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Nashville History

Prior to the arrival of Europeans in the 16th century, the area that is now occupied by Nashville was home to a succession of Native American tribes, among them the Cherokee, Chickasaw and Shawnee, who were drawn to the region by its fertile land and plentiful wildlife.

But their reign was came to an abrupt end when Hernando de Soto explored the area in the 16th century, paving the way for an influx of French fur traders. Nevertheless, it took a pair of Britons to construct the first permanent settlement, Bluff Station, which was put up in 1780.

By 1800, Nashville had begun to establish itself as a centre for cotton growing, getting its city charter in 1806 and expanding to become capital of Tennessee in 1843. Its first setback came in 1861, when Tennessee became the last state to join the Confederacy – a move that immediately made Nashville a primary target for Union forces. In 1862, it became the first state capital to fall to the Union Army during the American Civil War and was the scene of a bloody battle in 1864.

In the years that followed, Nashville expanded rapidly, becoming a hub for trade, in particular for cotton and coffee. In 1918, its trading prowess led to a disaster remembered as the Great Train Wreck, which saw an inbound passenger train collide with an outbound express, killing 101 people in the process. The incident remains one of the deadliest in US history.

As the early 20th century wore on, Nashville’s growth remained steady and was barely interrupted by WWI and WWII. Nashville’s music industry was born during the same period, starting with the Grand Ole Opry which arrived in 1920.

By the 1940s, the Opry had moved downtown and recording labels were flocking to the city. The Country Music Association was founded soon after, ensuring the city’s future success. The Opry moved to the Gaylord complex in 1974, and as country music went global, the city’s stock rose even further and it became the iconic destination it is today.

Did you know?
• Elvis Presley recorded more than 200 of his songs on Nashville’s famous Music Row.
• The city also became the first in the US to get a radio broadcasting license, attaining its credentials in 1941.
• Nashville’s 42m-high (138ft)Athena Parthenos is the largest free-standing statue in the Western hemisphere.

A digital image at https://illuminoto.com

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Featured Hotels


The Hermitage Hotel

Built in 1910 in the beaux-arts style, this city institution is the grande dame of local hotels. Smiling after an $18million refurbishment, the lobby is gilded plaster and stained glass windows, and the all-suite guest rooms boast Florentine marble bathrooms. Dining at the hotel’s Capitol Grille evokes an elegant wine cellar, and the Oak Bar has ornate woods and plasterwork.

Loews Vanderbilt Plaza Hotel

Boasting one of the most modern looks on the Nashville hotel scene, Loews Vanderbilt Plaza has bedded many celebrities and country music stars. Artwork is a heavy motif, from the tapestries of the lobby to the in-house branch of the Kraus art gallery. The angular guest rooms are softened by plush curtains, and Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse is well regarded among local carnivores.

Days Inn Vanderbilt/Music Row

The rooms here are at least refurbished every few years to keep this good value motel at least comfortable. The property dates back to the 1960s, giving it kind of a retro cool, and the free local calls and internet don’t hurt the budget. The location is convenient, with Music Row and Vanderbilt University both within easy walking distance.

The Hutton Hotel

Opened in 2009, this property blends traditional southern touched with Manhattan-esque chic, the lobby a mix of luxuriant woods, abstract sculptures and oversized lampshades. It’s a bold attempt to steer away from the more laboured aspects of the city, and you won’t find country music being piped on repeat. The rooms are trendy but not pretentious, and the 1808 Grille brings a modern twist to down-home cooking.

Union Station

A former railway terminal is the home for this hotel, which dates back to 1900. The architecture is Romanesque-Gothic, and the property enjoyed a $10million facelift in 2007. The station’s main hall becomes a striking lobby, with vaulted stained glass ceilings. While the exterior is a National Historic Landmark, the rooms are contemporary, though light sleepers may want to avoid those that overlook the tracks.

Hilton Downtown Nashville

Another all-suite offering, this new Downtown hotel has plenty of room, with 330 units. The palm-lined atrium lobby lends a touch of sophistication to the hotel, but its main appeal is the location, within walking distance of LP Field and the Country Music Hall of Fame. The suites lend themselves to self-catered living, though there are also 3 restaurants on site.