Everyone has heard of Nashville. It’s not called Music City, U.S.A. for nothing! Most people think the city is all about country music, cowboy boots and line dancing, but locals know the Nashville facts that are the truth behind the stereotypes.
It has great weather and amazing views. Some of the most unique architecture in the country is here. Two U.S. Presidents are buried in or near Nashville. As for music, sure we’re the home of country music, but Elvis also recorded more than 200 songs at RCA Studios. Here are a bunch of other Nashville facts known only to locals.
39 facts only real Nashville locals know
1. BBQ is a separate food group. Don’t argue about it. Just try all the different kinds and decide on a favorite. Not all of them involve pork and tomatoes. Barbecue chicken with Liquid Gold barbecue sauce is a national treasure.
2. Named “The Athens of the South,” Nashville is the only city in the world that has a replica of the Parthenon from Athens, Greece. You can find it in Centennial Park.
3. The city hosts Tin Pan South, the largest festival for songwriters in the world. Songwriters of all genres, not just country, descend on the city every spring for the weeklong festival. Many perform their work on street corners, as well as at local music venues.
4. The creators of Maxwell House Coffee did it in Nashville. President Theodore Roosevelt reportedly gave the brand its famous tagline “Good to the last drop” when he tried it on a visit to the city.
5. The Grand Ole Opry has been airing weekly for 94 years. It’s the longest-running show in the entire world. It’s still carried on the radio, as well as on TV and the auditorium is always packed with a live audience. Good luck getting tickets if you don’t make plans in advance!
6. Revolutionary War general, Francis Nash, is the inspiration for the name Nashville. The city was founded in the middle of the war in 1779.
7. The famous music scene began with African-American gospel groups, not country music. It all started with the Jubilee Singers of Fisk University way back in the 1870s. Emancipated slaves studying at the university were the first members of the group. They traveled the country to raise money to fund the school. The group is still around and continues to travel and perform.
8. Gaylord Opryland Resort and Convention Center is an overrated tourist attraction that’s not worth the admission price except in December. That’s when Opryland turns into a true wonderland that delights Christmas lovers of all ages. It’s the best Christmas display in the city.
9. The first seeing-eye guide dog in the United States was trained in Nashville by a native named Morris Frank. He left his studies at Vanderbilt University to travel to Europe to find out more about the seeing-eye dogs he’d heard about. He returned with his first guide dog, Buddy, and began training more. The foundation he created, The Seeing Eye, is still in Nashville.
10. Hunting for the best apartments in Nashville is easier and more fun compared to other cities. There are many types of apartments to choose from here. Nashville is more affordable than most other big cities, too!
11. Nashville is where the phrase “Old Glory” became popularized to describe the American flag. It started in the Civil War when a retired sailor named William Driver retrieved his hidden flag and flew it over the city after the Union Army recaptured it from the Confederates. He referred to his flag as “Old Glory” and the nickname caught on.
12. Famous thoroughbreds War Admiral and Seabiscuit were both born in Nashville. Move over, Louisville. They’ve got the Triple Crown winners right here in Nashvegas. Belle Meade Plantation, which bred both horses, is open to the public for tours. They also offer tastings at the on-site winery.
13. Every neighborhood in Nashville is distinctive and has its own personality. You’re sure to find one that suits you perfectly.
14. The architecture at the Country Music Hall of Fame is better, but the real country music history is at the Johnny Cash Museum. They’re proud of their favorite native son. (Yes, he was born in Arkansas, but they overlook that small flaw.)
15. Pancake Pantry’s pancakes aren’t worth the wait. Neither are the biscuits from Biscuit Love. They’re both overpriced restaurants that cater primarily to tourists. Many other restaurants have pancakes and biscuits that are homemade, just as good and don’t require an hour-long wait.
16. Prince’s Hot Chicken Shack IS worth standing in line for. Be prepared to drink a bucket of water to douse the heat. That chicken is hot, hot, hot.
17. Nashville was the first city in the South to desegregate public businesses. The protests and sit-ins that led to the victory sparked civil rights advocates in other cities to do the same.
18. RCA Studio B stays decorated for Christmas since Elvis recorded his first Christmas album there in the middle of July. The Music Row Studio is open to the public year-round.
19. Goo Goo Clusters were created in Nashville and are still made right here. The company makes over 3 million pounds of chewy confection every year.
20. The city has thriving hip-hop and rap scenes. Some of the best rappers have come from Cashville, including Young Buck, Lil Queze and Starlito.
21. Speaking of music, Nashville has a ton of live music venues and might be the only place in the world where you can listen to bluegrass, walk next door to catch a country concert, then go downstairs to listen to a rap battle and finally finish off the day by driving down the road to listen to the Nashville Symphony perform.
22. Nashville has more people working in the music industry than anywhere else in the country, including Los Angeles and New York. Over 60,000 music industry jobs are in Nashville. That’s four times as many as the next nearest city.
23. No one really knows what goes on in the Batman Building downtown. Supposedly, it’s owned by AT&T and is an office building for them, but locals aren’t so sure. Could Bruce Wayne have an office on the top floor?
24. Nashville has the only music studio left in the entire world that can record music directly on vinyl records. The Blue Room is part of Jack White’s Third Man Records and has live performances, too.
25. The only American to ever become President of a foreign country was born in Nashville. William Walker became Chief Executive of Nicaragua in 1856.
26. Ryman Auditorium started off as a meeting place for local gospel churches. It was only later converted into a concert venue. It’s been a designated Historic Landmark since 2001.
27. The Frist Art Museum is an underrated landmark. It’s one of the only museums on the National Register of Historic Places. The building itself is a work of art in the Art Deco style. It was the main post office!
28. Nashville is home to the oldest FM radio station in the country. It’s another reason for the nickname “Music City.” In fact, local legend has it that it was one of the DJs for this music station back in the day that first called Nashville by the famous moniker.
29. The Gulch is still an old hippie neighborhood, despite the new businesses moving in. It’s still the best place to find eccentric shops and bars. There’s no better location in town to hear eclectic music, either.
30. We’re the only city other than Los Angeles to ever host the Grammy Awards. They’d love to do it again if anyone from the Recording Academy is reading this.
31. Sri Ganesha Temple and Sanctuary will transport you to another time and place. It’s a replica of Hindu Temples built in India between 900 and 1100 AD. The temple welcomes visitors and holds tours daily, but it is a working temple, so it closes periodically during the day for services. There’s a restaurant and a gift shop on-site, too.
32. Nashville has the largest Kurdish community in the U.S. More than 15,000 Kurds call Nashville home, though the U.S. Census has yet to recognize the refugees from Iraq. The community calls its neighborhood Little Kurdistan.
33. Percy Priest Lake is the best place to go boating and hiking despite the entry fee, which is only $5, anyway. There are miles of trails and campgrounds, as well as plenty of boat ramps.
34. Nashville is home to over 678,000 people. It’s the biggest city in the state of Tennessee and is rapidly growing. Its population has grown by almost 13 percent since 2010 and it’s the 23rd largest city in the United States. More and more people are discovering the charms of Music City and deciding to call it home!
35. The monument to Lysicrates in Athens was the inspiration for the Tennessee State Capitol building, which is one of the oldest capitol buildings in the country still operating. President James Polk and his wife are buried on the grounds.
36. Even people who don’t like country music will admit that the architecture at the Country Music Hall of Fame is amazing. From the front windows designed to look like piano keys, to the physical representation of recording technology evolution that makes up the rotunda’s roof, it’s worth visiting just to see the building.
37. The Honky Tonk Highway is the nickname for an area of South Broadway that has bars and other venues playing live music — and letting it flow outside onto the streets —from 10 a.m. every morning until 3 a.m. the following morning. Many of the venues have multiple floors and they rarely publish their playing schedules in advance. Sometimes, music stars just show up and start playing.
38. President Andrew Jackson lived just outside Nashville on an estate named The Hermitage. He’s buried on the grounds. The estate is now a museum dedicated to the history and the President’s life.
39. Wave Country is the place to go during the summer. The freshwater swimming pool and water park complex can easily be an all-day affair to help the family keep cool during the hot Southern summers. There are concession stands but you can also bring your own picnic. You can even bring a tent if you like.
Did we miss any Nashville facts?
Residents are proud of their city and heritage. If you’re moving to Music City, you can find apartments in Nashville here.
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