One History.

Endless Stories. 

EXPLORE OUR HISTORY FROM THE DAYS OF THE NATIVE TRIBES THAT ONCE CALLED MIDDLE TENNESSEE HOME TO NASHVILLE BECOMING AMERICA'S "IT CITY"

Nashville History Tour
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NATIVES, NEWCOMERS, & THE NEED TO GROW.

THE BEAUTIFUL ROLLING HILLS OF MIDDLE TENNESSEE, ACCOMPANIED BY ITS WATERWAYS, CAVES, & CULTIVATABLE LAND HAVE ALWAYS MADE THE NASHVILLE AREA A PRIME AREA FOR DEVELOPMENT AND GROWTH. NATIVE AMERICAN TRIBES (MAINLY CHEROKEE AND CHICKASAW) CALLED THE CUMBERLAND RIVER PLATEAU HOME FROM ROUGHLY 1000 B.C UNTIL SETTLEMENTS BEGAN CROPPING UP IN THE LATE 18TH CENTURY. THE AREA WAS IDEAL FOR HUNTING, GRAZING, AND GATHERING- WHICH DREW THE ATTENTION OF TRIBAL LEADERS AND EASTERN SETTLERS ALIKE. TRIBES IDENTIFIED THE AREA NOW KNOWN AS NASHVILLE AS A VIABLE PLACE FOR HUNTING AND GATHERING, CONSIDERING ITS HIGH CONCENTRATION OF ANIMAL SALT LICKS. A TRADING POST WAS ESTABLISHED PRIOR TO THE 15TH CENTURY AND DREW ATTENTION TO DEVELOPERS FROM EASTERN NORTH CAROLINA. IN 1710, FRENCH SETTLER-EXPLORER CHARLES CHARLEVILLE OFFICIALLY ESTABLISHED A POST KNOWN AS THE "FRENCH LICK" ALONG THE BANKS OF THE CUMBERLAND RIVER. THROUGHOUT THE 18TH CENTURY, THE AREA GREW IN POPULARITY FOR THOSE LOOKING TO EXPAND WESTWARD. A PARTY LED BY JAMES ROBERTSON'S CREW- NAMELY JOHN DONELSON ARRIVED AT THE LICK AROUND 1779. BY 1780, THE 256 ELIGIBLE INHABITANTS OF THE AREA JOINTLY SIGNED THE "CUMBERLAND COMPACT" CREATING THE FIRST CONSTITUTIONAL GOVERNMENT IN MIDDLE TENNESSEE. FOLLOWING TENNESSEE'S OFFICIAL FORMATION IN 1796, NASHVILLE BEGAN TO GROW AS BOTH A PLACE OF CULTIVATION BUT ALSO EDUCATION AND COMMERCE. IN 1806, THE CITY OF NASHVILLE IS INCORPORATED BY THE NEWLY FORMED TENNESSEE GENERAL ASSEMBLY. JOSEPH COLEMAN IS ELECTED THE FIRST MAYOR OF NASHVILLE. WITH CONTINUED FOCUS ON EDUCATION, CIVIL DEVELOPMENT, AND INCREASED TRADE- NASHVILLE BECAME A CENTER OF METROPOLITAN LIFE IN WHAT SEEMED TO BE A BARREN FRONTIER. 

 

from the civil war

to civil rights.

AS NASHVILLE BEGAN TO CHANGE FROM A SIMPLE FRONTIER SETTLEMENT TO AN ESTABLISHED CITY FOR COMMERCE, TRADE, AND TRANSPORTATION- SO TOO DID THE POPULATION. NO LONGER WAS THE CITY FULL OF SETTLERS, HUNTERS, AND TRADESMEN, BUT RATHER EDUCATORS, POLITICAL LEADERS, AND BUSINESSMEN. IN 1843 NASHVILLE BECAME THE STATE'S PERMANENT CAPITAL. THE CITY BECAME THE POLITICAL EYE OF THE STATE WHILE THE DIVISIVE SPLIT BETWEEN IDEALS BEGAN TO GROW THROUGHOUT THE COUNTRY. NASHVILLE'S IMPORTANT TIES TO COMMERCE AND TRANSPORTATION MADE IT A STRONGHOLD FOR THE CONFEDERACY. THOUGH TENNESSEE BECAME THE LAST STATE TO JOIN THE SOUTHERN FORCES, NASHVILLE WAS THE FIRST CITY TO FALL TO THE UNION ARMY IN 1862. THROUGHOUT THE REMAINDER OF THE WAR, NASHVILLE'S AFRICAN-AMERICAN POPULATION WOULD TRIPLE FROM 4,000 TO OVER 11,000 BY 1865. BOTH THE GROWTH OF THE BLACK POPULATION AND THE NEED TO MAINTAIN THE "ATHENS OF THE SOUTH" REPUTATION FOR HIGHER EDUCATION ENCOURAGED YOUNG NEWLY FREED PERSONS TO FORM FISK FREE SCHOOL IN 1866- WITH THE GOAL OF TRAINING YOUNG AFRICAN-AMERICAN INDIVIDUALS THROUGHOUT MIDDLE TENNESSEE. FISK UNIVERSITY, AS IT WOULD BE INCORPORATED IN 1867, ALSO BECAME THE FRONT-LINE LEADERS TO HELP AFRICAN-AMERICAN INDIVIDUALS GAIN EQUALLY AND UNEQUIVOCAL RIGHTS IN THE STATE. THROUGHOUT THE 19TH AND 20TH CENTURIES, BLACK LEADERS (LEAD BY REV. JAMES LAWSON) WOULD LEAD RALLIES, MARCH, PROTESTS, AND SIT-INS AT SOME OF NASHVILLE'S MOST FAMED LOCALES IN HOPES OF CONTINUING THE CONVERSATION OF DESEGREGATION. FOLLOWING NEARLY 3 MONTHS OF CONTINUOUS PEACEFUL PROTESTS THROUGHOUT NASHVILLE'S LUNCH COUNTERS, IN 1960 NASHVILLE BECAME THE FIRST MAJOR SOUTHERN CITY TO OFFICIALLY DESEGREGATE PUBLIC PLACES. 

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the making of

music city.

 

NASHVILLE'S ROOTS IN MUSIC MAKING CAN BE TRACED ALL THE WAY BACK TO THE EARLY SETTLERS AND THEIR LOVE OF APPALACHIAN-IRISH FOLK MUSIC. FOLLOWING THE ESTABLISHMENT OF FISK UNIVERSITY, THE SCHOOL BUILDING A GOSPEL A CAPELLA SPIRITUAL GROUP AIMED AT ENTERTAINING CROWDS AROUND THE WORLD WHILE FUNDRAISING FOR THE SCHOOLS EVER-GROWING INFRASTRUCTURE. THE FISK JUBILEE SINGERS TRAVELED THROUGHOUT THE GLOBE, SHARING HYMNS PROMOTING THE ABOLITIONIST MOVEMENT, SPREADING THE GOSPEL MESSAGE, AND SHOWCASING THE MUSICAL TALENTS OF MIDDLE TENNESSEE. FOLLOWING A PERFORMANCE FOR QUEEN VICTORIA, SHE PRAISED THE GROUPS UNBOUNDED TALENT AND CLAIMED THAT THEY MUST HAVE BEEN FROM A MUSIC CITY. SINCE THEN, THE CONNECTION BETWEEN MUSIC AND NASHVILLE HAS YET TO BE BROKEN. IN 1925, IN A PUSH TO SELL MORE LIFE INSURANCE POLICIES IN THE AREA, THE NATIONAL LIFE AND AND ACCIDENT INSURANCE COMPANY DEVELOPED THE WSM BARN DANCE- A WEEKLY RADIO PROGRAM BRINGING HILLBILLY MUSIC FROM NASHVILLE'S NEIGHBORING COMMUNITIES TO NORTH AMERICA. ON DECEMBER 10, 1927, HAVING FOLLOWED CHICAGO'S GRAND OPERA, THE SHOW COLLOQUIALLY BECAME KNOWN AS "THE GRAND OLE OPRY." BY 1943, THE OPRY HAD BECOME SO ACCLAIMED THAT THE ONLY VENUE IN TOWN THAT COULD ACCOMMODATE ITS THRICE WEEKLY SHOWS WAS THE NOW LEGENDARY RYMAN AUDITORIUM. THE BUILDING WOULD HOUSE THE OPRY UNTIL 1974 WHEN THE PROGRAM BUILT THEIR OWN CUSTOM SHOW HOUSE AND THEME PARK JUST OUTSIDE OF DOWNTOWN. THANKS TO THE FURTHER DEVELOPMENT OF NASHVILLE'S RECORDING INDUSTRY BY OPRY STAR CHET ATKINS, AS WELL AS RENOWNED PRODUCING BROTHERS OWEN AND HAROLD BRADLEY, NASHVILLE BEGAN THE EPICENTER OF THE COUNTRY MUSIC INDUSTRY. IN 1957, RCA STUDIO B WOULD OPEN ITS DOORS BETWEEN 16TH AND 17TH AVENUE IN NASHVILLE'S MIDTOWN. IT WELCOMED THE LIKES OF ELVIS PRESLEY, DOLLY PARTON, AND THE EVERLY BROTHERS IN ITS FIRST FEW YEARS ALONE- SOLIDIFYING ITS PLACE TO THIS DAY AS THE UNDISPUTED LEADER OF MUSIC ROW. 

will the city be

unbroken?

MUSIC CONTINUED TO BE NASHVILLE'S BACKBONE THROUGHOUT THE REST OF THE 20TH CENTURY. CLOSE TO 200 MUSIC STUDIOS, VENUES, AND DANCE HALLS WOULD OPEN IN THE FIRST HALF ALONE. NASHVILLE'S TOURISM INDUSTRY FOCUSED MAINLY ON THE WONDER OF MUSIC MAKING UNTIL THE OPRY'S COUNTRY MUSIC THEME PARK, OPRYLAND USA, CLOSED IN 1997. THE LACK OF SAFETY IN DOWNTOWN NASHVILLE COUPLED WITH THE DETERIORATING STATE OF THE RYMAN AUDITORIUM DROVE TOURISTS OUT OF THE CITY. NASHVILLE'S PENSION  FOR PRESERVING THE PAST WOULD CATCH UP WITH ITS DEBILITATING STATE AND A GRASSROOTS EFFORT TO SAVE THE RYMAN WOULD SPARK LOCAL INTEREST IN REBUILDING THE CITY'S MUSIC-TOURISM REPUTATION. FOLLOWING THE 1992 GRAMMY-AWARD-WINNING RELEASE OF EMMYLOU HARRIS'S "AT THE RYMAN" THE CITY SAW A CONTINUED INTEREST IN DEDICATING RESOURCES TO RENOVATE THE RYMAN- CITY'S MOST FAMED ATTRACTION. GAYLORD ENTERTAINMENT SOON ANNOUNCED PLANS TO REVIVE THE BUILDING AND COMMIT TO REVITALIZING DOWNTOWN NASHVILLE'S DWINDLING TOURISM INDUSTRY. WITH THE HELP OF CITY LEADERS AND THE FORMATION OF THE NASVHILLE VISITORS AND CONVENTIOSN CORPORATION IN 2006, NASHVILLE WOULD REGAIN THE SPOTLIGHT AS THE WORLD'S LEADER IN MUSIC-TOURISM. THE CITY HAS GONE ON TO GAIN A REPUTATION FOR SPORTS AS WELL, HAVING FRANCHISED 3 MAJOR LEAGUE TEAMS AND A HALF DOZEN MINOR LEAGUES. WITH SUCH A DIVERSE SOCIAL SCENES AND ECONOMIC LANDSCAPE, NASHVILLE HAS ATTRACTED THE ATTENTION OF FORTUNE 500 COMPANIES SUCH AS AMAZON, DOLLAR GENERAL, AND ALLIANCE BERNSTEIN, ALL OF WHOM NOW CALL MUSIC CITY ONE OF THEIR HEADQUARTERS. 

 

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