"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.

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

Alleyways of Nashville

Alleyways of Nashville

This publication shows some of the strategies that alley programs internationally have implemented in their work. Some have environmental benefits such as replacing asphalt with a more pervious material to collect water; while others have benefits for improving people's safety and perception of alleys such as providing lighting and visibility. Adopting even a few of these strategies could help transform alleys in Nashville which could becomes more active and prosperous. Most of these strategies require low maintenance, but it is important to take advantage of public space as a canvas for programming social activity. 

Fairgrounds Public Meetings Report

Fairgrounds Public Meetings Report

The Nashville Civic Design Center was asked by Mayor David Briley and the Fairgrounds Nashville Board of Directors, to facilitate a series of public meetings with the Fairgrounds Design Team, to get input in order to inform a more refined version of the Fairground Improvement Plan.

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