Nashville was founded on Christmas Eve 1779 by a group of Overmountain Men, so named because they were frontiersmen who came from west of the Appalachian Mountains and fought in the American Revolutionary War. This new town was named for Francis Nash, a hero of that war. Nashville’s strategic location on the Cumberland River and later as a major railroad center led to rapid growth and development. In 1843 it became the capital of Tennessee.
As Nashville prospered and rose in prominence, thoughts of secession were running through the South during the late 1850’s and early 1860’s. The city’s role as a prominent railroad and shipping port made controlling those routes a significant prize to both sides. In 1862, Nashville fell to Union troops and its occupation continued for the duration of the Civil War. The Battle of Nashville in December 1864 was the final major action of the war.
Prosperity Spurs Development
After the Civil War, Nashville once again regained its position as an important trading and shipping center and entered into a new era of manufacturing. Many of the city’s iconic neo-classical buildings constructed during this period are still evident throughout the downtown neighborhoods.
As in many southern cities, segregation remained largely intact in Nashville during the early half of the twentieth century. However, under a new city charter which allowed for the redistricting of certain wards, African Americans were eventually elected to city council positions.
During the second half of the twentieth century, Nashville continued its significant economic growth and development. The Life & Casualty Tower, Nashville’s first skyscraper was built in 1957, and marked the beginning of high rise construction in the city. In the 1990’s, under the leadership of then mayor Phil Bredesen, many new landmarks were constructed – including the world-famous Country Music Hall of Fame. In 1994, the 33 story AT&T Building was completed. Among Nashville locals it soon became known as the “Batman Building”, due to its dark coloration and distinctive design resembling the mask of the caped crusader. Nissan Stadium, built in 1999, became the home of the NFL’s Tennessee Titans (formerly the Houston Oilers). Over the last decade, residential high rise condominiums began to experience increased development along with new housing communities in the various Nashville neighborhoods.
Music City is Big Business
Recently, Forbes Magazine ranked Nashville No. 5 on its list of the Best Places for Business and Careers. As the “home of country music”, Nashville is the second largest (after New York) music recording and production center in the U.S. All of the major record labels as well as many independents have offices in the Music Row area. Many of the most famous and successful country singers in history got their start in Nashville. Performers from Roy Acuff, Chet Atkins, Willie Nelson, and Johnny Cash to most of today’s young stars hit it big in Music City. The world-famous Gibson Guitar Company has its headquarters in Nashville. The music industry is estimated to have contributed $7 billion per year and more than 19,000 jobs to Nashville’s economy.
Tourism has grown considerably due its association with the country music industry. Some of the better known attractions bringing an influx of tourists, and their dollars, include the Grand Ole Opry, Country Music Hall of Fame and CMA annual awards telecast. And one can never forget the iconic Dolly Parton, Queen of Country, who also happens to have her own Nashville-area theme park, Dollywood.
Although renowned as a music center and tourist destination, Nashville’s largest industry is actually health care. It is home to more than 300 health care companies, including Hospital Corporation of America, the largest private operator of hospitals world-wide. The health care industry contributes $30 billion per year and 200,000 jobs to the Nashville area’s economy.
The automotive industry’s impact can also be seen with Nissan’s North American headquarters located here, as well as Bridgestone Tires. Finally, with more than 700 churches, some have called Nashville “The Protestant Vatican” or “The Buckle of the Bible Belt.” The Southern Baptist Convention and the United Methodist Church have their publishing headquarters here, as well as Thomas Nelson, the world’s largest producer of Bibles.
Southern Renaissance City
Nashville is considered by many to be a “college town”. This vibrant city is home to many colleges and universities, chief among them is Vanderbilt University around which much of the city’s cultural and social life revolves. With twenty-four post-secondary institutions, Nashville has been referred to as “Athens of the South” in comparison to that ancient city of learning. Coincidentally, a full-scale replica of the Greek Parthenon is the centerpiece of Nashville’s Centennial Park along with a statue of Athena.
The city’s social and cultural offerings aren’t limited to Music Row and campus life though. Nashville also has a burgeoning, diverse dining scene. Some of the most popular foods are regional barbecue and hot (spicy) fish. Trend-setting restaurants including Etch, City House, and Rolf and Daughters are leading a foodie revolution. However, it’s most well-known as the “Hot Chicken Capital”, a spicy version of southern fried chicken. Meanwhile, innovative venues such as Frist Center for the Visual Arts and the Schermerhorn Symphony Center are bringing world-class visual and performing arts to the city.
Hot Condo Market Still a Good Value
With a healthy local economy, strong job supply due to its corporate-friendly environment, and large student population, it’s not surprising that Nashville’s real estate market is hot. The condo market is particularly strong with limited inventory triggering quick sales. The tight supply creates upward pressure on prices, driving this seller’s market. However, despite the lowest inventory in over a decade, Nashville is still an attractive market for condo buyers. While prices are up over 32% from this time last year, the median condo price is just under $250,000 – making Nashville a bargain compared to other major cities with comparably strong job growth. Condo buyers, even those with big dreams of music stardom, still have an opportunity to find value amidst the excitement of Music City.