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.

Welcome to Cool, California. Population: 2520

Alan Levine, Flickr // CC BY 2.0
Alan Levine, Flickr // CC BY 2.0

It’s not hard to find U.S. towns with some pretty weird (and sometimes depressing) names, so we shouldn't be surprised that people have the option of settling in the tiny town of Cool, California.

Initially named Cave Valley, due to the limestone formations nearby, the town popped up around 1849 during the California Gold Rush. The population eventually grew to 4100 people.

It's unclear when the town went from Cave Valley to being Cool. One legend suggests that a beatnik named Todd Hausman bequeathed the name after passing through in the 1950s, but the veracity of that story is doubtful since the Cool Post Office was founded as early as 1885. According to Condé Nast Traveler, records show that a reverend named Peter Y. Cool came out to pan gold and settled in the town in 1850, possibly serving as the source of the change.

Whatever the origin of its name, the town of Cool has ample branding opportunities. There’s the Cool Grocery Store and the Cool Beerwerks brewery and restaurant, which specializes in Hawaiian-Japanese fusion cuisine. Cool has held the Way Too Cool 50K Endurance Run every year since 1990.

[h/t Condé Nast Traveler]

11 Weird Place Names From Around the World

The sign on the train station platform helps you pronounce this 58-letter-long Welsh town name.
The sign on the train station platform helps you pronounce this 58-letter-long Welsh town name.
hipproductions/iStock via Getty Images

Shakespeare wasn’t wrong when he said that a rose by any other name would smell as sweet. But if these places had any other names, they probably wouldn’t have made this list (or international headlines, in a couple of cases). Read on to discover the fascinating details behind Tasmania’s Eggs and Bacon Bay, French Polynesia’s Disappointment Islands, and other strangely named locales from all corners of the globe.

1. Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch, Wales

At 58 characters, this tiny Welsh village on the isle of Anglesey has the longest place name in Europe. Translated to English, it’s a phrase that describes the town’s location: Saint Mary's Church in the hollow of the white hazel near a rapid whirlpool and the Church of St. Tysilio of the red cave. According to Atlas Obscura, the town has existed in some form for thousands of years, but in 1880 a publicity-oriented tailor changed its name from Llanfairpwll to its current moniker in an attempt to attract tourists. Luckily for us, Llanfairpwll is still an acceptable nickname, as is Llanfair PG. Listen to weather reporter Liam Dutton pronounce it like a pro here.

2. Batman, Turkey

Both a Turkish province and its capital city are named Batman for the nearby Batman River. Batman itself could have come from the ancient unit of measurement (equal to 16.96 pounds), or it could be a shortening of the name of the nearby Bati Raman mountains. Either way, the city became the source of scandal in 2008 when its then-mayor, Huseyin Kalkan, threatened to sue Warner Bros. and director Christopher Nolan over their use of the term in the Dark Knight trilogy. (No lawsuit was ever actually filed.) There are also plenty of people who want to reinforce the connection between the place name and superhero—over 26,000 have signed a petition to change the province’s borders to look like the bat symbol.

3. Eggs and Bacon Bay, Tasmania

eggs and bacon flower
KarenHBlack/iStock via Getty Images

Tasmania’s Eggs and Bacon Bay is named after a regional wildflower commonly known as eggs and bacon, whose petals are a mixture of the sunny yellow of egg yolks and the deep red of bacon. The bay made national news in 2016 when PETA petitioned unsuccessfully to change its name to a more animal-friendly “Apple and Cherry Bay.” It doesn’t look like the idea ever made it to a vote at the local council, and officials didn’t seem keen on it. Huon Valley deputy mayor Ian Paul told The Guardian that the idea was “ludicrous,” adding “I feel pretty strongly about it. This is our heritage, it is our history.”

4. Wonowon, British Columbia

It’s not a coincidence that this Canadian town, pronounced “one-oh-one,” is located on Alaska Highway’s Mile 101, where the U.S. Army operated a 24-hour checkpoint during World War II. The town was originally named Blueberry after the nearby Blueberry River, but was eventually changed to Wonowon to prevent people from confusing it for another Blueberry in the southeastern Kootenay region. It’s not clear when the name officially changed to Wonowon, but according to a mention in a 1956 issue of the Northern Sentinel, the Post Office recognized it as Wonowon, while the residents still called it Blueberry. Why Blueberry in the first place, you ask? Possibly because British Columbia produces 96 percent of Canada’s cultivated blueberries.

5. Spa, Belgium

fountain in Spa, Belgium
Jean-Pol GRANDMONT, Wikimedia Commons // CC BY 2.0

Spa, Belgium, sounds relaxing, and for good reason. The word spa comes from this eastern Belgian town, whose curative mineral springs have been visited since the 16th century and were even mentioned by Pliny the Elder. Spa itself could be derived from espa, the Walloon word for "spring" or “fountain,” or the Latin word spagere, meaning “to scatter, sprinkle, moisten.” Or it could be an acronym for the Latin phrase sanitas per aquas, which fittingly means “health through water.”

6. Westward Ho!, England

book cover of Westward Ho! by Charles Kingsley
Frederick Warne & Co, Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

In 1855, Charles Kingsley published a book called Westward Ho!, in which a young man leaves his home in Bideford, England, to pursue a seafaring life of adventure under the tutelage of famed explorer Sir Francis Drake. The book became a bestseller, and some enterprising folks formed the Northam Burrows Hotel and Villa Building Company in 1863 with the intention of capitalizing on the attention. They started by building the Westward Ho! Hotel, and continued to develop the area by constructing terraces, lodges, bath houses, stables, and a golf club. As development progressed, the village that sprung up around the hotel became known as Westward Ho! also.

7. The Office Girls, Antarctica

The Office Girls are two glacial islands, also called nunataks, about seven miles away from Welcome Mountain near the Southern Ocean coast of Antarctica. There are so many tiny pieces of land to map in Antarctica that the U.S. has an Advisory Committee on Antarctic Names to name them all—and in 1970 they chose “The Office Girls” as a tribute to all of the personnel who assisted with the administrative side of the missions from home in the continental U.S.

8. Punkeydoodles Corners, Ontario

The origin of the name of this tiny hamlet has been debated for decades. Some people say it’s the product of a German tavern owner’s slurred rendition of “Yankee Doodle Dandy,” while others say Punkeydoodle was an insult thrown at resident pumpkin-grower John Burbrigg by a vexed neighbor, and from then on his plot of land was called “Punkeydoodle’s Corners.” The charming Canadian town was once home to a somewhat charming Canadian crime: Mischief-makers often stole the town’s sign, until Canada Day in 1982, when community members replaced it with a concrete monument that weighs almost a ton.

9. Malpelo Island, Colombia

Sunset over Malpelo Island
Janos/iStock via Getty Images

The Spanish words mal pelo translate to “bad hair” in English, implying that this island is in some way a nightmare for bouffants, beehives, and blowouts. It’s more likely the result of a metaphorical game of telephone that spanned half the globe and several centuries. It could be derived from the Latin malveolus, meaning “inhospitable” or “spiteful,” which might’ve become malbolo and later mal pelo [PDF]. It’s also on a world map from 1550 as ye mallabry, which probably means malabrigo, a word for “shelterless” that Spanish cartographers used to mark some islands and bays. Malabrigo sort of sounds like mal pelo, at least if you’re shouting it to someone on the opposite side of the island.

10. Hotazel, South Africa

Welcome to Hotazel, where it’s hot as hell—or at least it was on the day in 1915 when a group of land surveyors assessed a farm in South Africa and named the whole place “Hot As Hell,” now spelled “Hotazel.” The climate is actually pretty reasonable, with summer temperatures sometimes reaching the 90s (in Fahrenheit) and winter temperatures sometimes dipping into the 30s.

11. Disappointment Islands, French Polynesia

In 1765, Lord Byron’s grandfather John Byron was sailing around the tip of South America when he chanced upon a tiny island in the distance. To him and his scurvy-ridden crew, it looked like paradise, but he soon realized the high surf and coral reefs prevented safe anchorage. That, in addition to the spear-wielding natives stationed along the shore, dashed their hopes so severely that Byron named the island (and its nearby sister landmass) the Islands of Disappointment. This may have shielded the islands from centuries of follow-up explorers, but it also literally gives them a bad name. In reality, says BBC Travel’s Andrew Evans, they’re "timeless."

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