25 Things You Should Know About Nashville


It may be known as the Music City, but Nashville can do a lot more than just carry a tune. It’s a leading healthcare provider, a foodie destination, and a must-see for history buffs. It’s also the only place in the world where you’ll find a full-size replica of The Parthenon—and in a city park, no less. Here are a few things you might not know about the Tennessee capital.

1. It’s named after Francis Nash, who was one of the few Patriot generals killed during the American Revolution. Among the early pioneers who settled Fort Nashborough, as it was first known, was a young Rachel Donelson, the future wife of President Andrew Jackson.

2. General William Driver retired to Nashville in 1837 and every morning would run up an enormous American flag he called “Old Glory” outside his home. After rumblings about secession began to spread, he hid the flag by sewing it into a coverlet. When Nashville fell to Union troops in 1862, Driver marched out and cut open his coverlet in front of General William “Bull” Nelson. The regiment ran up Driver’s flag at the capitol building and proclaimed their new motto “Old Glory.”

3. Historians credit The Battle of Nashville, fought in December 1864, as one of the greatest tactical victories for the Union Army during the Civil War. Fifty thousand Union defenders smashed one of the Confederacy’s largest armies at the time, the Army of Tennessee, and sent them retreating south to Mississippi.

4. Downtown Presbyterian Church, built in 1851, is one of the few examples of Egyptian Revival architecture in America.

Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

5. Nashville’s musical reputation began with the Jubilee Singers of Fisk University, an all-black a capella group that toured the nation during the 1870s to raise money for the university. Their 1909 recording of “Swing Low Sweet Chariot” was among the first inducteesto the National Recording Registry, in 2002.

6. In 1892, salesman Joel Owsley Cheek convinced the food buyer for Nashville’s prestigious Maxwell House hotel to offer patrons his unique coffee blend, which he’d perfected by roasting over his mother’s stove. The coffee was such a hit that the hotel’s manager let Cheek sell it under the Maxwell House name. In 1907, President Theodore Roosevelt paid a visit and, after drinking a cup, supposedly proclaimed it “Good to the last drop.”

7. In 1912, the Standard Candy Company came out with the Goo Goo Cluster, a candy bar filled with peanuts, marshmallow nougat and caramel. It was the first candy bar to combine more than two ingredients, and is still a favorite in Nashville and throughout the South.

8. The Grand Ole Opry, the country’s longest-running radio show, began in 1925 as the WSM Barn Dance. Appearing on the WSM radio station (the call letters stood for sponsor National Life & Accident Company’s slogan, “We Shield Millions!”), the featured performer was a fiddle player named Uncle Jimmy Thompson. Two years later, the show’s announcer, George Hay, came on the air following a classical music program and famously said, “For the last hour, we have been listening to music taken largely from grand opera and the classics. We now present our own Grand Ole Opry.”

Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

9. During Prohibition, print shops along Printers Alleyran a collection of bars that became the city’s not-so-secret secret bar scene. After Prohibition was repealed, many of the bars stayed open, and several are still in business today.

10. Its well-known nickname was first uttered in 1950, when WSM announcer David Cobb proclaimed Nashville “Music City, USA.”

11. Nashville’s WSM radio station received the first FM radio license in 1941. Most listeners weren’t aware of the change beforehand, but they immediately took note of the clearer signal.

12. RCA Studio B, located on Nashville’s Music Row, is lit with red, blue, and green lights year round to commemorate an Elvis Presley Christmas album. While recording the album in July, The King had his crew put up the lights, along with a Christmas tree, to help get him in the holiday spirit. He also turned up the air conditioning full blast.

13. From February through May 1960, African-American college students staged a series of sit-ins at stores and restaurants throughout downtown. While these weren’t the first such displays of nonviolent protest, they were some of the most successful, leading to Nashville becoming the first Southern city to desegregate public establishments.

Wikimedia Commons // Fair Use

14. Oprah Winfrey spent part of her childhood in Nashville, where her father Vernon lived. At age 19, she took a job with WTFV-TV and became the city’s first female African-American news anchor.

15. Nashville’s capitol building, built in 1859, is one of America’s oldest capitol buildings still in operation. Its architect, William Strickland, modeled it after the monument of Lysicrates in Greece, and he considered it the greatest achievement of his career. When he died suddenly during construction in 1854, he was entombed in the building’s north façade.

16. In 1927, after reading a magazine article about guide dogs in Switzerland, a blind Vanderbilt student named Morris Frank traveled to Europe to train with a German Shepherd named Buddy. Morris returned less than a year later and founded the first seeing-eye dog training school in the U.S.

17. Nashville has the world’s only full-scale replica of The Parthenon. It’s located in Centennial Park and houses the city’s art museum. There’s also a 42-foot-tall statue of Athena inside.


18. In the late ‘50s, a group of country music producers, including the legendary Chet Atkins, began eliminating fiddles, steel guitars and other honky-tonk elements from recordings in order to update country music for modern audiences. Their efforts paved the way for contemporary country ballads, and became known as the “Nashville sound.”

19. Unsurprisingly, Nashville has the highest concentration of music industry employees of any city in the world, with nearly 60,000 total.

20. The music industry’s got nothing on the healthcare industry, though. Vanderbilt University, as well as Hospital Corporation of America and more than 300 other healthcare establishments account for more than 200,000 local jobs.

21. Nashville has the largest Kurdish community in North America, with more than 13,000 Kurds living and working in the city. Drawn by the low cost of living and available jobs, many arrived in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s after fleeing Saddam Hussein’s cultural genocide in Iraq.

22. There are more than 150 live music venues in Nashville. Those that feature live music four or more nights a week get to display a special sign shaped like a guitar pick.

23. Home to such down-home dishes as hot chicken, hot fish, and meat and three, Nashville is also a destination for refined palates. Travel + Leisure named it number 13 in its list of snobbiest American cities.

24. The Hermitage, Andrew Jackson’s estate, features a driveway shaped like a guitar. The design was meant to help carriages maneuver easily through the grounds, though Nashville residents like to think it was a good omen for the city’s future.

25. The Blue Room, a live venue located inside rocker Jack White’s Third Man Records, is the only venue in the world that records music directly to vinyl record.

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These Are the World's 10 Most Expensive Cities

While Americans in big cities may complain about how expensive the cost of living is, according to a new report, places like New York and Los Angeles don’t even come close to the expense of international cities like Singapore. As Travel + Leisure mentions, The Economist Intelligence Unit’s biannual report on the world’s most expensive cities has named the Asian city-state the most expensive place on Earth to live for the fifth year in a row. No U.S. city even cracks the top 10.

The Intelligence Unit’s survey tracks prices of 160 products and services in cities across the world, including food and drink, clothing, rent, utility bills, transportation, and more. It’s designed to help companies calculate cost-of-living analyses for employees traveling and living abroad, but it also just provides an intriguing snapshot into how the rest of the world lives, and just how expensive your next vacation might be. And, of course, it allows you to feel a little better about your own city. Next time you want to complain about your rising rent, New Yorkers, know that residents of Seoul have to pay 50 percent more than you for groceries.

The prices used in the calculations are converted to U.S. dollars, meaning that the whole thing is tied to how much the dollar is worth—if the euro is worth more than the dollar, you’ll need more dollars to buy things in Paris. A weakening dollar is one reason the report gives for the lack of U.S. cities in the top 10 list, even though American cities are becoming more expensive relative to past years. (New York, currently in 13th place, was in the 27th spot five years ago.)

Without further ado, and with our deepest sympathies to their denizens, here are the top 10 most expensive cities across the world:

1. Singapore
2. Paris, France
2. Zurich, Switzerland
4. Hong Kong
5. Oslo, Norway
6. Geneva, Switzerland
6. Seoul, South Korea
8. Copenhagen, Denmark
9. Tel Aviv, Israel
10. Sydney, Australia

[h/t Travel + Leisure]

19 Must-Visit Stops on Mexico City's Metro

About 5 million people ride the Mexico City subway every day—but most commuters don’t realize how much there is to do and see without ever having to go above ground. From piano stairs to a space tunnel, exploring the attractions hidden within the metro just might be the most fun you can have for 5 pesos (about $0.25 USD). These Mexico City metro stations settle the old question once and for all; it’s both the journey and the destination.


Talisman station (line 4) has a mammoth logo for a reason: Mammoth fossils were unearthed during construction of the metro, and you can see the bones—which date back to the Pleistocene—on display there.


space tunnel at La Raza station
Sharon Hahn Darlin, Flickr // CC BY 2.0

How do you make a long transfer fly by? Transform it into a walk-through space tunnel illuminated by a glow-in-the-dark night sky, the highlight of the science museum located within La Raza station (lines 3 and 5).


Viveros (line 3), a station named for the nearby nursery, is in full flower: It was recently given a jungle makeover complete with imitation palms, jaguars, and snakes to raise awareness for the preservation of southern Mexico’s Lacandon Rainforest.


Complement your day trip to the pyramids at Teotihuacan with a stop at the Pino Suarez station (lines 1 and 2), where you can see a 650-year-old pyramid dedicated to Ehecatl, the Aztec god of wind. Tens of thousands of users go through the station daily, making the pyramid one of the most visited archeological sites in Mexico. (Though it's referred to as Mexico’s smallest archaeological zone, the National Institute of Anthropology and History doesn't consider it a "proper" archaeological zone "due to its size and the fact of being located in a Metro Transport System facility.")


Hidalgo (lines 2 and 3) may be the most miraculous of all of Mexico City’s metro stations: In 1997, someone (possibly a street vendor) discovered a water stain in the shape of the Virgin of Guadalupe in one of its floor tiles. The apparition attracted so many pilgrims that metro authorities eventually had to remove the tile, which is now enshrined just outside one of the exits (follow the signs for Iglesia), near the intersection of Paseo de la Reforma and Zarco. And if you happen to visit this station on the morning of the 28th of any month, you’ll be swarmed with pious commuters carrying figurines of Saint Judas Thaddeus—patron saint of delinquents and lost causes—who is venerated at the nearby San Hipolito Church.


No time to visit the vast National Museum of Anthropology? You can still catch reproductions of Mesoamerican statues at the Bellas Artes (lines 2 and 8) and Tezozomoc (line 6) stops.


miniatures on the Mexico city subway
Randal Sheppard, Flickr // CC BY-SA 2.0

Miniature maniacs shouldn’t miss the scale models of Mexico City’s main plaza at the Zocalo stop (line 2). They depict, in tiny form, the metamorphosis of the capital from the Aztec Templo Mayor to the present-day Metropolitan Cathedral. (And bonus points to anyone who can spot the cat who lives in this station.)


The music-themed Division del Norte station’s (line 3) free karaoke corner draws a crowd gathered to watch fellow riders belt out boleros and ballads on their way to work. The unassuming abuelitas laden with bags from the market always have the most impressive pipes.


piano stairs at Polanco station
Victor.Aguirre-Lopez, Wikimedia Commons // CC BY-SA 3.0

Don’t take the escalators at Polanco station (line 7), because the stairs are a giant musical piano keyboard. Finally, here’s your chance to live out Tom Hanks’s piano dance scene from the movie Big.


The Guerrero stop (lines B and 3) is a tribute to the legends of lucha libre, with costume displays and murals dedicated to 45 of Mexico’s finest masked fighters.


The largest bookshop in Latin America can be found in the long passage between the Zocalo and Pino Suarez stations. The underground emporium known as Un Paseo Por Los Libros sells titles from textbooks to manga and also hosts free workshops, lectures, and movie screenings.


murals in the Mexico City subway
Thelmadatter, Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

Any visitor to Mexico City should check out Diego Rivera’s murals—but on your way, don’t forget to look up at the murals that decorate many metro stations. Particularly impressive are Guillermo Ceniceros’s ambitious chronicles of art through the history of time on the walls at the Copilco (line 3) and Tacubaya stations (lines 1, 7, and 9). On the kitschier side, see how many famous faces you can pick out in Jorge Flores Manjarrez’s I Spy-style mural of pop stars at the Auditorio stop (line 7).


A museum of caricatures located inside the Zapata stop (line 12) is an homage to Mexican cartooning, including plenty of satirical interpretations of the mustachioed revolutionary who gives the station its name.


If Chabacano station (lines 2, 8, and 9) feels unsettlingly familiar, it might be because it was used as a shooting location for the subway chase scene in the Arnold Schwarzenegger film Total Recall. Legend has it you can still spot splashes of fake blood on the ceiling.


Museo del Metro de la Ciudad de México
ProtoplasmaKid, Wikimedia Commons // CC BY-SA 4.0

Has this metro adventure turned you into a super fan? Do a deep dive at Mixcoac station’s (line 12) sleek Metro Museum, where you can learn even more fun facts about the subway’s 50 years of history while you wait out rush hour.


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