Downtown Nashville leads the way in city’s revitalization

Nashville 2019

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – It’s no surprise Nashville is listed as one of the top cities that has changed the most in 10 years, according to MagnifyMoney. Nashville is No. 4 on that list,

Even if you’ve only been in Music City for a year, you’ve seen major changes, and if you’re a native Nashvillian, you’ve seen more.

Longtime local business owner Bobby Joslin says downtown Nashville looks very different than the downtown he remembers when he was younger.

“You know back in those days, we had a lot of old hotels that were downtown and these were old school hotels, and in today’s standards, you wouldn’t even want to check in,” he said. “Downtown Nashville was really an embarrassment.”

Local historian David Ewing told News 2 the area has definitely had ups and downs through the years.

“In the 70s after the Opry left and downtown continued to slide, the businesses that were left on Lower Broadway were pawn shops, and adult movie theaters. Hardly the family environment. A lot of people, including locals, stayed away from Lower Broadway, or were prohibited from going there from their parents or even their friends because they thought it was seedy, and dangerous.”

You probably recognize Jack’s BBQ because of the flying pigs on the sign. Joslin said Jack’s led the way to Lower Broadway becoming what it is today when the current restaurant opened in 1994.

“Jack called one day and says, hey I found a new spot up the street meet me down here. I looked at Jack and I said, you must be crazy. Why would you get down in the middle of all this? He said, it’s going to get better. I think Jack Hawthorne was a pioneer of partly revitalizing downtown Nashville. It started with that BBQ house and those flying pigs,” said Joslin.

Ewing told News 2 that the tornado that hit the downtown area in 1998 led to even more revitalization.

“After the tornado, there was more investment and some of these older buildings were fixed up. And after that tie at the turn of the century, people started to come back to Lower Broadway, bars started to come there, and tourism picked up because of the Hall of Fame, and the Frist Center, and the sports that were down there,” said Ewing.

Ewing says he’s proud to be a Native Nashvillian, and to see how far our city has come.

“The progress is part of our growth. If we were the same city that we were in 1950, or even 1980, no one would want to move here. People wouldn’t want to come and be creative here, and people wouldn’t want to come visit,” he said.

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