Nashville's Broadway is an iconic and historic street located in downtown Nashville, Tennessee. Often referred to as "Lower Broadway," it is famous for its vibrant entertainment scene, live music, honky-tonks, and bustling nightlife. Here's an overview of the history of Nashville's Broadway:
Early History: Broadway was one of the original streets in the city's grid layout, dating back to the early 1800s. The area around Broadway initially developed as a commercial and transportation hub due to its proximity to the Cumberland River, which facilitated trade and travel.
Music and Entertainment: The music and entertainment culture that Nashville is renowned for today started to take shape on Broadway in the mid-20th century. Honky-tonks, bars, and live music venues began to pop up along the street, drawing musicians from all over the country to perform in the heart of Music City.
Country Music's Influence: As Nashville gained its reputation as the center of the country music industry, Broadway played a crucial role in shaping this identity. The street became a hotspot for aspiring country musicians and songwriters, and many of country music's legends got their start performing in the honky-tonks along Broadway.
Grand Ole Opry: Although the Grand Ole Opry itself is not located on Broadway, it significantly influenced the street's history. The famous radio show, which began in 1925, helped propel Nashville to prominence as the "Country Music Capital of the World," leading to increased interest in the city's music scene, including Broadway.
The 1970s Renovation: In the 1970s, Broadway underwent a significant renovation to enhance its appeal as a tourist destination. Efforts were made to preserve the historic buildings while modernizing the area for visitors. The revitalization project helped establish Broadway as a prominent entertainment district, attracting both locals and tourists alike.
Contemporary Broadway: In recent decades, Broadway has continued to thrive and evolve. The street is now lined with numerous honky-tonks, bars, restaurants, shops, and live music venues, making it a bustling destination for music enthusiasts and tourists from around the world.
Tourism and Economic Impact: Broadway's entertainment district has played a crucial role in Nashville's tourism industry and overall economy. It attracts millions of visitors annually, generating significant revenue for the city and supporting numerous businesses and musicians.
Iconic Landmarks: Broadway is home to several iconic landmarks, including the historic Ryman Auditorium, the "Mother Church of Country Music," and the Johnny Cash Museum, dedicated to the legendary musician.
In conclusion, Nashville's Broadway has a rich history deeply intertwined with the growth of country music and the city's reputation as Music City. Today, it remains a vibrant and essential part of Nashville's cultural heritage, drawing music lovers from all over to experience its unique and lively atmosphere.
Top Tourist Attractions
- Honky Tonk Bars: Broadway is known for its iconic honky-tonk bars that line the street. These bars feature live country music performances throughout the day and night, offering visitors an authentic Nashville experience. Some of the famous honky-tonks include Tootsie's Orchid Lounge, Robert's Western World, Honky Tonk Central, and The Stage on Broadway.
- Ryman Auditorium: Located just a block away from Broadway, the Ryman Auditorium is a historic landmark often referred to as the "Mother Church of Country Music." Originally built as a tabernacle in 1892, it became a renowned music venue hosting performances by country music legends such as Hank Williams and Patsy Cline. Today, it continues to host concerts and events, as well as guided tours that showcase its storied history.
- The Johnny Cash Museum: Located on Third Avenue South, adjacent to Broadway, the Johnny Cash Museum celebrates the life and career of the legendary "Man in Black," Johnny Cash. It features an extensive collection of memorabilia, artifacts, and exhibits that provide insights into the life and music of this iconic figure in country music history.
- Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum: Situated just a short walk from Broadway, the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum is a must-visit attraction for music enthusiasts. It houses an extensive collection of country music artifacts, exhibits, and interactive displays that chronicle the genre's history and its significant contributors.
- Hatch Show Print: Located on Lower Broadway, Hatch Show Print is one of America's oldest working letterpress print shops. Since 1879, it has produced vibrant and iconic concert posters and advertisements for musicians and entertainers. Visitors can take guided tours to learn about the printing process and even purchase their own unique posters.
- The District: While not directly on Broadway, the nearby historic District, also known as 2nd Avenue, is a popular area to explore. It offers a mix of restaurants, shops, and nightlife options housed in historic buildings that showcase the city's architectural charm.
- Cumberland River Pedestrian Bridge: For a scenic view of the Nashville skyline and the Cumberland River, take a stroll across the John Seigenthaler Pedestrian Bridge. It connects Broadway to Nissan Stadium, home of the Tennessee Titans, and offers a picturesque backdrop for photos.
- Riverfront Park: Adjacent to Broadway, Riverfront Park is a green space along the Cumberland River that offers a relaxing spot to enjoy the outdoors. It often hosts events, concerts, and festivals throughout the year.
Nashville's Broadway has a rich historical background that has shaped the city's identity as a major music and entertainment hub. Here are some historical facts about Nashville's Broadway:
- Early Commercial Center: Broadway was one of the original streets in Nashville's early urban plan, dating back to the late 18th century. It served as a commercial center due to its proximity to the Cumberland River, making it a vital location for trade and transportation.
- Music Roots: In the early 20th century, Broadway began to emerge as an important music destination. Vaudeville theaters and entertainment venues started to populate the area, attracting various performers and musicians.
- The Birth of Country Music: During the 1940s and 1950s, Nashville solidified its status as the "Country Music Capital of the World." The presence of radio stations and record labels, such as the famous RCA Studio B, contributed to the growth of country music. Broadway's honky-tonk bars became a haven for aspiring country musicians and songwriters to showcase their talents.
- Tootsie's Orchid Lounge: One of the most iconic honky-tonks on Broadway is Tootsie's Orchid Lounge. Originally named "Mom's," it opened its doors in 1960 and quickly became a favorite hangout for country music stars. Its purple exterior has since become a symbol of Nashville's vibrant music scene.
- The Rise of the Grand Ole Opry: While not located directly on Broadway, the Grand Ole Opry has played a pivotal role in the street's history. The radio show, which began in 1925, was originally hosted at the Ryman Auditorium before moving to its current location at the Grand Ole Opry House in 1974. The show's popularity significantly contributed to Nashville's status as the center of country music.
- Historic Music Venues: Broadway is home to several historic music venues that have seen performances from legendary artists. Notably, the Ryman Auditorium, once known as the Union Gospel Tabernacle, hosted performances from famous musicians like Hank Williams, Patsy Cline, and Elvis Presley.
- Urban Renewal and Revitalization: In the 1970s, the area underwent a significant revitalization to preserve its historic character while modernizing it for tourism and entertainment purposes. This transformation helped turn Broadway into the bustling entertainment district we know today.
- Continued Evolution: Over the years, Broadway has continued to evolve, attracting more tourists and musicians alike. Its vibrant atmosphere, live music scene, and numerous honky-tonks have made it a must-visit destination for anyone exploring Music City.
Nashville's Broadway is not just a historic street but also a living testament to the city's love for music and its enduring cultural significance. As Nashville continues to grow and evolve, Broadway remains an integral part of its identity, drawing visitors from around the world to experience the essence of Music City.
Broadway Street - The Nashville's best music, restaurants, and bars
Ask any downtown resident what the advantages of urban living are - and you get as many different answers as there are residents! But there is a common theme-people enjoy being where the action is. Downtown living means convenience to sports and entertainment venues…access to a variety of restaurants within easy walking distance of home…great skyline views of the tall buildings, City Hall or the State Capital, Riverfront Park and the Cumberland River. Imagine standing in your living room and looking directly across at the football stadium. And if you happen to work downtown-as some 66,000 people do every day-it's only a short walk to the office. No more commuting!
Downtown Nashville is a unique neighborhood-not a carbon copy of suburban developments. Residences are in a wide variety of locations-large high-rise apartment buildings, small historic structures that have been renovated, and upper level units above retail or office space.
From young single professionals to "empty nesters," more and more people want the urban lifestyle that downtown Nashville offers. With high occupancy rates at existing units, developers are eying other existing buildings downtown that have great potential as residential sites.
Getting to their downtown Nashville offices is one of the easiest commutes available for regional residents. Quick and easy access to the Nashville International Airport is another advantage for the business traveler.
You can walk to appointments with downtown attorneys, bankers, government officials, real estate brokers and many other professionals. For lunch, stroll over to the Arcade, where you will see many of your business acquaintances and may even conduct some business while you eat. There are a wide variety of more than 80 restaurants, 15 hotels and several clubs to choose from for lunch. The free LunchLINE trolley sponsored by the Nashville Downtown Partnership offers a quick way to get to a restaurant more than a few blocks from your office. On most weekdays there are educational seminars and opportunities for business leaders to be involved in various cultural and civic groups located downtown.
There is a synergy about working downtown that is missing in many other environments. Downtown Nashville is a great address for decision-makers, professionals and support staff alike.
And at the end of the day, you can get an early start on watching the Titans or the Predators or going to a play, concert or the symphony. You're in your workday territory, and you know how to plan an evening of dining and entertainment to suit your taste. Day and night, downtown Nashville is a lively and interesting place.
Any newcomer to Nashville is amazed at the number and variety of live music venues downtown! Every night you can enjoy country, jazz, bluegrass, or blues at one of twenty-five locations. You may hear a talented young performer who has come to Music City USA hoping to be discovered…or an established musician who still loves the Nashville fans best. Over the past ten years, Dancin' in the District has offered free summer concerts at Riverfront Park.
And there is much more than music! Great stages at the Ryman, Tennessee Performing Arts Center (TPAC) and Gaylord Entertainment Center bring many nationally known performers to downtown Nashville throughout the year. The TPAC playbills offer varied entertainment-from Shakespeare to Seinfeld. Miss Marple's Dinner Theater adds another option for an entertaining evening. And plans are underway for a new world-class Symphony Hall downtown.
Amazing sites to visit often include the Country Music Hall of Fame and the Frist Center for Visual Arts. You can also enjoy lunch at both of these downtown sites.
Special events like marathons, bicycle races, Fan Fair, and the July Fourth celebration with fireworks at Riverfront Park bring many regional residents downtown. Perhaps the biggest attractions are sporting events-with the popular local professional teams-- Tennessee Titans in football and the Predators in ice hockey-drawing large crowds to the downtown stadium and arena. Have dinner before the game, then stop in a nearby club or restaurant to celebrate afterward. It's easy to plan a memorable evening downtown!
Because they understand the value of an economically strong city center, many people choose to invest their time and money in downtown Nashville. New businesses that want a downtown location, residents who move downtown, developers who renovate older buildings or build new ones downtown-all are important investors.
In 2002, CMT and St. Thomas Health Care Systems chose locations in downtown Nashville, plans for a new downtown Symphony Hall were unveiled, and the Hermitage Hotel began a major renovation with the goal of re-opening a five-star hotel in 2003. Find out why downtown Nashville is a prime business and residential location.
Getting into and around Downtown Nashville is easy with accessible road systems, efficient taxi and shuttle service to and from the airport, and more than 28,000 parking spaces! Traveling to and within downtown is much easier and quicker than most people realize.
Nightlife... Keeping pace with the entertainment options in Music City will keep you on you toes from dusk ‘til dawn. From restaurants to honkytonks, listening rooms to discos, the options are as varied as you appetite for adventure. Twirling around the dance floor at the Wildhorse Saloon... swaying to the sultry rhythms at the Bourbon Street Blues and rides. Special delights for kids. Tant- alizing restaurants and fascinating shops. Boogie Bar... rocking to the beat at the Lava Lounge and 12th & Porter... Nashville offers music for every mood. No Place on earth has so many different ways for a family to have fun! Dazzling shows. Thrilling rides. Special delights for kids. Tant- alizing restaurants and fascinating shops. Once in town, you’ll find Nashville simple to navigate. River Taxis float along the Cumberland River linking Opryland USA with the downtown Riverfront. Trolleys also run between the many attractions in the downtown, Music Row and Music Valley/Opryland areas.