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20 interesting facts about Nashville

Let’s get down to quiz-ness. How many of the 20 facts did you already know?

An aerial view of the Nashville skyline at dusk.

What’s your favorite Nashville fast fact?

Photo by @mynashvillephotos

Did you know Nashville has a full-scale replica of the original Parthenon in Athens?

Nah, just kidding. If you know us, you know we’re here for the deep cuts — and there are plenty of interesting factoids to go around. As connoisseurs of the quirky and unconventional, we put together a list of Nashville’s history, oddest characteristics, and more. Maybe you’ve lived here your whole life and know some of this, or maybe you’ll learn something new.

Either way, test your local knowledge with these 20 interesting facts.

1. Did you know there was a proposal to put a glass bubble over Broadway? The Ryman-anchored project would have created an oasis of green space, shops, and restaurants under the bubble. Read all about it in this Nashville Banner clipping from April 18, 1987.

2. Watch your step. Along the eastern walkway at Bicentennial Capitol Mall State Park are time capsules from each of Tennessee’s 95 counties. The capsules were buried in 1996 and will be opened in 2096 — Tennessee’s 300th year of statehood.

3. Barn Dance, later named The Grand Ole Opry, aired on WSM-AM, in 1925. It has been recognized by Guinness World Records since 2004 as the longest running weekly radio program.

4. Nashville’s hot chicken delicacy is said to have been derived from a plot for revenge. Thornton Prince was reportedly out late on a Saturday evening, possibly romanticizing another woman. Prince’s lover at home generously over-seasoned his fried chicken, but to no avail, her anger was his success.

5. Oprah Winfrey began broadcasting on Nashville’s WVOL radio while in high school. She later became the youngest person and the first African American woman to anchor the news at Nashville’s WTVF at the age of 19.

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The Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum.

Photo by NASHtoday

6. The Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum’s architecture was strategically thought out to resemble elements of the industry. For example, the windows on the front of the building are meant to look like piano keys and the tower in the rotunda imitates the diamond-shaped radio tower of WSM.

7. The Grammy Nominations Concert, which kicks off Grammy season revealing nominations and featuring live performances, was held at Bridgestone Arena in 2012. This was the first time the event took place at a city outside of Los Angeles.

8. The Gulch was the first LEED ND neighborhood in the South. LEED is a “third party green building certification program and the globally recognized standard for the design, construction and operation of high-performance green buildings and neighborhoods.”

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Spring has sprung at Centennial Park. | Photo by @theallienicole

9. The 42-ft-tall statue of Athena inside the Parthenon is the western hemisphere’s largest indoor statue. The statue’s spear was created out of a McDonald’s flag pole.

10. The late Rep. John Lewis helped organize a successful sit-in movement at segregated lunch counters in Nashville in 1960. He graduated from both American Baptist Theological Seminary and Fisk University. The black-and-white granite stools in Bicentennial Capitol Mall State Park and the Civil Rights Room at the downtown branch of the Nashville Public Library mark the significance of the event.

11. The 2019 NFL Draft, which was held in Nashville, was the most-attended draft in NFL history with 600,000+ people in attendance over the course of the three-day event.

12. William Strickland, architect of the Tennessee State Capitol, noted the capitol as one of his greatest achievements and was buried in the northeast cornerstone. Former president James K. Polkand his wife are also buried on the grounds.

13. Nashville resident Captain William Driver is credited with giving the American flag its nickname “Old Glory.”

14. Tin Pan South, which takes place in Nashville each year, is the world’s largest songwriter festival.

15. The Goo Goo Cluster was America’s first combination candy bar when it was invented in Nashville in 1912.

A tray of cookies

Christie Cookie Co. | Photo by NASHtoday

16. The famous DoubleTree cookies come from dough by Nashville’s very own Christie’s Cookie Co.

17. In 1928, Vanderbilt University student Morris Frank traveled to Germany to train and bring back what would become his seeing eye dog, Buddy. By 1929, Frank helped found The Seeing Eye in Nashville, the country’s first guide dog school.

18. There’s more to the Schermerhorn Symphony Center than meets the eye. See how many irises (state flower), passionflowers (state wildflower), and coffee beans (a nod to Cheek family and their ties to Maxwell House Coffee) you can spot on your next visit. Here’s a cheat sheet.

19. Between 2008 and 2016, puppeteers from all over the world gathered in Music City for the Nashville International Puppet Festival. The festival created by the Nashville Public Library is no longer active, but the library’s Puppet Truck is still chugging along.

20. Speaking of the library, one of the most visited collections in Metro Archives is the yearbook collection on the third floor. That’s right — if you attended school in Nashville between 1900 to 2017, it’s possible your yearbook is on display (check the online database by clicking export in the top right). Note: The library doesn’t actively collect yearbooks, so it’s not a comprehensive collection.

Your turn. Think you can get one over on us? Let us know your favorite local trivia tidbit and you just might make it into the newsletter.

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