With so many newcomers to Nashville, and so much change happening in our city, it’s good to sometimes sit back and reflect on things that unite us as a city. And knowing interesting facts about our city is part of that unification. Below are a variety of items, from the historically significant to facts worth knowing on trivia night.
10 Interesting Nashville Facts
1) While many know that the Goo Goo Cluster originates in Nashville, do you know what separated out the Goo Goo Cluster from all other candy bars? It’s the first combination candy bar, ever. And talk on the street seems to support that “Goo” stands for Grand Ole Opry.
2) The 448 acres added to the Warner Parks in 2014 assured that the largest old-growth forest in an urban area east of the Mississippi would be protected for generations to come. Go for a hike and enjoy this Nashville treasure, which consists of over 3,000 acres!
3) Nashville was the first U.S. city to legalize prostitution. In 1863, after an unsuccessful attempt to evict all prostitutes from the Union-occupied city, another solution was tried. In an effort to keep the Union Army safe, as the STD rate was so high, General Granger legalized prostitution, requiring a certificate of prostitution to be kept up to date.
“1st That a license be issued to each prostitute, a record of which shall be kept at this office, together with the number and street of her residence. 2nd That one skillful surgeon be appointed as a Board of Examination whose duty it shall be to examine personally every week, each licensed prostitute, giving certificate of soundness to those who are healthy and ordering those into hospital those who are in the slightest degree diseased. 3rd That a building suitable for a hospital for the invalids be taken for that purpose, and that a weekly tax of fifty cents be levied on each prostitute for the purpose of defraying the expenses of said hospital. 4th That all public women found plying their vocation without license and certificate be at once arrested and incarcerated in the workhouse for a period of not less than thirty days.“
This regulation was seen as such a success that Memphis followed Nashville’s lead within a year to add legal regulations to prostitution in their city as well. Here is an article in The New York Times from 2015 covering this Nashville experiment.
4) Nashville’s metro government started in 1963 and is referred to as the “first true city-county consolidated government.” This form of government united the citizens together, added efficiencies and saved money. As of 2015, there were only 14 true city-county governments in the United States, and Nashville is looked at as a leader in this arena.
5) The Cumberland River is clean enough to fish and swim in, which is an anomaly for such a large city. This has not always been the case, but with concerted effort, this barge river is now far cleaner than it has been in the past. Another fun fact about the Cumberland River? Its river basin comprises the third most biodiverse freshwater region in the world, following the Mekong River Delta and the Amazon Basin. For more information, check out the Cumberland River Compact.
6) Nashville was the first Southern city to desegregate public establishments on May 10, 1960. African American residents, primarily from Fisk University, Tennessee State University and Baptist Theological Seminary organized a series of nonviolent sit-ins at lunch counters across downtown Nashville from February through May 1960. Tensions came to a peak when a bomb destroyed the home of the protestor’s attorney, Z. Alexander Looby, on April 19, 1960. This led to a march on City Hall and Mayor Ben West agreeing the lunch counters should be desegregated. Several weeks later, the counters and all public facilities were opened to all.
7) The original Musica project at the roundabout on Music Row was never fully completed. While we hear new plans are underway for adding fountains, the original plan also included some grand fountains that would have been spectacular. Originally, these fountains would shoot water from the outer circle of the roundabout to the center (where Musica sits today) under which cars would drive. Imagine having such an ambitious visual art statement as part of Nashville! While the plan was agreed to under the Bredesen administration, it was squashed under Purcell. (If Purcell had known that Instagram was coming, he might have realized the tourism gold this fountain would have been … not that Nashville is hurting in that department.) This article by Bruce Dobie in the Nashville Scene details how the water element of the original Musica public art plan dissolved in heartbreaking detail. That said, we are excited about the ambitious plans underway to add fountains (a new plan altogether) to Musica.
8) Nashville is given credit for establishing the meat ‘n’ three-style of restaurant. While we can’t find direct evidence that says, “YES, Nashville is absolutely the place that started it all,” it is commonly referenced by folks who have family who have lived in Nashville for several generations. If you take Wikipedia as fact, this is what is referenced: “A meat-and-three meal is often served with cornbread and sweet tea. Meat and three is popular throughout the United States, but its roots can be traced to Tennessee and its capital of Nashville. The phrase has been described as implying glorious vittles served with utmost informality. It is also associated with soul food.” To read about the meat ‘n’ three landscape in Nashville, this article by Erin Byers Murray in The Local Palate is great.
9) Local, independent radio station Lighting 100 (100.1) is a favorite, with a history of different owners and formats going back to 1961. What’s really cool is that 100.1 is also the same radio frequency that was the first FM license granted by the FCC in all of America to Nashville’s National Life and Accident Insurance Company, the owner of WSM. After 10 years, they returned the license to the FCC as not enough households had radios with FM receivers, so it was not a profitable venture (and at that point, they had switched to 103.3). So, today’s Lighting 100 shares that same place on the dial that the very first-ever FM license was granted in 1941. Makes you love that 100.1 a little more, huh?
10) You’ve probably passed Dolly Parton’s Nashville office/studio hundreds of times on 12South as it’s in plain sight. But, we’re going to keep the address a secret, because that’s the way we do things in Nashville. Aren’t you irritated we even brought it up? Welcome to Nashville!
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