Any lifelong — or even long-time — Nashvillian will tell you that Music City is barely recognizable from even just a few years ago. Yes, Nashville has definitely evolved into its “It City” nickname, but what was it like before it was the cool kid on the block? Take a look — slide the dot across for a before and after of some of the city’s most recognizable landmarks — and prepare to be amazed!

NASHVILLE, THEN & NOW

Eighth Avenue & Lafayette Street

There was no Stix sculpture — and no roundabout for that matter — at Eighth Avenue and Lafayette Street back in the early 1950s. There was, however, a fabulous RC Cola billboard! (History buffs, note the “Alamo Plaza 2 Miles” sign, and then read up here.)

100 Oaks

Long before it was purchased Vanderbilt University Medical Center took up residence there, 100 Oaks was Nashville’s second enclosed shopping destination (Harding Mall was the first) and enjoyed the title of Tennessee’s largest mall from 1968 to 1971. After closing in 1983 and a fairly rocky following three decades with various reinventions, 100 Oaks is bustling once again with both retail options on the first floor as well as Vanderbilt physicians’ offices on the second floor.

The Belcourt Theatre

From 1937 to 1966, what is today known as “the Belcourt” was called The Belcourt Playhouse. But it was open well before that, showing silent films since 1925 and featuring what was, at the time, Nashville’s largest stage. Today, the Belcourt is enjoying renewed purpose, having undergone a major renovation that was completed in 2016. Its guests flock to this Hillsboro Village fixture to see films, attend events and partake in classes and various community education opportunities. The Belcourt Theatre is located at 2102 Belcourt Ave., Nashville TN 37212.

The Hermitage Hotel

Before any of the luxury chains or hip boutique hotels opened downtown, The Hermitage Hotel was the premier destination for diplomats and the upper class to lay their heads while visiting Nashville. Construction began in 1908, and The Hermitage Hotel quickly became Nashville’s third skyscraper at a whopping 10 stories high. It was also the city’s first $1 million hotel, which is a far cry from price tags on today’s luxury builds. The Hermitage Hotel is located at 231 Sixth Ave. N., Nashville, TN 37219.

Fourth Avenue

Downtown Nashville hasn’t always been a popular tourist destination. Yes, decades before popular restaurants like Martin’s BBQ and national hotel chains planted roots in Middle Tennessee, Fourth Avenue South had a blue-collar vibe, and nary a skyscraper or high-rise condo dotted the landscape.

All “then” photos are from the Grannis Vintage Nashville archives. All “now” photos taken by Leila Grossman of Grannis Photography and Ingrid Komisar of Ingrid Komisar Photography.

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