Main Births etc
Nashville, Tennessee
—  Consolidated city–county  —
Metropolitan Government of
Nashville and Davidson County
From top left: 2nd Avenue, Kirkland Hall at Vanderbilt University, the Parthenon, the Nashville skyline, LP Field, Dolly Parton performing at the Grand Ole Opry, and Ryman Auditorium


Nickname(s): Music City, Athens of the South

Nashville, Tennessee is located in Tennessee
Nashville, Tennessee
Location in Davidson County and the state of Tennessee.
Coordinates: 36°10′00″N 86°47′00″W / 36.1666667, -86.7833333Coordinates: 36°10′00″N 86°47′00″W / 36.1666667, -86.7833333
Country United States
State Tennessee
County Davidson
Founded 1779
Incorporated 1806
Named for Francis Nash
 • Mayor Karl Dean (D)
 • Consolidated 527.9 sq mi (1,367 km2)
 • Land 504.0 sq mi (1,305 km2)
 • Water 23.9 sq mi (62 km2)
Elevation 597 ft (182 m)
Population (2010)[2][3][4][5]
 • Consolidated 626,681
 • Density 1,200/sq mi (460/km2)
 • Metro 1,589,934
 • Balance 601,222
Demonym Nashvillians
Time zone CST (UTC-6)
 • Summer (DST) CDT (UTC-5)
ZIP codes 37201-37250
Area code(s) 615 and 629
Interstates I-40, I-24, I-65, and I-440
Waterways Cumberland River
Public transit Nashville MTA
Regional rail Music City Star

Nashville ( /ˈnæʃvɪl/) is the capital of the U.S. state of Tennessee and the county seat of Davidson County.[6] It is located on the Cumberland River in the north-central part of the state. The city is a center for the music, health care, publishing, banking and transportation industries, and is home to a large number of colleges and universities. Reflecting the city's position in state government, Nashville is home to the Tennessee Supreme Court's courthouse for Middle Tennessee. It is known as a center of the music industry, earning it the nickname "Music City".

Nashville has a consolidated city–county government which includes six smaller municipalities in a two-tier system. As of the 2010 census the population of Nashville, not including the semi-independent municipalities, stood at 601,222.[4] The population of Nashville as a whole, including all municipalities, was 626,681.[2] Nashville is the second largest city in Tennessee, after Memphis, and the fourth largest city in the Southeastern United States. The 2010 population of the entire 13-county Nashville metropolitan area was 1,589,934,[7] making it the largest Metropolitan Statistical Area in the state. The 2010 population of the Nashville-Davidson–Murfreesboro–Columbia combined statistical area, a larger trade area, was 1,670,890.[8]


The town of Nashville was founded by James Robertson, John Donelson, and a party of Overmountain Men in 1779, near the original Cumberland settlement of Fort Nashborough. It was named for Francis Nash, the American Revolutionary War hero. Nashville quickly grew because of its strategic 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.

Nashville riverfront shortly after the Civil War

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. The Battle of Nashville (December 15–16, 1864) was a significant Union victory and perhaps the most decisive tactical victory gained by either side in the war.

Within a few years after the Civil War 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.

In 1963, Nashville consolidated its government with Davidson County, forming a metropolitan government. Since the 1970s, the city has experienced tremendous growth, particularly during the economic boom of the 1990s under the leadership of then-Mayor and later-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 and Museum, the downtown Nashville Public Library, the Bridgestone Arena, and LP Field.

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 team 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 that came down to the last play.

In 1997 Nashville was awarded an NHL expansion team which was subsequently named the Nashville Predators. Since the 2003/04 season, the Nashville Predators have made the playoffs every season except for two.

Today, the city along the Cumberland River is a crossroads of American culture, and one of the fastest-growing areas of the Upland South.


A satellite image of Nashville


Nashville lies on the Cumberland River in the northwestern portion of the Nashville Basin. Nashville's topography ranges from 385 feet (117 m) above sea level at the Cumberland River to 1,160 feet (350 m) above sea level at its highest point.[9]

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 527.9 square miles (1,367 km2), of which 504.0 square miles (1,305 km2) of it is land and 23.9 square miles (62 km2) of it (4.53%) is water.


Nashville has a humid subtropical climate (Köppen Cfa),[10] with generally cool to moderately cold winters, and hot, humid summers. Monthly averages range from 37.7 °F (3.2 °C) in January to 79.4 °F (26.3 °C) in July, with a diurnal temperature variation of 18.2 to 23.0 °F (10 to 13 °C). In the winter months, snowfall does occur in Nashville but is usually not heavy. Average annual snowfall is about 5.8 inches (15 cm), falling mostly in January and February and occasionally March and December.[11] The largest snow event since 2000 was on January 16, 2003, when Nashville received 7 inches (18 cm) of snow in a single storm; the largest on record was 17 inches (43 cm), received on March 17, 1892.[12] Rainfall is typically greater in winter and spring while autumn is the driest. Spring and fall are generally warm but prone to severe thunderstorms, which occasionally bring tornadoes — with recent major events on April 16, 1998; April 7, 2006; February 5, 2008; April 10, 2009; and May 1–2, 2010. Relative humidity in Nashville averages 83% in the mornings and 60% in the afternoons,[13] which is considered moderate for the Southeastern United States.[14] In recent decades, due to urban development, Nashville has developed an urban heat island (UHI); especially on cool, clear nights, temperatures are up to 10 °F (5.6 °C) warmer in the heart of the city than in rural outlying areas. The entire Nashville region lies within USDA Plant Hardiness Zone 7a.[15]

Nashville's long springs and autumns combined with a diverse array of trees and grasses can often make it uncomfortable for allergy sufferers.[16] In 2008, Nashville was ranked as the 18th-worst spring allergy city in the U.S. by the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America.[17]

The coldest temperature ever recorded in Nashville was −17 °F (−27.2 °C) on January 21, 1985, and the highest was 109 °F (43 °C) on June 29, 2012.[18]

Climate data for Nashville (Nashville Int'l), 1981–2010 normals
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °F (°C) 78
Average high °F (°C) 46.9
Average low °F (°C) 28.4
Record low °F (°C) −17
Precipitation inches (mm) 3.75
Snowfall inches (cm) 2.4
Avg. precipitation days (≥ 0.01 in) 10.3 10.3 10.7 10.8 11.7 10.0 10.2 8.4 7.5 8.0 9.8 11.2 118.9
Avg. snowy days (≥ 0.1 in) 2.1 2.1 .6 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 .9 5.7
Mean monthly sunshine hours 139.5 146.9 192.2 231.0 260.4 279.0 279.0 263.5 225.0 217.0 147.0 130.2 2,510.7
Source: NOAA (extremes 1873−present),[11]Hong Kong Observatory (sun only, 1961−1990)[19][20]


Downtown Nashville

The downtown area of Nashville features a diverse assortment of entertainment, dining, cultural and architectural attractions. The Broadway and 2nd Avenue areas feature entertainment venues, night clubs and an assortment of restaurants. North of Broadway lie Nashville's central business district, Legislative Plaza, Capitol Hill and the Tennessee Bicentennial Mall. Cultural and architectural attractions can be found throughout the city.

The downtown area of Nashville is easily accessible. Three major interstate highways (I-40, I-65 and I-24) converge near the core area of downtown, and many regional cities are within a day's driving distance.

Nashville's first skyscraper, the Life & Casualty Tower, was completed in 1957 and started the construction of high rises in downtown Nashville. After the construction of the AT&T Building (commonly known to locals as the "Batman Building") in 1994, the downtown area saw little construction until the mid-2000s. Many new residential developments have been constructed or are planned for the various neighborhoods of downtown and midtown. A new high rise office building, The Pinnacle, was recently opened in 2010.[21]

Many civic and infrastructure projects are either being planned, in progress, or recently completed. A new MTA bus hub was recently completed in downtown Nashville, as was the Music City Star pilot project. Several public parks have been constructed, such as the Public Square. Riverfront Park is scheduled to be extensively updated. The Music City Center, a convention center project, is a 1,200,000 square foot (110,000 m2) convention center with 370,000 square feet (34,000 m2) of exhibit space. It opened in May 2013.

Parks and gardens[]

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

Metro Board of Parks and Recreation owns and manages 10,200 acres (4,130 ha) of land and 99 parks and greenways (comprising more than 3% of the total area of the county).

Warner Parks, situated on 2,684 acres (1,086.2 ha) of land, consists of a 5,000-square-foot (460 m2) learning center, 20 miles (32 km) of scenic roads, 12 miles (19 km) of hiking trails, and 10 miles (16 km) of horse trails. It is also the home of the annual Iroquois Steeplechase.

The United States Army Corps of Engineers maintains parks on Old Hickory Lake and Percy Priest Lake. These parks are used for activities such as fishing, waterskiing, sailing and boating. The Harbor Island Yacht Club makes its headquarters on Old Hickory Lake, and Percy Priest Lake is home to the Vanderbilt Sailing Club.

Other parks in Nashville include Centennial Park, Shelby Park, Cumberland Park, and Radnor Lake State Natural Area.

On August 27, 2013, Nashville mayor Karl Dean revealed plans for two new riverfront parks on the east and west banks of the Cumberland River downtown. Construction on the east bank park will begin fall of 2013, and the projected completion date for the west bank park is 2015. Among many exciting benefits of this Cumberland River re-development project is the construction of a highly anticipated outdoor amphitheater. Located on the west bank, this music venue will be surrounded by a new 12-acre park and will replace the previous thermal plant site. It will include room for 6,500 spectators with 2,500 removable seats and additional seating on an overlooking grassy knoll. In addition, the 4.5 acre east bank park will include a river landing, providing people access to the river. In regard to the parks' benefits for Nashvillian civilians, Mayor Dean remarked that "if done right, the thermal site can be an iconic park that generations of Nashvillians will be proud of and which they can enjoy" (WKRN-TV Nashville).

Metropolitan area[]

Nashville has the largest metropolitan area in the state of Tennessee, spanning 13 counties and, as of 2009, had a population of 1,582,264.[3] The Nashville Metropolitan Statistical Area encompasses the Middle Tennessee counties of Cannon, Cheatham, Davidson, Dickson, Hickman, Macon, Robertson, Rutherford, Smith, Sumner, Trousdale, Williamson, and Wilson.[22] The 2009 population of the Nashville-Davidson—Murfreesboro—Columbia combined statistical area was estimated at 1,666,210.[23]

Signs welcoming motorists into Nashville on major roadways include the phrases "Music City" and "Home Of The Grand Ole Opry".


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 and Fort Negley, the former being a reconstruction of the original settlement, the latter being a semi-restored Civil War battle fort; the Tennessee State Museum; and The Parthenon, a full-scale replica of the original Parthenon in Athens. The Tennessee 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.


Although best known for its music, Nashville is a city filled with many dining destinations. Some of the more popular types of local cuisine include hot chicken, hot fish, barbecue, and meat and three. Thanks, in part, to Nashville's foodie culture, the city was ranked as the 13th "snobbiest" city in America according to Travel + Leisure magazine.[24]

Entertainment and performing arts[]

Ryman Auditorium, the "Mother Church of Country Music"

Nashville has a vibrant music and entertainment scene spanning a variety of genres. The Tennessee Performing Arts Center is the major performing arts center of the city. It is the home of the Tennessee Repertory Theatre, the Nashville Opera, the Music City Drum and Bugle Corps, and the Nashville Ballet. In September 2006, the Schermerhorn Symphony Center opened as the home of the Nashville Symphony.

As the city's name itself is a metonym for the country music industry, many popular tourist sites involve country music, including the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum, Belcourt Theatre, and Ryman Auditorium. Ryman was home to the Grand Ole Opry until 1974 when the show moved to the Grand Ole Opry House, 9 miles (14 km) east of downtown. The Opry plays there several times a week, except for an annual winter run at the Ryman.

Numerous music clubs and honky-tonk bars can be found in downtown Nashville, especially the area encompassing Lower Broadway, Second Avenue, and Printer's Alley, which is often referred to as "the District".[25][26]

Each year, the CMA Music Festival (formerly known as Fan Fair) brings thousands of country fans to the city. The Tennessee State Fair is also held annually in September.

Nashville was once home of television shows such as Hee Haw and Pop! Goes the Country, as well as The Nashville Network. Country Music Television, RFD TV, and Great American Country currently operate from Nashville. The city was also home to the Opryland USA theme park, which operated from 1972 to 1997 before being closed by its owners (Gaylord Entertainment Company) and soon after demolished to make room for the Opry Mills mega-shopping mall.

The Christian pop and rock music industry is based along Nashville's Music Row, with a great influence in neighboring Williamson County. The Christian record companies include EMI Christian Music Group, Provident Label Group and Word Records.

Music Row houses many gospel music, and Contemporary Christian music companies centered around 16th and 17th Avenues South.

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-AM and enjoyed phenomenal success with a 12-year show on the NBC Radio Network. In the late 1930s, he introduced a newcomer, Dinah Shore, a local graduate of Hume Fogg High School and Vanderbilt University.

Radio station WMOT-FM in nearby Murfreesboro has aided significantly in the recent revival of the city's jazz scene, as has the non-profit Nashville Jazz Workshop, which holds concerts and classes in a renovated building in the north Nashville neighborhood of Germantown. Fisk University also maintains a jazz station.

Nashville has an active theatre scene, and is home to several professional and community theatre companies. Nashville Children's Theatre, Tennessee Repertory Theatre, the Nashville Shakespeare Festival, the Dance Theatre of Tennessee and the Tennessee Women's Theater Project are among the most prominent professional companies. One community theatre, Circle Players, has been in operation for over 60 years.


Perhaps the biggest factor in drawing visitors to Nashville is its association with country music. Many visitors to Nashville attend live performances of the Grand Ole Opry, the world's longest running live radio show. The Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum is another major attraction relating to the popularity of country music. The Gaylord Opryland Resort & Convention Center, the Opry Mills regional shopping mall and the General Jackson showboat, are all located in what is known as Music Valley.

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, Carnton plantation in Franklin, and Belmont Mansion.[27]

Nashville has several arts centers and museums, including the Frist Center for the Visual Arts, 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[]

Event Month Held and Location
Nashville Film Festival Weeklong festival in April. It features hundreds of independent films and is one of the biggest film festivals in the Southern United States.
Nashville Fashion Week A city-wide celebration of Nashville’s thriving fashion and retail community and its vast array of creative talent — featuring local, regional and national design talent in fashion events and shows. Typically held in March or April, the event benefits the Nashville Fashion Forward Fund of the Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee.[28]
Country Music Marathon Marathon and half marathon which normally include over 25,000 runners from around the world in April. In 2012, participation for the Marathon and Half Marathon surpassed 30,000 runners.
Veterans Day Parade A parade running down Broadway on 11/11 at 11:11.11 am since 1951. Features include 101st Airborne division (Air Assault), Tennessee National Guard, Veterans from wars past and present, military plane fly-overs, tanks, motorcycles, first responder vehicles, marching bands and thousands of spectators.[29]
Iroquois Steeplechase Annual steeplechase horse racing event which takes place in May at Percy Warner Park.
CMA Music Festival A four-day event in June featuring performances by country music stars, autograph signings, artist/fan interaction, and other activities for country music fans.
Let Freedom Sing! Held every July 4 at Riverfront Park, featuring a street festival and live music, and culminating with a large fireworks show.
Tomato Art Festival Takes place in East Nashville every August.
African Street Festival Takes place on the campus of Tennessee State University in September.
Tennessee State Fair In September at the State Fairgrounds. The State Fair lasts nine days and includes rides, exhibits, rodeos, tractor pulls, and numerous other shows and attractions.
Live on the Green Every Thursday in September and into October. Live on the Green is a free concert series held by local radio station Lightning 100 and is located at Public Square Park.
Celebrate Nashville Cultural Festival A free annual event in Centennial Park, the first Saturday in October. Middle Tennessee's largest multicultural festival includes music and dance performances, ethnic food court, children's area, teen area, and marketplace.
Country Music Association Awards Usually held in November at the Bridgestone Arena and televised nationally to millions of viewers.


Nashville hosted a team called the Nashville Rebels which participated in the 1938 American Football League, and two Arena Football League teams named the Nashville Kats: one that ran from 1997–2001 until they were sold to Atlanta and renamed as the Georgia Force; and another expansion franchise that competed from 2005–2007. Nashville also hosts the second longest continually operating race track in the United States, the Fairgrounds Speedway. Two Little League baseball teams from Nashville (one in 1970 and one in 2013) have qualified for the Little League World Series.


LP Field

Nashville has several professional sports teams, of which two, the Nashville Predators of the NHL and the Tennessee Titans of the NFL, play at the highest professional level of their respective sports. Nashville is also home to the NCAA college football Music City Bowl and the Fairgrounds Speedway, a NASCAR Whelen All-American Series racetrack.

Club Sport League Venue Established
Tennessee Titans Football National Football League LP Field 1960
Nashville Predators Hockey National Hockey League Bridgestone Arena 1997
Nashville Sounds Baseball Pacific Coast League Herschel Greer Stadium 1978
Middle Tennessee Storm Basketball Central Basketball League Picirilli Activity Center 2013


Nashville is also home to four Division I athletic programs.

2004 Vanderbilt-Navy Game

Program Division Conference Major venues
Vanderbilt Commodores Division I (FBS) Southeastern Conference Vanderbilt Stadium (football)
Memorial Gymnasium (basketball)
Hawkins Field (baseball)
Tennessee State Tigers Division I (FCS) Ohio Valley Conference LP Field (football)
Gentry Center (basketball)
Belmont Bruins Division I (non-football) Ohio Valley Conference Curb Event Center
Lipscomb Bisons Division I (non-football) Atlantic Sun Conference Allen Arena


Offices for The Tennessean

The daily newspaper in Nashville is The Tennessean, which until 1998 competed with the Nashville Banner, another daily paper that was housed in the same building under a joint-operating agreement. The Tennessean is the city's most widely circulated newspaper, while a smaller free daily called The City Paper shares the Nashville market. Online news service competes with the printed dailies to break local and state news. Several weekly papers are also published in Nashville, including The Nashville Pride, Nashville Business Journal, Nashville Scene and The Tennessee Tribune. Historically, The Tennessean was associated with a broadly liberal editorial policy, while The Banner carried staunchly conservative views in its editorial pages; The Banner's heritage is carried on these days by The City Paper. The Nashville Scene is the area's alternative weekly broadsheet. The Nashville Pride is aimed towards community development and serves Nashville's entrepreneurial population.

Nashville is home to eleven broadcast television stations, although most households are served by direct cable network connections. Comcast Cable has a monopoly on terrestrial cable service in Davidson County (but not throughout the entire media market). Nashville is ranked as the 29th largest television market in the United States.[30]

Nashville is also home to cable networks Country Music Television (CMT), among others. CMT's master control facilities are located in New York City with the other Viacom properties. The Top 20 Countdown and CMT Insider are taped in their Nashville studios. Shop at Home Network was once based in Nashville, but the channel signed off in 2008.

Several dozen FM and AM radio stations broadcast in the Nashville area, including five college stations and one LPFM community radio station. Nashville is ranked as the 44th largest radio market in the United States. WSM-FM is owned by Cumulus Media and is 95.5 FM. WSM-AM, owned by Gaylord Entertainment Company, can be heard nationally on 650 AM or online at WSM Online from its studios located inside the Gaylord Opryland Resort & Convention Center. WSM is famous for carrying live broadcasts of the Grand Ole Opry, through which it helped spread the popularity of country music in America, and continues to broadcast country music throughout its broadcast day. WLAC, whose over-the-air signal is heard at 1510 AM, is a Clear Channel-owned talk station which was originally sponsored by the Life and Casualty Insurance Company of Tennessee, and its competitor WWTN is owned by Cumulus.

Several major motion pictures have been filmed in Nashville, including The Green Mile, The Last Castle, Gummo, The Thing Called Love, Two Weeks, Coal Miner's Daughter, Nashville,[31] and Country Strong.


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.[32] Nashville has been home to the headquarters of guitar company Gibson since 1984. Since the 1960s, Nashville has been the second-largest music production center (after New York) in the U.S.[33] As of 2006, Nashville's music industry is estimated to have a total economic impact of US$6.4 billion per year and to contribute 19,000 jobs to the Nashville area.[34]

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 300 health care companies, including Hospital Corporation of America, the largest private operator of hospitals in the world.[35][36] As of 2012, it is estimated that the health care industry contributes US$30 billion per year and 200,000 jobs to the Nashville-area economy.[37] 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 Franklin, southwest of Nashville. Nissan also has its largest North American manufacturing plant in Smyrna, Tennessee. Largely as a result of the increased development of Nissan and other Japanese economic interests in the region, Japan moved its New Orleans consulate-general to Nashville's Palmer Plaza.

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, National Baptist Convention USA, and the National Association of Free Will Baptists.

Nashville is also known for some of their famously popular Southern confections, including MoonPies and Goo Goo Clusters (which have been made in Nashville since 1912).[38]

Fortune 500 companies within Nashville include Dell,[39] HCA and Dollar General.

In 2013, the city ranked No. 5 on Forbes' list of the Best Places for Business and Careers.[40]

Top employers[]

According to the city's 2010 Comprehensive Annual Financial Report, the top employers in the city are:[41]

# Employer # of Employees
1 Vanderbilt University and Medical Center 20,968
2 Metropolitan Nashville-Davidson County Government and Public Schools 20,162
3 State of Tennessee 20,000
4 U.S. Government 11,496
5 Saint Thomas Health Services 6,500
6 Nissan North America 5,850
7 HCA 5,447
8 Walmart 4,500
Gaylord Entertainment 4,500
9 Cracker Barrel Old Country Store 4,189
10 Dell 3,200


Historical populations
Census Pop.
1810 1,100
1820 3,410 210.0%
1830 5,566 63.2%
1840 6,929 24.5%
1850 10,165 46.7%
1860 16,988 67.1%
1870 25,865 52.3%
1880 43,350 67.6%
1890 76,168 75.7%
1900 80,865 6.2%
1910 110,364 36.5%
1920 118,342 7.2%
1930 153,866 30.0%
1940 167,402 8.8%
1950 174,307 4.1%
1960 170,874 −2.0%
1970 448,003 162.2%
1980 455,651 1.7%
1990 510,784 12.1%
2000 569,891 11.6%
2010 601,222 5.5%
Est. 2012 624,496 [42] 9.6%


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.

According to the 2009 American Community Survey, there were 628,434 people residing in the city. The population density was 1,204.2 inhabitants per square mile (464.9 /km2). There were 282,452 housing units at an average density of 560.4 per square mile (216.4 /km2).[47]

At the 2010 census, the racial makeup of the city was 60.5% White (56.3% non-Hispanic white), 28.4% African American, 0.3% American Indian and Alaska Native, 3.1% Asian, 0.1% Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander, 2.5% from two or more races. 10.0% of the total population was of Hispanic or Latino origin (they may be of any race).[48]

Population density map per 2000 census

There were 254,651 households and 141,469 families (55.6% of households). Of households with families, 37.2% had married couples living together, 14.1% had a female householder with no husband present, and 4.2% had a male householder with no wife present. 27.9% of all households had children under the age of 18, and 18.8% had at least one member 65 years of age or older. Of the 44.4% of households that are non-families, 36.2% were individuals and 8.2% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.38 and the average family size was 3.16.[49]

The age distribution was 22% under 18, 10% from 18 to 24, 33% from 25 to 44, 24% from 45 to 64, and 11% who were 65 or older. The median age was 34.2 years. For every 100 females there were 94.1 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 91.7 males.[50]

The median income for a household in the city was $46,141, and the median income for a family was $56,377. Males with a year-round, full-time job had a median income of $41,017 versus $36,292 for females. The per capita income for the city was $27,372. About 13.9% of families and 18.2% of the population were below the poverty line, including 29.5% of those under age 18 and 9.9% of those age 65 or over.[51] Of residents 25 or older, 33.4% have a bachelor's degree or higher.[2]

Because of its relatively low cost of living and large job market, Nashville has become a popular city for immigrants.[52] Nashville's foreign-born population more than tripled in size between 1990 and 2000, increasing from 12,662 to 39,596. The city's largest immigrant groups include Mexicans, Kurds,[53] Vietnamese, Laotians, Cambodians, Arabs, and Bantus call Nashville home, among other groups. There are also smaller communities of Pashtuns from Afghanistan and Pakistan concentrated primarily in Antioch.[54] Nashville has the largest Kurdish community in the United States, numbering approximately 11,000.[55] About 60,000 Bhutanese refugees are being admitted to the U.S. and some of them will resettle in Nashville.[56] During the Iraqi election of 2005, Nashville was one of the few international locations where Iraqi expatriates could vote.[57] The American Jewish community in Nashville dates back over 150 years, and numbered about 6,500 in 2001.[58][59]

Law and government[]

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 six smaller municipalities within the consolidated city-county: Belle Meade, Berry Hill, Forest Hills, Oak Hill, Goodlettsville (partially), and Ridgetop (partially). These municipalities use a two-tier system of government, with the smaller municipality typically providing police services and the Metro Nashville government providing most other services. Previously, the city of Lakewood also had a separate charter. However, Lakewood residents voted in 2010 and 2011 to dissolve its city charter and join the metropolitan government, with both votes passing.[60]

Nashville is governed by a mayor, vice-mayor, and 40-member Metropolitan Council. It uses the strong-mayor form of the mayor–council system.[61] The current mayor of Nashville is Karl Dean. The Metropolitan Council is the legislative body of government for Nashville and Davidson County. There are five 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 6:00 pm, according to the Metropolitan Charter.

Nashville is home to the Tennessee Supreme Court's courthouse for Middle Tennessee.


Nashville has been a Democratic stronghold since at least the end of Reconstruction, and has remained staunchly Democratic even as the state as a whole has trended strongly Republican. While local elections are officially nonpartisan, nearly all of the city's elected officials are known to be Democrats. At the state level, Democrats hold all but two of the city's 10 state house districts and all but one of the city's four state senate districts. Pockets of Republican influence exist in the wealthier portions of the city, but they are usually no match for the overwhelming Democratic trend in the rest of the city.

Democrats are no less dominant at the federal level. Democratic presidential candidates have only failed to carry Davidson County three times since the end of Reconstruction. In 1968, third-party candidate George C. Wallace carried Nashville with a plurality of 35.1 percent. In 1972, Richard Nixon became the first Republican to carry Nashville since Reconstruction, winning it with 61 percent of the vote as part of his 49-state landslide that year; as part of it, Nixon carried 90 of Tennessee's 95 counties. In 1988, George H. W. Bush narrowly won Nashville with 52 percent of the vote.

In most years, Democrats have carried Nashville at the presidential level with relatively little difficulty, even in years when they lose Tennessee as a whole. This has been especially true in recent elections. 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. In 2008, Barack Obama carried Nashville with 60% of the vote even as John McCain won Tennessee by 15 points.

Despite its size, all of Nashville has been in a single congressional district for most of the time since Reconstruction; it is currently numbered as the 5th District, represented by Democrat Jim Cooper. A Republican has not represented a significant portion of Nashville since 1874. Republicans made a few spirited challenges in the mid-1960s and early 1970s. The Republicans almost won it in 1968; only a strong showing by a candidate from Wallace's American Independent Party kept the seat in Democratic hands. However, 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 in the presidential election 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 as President. 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.

From 2003 to 2013, a sliver of southwestern Nashville was located in the 7th District, represented by Republican Marsha Blackburn. This area was roughly coextensive with the portion of Nashville she'd represented in the state senate from 1998 to 2002. However, the 5th regained all of Nashville after the 2010 census.


Public schools[]

The city is served by Metropolitan Nashville Public Schools.

Private schools[]

  • Abintra Montessori
  • Brentwood Academy
  • Lipscomb Academy
  • Davidson Academy
  • Donelson Christian Academy
  • Christ Presbyterian Academy
  • Harding Academy
  • Ensworth School
  • Ezell-Harding Christian School
  • Franklin Road Academy
  • Father Ryan
  • Goodpasture Christian School
  • Harpeth Hall School
  • Linden Waldorf School
  • Madison Academy
  • Montgomery Bell Academy
  • Nashville Christian School
  • Nashville International Academy
  • John Paul II High School
  • St. Cecilia Academy
  • St. Paul Christian Academy
  • University School of Nashville

Colleges and universities[]

Freeman Hall at Belmont University

Nashville is often labeled the "Athens of the South" due to the many colleges and universities in the city and the metropolitan area.[62] The colleges and universities in Nashville include:

Name Affiliation Enrollment
American Baptist College
Aquinas College Roman Catholic
Belmont University 6,647
Daymar Institute
Fisk University United Church of Christ (Historically) 800
John A. Gupton College
Lipscomb University Churches of Christ 4,278
Meharry Medical College United Methodist Church 700
Nossi College
Nashville School of Law
Nashville Auto Diesel College (a NAFTC Training Center)
Nashville State Community College 9,853
Tennessee State University 10,389
Trevecca Nazarene University Nazarene 2,345
Vanderbilt University 12,714
Watkins College of Art, Design & Film 400
Welch College 319

Within 30 miles (48 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 Nashville is around 43,000. Within the Nashville Metropolitan Statistical Area—which includes MTSU, Cumberland University (Lebanon), Volunteer State Community College (Gallatin), Daymar Institute, and O'More College of Design (Franklin)—total enrollment exceeds 74,000. Within a 40 miles (64 km) radius are Austin Peay State University (Clarksville) and Columbia State Community College (Columbia), enrolling an additional 13,600.

Nashville is home to four historically black institutions of higher education: Fisk University, Tennessee State University, Meharry Medical College, and American Baptist College.[63]


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. Briley Parkway connects the north side of the city and its interstates. A number of arterial surface roads called "pikes" radiate from the city center; many carry the names of nearby towns to which they lead. Among these are Clarksville Pike, Gallatin Pike, Lebanon Pike, Murfreesboro Pike, Nolensville Pike, and Franklin Pike.


The Metropolitan Transit Authority provides bus transit within the city, out of a newly built hub station downtown. Routes utilize a hub and spoke method. Expansion plans include use of Bus rapid transit for new routes, with the possibility for local rail service at some point in the future.

Nashville is considered a gateway city for rail and air traffic for the Piedmont Atlantic Megaregion.[64]


The city is served by Nashville International Airport (BNA), which was a hub for American Airlines between 1986 and 1995 and is now a focus city for Southwest Airlines. During 2011, Nashville International was the 34th busiest passenger airport in the U.S. with a total of 4,673,047 passenger boardings.[65] Major airlines serving Nashville include American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, Frontier Airlines, Southwest Airlines, United Airlines, US Airways, and AirCanada.[66] AirTran Airways offered limited routing to the airport until it was deemed unprofitable.



Although a major freight hub for CSX Transportation, Nashville is not currently served by Amtrak, the second-largest metropolitan area in the U.S. to have this distinction.[67] Amtrak's Floridian (Chicago-Florida via Louisville and Nashville) served Nashville until its cancellation on October 9, 1979 due to poor track conditions resulting in late trains and low ridership.

While there have been no proposals to restore Amtrak service to Nashville, there have been repeated calls from residents.[68] However, Tennessee state officials have advised it will not be happening anytime soon due to scarce federal funding. "It would be wonderful to say I can be in Memphis and jump on a train to Nashville, but the volume of people who would do that isn't anywhere close to what the cost would be to provide the service," said Ed Cole, chief of environment and planning with the Tennessee Department of Transportation.[68] Ross Capon, executive director of the National Association of Railroad Passengers, said rail trips would catch on if routes were expanded, but conceded that it would be nearly impossible to resume Amtrak service to Nashville without a substantial investment from the state because federal money has dried up.[68]


Nashville launched a passenger commuter rail system called the Music City Star on September 18, 2006. The only currently operational leg of the system connects the city of Lebanon to downtown Nashville at the Nashville Riverfront. Legs to Clarksville, Murfreesboro and Gallatin are currently in the feasibility study stage. The system plan includes seven legs connecting Nashville to surrounding suburbs.

Bridges within the city include:

Official name Other names Length Date opened
Gateway Bridge Korean War Veterans Memorial Bridge 1,660 feet (510 m) May 19, 2004
Kelly Miller Smith Bridge Jefferson Street Bridge March 2, 1994
Old Hickory Bridge 1929
Martin Luther King Jr. Bridge Bordeaux Bridge September 18, 1980
Shelby Street Bridge Shelby Avenue Bridge 3,150 feet (960 m) July 5, 1909
Silliman Evans Bridge 2,362 feet (720 m) 1963
Victory Memorial Bridge July 2, 1956
William Goodwin Bridge Hobson Pike Bridge 2,215 feet (675 m)
Woodland Street Bridge 639 feet (195 m)


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

  • Music City, USA: WSM-AM announcer David Cobb first used this name during a 1950 broadcast and it stuck. It is now the official nickname used by the Nashville Convention and Visitors Bureau. Nashville is the home of the Grand Ole Opry, the Country Music Hall of Fame, and many major record labels.[69] This name also dates back to 1874, where after receiving and hearing a performance by the Fisk Jubilee Singers, Queen Victoria of England is reported as saying that "These young people must surely come from a musical city."[70]
  • Athens of the South: Home to twenty-four post-secondary educational institutions, Nashville has long been compared to the ancient city of learning, site of Plato's Academy. Since 1897, a full-scale replica of the Athenian Parthenon has stood in Nashville, and many examples of classical and neoclassical architecture can be found in the city.[62]
  • The Protestant Vatican[71] or The Buckle of the Bible Belt: Nashville has over 700 churches,[72] several seminaries, a number of Christian music companies, and is the headquarters for the publishing arms of the Southern Baptist Convention (LifeWay Christian Resources), the United Methodist Church (United Methodist Publishing House) and the National Baptist Convention (Sunday School Publishing Board). It is also the seat of the National Baptist Convention, the National Association of Free Will Baptists, the Gideons International, the Gospel Music Association, and Thomas Nelson, the world's largest producer of Bibles.[73]
  • Cashville: Nashville native Young Buck released a successful rap album called Straight Outta Cashville that has popularized the nickname among a new generation.[74]
  • Little Kurdistan: Nashville has the United States' largest population of Kurdish people, estimated to be around 11,000.[55][75]
  • Nash Vegas or Nashvegas[76]

Nashville has additionally earned the moniker "The Hot Chicken Capital",[77] becoming known for the local specialty cuisine hot chicken.[78][79] The Music City Hot Chicken Festival is hosted annually in Nashville and several restaurants make this spicy version of southern fried chicken.[80]

Sister cities[]

Nashville is an active participant in the Sister Cities program and has relationships with the following towns:[81]

  • South Korea Gwangjin-gu (South Korea)
  • Japan Kamakura (Japan)
International Friendship City
  • France Crouy (France)
Municipality United in Friendship
  • Spain El Port de la Selva (Spain)

See also[]

  • National Register of Historic Places listings in Davidson County, Tennessee


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Further reading[]

  • Carey, Bill (2000). Fortunes, Fiddles, & Fried Chicken: A Nashville Business History. Franklin, TN: Hillsboro Press. ISBN 1-57736-178-4. 
  • Duke, Jan (2005). Historic Photos of Nashville. Nashville, TN: Turner. ISBN 978-1-59652-184-1. 
  • Durham, Walter T (2008). Nashville: The Occupied City, 1862–1863. Knoxville, TN: University of Tennessee Press. ISBN 1-57233-633-1. 
  • Durham, Walter T (2008). Reluctant Partners: Nashville and the Union, 1863–1865. Knoxville, TN: University of Tennessee Press. ISBN 1-57233-634-X. 
  • Egerton, John; et al., eds (1979). Nashville: The Faces of Two Centuries, 1780–1980. Nashville, TN: PlusMedia. OCLC 5875892. 
  • Egerton, John; et al., eds (2001). Nashville: An American Self-Portrait. Nashville, TN: Beaten Biscuit. ISBN 0-9706702-1-4. 
  • Haugen, Ashley D (2009). Historic Photos of Nashville in the 50s, 60s and 70s. Nashville, TN: Turner. ISBN 978-1-59652-539-9. 
  • Houston, Benjamin (2012). The Nashville Way: Racial Etiquette and the Struggle for Social Justice in a Southern City. Athens: University of Georgia Press. ISBN 978-0820343273. 
  • Lovett, Bobby L (1999). African-American History of Nashville, Tennessee, 1780–1930: Elites and Dilemmas. University of Arkansas Press. ISBN 1-55728-555-1. 
  • Potter, Susanna H (2008). Nashville & Memphis. Moon Handbooks. Berkeley, CA: Avalon Travel. ISBN 978-1-59880-102-6. 
  • McGuire, Jim (2007). Historic Photos of the Opry: Ryman Auditorium, 1974. Nashville, TN: Turner. ISBN 978-1-59652-373-9. 
  • Romine, Linda (2006). Nashville & Memphis. Frommer Guides (7th ed.). Hoboken, NJ: Frommer's. ISBN 0-471-77614-9. 
  • Wooldridge, John; et al., eds (1890). History of Nashville, Tennessee. Nashville, TN: Methodist Episcopal Church, South. OCLC 316211313. 
  • Zepp, George R (2009). Hidden History of Nashville. Charleston, SC: History Press. ISBN 978-1-59629-792-0. 
  • Winders, Jamie. Nashville in the New Millennium: Immigrant Settlement, Urban Transformation, and Social Belonging (Russell Sage Foundation; 2013) 340 pages; a study of Hispanic immigrants

External links[]

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