Nashville | History, Population, Map, & Points of Interest (2024)

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Nashville, city, capital (1843) of Tennessee, U.S., and seat (1784–1963) of Davidson county. Nashville lies on the Cumberland River in the north-central part of the state. It is the centre of an urbanized area that also embraces parts of seven surrounding counties. In 1963 the governments of the city of Nashville and of Davidson county were consolidated; the government now comprises a general services district, covering the entire county, and an urban services district, which encompasses the city of Nashville. Area city, 497 square miles (1,287 square km); Davidson county, 526 square miles (1,362 square km). Pop. (2010) 601,222;Nashville-Davidson–Murfreesboro–Franklin Metro Area, 1,589,534; (2020) 689,447; Nashville-Davidson–Murfreesboro–Franklin Metro Area, 1,989,519.


The Nashville area was originally inhabited by peoples of the Mississippian culture; Cherokee, Chickasaw, and Shawnee later moved into the region. French fur traders established a post known as French Lick on the site in 1717. A force behind the area’s settlement was Richard Henderson, a North Carolina jurist who in 1775 acquired most of middle Tennessee and Kentucky in the Transylvania Purchase from the Cherokee. In 1779 he sent a party under James Robertson to investigate the Cumberland Valley. They settled at French Lick and were joined in the spring of 1780 by another group under John Donelson. Fort Nashborough, built at the site and named for American Revolutionary War general Francis Nash, became the centre of the new community. (A replica of the fort stands in a park along the Cumberland River.) Henderson is also credited with having written the Cumberland Compact, the articles of self-government adopted by the settlers. The community was renamed Nashville in 1784.

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Chartered as a city in 1806, Nashville developed as a river trade depot and manufacturing site for middle Tennessee and became the political centre of the state. Its commercial importance was further enhanced by the advent of the railroads in the 1850s. Nashville was occupied by Union troops in February 1862, and the last major American Civil War battle (December 15–16, 1864) took place outside the city, when Union forces under Gen. George H. Thomas defeated the Confederates under Gen. John B. Hood.

Nashville’s recovery after the war was spurred by its central location in the region’s rail and water transport networks, although it experienced serious cholera epidemics in 1866 and 1873. The city became known for the many institutions of higher education that were founded there and was given the nickname “Athens of the South.” Nashville’s economy and population grew rapidly in the first decades of the 20th century, and it was also during that time that the city emerged as the centre of American traditional and country music. Regular radio broadcasts of the Grand Ole Opry, a program of such music, began in Nashville in 1925 and continue today. Nashville’s industrial development accelerated in the 1930s after cheap electric power became available from the Tennessee Valley Authority and from dams on the Cumberland River. However, when it flooded after a two-day downpour in May 2010, the Cumberland brought damage to large parts of the city and took a number of lives.

The contemporary city

The modern economy is diversified. The music and entertainment industry is a primary factor, and services such as health care, finance and insurance, and education are major contributors. Manufacturing (including automobiles, automobile glass, trucks, tires, water heaters, aircraft parts, and appliances), printing and publishing (especially music and religious materials), and tourism are also important. The city’s central location, combined with an international airport, port facilities on the Cumberland, and rail and highway connections, make it a distribution and transportation centre. Agriculture in the region includes tobacco, livestock, dairy products, corn, and soybeans.

Nashville is known worldwide for country music, which is the basis of a large recording industry in the city. Much of that activity is clustered in an area of downtown called Music Row. The city has dozens of tourist attractions related to music, including the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum and the Ryman Auditorium, a concert venue that was once the home of the Opry. Grand Ole Opry radio shows can be seen in person at the Opry House, which is part of a complex including a hotel and shopping venues located east of downtown. At the International Country Music Fan Fair, held annually in June, fans can hear, meet, and get autographs from their favourite musicians.

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Nashville remains an educational as well as a religious centre, and several companies and denominations have publishing headquarters there, including the United Methodist Publishing House, one of the largest of its kind in the world. The city is the national headquarters of several boards and agencies of the United Methodist Church and the Sunday School Board of the Southern Baptist Convention. It is also the international headquarters of the Disciples of Christ Historical Society. Educational institutions affiliated with churches include Fisk University (1866; United Church of Christ), Belmont University (1890; Tennessee Southern Baptist Convention), Lipscomb University (1891; Churches of Christ), Trevecca Nazarene University (1901), and Aquinas College (1961; Roman Catholic). Nashville is also the seat of Vanderbilt University (1873), Meharry Medical College (1876), Tennessee State University (1912), and Nashville State Technical Institute (1970).

In Centennial Park is a full-scale replica of the Parthenon (an Athenian temple), built for the Tennessee Centennial Exposition of 1897 and containing a statue of Athena 42 feet (13 metres) tall. The State Capitol (1859) was designed along classical Greek lines by William Strickland; Pres. James K. Polk is buried in its grounds. Bicentennial Capitol Mall State Park, near the building, includes a black granite globe as a memorial to World War II. The Hermitage, the home and burial place of Pres. Andrew Jackson, is 12 miles (19 km) east of the city centre. Other historic sites include Belle Meade Plantation, with a mansion built in 1853 on one of the country’s first Thoroughbred horse farms, and Travellers Rest (1799), built by John Overton (a law partner of Jackson’s) and maintained as a museum. The city has a symphony orchestra, an opera company, a ballet troupe, and theatre organizations; there are also museums of history, art, and science. Nashville is home to the National Football League Titans and National Hockey League Predators. Nearby Old Hickory (northeast) and J. Percy Priest (east) lakes provide recreational opportunities. Radnor Lake State Natural Area (south) and Long Hunter State Park (east) are also near the city.

The Editors of Encyclopaedia Britannica This article was most recently revised and updated by Michele Metych.

Nashville | History, Population, Map, & Points of Interest (2024)


What is the 5 points area in Nashville? ›

Five Points is one of Nashville's trendiest neighborhoods and is known for its incredible dining scene. Named after the five-pointed intersection of 11th Street, Clearview Avenue, and Woodland Street, Five Points is filled with diverse eateries, boutiques, breweries, and live music venues like the Basem*nt East.

What is the best part of Nashville to stay in? ›

Best areas to stay in Nashville
  1. Downtown. Downtown is Nashville's economic and tourism hub, as well as the geographic center and home to Lower Broad. ...
  2. Music Row. Music Row is where the business of Nashville gets done. ...
  3. The Gulch. ...
  4. East Nashville. ...
  5. SoBro.
Sep 18, 2023

What are 5 interesting facts about Nashville? ›

7 Facts You Should Know About Nashville
  • Nashville is named after a Revolutionary War General. ...
  • The designer of the Tennessee Capitol is buried there. ...
  • Nashville's Tin Pan South is the largest songwriter's festival on earth. ...
  • Nashville is the home of “Old Glory” ...
  • A Vanderbilt student helped bring seeing-eye dogs to the US.

Is it better to stay in downtown or midtown Nashville? ›

Best Areas to Stay for Music

For a historical perspective, stay in Downtown Nashville and see a show at the Ryman Auditorium, which held its first concert in 1892. This very walkable neighborhood has everything from honky-tonks on Lower Broadway to ballet and theater at the Tennessee Performing Arts Center.

What is the 3 foot rule in Nashville? ›

In Nashville the Sexually Oriented Business Licensing Board started enforcing new guidelines in 2006. That included tightened restrictions on strip clubs, including strict rules against physical contact between a performer and a customer requiring a three-foot separation.

What is considered the strip in Nashville? ›

Broadway is a major thoroughfare in the downtown area in Nashville, Tennessee. It includes Lower Broadway, an entertainment district renowned for honky tonks and live country music. The street is also home to retail shops, restaurants, dessert spots, tourist attractions, and a few hotels.

What is the most visited place in Nashville Tennessee? ›

Top Attractions in Nashville
  • Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum. 15,486. ...
  • RCA Studio B. 4,057. ...
  • Andrew Jackson's Hermitage. 5,869. ...
  • Gaylord Opryland Garden Conservatory. 6,148. ...
  • The Johnny Cash Museum. 7,140. ...
  • Downtown Nashville. 10,117. ...
  • Nelson's Green Brier Distillery. 1,704. ...
  • Musicians Hall of Fame and Museum. 1,232. Speciality Museums.

What food is Nashville best known for? ›

So, what food is Nashville known for? Hot chicken might be the first thing that comes to mind, but there's an emerging farm-to-table scene that is sweeping the city, plus you're in the South so you're bound to stumble upon some incredible BBQ.

Where not to go in downtown Nashville? ›

What parts of Nashville should I avoid? Before you move to this music-focused, family-friendly city, you probably want to know the bad areas of Nashville. These include Salemtown, West Meade, Heron Walk, Talbot's Corner, Glencliff, and Bordeaux.

Where should I go for the first time in Nashville? ›

Music Sights and Sounds
  • Country Music Hall of Fame.
  • Historic RCA Studio B.
  • Broadway's Music Row (Tootsie's Orchid Lounge)
  • Johnny Cash Museum.
  • Fontanel Mansion.
  • Music City Walk of Fame.
  • Bluebird Café
  • Loveless Motel and Café

Should I stay in Music Row or downtown Nashville? ›

Is it better to stay in Music Row or Downtown Nashville? Both areas are fun, but Downtown is generally where to stay in Nashville if you want uninterrupted access to the city's best nightlife. On the other hand, Music Row offers an inside look at the music industry along with a ton of venues.

What streets are the five points? ›

Five Points is a Lower Manhattan historic district that came about in the 1800s. Earning its name from a five-pointed intersection that we know today sits within Baxter Street and Mosco Street, the area once lied within modern-day Centre Street, the Bowery, Canal Street and Park Row.

What is RS5 zoning in Nashville? ›

Consider a property zoned RS5, a common zoning classification in Nashville. This zone is tailored for medium-density residential properties, requiring a minimum lot size of 5,000 square feet, usually intended for single-family dwellings.

What is the name of the area in Nashville with all the bars? ›

Nothing exemplifies everything Nashville has to offer like Broadway Street. Running through the heart of downtown Nashville, Broadway Street is home to some of Nashville's best music, restaurants, and bars.

What is the bar in Nashville with three levels? ›

Honky Tonk Central is Nashville's latest and greatest honky tonk on world famous 'Lower Broadway' in downtown Nashville, TN. with 3 full stories of live music, great food and great times, Honky Tonk Central is the destination stop when in Nashville.


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