How Nashville's Neighborhoods Got Their Names

Nashville was named after Revolutionary War General Francis Nash. Established at an area along the Cumberland River referred to as French Lick—due to a salt lick that attracted animals and thus French fur trappers—the settlement was originally dubbed "Nashborough" but renamed Nashville in honor of the French.

Belmont Boulevard

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This area is named for the Belmont Mansion, built in the mid 19th century for the Acklen family. The 180-acre estate was constructed between 1849 and 1853 and is now owned by Belmont University.

Berry Hill

This South Nashville neighborhood is named after William Wells Berry, a 19th-century Nashville businessman. Berry was president of Third National Bank, and he built a house in the 1860s in Elmwood. The area around it was developed into a "satellite city" in the mid-20th century and took his name.

Bluefield

This area in Donelson earned its name in the late 18th century from the blue Mountain Chicory that grew in the area.

Clover Bottom

Clover Bottom in Donelson is named for the Clover Bottom plantation and mansion, which in turn is said to have claimed its title from an early horseracing track nearby.

Demonbreun

Demonbreun gets its name from one of the town’s earliest residents, Timothy Demonbreun. He was a fur trader from Quebec, and his real name was Jacques-Timothe Boucher Sieur de Montbrun. In 1769, he arrived and settled in what would eventually become the city of Nashville.

Donelson

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This area is named for Colonel John Donelson, a partner of James Robertson. These two men were selected by Richard Henderson, and they helped settle the area that would eventually become Nashville. In 1779, Donelson led the journey to the area via the Holston, Tennessee, Ohio, and Cumberland Rivers, while Robertson mounted an overland expedition. Donelson kept a diary of his expedition, which has survived. You can read it here [PDF].

The Downtown

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This is the original center of Nashville. In 1780, early settlers led by James Robertson established a fort between what is now Church Street and Broadway.

East End

East End was originally an outgrowth of the City of Edgefield, and it gained its name from its location on the eastern outskirts of that municipality.

East Nashville

East Nashville naturally lies to the east of downtown Nashville, and it is home to eclectic businesses and restaurants that make the area a draw for young urbanites, artists, and musicians.

Edgefield

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This neighborhood in East Nashville was named by Governor Neil S. Brown in the mid-19th century. It was annexed into Nashville proper on February 6, 1880.

Edgehill

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This neighborhood takes its name from the Edgehill contraband camp established by the Union army during the Civil War to house fugitive slaves, before and after they were freed. The area around the camp developed into a majority-black neighborhood.

Elliston Place

This is named for the Elliston family, who owned the land on which it sits beginning in the nineteenth century. Joseph Elliston served as the city's mayor, and bought the land for $11,500 in 1821.

Five Points

This commercial district in East Nashville is named for the 5-point intersection where Woodland Street, Clearview Avenue, and 11th Street meet.

Germantown

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Germantown was the center of the German community in 19th century Nashville, and it became the city’s first suburb.

Glencliff

This section of South Nashville is named for Glencliff Mansion, an antebellum home that was built in 1852 by slaves and stood where the neighborhood does today.

Green Hills

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In 1939, developers A. Roy Greene and Roy T. Primm, Sr. built a market on a piece of cow-grazing land for $5,000. They called it Green Hills Market, and the name came to represent the neighborhood itself, which now houses upscale shopping and some of Nashville’s wealthiest citizens.

Greenwood

This area in East Nashville is named for Greenwood Cemetery, the second oldest cemetery for blacks in Nashville. It was established in 1888, and Greenwood Park, the first amusement park in Nashville open to black patrons, followed in 1905. Both were founded by local leader Preston Taylor.

The Gulch

The Gulch is literally a gulch, which runs through the south side of Nashville’s downtown area.

Inglewood

This East Nashville neighborhood borrows its name from the Inglewood Place subdivision, which was built by the Inglewood Land Company, itself named for the Englewood Forest in Britain. The subdivision was developed beginning in 1908 to create a suburb fed by a new streetcar line.

Lockeland Springs

The neighborhood takes its name from Lockeland Spring, which in turn is named after the Lockeland Mansion, located beside it and named by Col. Robert Weakley for his wife, Jane Locke. The Lockeland Spring gained fame around the turn of the century when James Richardson purchased the mansion and, realizing the spring water was full of lithium salts, began bottling it for sale.

Marathon Village

This area is named for the historic Marathon Motor Cars factory which operated in Nashville from 1910 to 1914. In 1987, Barry Lyle Walker purchased the closed factory and began renovating the area, dubbing the redeveloped complex Marathon Village.

Maxwell

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This East Nashville neighborhood is named for the Maxwell House Hotel, itself named after its founder’s wife, Harriet Maxwell Owens.

Melrose

The Melrose Estate, built in the mid-19th century, was named so due to owner Cynthia Pillow Saunder's mother's Scottish ancestry (there is a town in Scotland named Melrose). The surrounding area also took this name, but the house itself was mostly lost to a fire in 1975.

Midtown

It's exactly what it sounds like: a commercially oriented neighborhood situated midway between the historic downtown and the more residential areas of the city.

Music Row

This area, situated between 16th Avenue, 17th Avenue, South Street, Division Street, and Grand Street, is the center of the city's country music industry.

Opryland

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Named after the Grand Ole Opry radio program and its venue, as well as in reference to the Opryland theme park that operated from 1972 until 1997. The term "Music Valley" is also used, and it refers to the cluster of attractions focusing on country music that have sprouted up around the Grand Ole Opry House.

Radnor

This neighborhood in South Nashville is named after Radnor College, a women’s college established in 1906 by A.N. Eshman. The school closed in 1914, but the name stuck.

Rosebank

Rosebank is named for the roses cultivated by the Rosebank Nursery, a popular and successful nursery that was established prior to the Civil War.

SoBro

This stands for “South of Broadway,” and follows an all-too-popular modern neighborhood naming structure (think SoHo and NoMad in New York, etc...).

Sylvan Park

Named after the Sylvan Park Land Company, a business that built many of the homes in the area in the early 20th century. One of the owners of that business named his own home, located within the neighborhood, "Sylvan Park."

Talbot’s Corner

This East Nashville neighborhood is named for the Talbot family and patriarch Thomas Talbot, a Revolutionary War veteran who became a Nashville businessman. The historic Talbot family cemetery is located within the area now known as Talbot’s Corner.

Two Rivers

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This area in Donelson takes its title from the Two Rivers Mansion, which was named due to its location near the intersection of the Cumberland and Stones Rivers.

Wedgewood-Houston

Known as "WeHo" for short, Wedgewood-Houston in South Nashville takes its name from the streets that make its borders: Wedgewood Ave to the south and Houston Street to the north.

The West End

This section within Midtown was, in the early 1900s, a suburban enclave on the then-western edge of Nashville. The Hillsboro-West End Neighborhood Association published a history of the neighborhood in 1992. They discuss the specific history of the name Hillsboro, but about the name “West End” only say, “Many major cities, including London, have a ‘West End.’”

Woodbine

This South Nashville neighborhood is named after a honeysuckle that grows in the area. It previously went by "Flat Rock," supposedly named for a flat rock Native Americans used to use as a meeting place. This name was determined to be "unsophisticated" by residents in 1939, and they voted to rename the area Woodbine.

The U.S.-Canada Border Runs Directly Through This Library

Though the Haskell Free Library and Opera House might not be as well known as the Grand Canyon or the Statue of Liberty, it's undoubtedly one of America's most unique tourist attractions. Completed in 1904, the building is stationed directly between Stanstead, Quebec, and Derby Line, Vermont, with the official U.S.-Canada borderline running right across the library's floor.

Martha Stewart Haskell and her son, Colonel Horace Stewart Haskell, both Canadians, built the building as a tribute to Mrs. Haskell’s late husband, Carlos. The family hoped that citizens from both countries would use it as a “center for learning and cultural enrichment,” according to the official Haskell Free Library website.

The Haskell is divided between the two countries. While the library’s official entrance is on the U.S. side of the building, most of the books are on the Canadian side. The opera house is similarly split, with most of its seats in the U.S. and its stage in Canada. As Atlas Obscura reported, it is often said that the Haskell is the only library in the U.S. with no books, and the only opera house in the country with no stage.

U.S. Border Patrol Agent Andrew Mayer speaks to Nancy Rumery as he stands on the Canadian side of a line on the floor of the Haskell Free Library and Opera House that marks the border between the U.S. March 22, 2006 in Derby Line, Vermon
Joe Raedle, Getty Images

Passports and other forms of identification aren’t required to cross from country to country in the library, though the Haskell’s website notes that the border inside the "building is real and it is enforced.” Visitors are expected to return to their side of the border after a visit; if they don’t, they risk possible detention and fines.

Even beyond the building's unique position, library director Nancy Rumery told CTV News that Haskell staffers—Canadian and American alike—consider the institution to be like any other library in the world.

"We're just trying to be the best library we can, and our community is made up of people from two different countries," she said. "We don't think of it in that big symbolic way that I think a lot of people do. These are all our neighbors and we do our very best to help them on their life-long learning journey."

This article originally ran in 2016.

Are You Smart Enough to Pass Thomas Edison's Impossible Employment Test?

 Keystone/Getty Images
Keystone/Getty Images

If you thought Elon Musk's favorite question to ask job applicants was tough, you should see the employment test devised by Thomas Edison. When he wasn't busy inventing the light bulb or phonograph, or feuding with Nikola Tesla, Edison was apparently devising a trivia test of nearly impossible proportions.

As Smithsonian reports, the 146-question quiz was designed to weed out the candidates who would be ill-suited to work at his plant, which was a desirable place to get a job in 1921. College degrees didn't impress him much—"Men who have gone to college I find to be amazingly ignorant," he once remarked—so he needed to find a more effective method of determining prospective employees' knowledge.

The test may have been too effective, though. Of the 718 applicants who took the test, only 57 achieved a passing score of 70 percent, and only 32 scored Edison's desired result of 90 percent or higher. This was certainly frustrating to applicants who considered themselves to be pretty well-educated. An unsuccessful applicant named Charles Hansen, who shared all of the questions he remembered with The New York Times in 1921, called the test a "silly examination." Another applicant said it was "not a Tom Edison but a Tom Foolery test" [PDF].

After the test questions became public knowledge, reporters went out and started polling people to see how well they'd do on Edison's test. Albert Einstein reportedly failed (he didn't know the speed of sound offhand), as did Edison's youngest son, who was a student at MIT at the time.

If you want to challenge yourself, check out a few of the questions below, then scroll down to see the answers that appeared in The New York Times. (Note: The answers given were the correct answers in 1921, but some may have changed since then. Some questions and answers have been edited lightly for clarity.)

1. What city in the United States is noted for making laundry machines?

2. In what country other than Australia are kangaroos found?

3. What region do we get prunes from?

4. Name a large inland body of water that has no outlet.

5. What state is the largest? The next?

6. What is the name of a famous violin maker?

7. What ingredients are in the best white paint?

8. What causes the tides?

9. To what is the change of seasons due?

10. Who discovered the South Pole?

11. How fast does light travel per foot per second?

12. Of what kind of wood are axe handles made?

13. What cereal is used all over the world?

14. Name three powerful poisons.

15. Why is a Fahrenheit thermometer called Fahrenheit?

Feeling stumped? Scroll down to see the answers.

1. Chicago

2. New Guinea

3. Prunes are grown in the Santa Clara Valley and elsewhere.

4. The Great Salt Lake, for example

5. Texas, then California (Note: Today it's Alaska, then Texas)

6. Stradivarius

7. Linseed oil, with a small percentage of turpentine and liquid dryer, together with a mixture of white lead and zinc oxide

8. The gravitational pull of the moon exerted powerfully on the ocean because of its fluidity, and weakly on the Earth because of its comparative rigidity.

9. To the inclination of the Earth to the plane of the ecliptic. In the Earth's revolution around the Sun, this causes the Sun's rays to be received at varying inclinations, with consequent variations of temperature.

10. Roald Amundsen, and then Robert Falcon Scott

11. Approximately 186,700 miles a second in a vacuum and slightly less through atmosphere.

12. Ash is generally used in the East and hickory in the West.

13. No cereal is used in all parts of the world. Wheat is used most extensively, with rice and corn next.

14. Cyanide of potassium, strychnine, and arsenic are all acceptable answers.

15. It is named after Gabriel Daniel Fahrenheit, the German physicist who invented it.

For the full list of questions and answers, check out Paleofuture's article about the test on Gizmodo.

[h/t Smithsonian]

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