Nashville, Tennessee


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Downtown Nashville at dusk, viewed from the Gateway Bridge

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. Since much earlier times it has 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.

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Early history

Nashville was founded as "Fort Nashborough" by James Robertson and John Donelson. Robertson made the trip overland with a small party and arrived on Christmas Day, 1779, selecting a site on the bluffs of the Cumberland River known as French Lick. Donelson, along with a group of several families, came in 30 flatboats and several pirogues down the Tennessee River and up the Cumberland, arriving April 23, 1780.1 The fort was named in honor of Francis Nash, a Revolutionary War soldier. It was renamed Nashville in 1784 when it became established as a town, and became the capital of Tennessee in 1843.

During the American Civil War, the Confederate army suffered a devastating defeat at the Battle of Nashville. This decisive battle effectively ended large-scale fighting in the Western Theater of the war.

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The Nashville Wharf, photographed shortly after the American Civil War

After the Civil War, Nashville quickly grew into an important trade center. Its population rose from only 16,988 in 1860 to 80,865 by 1900.2

In 1897, Nashville hosted the Tennessee Centennial and International Exposition, a World's Fair celebrating the 100th anniversary of Tennessee's entry into the union. An exact replica of the Parthenon was built for the event. The Parthenon replica is now the centerpiece of Centennial Park.

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)

Nashville played a prominent role in the U.S. civil rights movement. On February 13, 1960, hundreds of college students launched a sit-in campaign to desegregate lunch counters throughout the city. Although initially met with violence and arrests, the protesters were eventually successful in pressuring local businesses to end the practice of racial segregation. Many of the activists involved in the Nashville sit-ins went on to organize the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, which emerged as one of the most influential organizations of the civil rights movement.

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

The Nashville Tornado of 1998 struck the downtown area on April 16 at around 3:30 pm, 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 Nashville Coliseum 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. Similar 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 is one of the few major Southern cities that has remained loyal to the Democratic Party. Democrats dominate at every level of government. The congressional district which includes Nashville (currently the 5th District) has not been represented by a Republican since 1871.

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A false-color satellite image of the Nashville Basin

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.3

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 (32 °C). Winters are mildly cold, with lows in January averaging 28° F (-2 °C). 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.4

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.5


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 mini-hub 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. The plan envisions further commuter rail lines on five of the six major rail lines leading into the city. A light rail system in central Nashville has also been studied.

Notable bridges

Name Length Date Opened
Gateway506 m (1,660 ft)May 19, 2004
Kelly Miller Smith (Jefferson Street)March 2, 1994
Old Hickory1929
Martin Luther King Jr. (Bordeaux)September 18, 1980
Shelby Street960 m (3,150 ft)July 5, 1909
Silliman Evans720 m (2,362 ft)1963
Victory MemorialJuly 2, 1956
William Goodwin (Hobson Pike)675 m (2,215 ft)
Woodland Street195 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, Southern Baptist Convention, and National Baptist Convention, USA, Inc..

Fortune 500 companies

Other important companies


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Map of Nashville's growing Hispanic population

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:


Nashville is served by numerous newspapers, television stations, and radio stations. The primary daily newspaper in Nashville is the The Tennessean, which, until 1998, competed fiercely with another daily, the Nashville Banner. Although The Tennessean now enjoys a relative monopoly on the local newspaper market, a smaller free daily called The City Paper has recently begun publication. Several weekly papers are also published in Nashville, including the Nashville Scene, Nashville Business Journal, and The Tennessee Tribune.

Nashville is home to nearly a dozen broadcast television stations, although most households are served by direct cable network connections. Comcast Cable is the dominant cable service provider, with over 300,000 subscribers in the Nashville area. Nashville is ranked as the 30th largest television market in the United States.

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.

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Ryman Auditorium, the "Mother Church of Country Music"

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.

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 and Battle of Stones River 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. The Nashville Symphony Orchestra will eventually move to the Schermerhorn Symphony Center, which is scheduled to be completed in 2007.

Major annual events

Art museums

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; the Tennessee State Museum; Fisk University's Van Vechten and Aaron Douglas Galleries; and The Parthenon.


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, and the Nashville Kangaroos, an Australian rules football team.

Sports venues

Sister cities

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

The city is also exploring forming a sister city relationship with Girona, Spain.

Notable residents

Some of the most notable people born in Nashville include novelist Madison Smartt Bell, civil rights activist Julian Bond, rapper Young Buck (David Darnell Brown), singer Rita Coolidge, U.S. Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, artist Red Grooms, pin-up model Bettie Page, actress Annie Potts, and soldier of fortune William Walker.

Many notable musicians have lived in Nashville including Chet Atkins, Johnny Cash, Amy Grant, Emmylou Harris, Jimi Hendrix, Faith Hill, Alan Jackson, Waylon Jennings, Kris Kristofferson, Willie Nelson, Roy Orbison, Dolly Parton, Ernest Tubb, Shania Twain, Hank Williams, Tammy Wynette, and Dwight Yoakam.

Other notable people who have resided in Nashville include former U.S. Vice President Al Gore, former U.S. President Andrew Jackson, civil rights leader James Lawson, former U.S. President James K. Polk, Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist and poet Robert Penn Warren, novelist Ann Patchett, and talk show host and entrepreneur Oprah Winfrey.



External links



Flag of Tennessee

State of Tennessee




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Template:United States state capitals

da:Nashville de:Nashville (Tennessee) eo:Nashville (Tenesio) es:Nashville fr:Nashville he:נאשוויל nl:Nashville ja:ナッシュビル pl:Nashville pt:Nashville sv:Nashville, Tennessee


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