 to 1997 before being closed by its owners Gaylord Entertainment, and soon after demolished to make room for the Opry Mills mega-shopping mall.
Although Nashville was never known as a jazz town, it did have many great jazz bands including The Nashville Jazz Machine led by Dave Converse and its current version, the Nashville Jazz Orchestra led by Jim Williamson as well as The Establishment led by Billy Adair. The Francis Craig Orchestra entertained Nashvillians from 1929 to 1945 from the Oak Bar and Grille Room in the Hermitage Hotel. Craig's orchestra was also the first to broadcast over local radio station WSM and enjoyed phenomenal success with a 12-year show that was aired over the entire NBC network. In the late 1930s, he introduced a newcomer, Dinah Shore, a former cheerleader and local graduate of Hume Fogg High School and Vanderbilt University.
Radio station WMOT in nearby Murfreesboro has aided significantly in the recent revival of the city's jazz scene, as has the non-profit Nashville Jazz Workshop, which holds concerts in a renovated building in the north Nashville neighborhood of Germantown.
The primary daily newspaper in Nashville is The Tennessean, which, until 1998, competed fiercely with another daily, the Nashville Banner (although the two were housed in the same building under a joint-operating agreement). Although The Tennessean now enjoys a relative monopoly on the local newspaper market, a smaller free daily called The City Paper has cut into The Tennessean's market share somewhat. Online news service NashvillePost.com competes with the printed dailies to break news of business and local/state politics. Several weekly papers are also published in Nashville, including the Nashville Scene, Nashville Business Journal, and The Tennessee Tribune. Historically, The Tennessean was associated with a broadly liberal editorial policy, while The Banner carried staunchly conservative views in its editorial pages; The Banner's heritage is carried on these days by The City Paper. The Scene is the area's alternative weekly broadsheet, while The Tribune serves Nashville's African-American population.
Nashville is home to nearly a dozen broadcast television stations, although most households are served by direct cable network connections. Comcast Cable has a monopoly on terrestrial cable service in Davidson County (but not throughout the entire DMA). Nashville is ranked as the 30th largest television market in the United States.
Nashville is also home to cable networks Country Music Television (CMT), Great American Country (GAC), and RFD-TV, among others. CMT's Master Control facilities are located in New York City with the other Viacom properties. The Top 20 Countdown and CMT Insider are taped in their Nashville studios. Nashville is also the home and namesake of the NBC country music singing competition Nashville Star, which broadcasts from the Opryland complex. Shop at Home Network was once based in Nashville, but the channel signed off in 2006.
Several dozen FM and AM radio stations broadcast in the Nashville area, including five college stations and one LPFM community station. Nashville is ranked as the 44th largest radio market in the United States. Nashville is home to WSM which originally stood for "We Shield Millions". WSM-FM is owned by Cumulus Media and is 95.5 FM the Wolf. WSM-AM, owned by Gaylord Entertainment Company, can be heard nationally on 650 AM or online at WSM Online from its studios located inside the Gaylord Opryland Resort & Convention Center. WLAC is a Clear Channel-owned talk station which was originally sponsored by the Life and Casualty Insurance Company of Tennessee, and its competitor WWTN is owned by Cumulus.
Nashville has a small but growing film industry. Several major motion pictures have been filmed in Nashville, including The Green Mile, The Last Castle, Gummo, The Thing Called Love, Coal Miner's Daughter, and Robert Altman's Nashville.
Nashville has several professional sports teams, most notably the Nashville Predators of the National Hockey League and the Tennessee Titans of the National Football League. Several other pro sports teams also call Nashville home, as does the NCAA college football Music City Bowl. The Vanderbilt Commodores are members of the Southeastern Conference. The football team of Tennessee State University plays its home games at LP Field.
|Tennessee Titans||Football||National Football League||LP Field|
|Nashville Predators||Hockey||National Hockey League||Sommet Center|
|Nashville Sounds||Baseball||Minor League Baseball: Pacific Coast League||Herschel Greer Stadium|
|Nashville Broncs||Basketball||American Basketball Association||Nashville Municipal Auditorium|
|Nashville Metros||Soccer||Premier Development League||Ezell Park|
|Nashville Storm||Football||North American Football League||Buster Boguskie Stadium|
Sports venues in Nashville are:
Metro Board of Parks and Recreation owns and manages 10,200 acres (4,120 ha) of land and 99 parks and greenways (comprising more than 3% of the total area of the county). 2,684 acres (1,086 ha) of land is home to Warner Parks, which houses a 5,000 square-foot (460 m²) learning center, 20 miles (30 km) of scenic roads, 12 miles (19 km) of hiking trails, and 10 miles (16 km) of horse trails. In late 2005, Centennial Park began offering free wireless broadband internet service.
Warner Parks, the largest municipal parks in the state, are home to the annual Iroquois Steeplechase.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers maintains parks on Old Hickory Lake and Percy Priest Lake. These parks are used for multiple activities including fishing, water-skiing, sailing and boating. Percy Priest Lake is also home to the Vanderbilt Sailing Club.
Nashville is centrally located at the crossroads of three Interstate Highways: I-40, I-24, and I-65. Interstate 440 is a bypass route connecting I-40, I-65, and I-24 south of downtown Nashville. The Metropolitan Transit Authority provides bus transit within the city.
Nashville launched a passenger rail system called the Music City Star on September 18, 2006. The first and only currently operational leg of the system connects the city of Lebanon to downtown Nashville at Nashville Riverfront. Legs to Murfreesboro and Gallatin are currently in the feasibility study stage. The system plan includes seven legs connecting Nashville to surrounding suburbs.
Notable bridges in the city are:
|Official Name||Other Names||Length||Date Opened|
|Gateway Bridge||Korean War Veterans Memorial Bridge||506 m (1,660 ft)||May 19, 2004|
|Kelly Miller Smith Bridge||Jefferson Street Bridge||March 2, 1994|
|Old Hickory Bridge||1929|
|Martin Luther King Jr. Bridge||Bordeaux Bridge||September 18, 1980|
|Shelby Street Bridge||Shelby Avenue Bridge||960 m (3,150 ft)||July 5, 1909|
|Silliman Evans Bridge||720 m (2,362 ft)||1963|
|Victory Memorial Bridge||July 2, 1956|
|William Goodwin Bridge||Hobson Pike Bridge||675 m (2,215 ft)|
|Woodland Street Bridge||195 m (639 ft)|