In 1779, a team of Overmountain Men named James Robertson and John Donelson founded a city near Cumberland settlement next to the Cumberland River near Fort Nashborough, named after Francis Nash, after whom this city got its name – Nashville. The port on the Cumberland River led to the speedy growth of the new city of Nashville. The housing development in the 18th and 19th centuries gave rise to educational and other services. 

Today, it is the capital and the most populated city in the state of Tennessee, United States. The city has also gained several nicknames like ‘Music City’, ‘Athens of the South’, and ‘Nash Vegas’. Here are a few examples of architectural development in this Music City.

1. Ryman Auditorium

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Ryman Auditorium ©

Built by Thomas Ryman in 1892 as a permanent location for tent revival-style gospel meetings, the Ryman auditorium today is known as the ‘Mother Church of Country Music’. The 2,362-seat live-performance auditorium is constructed in the Gothic Revival style of architecture as a load-bearing brick structure embellished with limestone and pointed arch windows. This soul of Nashville is also famously known as the home of the Grand Ole Opry.

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Colorful windows on the façade ©
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Auditorium interior ©

2.  Tennessee State Capitol

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Tennessee State Capitol ©

Set atop a hill overlooking the city of Nashville, State Capitol features the architectural style of a Greek Ionic Temple. The highly regarded Greek order- Ionic order, constitutes the facade of the Capitol. Cast iron, limestone, and marble are used extensively to go along with the clean lines of classical architecture and as an onset of modern style.

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Interior space ©
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State Library ©

3. Union Station Hotel

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Union Station Hotel ©

In a city rich in history, the iconic Union Railroad station stands proudly as a hotel today. It served as a railway station from 1900 and due to the decline in passenger rail service in the nation, discontinued its services by 1975. This Victorian Romanesque Revival style building reopened as a hotel in 1986 and the renovated structure features Italian marble floors, wrought iron accents, and a stained glass lobby.

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Interior of the hotel ©
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Rail yard next to the Union Station, 1952 ©

4. Vanderbilt University

Built in 1873, Vanderbilt University is a private research university on a 330-acre land in Nashville and is famous for its large number of trees and green space. It was also designated as a national arboretum. The buildings on the campus are designed in various styles as per the era it was constructed in.

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Vanderbilt University ©Yellow Pages
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Campus ©

5. Customs House

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Customs House ©

Another example displaying the rich history of Nashville is the Customs House designed by architect William Appleton in Victorian Gothic style architecture, featuring lancet windows and triple-arched entrance on the ornate stone facade. Originally served as a post office as well as offices for Treasury and Justice Departments, it is now private office space.

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Facade © Getty Images
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Customs House 1887 ©

6. Fort Negley Park

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Aerial view of the complex ©The cultural landscape foundation

Fort Negley was the largest inland fort in the United States during the war, built after the capture of Nashville. The star-shaped fortification was constructed of a limestone block atop St. Cloud Hill. The restorations of the fort and the site, which turned into multi-use recreation facilities and green space, attracts users to experience the historical place.

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Entrance of the fort ©
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South-west view, Illustration ©The cultural landscape foundation
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Fort Negley guard tower 1940 ©

7. Cheekwood Botanical Garden

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Cheekwood Botanical Garden ©The cultural landscape foundation

The 55-acre botanical garden is a perfect retreat from the hustle and bustle of the city. This Japanese-style landscape garden includes ponds, small hills, fountains, and an art museum in addition to various plants.

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Cheekwood Botanical Garden ©
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Museum of Art ©

8. Andrew Jackson’s Hermitage

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The mansion ©

The Hermitage was the plantation and house of the seventeenth president of the United States, Andrew Jackson. When Jackson and his wife chose this as a site, they commissioned to build a Federal-style building with bricks. But after a fire broke out in the house and caused severe damage, a new building was built in Greek Revival style (current). Of the 400 ha plantation, 200 ha was only for producing cotton, whereas the rest of the land was used to produce other crops and to breed and train the racehorses. The tomb of Jackson and his wife are also located in the Hermitage garden, whereas the mansion now serves as a museum.

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Tomb of Andrew Jackson in the garden ©
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The farm ©

9. Parthenon

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Parthenon ©

A full-scale replica of the Parthenon in Athens, the Parthenon in Nashville was built in 1897 as a part of the Tennessee Centennial Exposition in Centennial Park. Nashville is nicknamed ‘Athens of the South’ due to its dedication to higher studies, just like Athens in Greece was recognized as the center of learning. This influenced architect William Crawford Smith to create a replica of The Parthenon. Parthenon in Nashville is now a museum where the statue of Athena Parthenos and other artworks are displayed.

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View of Parthenon in the Centennial Park ©
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Athena Parthenos sculpture in the Parthenon ©

10. John Seigenthaler Pedestrian Bridge 

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View of the bridge ©

Known as the longest pedestrian bridge in the world, John Seigenthaler Pedestrian Bridge is a truss bridge that spans 960 meters over the Cumberland River. The bridge has four steel trusses and two reinforced concrete trusses. The 11-meter wide bridge has lanes for bicycles and seatings. The bridge is widely known as Nashville’s iconic landmark.

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The walkway © The cultural landscape foundation
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The bridge © The cultural landscape foundation
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Entrance © The cultural landscape foundation

11. Fort Nashborough

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Fort Nashborough ©The cultural landscape foundation

Fort Nashborough was established by James Robertson in 1779, overlooking the Cumberland River, as a settlement that would become the city of Nashville. Wood obtained from the surrounding dense woods was used to build the two-story stockade surrounded by log cabins. The entire structure was constructed without the use of metal nails or fixtures. As the continuous attacks of the war led to the abandonment of the fort, a replica of the fort was thus constructed in the 1930s, and later, again in 1962, which got destroyed too in 2015. In 2017, an interpretive center opened on the site.

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Fort Nashborough ©The cultural landscape foundation
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Fort Nashborough ©The cultural landscape foundation
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Scale model at Tennessee State Museum ©

12. AT&T Building

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The Batman building ©

Famously known as the ‘Batman Building’, the AT&T building is the tallest building in the state of Tennessee standing at 188 meters. The Batman building has earned this nickname due to its distinctive design and dark color, resembling the cowl of the character – Batman.

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At&T Building © The Tennessean
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Tallest building in the skyline of Nashville ©

13. The Gulch

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The Gulch © StyleBlueprint

The Gulch neighborhood in the city of Nashville is the first LEED-ND certified community in the American South and one of the few in the US to achieve that certification. The Gulch has achieved this status due to its excellent walkability, connectivity, and public transportation. Once known as Nashville’s bustling railroad yard, after World War II impacted the activity, the area was sparsely occupied for 50 years. This ultimately opened opportunities to design the now vibrant city.

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The Gulch ©
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The Gulch ©

14. Music Row

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Music Row ©

Music Row, the heart of Nashville, is a historic area in the downtown, and home to the city’s musical heritage. Several businesses and attractions like RCA Studio B, Owen Bradley Park, and offices of recording studios, music licensing firms, video production houses, record labels, as well as publishing houses line up the Music Row area.

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Music Row ©417 Magazine
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Music Row ©

15. Mural Walk

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Mural Walk ©

Not only is Nashville famous for music, but also for the street art, which travelers come to see from all over the world. Street art or mural art continues to come up on every wall of the city, transforming the cultural fabric as well the architectural façade and urbanscape of Nashville.

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Mural Walk ©
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Mural Walk ©
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Image 1 – Ryman Auditorium ©
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Image 2 – Colorful windows on the façade ©
Image 3 – Auditorium interior ©

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Image 4 – Tennessee State Capitol ©
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Image 5 – Interior space ©
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Image 6 – State Library ©
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Image 7 – Union Station Hotel ©
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Image 8 – Interior of the hotel ©
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Image 9 – Rail yard next to the Union Station, 1952 ©
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Image 11 – Vanderbilt University © Yellow Pages
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mage 12 – Campus ©
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Image 13 – Customs House ©
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Image 14 – Facade © Getty Images
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Image 15 – Customs House 1887 ©
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Image 16 – Aerial view of the complex © The cultural landscape foundation
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Image 17 – Entrance of the fort ©
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Image 18 – South-west view, Illustration © The cultural landscape foundation
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Image 19 – Fort Negley guard tower 1940 ©
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Image 20 – Cheekwood Botanical Garden © The cultural landscape foundation
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Image 39 – Tallest building in the skyline of Nashville

Pranjali is a passionate artist and an architect who loves to blend her designs with nature. She designs meticulously and is always exploring the impact of architectural spaces on user's mind and body. You will find her lost in travelling, daydreams, books, and also on mountain trails.

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