Nashville was founded as "Fort Nashborough" by James Robertson and John Donelson. Robertson made the trip overland with a small party and arrived on Christmas Day, 1779, selecting a site on the bluffs of the Cumberland River known as French Lick. Donelson, along with a group of several families, came in 30 flatboats and several pirogues down the Tennessee River and up the Cumberland, arriving April 23, 1780.1 The fort was named in honor of Francis Nash, a Revolutionary War soldier. It was renamed Nashville in 1784 when it became incorporated as a town by the North Carolina legislature. In 1806, Nashville was chartered as a city, and it became the capital of Tennessee in 1843.
During the American Civil War, the Confederate army suffered a devastating defeat at the Battle of Nashville. This decisive battle effectively ended large-scale fighting in the Western Theater of the war.
The Nashville Wharf, photographed shortly after the American Civil War. After the Civil War, Nashville quickly grew into an important trade center. Its population rose from only 16,988 in 1860 to 80,865 by 1900.
In 1897, Nashville hosted the Tennessee Centennial and International Exposition, a World's Fair celebrating the 100th anniversary of Tennessee's entry into the union. An exact replica of the Parthenon was built for the event. The Parthenon replica is now the centerpiece of Centennial Park.
The Great train wreck of 1918 occurred on July 9, 1918 in Nashville when an inbound local train collided with an outbound express, killing 101 people. This was the most deadly rail accident in U.S. history.
Tennessee was the state that put the 19th Amendment, allowing women to vote, over the top, and the ratification struggle convulsed the city in August, 1920.
On March 1, 1941 W47NV (now known as WSM-FM) began operations in Nashville becoming the first FM radio station in the U.S.
Recent history (post-WWII)
Nashville played a prominent role in the U.S. civil rights movement. On February 13, 1960, hundreds of college students launched a sit-in campaign to desegregate lunch counters throughout the city. Although initially met with violence and arrests, the protesters were eventually successful in pressuring local businesses to end the practice of racial segregation. Many of the activists involved in the Nashville sit-ins went on to organize the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, which emerged as one of the most influential organizations of the civil rights movement.
Nashville has had a metropolitan government of a consolidated city-county since 1963, and was the first large U.S. city to adopt this structure.
The Nashville Tornado of 1998 struck the downtown area on April 16 at around 3:30 pm, causing serious damage and blowing out hundreds of windows from skyscrapers, raining shattered glass on the streets and closing the business district for nearly four days. Over 300 homes were damaged, and three cranes at the then-incomplete Nashville Coliseum were toppled. It was one of the most serious urban tornados on record in the U.S.
As the 21st century opened, a Nashville native rose to national political prominence when Dr. Bill Frist, formerly a transplant surgeon at the Vanderbilt University Medical Center, became majority leader of the U.S. Senate.
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