"The disadvantage of men not knowing the past is that they do not know the present. History is a hill or high point of vantage, from alone which men see the town in which they live or the age in which they are living."

G.K. Chesterton
"On St. George Revived,"
All I Survey

History of Nashville

The first known photograph of Nashville is of the public square. this is fitting for it is the public square that is the point of vantage for Nashville's history in three dimensions.

It was with the square that the settlers from North Carolina first began to apply an enduring shape to the land they claimed. That shape was supplied by surveyor Thomas Molloy, who in 1784, before Tennessee was even a state, platted a village of one-acre lots, with four accres reserved for a civic square on the bluffs above the Cumberland River near Fort Nashborough. Molloy laid his lines as a grid running up and down and across hills and valleys with no regard for topography--obvious progenitors of the downtown street pattern of today.

The Plan of Nashville is the first effort to consider the central city in its entirety, develop a community-based vision, and identify design principles. The goals of the Plan of Nashville are threefold.

  1. Establish, through community participation, a long-term vision and core set of design principles that will guide current and future development in Nashville.
  2. Increase public awareness and understanding of the physical environment through community participation in historical research and visioning workshops.
  3. Produce a book and model that serve to record the vision, design principles, and the process that established them.

Downloads & Links

Metro Historical Commission Publications

Footnotes contains two self-guided walking tours of downtown Nashville. The tours point out some of Nashville's most architecturally and historically significant buildings. Whether you take one tour or both, this brochure will provide you with an excellent introduction to Tennessee's historic capital city.

This brochure explores the several names and nicknames that the city has become known by: Nashboro, Nashville, Capital City, Athens of the South, Music City.

Nashville: What's in a name? (2.4 MB)

Additional Historical Resources

Metro Nashville Archives - http://www.nashville.gov/metro_archives/index.html
Tennessee State Library - http://www.tennessee.gov/tsla
Historic Nashville - http://www.historicnashville.com
Nashville Public Library Special Collections - Nashville Room

Recent Projects

Access and Livability: Transit-Oriented Development, The Franklin Corridor Preview

Access and Livability: Transit-Oriented Development, The Franklin Corridor

As Nashville’s economy and population booms, creating new opportunities for transit will help keep our communities healthy and prosperous. Currently, Nashville is a car-centric city leaving most of its people with the automobile as the only option for transportation. As driving costs, obesity rates, and the median age of the population continue to increase, providing transportation options becomes a priority to ensure public health and continued mobility. 

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