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Nashville, Tennessee

Nashville is the capital of the U.S. state of Tennessee. It is located on the Cumberland River in Davidson County. Nicknamed "Music City, U.S.A.", Nashville is the home of the Grand Ole Opry, the Country Music Hall of Fame, and many major record labels. It has also been called the "Athens of the South", for its educational institutions and classical architecture. Nashville is also a major hub for the health care and publishing industries.

The city of Nashville has a population of 569,891 (as of the 2000 census), making it the second largest city in Tennessee (below Memphis). The population of the entire 13-county Nashville metropolitan area is 1,311,789, making it the most populous metropolitan area in the state.

The current Mayor of Nashville is Bill Purcell.



Early history

Nashville was founded as Fort Nashborough on Christmas Day, 1779 by James Robertson, and was named in honour of Francis Nash, a Revolutionary War soldier. It was renamed Nashville in 1784 when it also became established as a town, and became the capital of Tennessee in 1843. It became the trailhead of the Natchez Trace, an important trade feature of the 1800s.

In 1856, William Walker, filibuster and mercenary, briefly managed to make himself president of Nicaragua. He is still the only native Nashvillian ever to become a head of state.

In the early-to-mid-19th century, three U.S. presidents came from Tennessee and all were closely associated with Nashville—James Knox Polk, Andrew Jackson, and Andrew Johnson. Jackson's home, The Hermitage, remains on the east side of Nashville.

In 1897 an exact replica of the Parthenon was built for the Tennessee Centennial Exposition.

The Great train wreck of 1918 occurred on July 9, 1918 in Nashville when an inbound local train collided with an outbound express, killing 101 people. This was the most deadly rail accident in U.S. history.

Tennessee was the state that put the 19th Amendment, allowing women to vote, over the top, and the ratification struggle convulsed the city in August, 1920.

On March 1, 1941 W47NV (now known as WSM-FM) began operations in Nashville becoming the first FM radio station.

Recent history (post-WWII)

The city played a prominent part in the U.S. civil rights movement; particularly important were the Nashville sit-ins of 1960s.

Nashville has had a metropolitan government of a consolidated city-county since 1963, and was one of the first large U.S. cities to adopt this structure.

The 1998 tornado struck the downtown area on April 16 at around 3:30pm, causing serious damage and blowing out hundreds of windows from skyscrapers, raining shattered glass on the streets and closing the business district for nearly four days. Over 300 homes were damaged, and three cranes at the then-incomplete Tennessee Titans stadium were toppled. It was one of the most serious urban tornados on record in the U.S.

As the 21st century opened, a Nashville native rose to national political prominence when Dr. Bill Frist, formerly a transplant surgeon at the Vanderbilt University Medical Center, became majority leader of the U.S. Senate.


The city of Nashville and Davidson County merged in 1963 as a way for Nashville to combat the problems of urban sprawl. The combined metropolitan government offers services such as police, fire, electricity, water, and sewage. The city of Nashville is served by the Metropolitan Council along with the mayor and vice-mayor. The current mayor of the Metropolitan Government of Nashville and Davidson County is Bill Purcell. The Metropolitan Council is the legislative body of government for Nashville and Davidson County. There are 5 councilmembers who are elected at large and 35 councilmembers that represent individual districts. Similiar to larger legislative bodies, the Metro Council has regular meetings that are presided over by the vice-mayor, who is currently Howard Gentry, Jr. The Metro Council meets on the first and third Tuesday of each month at 7:00 p.m., according to the Metropolitan Charter.


Nashville lies on the Cumberland River in the northwestern portion of the Nashville Basin. Nashville's topography ranges from 113 meters (370 ft) above sea level at the Cumberland River to 227 meters (746 ft) above sea level at its highest point.1

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 1,362.6 km² (526.1 mi²). 1,300.8 km² (502.3 mi²) of it is land and 61.8 km² (23.9 mi²) of it is water. The total area is 4.53% water.


Summers in Nashville are moderately hot and humid, with July afternoons averaging 89°F. Winters are mildly cold, with lows in January averaging 28°F. Average annual rainfall is 122 cm (48.1 inches), typically with winter and spring being the wettest and fall being the driest. Average annual snowfall is about 23 cm (9.1 inches), falling mostly in January and February.2

Metropolitan area

Nashville has the largest metropolitan area in the state of Tennessee, spanning thirteen counties. The Nashville metropolitan area encompasses the Middle Tennessee counties of Cannon, Cheatham, Davidson, Dickson, Hickman, Macon, Robertson, Rutherford, Smith, Sumner, Trousdale, Williamson, and Wilson.


Nashville is centrally located at the crossroads of three interstates: 40, 24, and 65. Interstate 440 is a bypass route connecting Interstate 40 and Interstate 24 south of downtown Nashville. The Metropolitan Transit Authority provides bus transit within the city.

The city is served by Nashville International Airport, which was a hub for American Airlines between 1986 and 1995 and is now a hub of sorts for Southwest Airlines.

Nashville has not had passenger rail service since the 1970s, but CSX Transportation has a large freight rail yard in the southern part of the city. A plan to provide commuter rail service from the nearby town of Lebanon, Tennessee has been agreed upon by several governmental authorities. Track rehabilitation and infrastructure improvements are currently underway to facilitate the project.

Notable bridges

Name Length Date Opened
Gateway 506 m (1,660 ft) May 19, 2004
Kelly Miller Smith (Jefferson Street) March 2, 1994
Martin Luther King Jr. (Bordeaux) September 18, 1980
Shelby Street 960 m (3,150 ft) August 3, 2003 (reopened)
Silliman Evans 720 m (2,362 ft) 1963
Victory Memorial July 2, 1956
William Goodwin (Hobson Pike) 675 m (2,215 ft)
Woodland Street 195 m (639 ft)


Although Nashville is renowned for being a major 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. Other major industries in Nashville include insurance, finance, and publishing (especially religious publishing). The city also hosts headquarters operations for several Protestant denominations, including the United Methodist Church and the Southern Baptist Convention.

Fortune 500 companies

Other important companies


The data below is for all of Davidson County, including satellite cities in the county other than Nashville. See Nashville-Davidson (balance) for demographic data on the portion of Davidson County that was formerly the city of Nashville.

As of the census of 2000, there are 569,891 people, 237,405 households, and 138,169 families residing in the city. The population density is 438.1/km² (1,134.6/mi²). There are 252,977 housing units at an average density of 194.5/km² (503.7/mi²). The racial makeup of the city is 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. 4.58% of the population are Hispanic or Latino of any race.

There are 237,405 households out of which 26.7% have children under the age of 18 living with them, 39.9% are married couples living together, 14.3% have a female householder with no husband present, and 41.8% are non-families. 33.4% of all households are made up of individuals and 8.2% have someone living alone who is 65 years of age or older. The average household size is 2.30 and the average family size is 2.96.

In the city the population is 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 are 65 years of age or older. The median age is 34 years. For every 100 females there are 93.8 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there are 90.8 males.

The median income for a household in the city is $39,797, and the median income for a family is $49,317. Males have a median income of $33,844 versus $27,770 for females. The per capita income for the city is $23,069. 13.0% of the population and 10.0% of families are below the poverty line. Out of the total population, 19.1% of those under the age of 18 and 10.5% of those 65 and older are living below the poverty line. 4.6% of the civilian labor force is unemployed.

Colleges and universities

Nashville is home to a variety of colleges and universities, including:


The primary news source in Nashville is the Tennessean, a daily newspaper. Another daily paper, the Nashville Banner ceased publication in the 1990s, but a new daily, the Nashville City Paper has since been started.


Nashville is home to the nation's 30th largest television market, covering all Middle Tennessee.

  • WKRN (ABC)
  • WNAB (WB)
  • WSMV (NBC)
  • WTVF (CBS)
  • WUXP (UPN)
  • WZTV (FOX)


Nashville is home to one of the South's first radio stations, WSM-AM.


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 Unversity in the early twentieth century, the Fugitives and the Agrarians.

Many popular tourist sites involve country music, including the Country Music Hall of Fame and Ryman Auditorium, which was for many years the site of the Grand Ole Opry. Each year, the Country Music Association's Fan Fair (renamed "CMA Music Festival" in 2003) brings many thousands of country fans to the city.

Other 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 graceful 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.

Civil War history is also important to the city's tourism industry. Sites pertaining to the Battle of Nashville and the nearby Battle of Franklin can be seen, along with several well-preserved antebellum plantation houses such as Belle Meade Plantation and Belmont Mansion.

Nashville is also the home of the Tennessee Performing Arts Center, where the Tennessee Repertory Theatre makes its home. The Tennessee Performing Arts Center is also home to the Nashville Symphony Orchestra, Nashville Opera, and Nashville Ballet.


Nashville has several arts centers and museums, including the Frist Center for the Visual Arts, located in what was formerly the main post office; Cheekwood Botanical Garden and Museum of Art; Fisk University's Van Vechten and Aaron Douglas Galleries; and the Parthenon itself.


Nashville's skyline is filled with history and architecture.

Some skyscrapers of note:


Nashville has several professional sports teams, including the Nashville Predators (National Hockey League), the Nashville Sounds (minor league baseball), the Tennessee Titans (National Football League), and a new Nashville Kats (Arena Football League) team. Nashville is also the home of the Nashville Metros, an amateur USL Premier Development League soccer club.

Sports venues

Sister cities

Nashville is an active participant in the Sister Cities program and has relationships with the following towns:

Notable residents

Some of the most notable people born in Nashville include Madison Smartt Bell, novelist; Julian Bond, civil rights activist; Rita Coolidge, singer; Bill Frist, U.S. Senate Majority Leader; Red Grooms, artist; Bettie Page, pin-up model; and William Walker, journalist, adventurer, and briefly the President of Nicaragua.

Many notable country music singers and songwriters have lived in Nashville including Chet Atkins, Johnny Cash, Emmylou Harris, Faith Hill, Waylon Jennings, Kris Kristofferson, Willie Nelson, Dolly Parton, Ernest Tubb, Shania Twain, Hank Williams, Tammy Wynette, and Dwight Yoakam.

Other notable people who have resided in Nashville include Al Gore, former U.S. Vice President; Andrew Jackson, former U.S. President; James Lawson, civil rights leader; Roy Orbison, rock and roll singer and songwriter; and James K. Polk, former U.S. President.


External links

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