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Welcome to Nashville, Tennessee


Nashville is the capital of the U.S. state of Tennessee. It is the second most populous city in the state after Memphis, although its Metropolitan Statistical Area population exceeds that of Memphis. It is located on the Cumberland River in Davidson County, in the north-central part of the state. Nashville is a major hub for the health care, music, publishing, banking and transportation industries.

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 607,413 as of 2005, according to United States Census Bureau estimates. The 2005 population of the entire 13-county Nashville Metropolitan Statistical Area was 1,498,836, making it the largest and fastest-growing metropolitan area in the state.


Nashville was founded by James Robertson and a party of Wataugans in 1779, and was originally called Fort Nashborough, after the American Revolutionary War hero Francis Nash. Nashville quickly grew because of its prime location, accessibility as a river port, and its later status as a major railroad center. In 1806, Nashville was incorporated as a city and became the county seat of Davidson County, Tennessee. In 1843, the city was named the permanent capital of the state of Tennessee.

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.[citation needed] 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.

Nashville downtown overlooking the Cumberland River
Nashville downtown overlooking the Cumberland River

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.

Today the city along the Cumberland River is a crossroads of American culture, and easily the fastest-growing part of the Upper South and the territory between Atlanta and Texas. Currently, there are many plans of building multiple residential and business towers in the downtown area, including the Signature Tower. If constructed, this will be the tallest building in both Nashville and Tennessee surpassing the AT&T Building, and will also become the tallest building in the USA outside of New York and Chicago, surpassing the Bank of America Plaza in Atlanta.


A satellite image of Nashville
A satellite image of Nashville

Nashville lies on the Cumberland River in the northwestern portion of the Nashville Basin. Nashville's topography ranges from 117 meters (385 ft) above sea level at the Cumberland River to 354 meters (1,160 ft) above sea level at its highest point.[5]

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.


Nashville has a humid subtropical climate, typical of a Southern city, with hot and humid summers and mild winters by U.S. standards. Average annual rainfall is 48.1 inches (1222 mm), typically with winter and spring being the wettest and autumn being the driest. Average annual snowfall is about 9 inches (229 mm), falling mostly in January and February. Spring and fall are generally pleasantly warm but prone to severe thunderstorms, which occasionally bring tornadoes—with recent major events on April 16, 1998 and April 7, 2006.

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 and most memorable event in the last few years was the storm on January 16, 2003, on which date Nashville received 7 inches (178 mm).[8]

Nashville's long springs and autumns combined with a diverse array of trees and grasses can often make it uncomfortable for allergy sufferers.[9] In 2007, Nashville was ranked as the 65th-worst spring allergy city in the U.S. by the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America.


Weather averages for Nashville, TN
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °F (°C) 78 (26) 84 (29) 86 (30) 91 (33) 95 (35) 106 (41) 107 (42) 104 (40) 105 (41) 94 (34) 84 (29) 79 (26) 107 (42)
Average high °F (°C) 46 (8) 52 (11) 61 (16) 70 (21) 77 (25) 85 (29) 89 (32) 88 (31) 82 (28) 71 (22) 59 (15) 49 (9) 69 (21)
Average low °F (°C) 28 (-2) 31 (-1) 39 (4) 47 (8) 57 (14) 65 (18) 70 (21) 68 (20) 61 (16) 49 (9) 40 (4) 30 (-1) 48.75 (9)
Record low °F (°C) -17 (-27) -13 (-25) 2 (-17) 23 (-5) 34 (1) 42 (6) 54 (12) 49 (9) 36 (2) 26 (-3) -1 (-18) -10 (-23) -17 (-27)
Precipitation inch (mm) 3.97 (100.8) 3.69 (93.7) 4.87 (123.7) 3.93 (99.8) 5.07 (128.8) 4.08 (103.6) 3.77 (95.8) 3.28 (83.3) 3.59 (91.2) 2.87 (72.9) 4.45 (113) 4.54 (115.3) 48.11 (1,222)
Source: The Weather Channel[11] 2007-09-16

Metropolitan area

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, Maury, Robertson, Rutherford, Smith, Sumner, Trousdale, Williamson, and Wilson.

Government and politics

The State Capitol in Nashville
The State Capitol in Nashville

The City of Nashville and Davidson County merged in 1963 as a way for Nashville to combat the problems of urban sprawl. The combined entity is officially known as "the Metropolitan Government of Nashville and Davidson County," and is popularly known as "Metro Nashville" or simply "Metro". It offers services such as police, fire, electricity, water, and sewage treatment. When the Metro government was formed in 1963, the government was split into two service districts-- the "urban services district" and the "general services district." The urban services district encompasses the 1963 boundaries of the former City of Nashville, and the general services district includes the remainder of Davidson County. There are five small cities within the county that opted to retain some autonomy: Belle Meade, Berry Hill, Forest Hills, Lakewood, and Oak Hill. Two other cities (Goodlettsville and Ridgetop) cross county lines, and are also not considered part of the consolidated city-county government..

Nashville has a strong-mayor form of government. It is governed by a mayor, vice-mayor and 40-member Metropolitan Council. 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 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. Most local elections are officially nonpartisan. However, Democratic dominance is so absolute that most local races take place between the populist (moderate-to-conservative) and "good government" (liberal) wings of the Democratic Party. [3]; the "good government" faction has held the upper hand for some time; mayor-elect Dean may be said to represent that perspective. Elected Republicans are few and far between. At the state level, only two Republicans—one in the State House and one in the State Senate—represent significant portions of Nashville. Most area residents who prefer conservative politics generally live in the outlying suburban counties (which themselves were represented by conservative Democrats well into the late 1970s). Much of this, of course, is a reaction in many respects, somewhat akin to urban-suburban polarizations elsewhere in America, to the lifestyle-driven liberal orientation of the city's unusually large (for the South) collegiate and white-collar professional population (with the musician community divided between the cultural traditionalists in country and gospel music and the progressive, even leftist, slant among rock musicians and those in similar genres).

Democrats are no less dominant at the federal level. Since the end of Reconstruction, the Democratic presidential candidate has carried Nashville and Davidson County in every election with the exception of two. In the 1968 U.S. presidential election, George Wallace of the American Independent Party (and governor of nearby Alabama) carried the city by a large margin, although he did not win the state (Richard Nixon did). In the 1972 presidential election, Nixon became the only Republican to carry Nashville since Reconstruction, gaining support from the then-dominant conservative Democrats in the area. However, since then, Democrats have usually won Nashville by some of the largest, if not the largest, margins in Tennessee, even when the rest of the state strongly favors the Republican. In the 2000 presidential election, Al Gore carried Nashville with over 59% of the vote even as he narrowly lost his home state. In the 2004 election, John Kerry carried Nashville with 55% of the vote even as George W. Bush won the state by 14 points. The only part of Tennessee more heavily Democratic than Nashville is the major portion of the city of Memphis, which has a far larger population of African-Americans (some 60 percent as compared to Nashville's 25 or so), making Nashville's continued loyalty to the Democratic Party all the more remarkable--and increasingly unique--for a city so far south in the U.S.

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.

A tiny portion of southern Davidson County (between Hillsboro and Nolensville Roads, split by Interstate 65) was drawn into the heavily Republican 7th District after the 2000 Census. That district is currently represented by Marsha Blackburn of neighboring Williamson County. Despite this, many living Nashvillians have never been represented by a Republican on the state or federal levels.


The data below is for all of Metropolitan Nashville-Davidson County, including other incorporated cities within the consolidated city-county (such as Belle Meade and Berry Hill). See Nashville-Davidson (balance) for demographic data on Nashville-Davidson County excluding separately incorporated cities.

Population density map per 2000 census

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 was 4.58% of the population. Nashville's estimated population for 2005 is 607,413 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 ages 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.[14] 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).


As the "home of country music", Nashville has become a major music recording and production center. All of the Big Four record labels, as well as numerous independent labels, have offices in Nashville, mostly in the Music Row area.[19] Since the 1960s, Nashville has been the second biggest music production center (after New York) in the U.S.[20] As of 2006, Nashville's music industry is estimated to have a total economic impact of $6.4 billion per year and to contribute 19,000 jobs to the Nashville area.

In 2009, the Signature Tower will be built 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 world.

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 Nashville, with corporate headquarters temporarily located in the AT&T Building until 2008, when the Japanese auto maker will establish permanent headquarters in Franklin, Tennessee. Nissan also has its largest North American manufacturing plant in Smyrna, Tennessee.

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 has a small but growing film industry. Several major motion pictures have been filmed in Nashville, including The Green Mile, The Last Castle, Gummo, Coal Miner's Daughter, and Robert Altman's Nashville.


Nashville is often labeled the "Athens of the South" due to the many colleges and universities in the city and metropolitan area. These 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, 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.

The city is served by the Metropolitan Nashville Public Schools and numerous private schools.


Ryman Auditorium, the 'Mother Church of Country Music'
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.

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.

Country music

Many popular tourist sites involve country music, including the Country Music Hall of Fame, Ryman Auditorium, which was for many years the site of the Grand Ole Opry, and Belcourt Theater. Each year, the CMA Music Festival (formerly known as Fan Fair) brings thousands of country fans to the city.

Nashville was once home to the Opryland USA theme park, which operated from 1972 to 1997 before being demolished to make room for the Opry Mills mega-shopping mall.

Lower Broadway is home to many honky tonk bars and clubs. Probably the most famous of these is Tootsie's Orchid Lounge, which has hosted many big names from the country music scene while remaining small, intimate, and relatively unchanged since its founding in the 1960s.

Christian pop music

The Christian pop and rock music industry is based in Nashville, with many of the genre's most popular acts such as Rebecca St. James, Michael W. Smith, Amy Grant, Steven Curtis Chapman, and Newsboys based there.


Kirk Whalum visiting the audience at a riverfront concert in 2007
Kirk Whalum visiting the audience at a riverfront concert in 2007

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.

Civil War

Civil War history is 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.

Performing arts

The Parthenon in Nashville's Centennial Park is a full-scale reconstruction of the original Greek Parthenon.
The Parthenon in Nashville's Centennial Park is a full-scale reconstruction of the original Greek Parthenon.

The Tennessee Performing Arts Center is the major performing arts center of the city. It is the home of the Tennessee Repertory Theatre, Nashville Children's Theatre, the Nashville Opera, and Nashville Ballet.

In September 2006, the Schermerhorn Symphony Center opened as the home of the Nashville Symphony Orchestra.

Art museums

Nashville has several arts centers and museums, including the Frist Center for the Visual Arts, located in the former post office building; Cheekwood Botanical Garden and Museum of Art; the Tennessee State Museum; Fisk University's Van Vechten and Aaron Douglas Galleries; Vanderbilt University's Fine Art Gallery and Sarratt Gallery; and the Parthenon.

Major annual events

Nashville at dusk
Nashville at dusk

  • The CMA Music Festival is a four day event in June featuring performances by country music stars, autograph signings, artist/fan interaction, and other activities for country music fans.
  • In September, Nashville hosts the Tennessee State Fair at the State Fairgrounds. The State Fair lasts nine days and includes rides, exhibits, rodeos, tractor pulls, and numerous other shows and attractions.
  • The Nashville Film Festival takes place each year for a week in April. It features hundreds of independent films and is one of the biggest film festivals in the Southern United States.
  • In September, the African Street Festival takes place on the campus of Tennessee State University.
  • Other big events in Nashville include the Fourth of July celebration which takes place each year at Riverfront Park, the Country Music Marathon and Half Marathon which normally includes over 25,000 runners from around the world, the Tomato Art Festival which takes place in East Nashville every August, and the Australian Festival which celebrates the cultural and business links between the U.S. and Australia.


A Music City Star commuter train beneath the Shelby Street Bridge
A Music City Star commuter train beneath the Shelby Street Bridge

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 [4] 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.

Although it is a major rail hub, with a large CSX Transportation freight rail yard, Nashville is one of the largest cities in the U.S. not served by Amtrak.

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 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, former U.S. Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, artist Red Grooms, pin-up model Bettie Page, actress Annie Potts, actor James Denton, and soldier of fortune William Walker.

Many notable musicians have lived in Nashville including Rascal Flatts, Chet Atkins, Johnny Cash, Sheryl Crow, Amy Grant, Vince Gill, Jimi Hendrix, Trey Hill, Faith Hill, Alan Jackson, Willie Nelson, Aaron Neville, Roy Orbison, Dolly Parton, Ernest Tubb, Shania Twain, Hank Williams, Loretta Lynn, Tammy Wynette, Jimmy Buffett, Michael McDonald, Peter Frampton, Jack White, Kings of Leon, Ben Folds, and Carrie Underwood.

Other notable people who have resided in Nashville include former U.S. Vice President Al Gore and his wife, former Second Lady of the United States Tipper Gore, former U.S. President Andrew Jackson, civil rights leader James Lawson, former Tennessee Governor and U.S. President James K. Polk, Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist and poet Robert Penn Warren, Academy Awarding-winning actresses Reese Witherspoon and Nicole Kidman, talk show host and entrepreneur Oprah Winfrey, and financial talk show host, Dave Ramsey.


Nashville is a colorful, well-known city in several different arenas. As such, it has earned various sobriquets, including:

For more information on relocating to Nashville, Tennessee please visit

Information provided from the Wikipedia article found at © 2008 Move In And Out, Inc.

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