Nashville History Facts and Timeline

(Nashville, Tennessee - TN, USA)

Since the city's founding in 1779, Nashville history has been of continual interest to visitors to the Tennessee state capital. This city of music was the home of two US presidents, a site of Civil War battles and the location of the World's Fair in 1897.

Nashville offers a vibrant portrait of a past era, including beautiful architecture, plush mansions and a thriving riverfront merchant culture.

The Founding of the City

When the city was first established, it was strategically based next to the Fort Nashborough stockade, with its name 'Nashville' being derived from American War of Independence hero Francis Nash. Its well-placed location, its river port and its railroad all ensured that the city grew rapidly.

The city's status was cemented further with its naming as the Tennessee capital in 1843. In 1864, the Civil War 'Battle of Nashville' saw an important Union victory. Not long after the Civil War, the city became a successful manufacturing hub, a status that brought much prosperity. Evidence of this period still remains in the downtown area, in the form of imposing classical-style architecture, with these stately buildings helping to shed light on this era of Nashville history.

The Rebuilding of the Parthenon

In 1897, a life-size replica of the Athens Parthenon was built in Nashville. The building was constructed for the Tennessee Centennial and International Exposition, which was held in the same year, and although it was never planned as a permanent fixture, its popularity led to the flimsy original being rebuilt in concrete in 1925. Over the years, many elaborate events have taken place in the Parthenon, including chariot races and productions with casts of literally hundreds of people.

The Birthplace of Country Music

A weekly concert presenting country musicians started in 1925, being known as the Grand Ole Opry. This show is widely considered to be the birthplace of country music and boasts the most famous stage in the USA.

Over the years, performers in Nashville have included huge stars such as Hank Williams, Dolly Parton, Garth Brooks, Patsy Cline and the Dixie Chicks. The Opry started in the Ryman Auditorium (also a major attraction), but moved to a new site in 1974, and a section of the original stage was relocated to the new venue. President Nixon hosted the opening night, and the 4,400-seater Grand Ole Opry House still hosts weekly concerts today. Of note, a radio show of each performance is always broadcast.

The Tennessee State Museum

The Tennessee State Museum opened in 1937 due to the state requiring a space to store and preserve its various important collections, including mementos from WWI. The collections stretch over three floors and provide an insight into the complete history of Tennessee, from pre-colonization to the modern day. Especially impressive are the collections of uniforms, flags and militaria from the Civil War, which rank amongst the most extensive in the whole of the United States. This is certainly an important stop for anyone who wants a detailed Nashville history lesson.

Country Music Memorialised

Nashville's acclaimed Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum (CMF) opened its doors in 1967, with the aim of preserving the history of country music while educating its audience about the genre's evolution and traditions.

The original CMF opened on Music Row, but later moved to downtown Nashville in 2001, where it contains historic video clips and recorded music, as well as frequent live performances. The relocation was pioneered by Mayor Phil Bredesen, who was concerned with urban renewal. His continued efforts brought about an economic boom during the 1990s.