Founded in 1779 // Music City // CMA Music Festival // The Batman Building (AT&T Building) // 1.7 million people...
From its humble beginnings as a railroad city, Nashville rose to prominence in the 1960s with the popular rise of country music.
Home to the industry’s Big Four record labels, as well as the headquarters of Gibson Guitar Company, the city is second only to New York in music production. Its cultural cachet was built on the tradition of hillbilly musicians who came to record at tiny studios around town and, if they were lucky, win a spot in the Grand Ole Opry’s weekly stage concert and radio broadcast. Those tiny studios soon became cultural giants, churning out hit singles and forging international careers out of good ol’ boys and their guitars.
The more recent craze for nostalgic Americana – in décor, in fashion and, perhaps most of all, in music – has brought the city’s culture full circle. These days, glitzy pop country characterized by Top 40 radio hits and crossover artists, live cheek-by-jowl with stripped-down, analog productions that echo the eras of Jimmie Rodgers, Kitty Wells, and the Carter Family.
Depending on where you go in Nashville, you can find haute cuisine or home-style meat-and-three, glamorous boutiques or well-curated thrift shops, antebellum mansions or spare split-level housing. Sometimes, what you’ll find is an ingenious mix of both. One thing is certain – it will all be authentically American.
Getting Around Nashville is one of only six US cities that connects three major interstates. Interstate 40 runs east-west through the city, I65 runs north-south, and I24 runs northwest to southeast. Downtown parking is fairly plentiful, and most destinations offer ample parking on-site.
Nashville neighborhoods are very walkable, even late at night, and most hotels will provide a shuttle service in order to reach them.
The Music City Star Commuter Rail operates from Monday to Friday during peak commuter hours, with a late train on Friday that ends service at 10.30pm. The commuter rail runs between Riverfront Park in downtown Nashville and Lebanon. For more information, call customer service at (615) 862-8833.
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Chelsea Batten is an itinerant journalist and photographer