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25 Things You Should Know About Nashville

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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.

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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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IKEA
IKEA's New Collection for Tiny Apartments Is Inspired by Life on Mars
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IKEA

Living in a city apartment can feel claustrophobic at times. As Co.Design reports, the Swedish furniture brand IKEA took this experience to the extreme when designers visited a simulated Mars habitat as research for their latest line of housewares aimed at urbanites.

The new collection, called Rumtid, is tailored to fit the cramped spaces that many people are forced to settle for when apartment-hunting in dense, expensive cities. The designers knew they wanted to prioritize efficiency and functionality with their new project, and Mars research provided the perfect inspiration.

At the Mars Society's Mars Desert Research Station in Utah, scientists are figuring out how to meet the needs of potential Mars astronauts with very limited resources. Materials have to be light, so that they require as little rocket fuel as possible to ferry them to the red planet, and should ideally run on renewable energy.

IKEA's designers aren't facing quite as many challenges, but spending a few days at the simulated Martian habitat in Utah got them thinking on the right track. The team also conducted additional research at the famously snug capsule hotels in Tokyo. The Rumtid products they came up with include an indoor terrarium shaped like a space-age rocket, a set of colorful, compact air purifiers, and light-weight joints and bars that can be snapped into modular furniture.

The collection isn't ready to hit IKEA shelves just yet—the chain plans to make Rumtid available for customers by 2020. In the meantime, the designers hope to experiment with additional science fiction-worthy ideas, including curtains that clean the air around them.

Air purifiers designed for urban living.

Furniture joints on bubble wrap on black table.

Modular furniture holding water bag.

[h/t Co.Design]

All images courtesy of IKEA.

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8 Projects That Reenvision the Traditional Cemetery
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Globally, nearly 57 million people died in 2016. If you happen to be a cemetery caretaker, you might be wondering where we managed to put them all. Indeed, many cemeteries in the world’s major cities are filling up fast, with no choice left but to tear up walkways, trees, and green spaces just to make room for more graves.

In response to these concerns, a variety of visionaries have attempted to reimagine the modern cemetery. These plans tend to fall into one of two camps: Biologists and environmentalists have brainstormed alternate methods for disposing of bodies, some of which are said to be better for the planet than the traditional methods of burial and cremation. Meanwhile, architects have looked at ways of adapting the burial space itself, whether that means altering a traditional cemetery or creating something new and more ephemeral. Here are just a few of the creative ideas that have emerged in recent years.

1. VERTICAL CEMETERIES

As cemeteries started running out of ground to dig, it was only a matter of time before they started building up. There's been a lot of talk about skyscraper cemeteries in recent years, although the idea dates back to at least 1829, when British architect Thomas Willson proposed a 94-story mausoleum in London.

"The vertical cemetery, with its open front, will become a significant part of the city and a daily reminder of death’s existence," says Martin McSherry, whose design for an open-air skyscraper cemetery with layers of park-like burial grounds was one of the proposals presented at the Oslo Conference for Nordic Cemeteries and Graveyards in 2013. Another recent plan by architecture students in Sweden suggested repurposing a cluster of silos into a vertical columbarium (a place to store urns). Brazil’s Memorial Necrópole Ecumênica was one of the first places to implement this vertical concept back in 1984, and at 32 stories high, it currently holds the Guinness World Record for the tallest cemetery.

2. REUSABLE GRAVES

For much of human history, graves were often reused, or common graves were dug deep enough to accommodate multiple bodies stacked one on top of the other. “Our current cemetery design is actually a pretty new thing,” Allison Meier, a New York City cemetery tour guide (and Mental Floss writer), tells us. “It wasn’t normal for everyone to get a headstone in the past and we didn’t have these big sprawling green spaces.”

Now that many urban cemeteries are filling up, the idea of reusing plots is once again gaining popularity. In London, it’s estimated that only one-third of the city’s boroughs will have burial space by 2031. In response, the City of London Cemetery—one of the biggest cemeteries in Britain—has started reusing certain grave plots (the practice is legal in the city, even though grave reuse is outlawed elsewhere in England).

Across continental Europe, however, it's not uncommon for graves to be "rented" rather than bought for all eternity. In countries like the Netherlands, Germany, Belgium, and Greece, families can hold a plot for their loved one as long as they continue to pay a rental fee. If they stop paying, the grave may be reused, with the previous remains either buried deeper or relocated to a common grave.

Meier says she isn’t aware of any cemeteries in New York City that have started reusing their plots, though. “That’s a tough thing for Americans to get on board with because it’s been a normal practice in a lot of places, but it’s never been normal here,” she says.

3. A FLOATING COLUMBARIUM

A rendering of a floating columbarium
BREAD Studio

Ninety percent of bodies in Hong Kong are cremated, according to CNN, and niches in the city's public columbaria are at a premium. The average wait for a space is about four years, sparking concerns that Hong Kongers could be forced to move their loved ones' ashes across the border to mainland China, where more space is available. (A space at a private columbarium in Hong Kong can be prohibitively expensive, at a cost of about $128,000.) To address this issue, a proposal emerged in 2012 to convert a cruise ship into a floating columbarium dubbed the “Floating Eternity.” Designed by Hong Kong and London-based architecture firm BREAD Studio, the columbarium would be able to accommodate the ashes of 370,000 people. Although it's still just an idea, BREAD Studio designer Benny Lee tells CNN, "A floating cemetery is the next natural step in Hong Kong's history of graveyards."

4. UNDERWATER MEMORIALS

An underwater lion sculpture and other memorials
Neptune Reef

Land may be limited, but the sea is vast—and several companies want to take the cemetery concept underwater. At Neptune Memorial Reef off the coast of Key Biscayne, Florida, human ashes are mixed with cement to create unique memorials in the shape of seashells and other objects of the client's choice. The memorials are then taken by divers to the ocean floor and incorporated into a human-made reef designed to look like the Lost City of Atlantis. Eternal Reefs, based out of Sarasota, Florida, offers a similar service.

5. SPACE MEMORIALS

Not a water person? Try space instead. Elysium Space, a San Francisco-based company founded by a former software engineer at NASA, offers a couple of “celestial services.” At a cost of nearly $2500, the Shooting Star Memorial “delivers a symbolic portion of your loved one’s remains to Earth’s orbit, only to end this celestial journey as a shooting star,” while the Lunar Memorial will deliver a "symbolic portion" of human remains to the surface of the moon for a fee of nearly $10,000. Another company, Celestis, offers similar services ranging in price from $1300 to $12,500.

6. HUMAN COMPOSTING

Shoveling soil
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Critics of burial and cremation say both are bad for the environment. To address the need for a memorial method that doesn’t emit carbon dioxide, waste resources, or release carcinogenic embalming fluid into the soil, a number of eco-friendly options have emerged. One such innovation is the “mushroom burial suit," a head-to-toe outfit that's lined with mushroom spores designed to devour human tissue and absorb the body's toxins. Another company, Recompose, espouses human composting—a process by which a corpse would be converted into a cubic yard of soil, which could then be used to nurture new life in a garden. The procedure isn’t legal yet, but the company plans to work with the Washington State legislature to make it available to the general public before eventually rolling it out nationwide.

7. DEATH AS ART

Many innovative proposals have emerged from the DeathLAB at Columbia University, including a plan to convert human biomass (organic matter) into light. The design—a constellation of light that would serve as both a memorial and art installation—won a competition hosted by Future Cemetery, a collaboration between the University of Bath’s Centre for Death & Society and media company Calling the Shots. John Troyer, director of the UK-based center, says they're working on raising funds to install a concept piece based on that design at Arnos Vale Cemetery in Bristol, England, but any usage of actual biomass would have to be cleared through the proper regulatory channels first. According to DeathLAB, the project would save significant space—within six years, it would more than double the capacity of the cemetery orchard where the memorials would be installed.

8. VIRTUAL CEMETERIES

As virtual reality technology gets more and more advanced, some question whether a physical cemetery is needed at all. The website iVeneration.com, founded by a Hong Kong entrepreneur, lets users "create virtual headstones anywhere in an augmented reality landscape of Hong Kong, including such unlikely places as a downtown park," as Reuters describes it. In Japan, one online cemetery allows the bereaved to “light” incense, share memories of their loved one in comments, and even grab a virtual glass of beer. Similarly, an app called RiPCemetery created a social network where users can craft a virtual memorial and share photos of the deceased.

However, Troyer says he doesn’t believe technology will ever usurp the need for physical spaces. “A lot of the companies talking about digital solutions talk about ‘forever’—and that’s very complicated with the internet, because the virtual material we create can easily disappear," he told the The Guardian. "The lowly gravestone has been a very successful human technology, and I suspect it will last … I would go with granite.”

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