Photo Locale of the Month – June 2017

Nashville has been in the news a lot lately.  The Nashville Predators, an NHL expansion team that debuted in 1998, are fighting for the Stanley Cup. They won their last two games, and the the city’s nightlife-rich streets have been filled with even greater than the usual number of revelers. Additionally, the 2017 Country Music Awards air this Sunday on CBS, and the CMA Awards are the city’s perennial Big Event. If that isn’t enough, it was just last month that Governor Bill Haslam announced, from Nashville, that legislation recently passed naming Tennessee the first state to promise free community college tuition.

Nashville is one of the fastest-growing cities in the south, and last year it surpassed Memphis, three hours to the east, in population. Downtown Nashville, its Cumberland Riverfront in particular, has much to offer.

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City Showdown: Memphis vs. Nashville

Memphis has traditionally held the title of “Tennessee’s Largest City,” ever since westward expansion post-Civil War brought settlers across the Mississippi River.  But that honor changed hands not long ago.  Nashville, the state capital, is now 25,000 people greater than Memphis in population.  In fact, Memphis actually has fewer residents than it did in 2000!

Mud Island 42

What is going on here?  How can a city decline in population?  And which city is the better one, really?  Over the next several paragraphs, I’ll give my $0.02 on which city reigns supreme in categories of location, food, museums, parks and gardens, sports, nightlife, and – most important of all – overall livability.

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The Mountain Culture of Tennessee

Museum of Appalachia 9

Tennessee is gorgeous in the fall. The eastern third of the state, which sees the Smoky Mountains rise to heights of almost 7,000 feet, is stunning. The fall colors peaked just last week, and as you remark about the crisp weather and the fallen leaves, don’t be surprised when you discover that fall’s harvest season carries with it a sense of community and, in rural parts of the state, a throw-back to simpler times.

I have spent the last two weekends taking in a sampling of this culture firsthand, albeit in somewhat of a staged environment. Mountain Makins’ is an annual fall festival of music, arts and crafts, and food. The Museum of Appalachia, meanwhile, is an open-air museum of highland culture that ranks as one of the best folk museums in the world.

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A Day Trip to Knoxville

Last Monday I joined my parents on a day trip to Knoxville, Tennessee’s three-time former capital and the biggest city in the eastern half of the state. My parents travel to Knoxville (about an hour away) every eight weeks or so for Target and Publix runs, and this time their destination was a high-end international grocery store called Fresh Market.

Fresh Market is a stone’s throw from downtown, so when they asked me to tag along, I suggested adding on a visit to the East Tennessee History Center, with the caveat that we could grab lunch somewhere near Market Square, a center of pedestrian activity and a gathering place that is flanked by sidewalk cafés. (Market Square also plays host to countless Knoxville festivals, including the annual “HoLa Fest” that celebrates Latin food and culture. I attended HoLa Fest last year and blogged about it here.)

East Tennessee History Center 51

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