Nashville’s glory days are right here, right now: 10 amazing facts about the Music City

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Nashville, Tenn. – Nashville artists have shaped global culture — and its cherished icons celebrate the Music City with their lyrics and tunes.

“The streets are paved with tourists and the record companies flourish/Lord knows every singer wants to be the king,” Hank Williams Jr. sang in “The Nashville Scene,” a track from his 1985 no. 1 album “Five-O.”

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But Nashville doesn’t live in the past. Its glory days are right here, right now. 

The Music City is thumping to the sounds of a booming economy, new construction, new residents and thriving tourism.

The Ryman Auditorium opened as the Union Gospel Tabernacle in 1892 and served as the home of the Grand Ole Opry from 1943 to 1974. It still hosts performances and offers tours today.

The Ryman Auditorium opened as the Union Gospel Tabernacle in 1892 and served as the home of the Grand Ole Opry from 1943 to 1974. It still hosts performances and offers tours today.
(Kerry J. Byrne/Fox News Digital)

Oh, yes, and plenty of music, too.

Here’s a look at 10 amazing facts that spotlight a red-hot American destination.

Nashville totally lives up to its Music City moniker

A band performs on Friday, August 26, at Rippy's Honky Tonk, 429 Broadway, Nashville. The live music venue is one of dozens that fuel the entertainment scene on boisterous Lower Broadway. 

A band performs on Friday, August 26, at Rippy’s Honky Tonk, 429 Broadway, Nashville. The live music venue is one of dozens that fuel the entertainment scene on boisterous Lower Broadway. 
(Kerry J. Byrne/Fox News Digital)

Nashville boasts about 180 live entertainment venues, from the modern 20,000-seat Bridgestone Arena (which also hosts the NHL’s Nashville Predators) to street-corner and strip-mall honky tonks.

The most famous music venues: the historic Ryman Auditorium in hard-partying Lower Broadway and the Grand Ole Opry in Opryland, about 10 miles east of downtown. 

Dolly Parton inspired Nelson Mandela in prison

A copy of Dolly Parton's 2020 book,

A copy of Dolly Parton’s 2020 book, “Songteller: My Life in Lyrics,” is kept in the lobby of the Hutton Hotel in Midtown Nashville. The hotel reflects the city’s love of music. It has its own venue for live performances, called Analog, while musicians perform live in its lobby each day. 
(Kerry J. Byrne/Fox News Digital)

Parton arrived in the Music City after graduating from high school in East Tennessee. She became, and remains, an entertainment sensation.  

In one of the most incredible stories of the power of Nashville music, Parton’s 1973 heartache song “Jolene” was an anthem for Nelson Mandela and the anti-apartheid movement in South Africa. 

“Jolene” by Dolly Parton was the first song Nelson Mandela played for his fellow inmates. 

“Dolly Parton’s America,” a 2019 Apple podcast, revealed that Mandela was allowed to play music over prison loudspeakers. “Jolene” was the first song he played for his fellow inmates. 

“To them it wasn’t another woman song,” writes NaSHEville.com in its review of the podcast. 

“It was the voice of a sorrowful spirit who’d had her beloved — and in their case, their freedom — stripped away without her consent.”

The Music City is a tourist mecca

A Thousand Horses perform at the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville on August 27, 2022. The Grand Ole Opry moved from the Ryman Auditorium in downtown Nashville to its current Opryland location in March 1974. 

A Thousand Horses perform at the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville on August 27, 2022. The Grand Ole Opry moved from the Ryman Auditorium in downtown Nashville to its current Opryland location in March 1974. 
(Kerry J. Byrne/Fox News Digital)

Nashville is on pace to welcome a record 14.2 million tourists in 2022, surpassing its previous best of 13.8 million visitors in 2019, according to the Nashville Convention & Visitors Corp.

The city expects even better things ahead, projecting 14.9 million tourists in 2023. 

The Grand Ole Opry alone has about a million visitors a year. 

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“Music City thrives on its authentic and creative spirit, and we’re thrilled it has emerged as one of the most vibrant and sought-after cities to visit,” convention bureau president Deana Ivey told Fox News Digital.

Nobody parties on wheels like Nashville

The Honky Tonk Party Express rolls down Broadway in Nashville on Friday, August 26, 2022. Nashville is one of America's top destinations for bachelorette parties; it offers an array of party buses and other mobile entertainment options. 

The Honky Tonk Party Express rolls down Broadway in Nashville on Friday, August 26, 2022. Nashville is one of America’s top destinations for bachelorette parties; it offers an array of party buses and other mobile entertainment options. 
(Kerry J. Byrne/Fox News Digital)

The Music City features an incredible array part of party buses, pedal pubs and mobile entertainment venues. 

Broadway is filled with a traffic jam of farm tractors pulling trailers of evangelical musicians and open-air buses packed with screeching, sipping and swaying bachelorettes.

Some buses offer Nashville hot chicken while others dish out mobile comedy shows.

Don’t forget the water. Tourists can party on the Cumberland River, which slices through downtown, aboard the Pontoon Saloon.

Kid Rock may have the largest club in the city 

Kid Rock's Big Ass Honky Tonk and Rock 'n' Roll Steakhouse is one of the biggest bars on Lower Broadway, with room for up to 2,000 guests in rowdy downtown Nashville.

Kid Rock’s Big Ass Honky Tonk and Rock ‘n’ Roll Steakhouse is one of the biggest bars on Lower Broadway, with room for up to 2,000 guests in rowdy downtown Nashville.
(Kerry J. Byrne/Fox News Digital)

Kid Rock’s Big Ass Honky Tonk and Rock ‘n’ Roll Steakhouse is reportedly the largest club in Nashville. 

It has six bars, five floors, four stages and room for 2,000 guests — plus a rooftop bar overlooking the chaos of Lower Broadway. 

Slapping your name and image on a downtown Nashville

nightclub is a status symbol among celebrity musicians. 

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Jason Aldean, Luke Bryant, Dierks Bentley, Alan Jackson, Miranda Lambert, John Rich, Blake Shelton, Justin Timberlake and Florida Georgia Line all boast a Lower Broadway honky-tonk. 

A ‘great migration’ is flooding Nashville

Nashville is in enjoying a rapid rise in new residents, new tourists and new construction.

Nashville is in enjoying a rapid rise in new residents, new tourists and new construction. “You can’t take a picture anywhere in this town without a crane in the background,” Nashville resident Jen Livengood, a freelance TV producer, told Fox News Digital. “It’s all moving very quickly.” 
(Kerry J. Byrne/Fox News Digital)

The population of Metro Nashville jumped 21% over the past decade, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, with the city welcoming an average of nearly 100 new residents every single day.

“It’s the great migration,” Jen Livengood, a freelance TV producer from Nashville, told Fox News Digital. 

She moved from New York City to Nashville in 2013 and said the pandemic only hastened the the flight of newcomers. 

The population of Metro Nashville jumped 21% over the past decade.

“There was a massive influx of people from L.A. and New York during COVID, especially during the lockdowns,” she said. “They wanted more space and more affordability.”

Somebody “selling a mega-mansion” in another state, she said, “can get the same exact thing in Nashville for $600,000.”

Nashville is making room for more tourists

The Graduate, a new Nashville hotel, opened in January 2020 featuring whimsical post-war-period decor that pays homage to both American road culture and the local music scene.

The Graduate, a new Nashville hotel, opened in January 2020 featuring whimsical post-war-period decor that pays homage to both American road culture and the local music scene.
(Kerry J. Byrne/Fox News Digital)

This summer of 2022, Nashville has 2,600 new hotel rooms under construction.

Among its newest venues: The Graduate, a whimsical retro-Americana themed hotel in midtown that opened in 2020. 

The Graduate offers a rooftop lounge, White Limozeen, which features a 9-foot-tall bust of Dolly Parton made of chicken wire; and a cozy ground-floor karaoke bar called Crossed-Eyed Critters.

Nashville is an Athens of America

The Parthenon in Nashville's Centennial Park is full-scale replica of the original Parthenon in Athens. 

The Parthenon in Nashville’s Centennial Park is full-scale replica of the original Parthenon in Athens. 
(Kerry J. Byrne/Fox News Digital)

The Parthenon in Centennial Park is one of America’s more unusual and extraordinary attraction. 

The art museum is the world’s only full-size replica of the original Parthenon, a 2,500-year-old architectural landmark in Athens. 

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It’s located west of downtown Nashville, near the campus of Vanderbilt University. It was built in 1897. 

It’s “a beloved symbol of civic pride to Nashvillians,” says the city’s tourism board. 

It’s easy to eat well in Nashville

A Nashville hot chicken and cheddar sandwich from Party Fowl on 8th Avenue in The Gulch neighborhood. 

A Nashville hot chicken and cheddar sandwich from Party Fowl on 8th Avenue in The Gulch neighborhood. 
(Kerry J. Byrne/Fox News Digital)

The number of people eating out in Nashville in the summer of 2022 has soared 19.2% over the pre-pandemic summer of 2019, according to data from OpenTable

Guests flock to the Music City for its local specialty, Nashville hot chicken, served at no-frills local joints such as Bolton’s in East Nashville or glitzy newer hot chicken chains Party Fowl and Hattie B’s.

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Nashville has welcomed 200 new eateries over the past two years, according to the city tourism board; it has a thriving upscale dining scene. 

Newcomers include Layer Cake Social Kitchen, a bachelorette-themed restaurant and cocktail venue; Boqueria Fifth + Broadway, a downtown tapas eatery; and E3 Chophouse, a favorite of country music star John Rich featuring farm-sourced ingredients including grass-fed beef and locally harvested honeycomb. 

The Music City embraces its history

A mural of Music City icons outside Legends Corner, a longtime downtown Nashville honky tonk at the intersection of Broadway and Rep. John Lewis Way North. Pictured (front, from left) are Brad Paisley, Johnny Cash, Keith Urban and Merle Haggard.

A mural of Music City icons outside Legends Corner, a longtime downtown Nashville honky tonk at the intersection of Broadway and Rep. John Lewis Way North. Pictured (front, from left) are Brad Paisley, Johnny Cash, Keith Urban and Merle Haggard.
(Kerry J. Byrne/Fox News Digital)

The Ryman Auditorium, a former tabernacle just steps from Lower Broadway in downtown Nashville, still hosts performances but is best known today as a museum of American music history. 

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Visitors can get their photo taken on stage or see hallowed sites such as the Johnny Cash and June Carter dressing room.

Cash met Carter at the Ryman for the first time as a teenager in 1950 and instantly fell in love, tour director Lisa Errington told Fox News Digital. 

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“He thought she was amazing, the bee’s knees,” she said. “We want to tell their story, tell their love story.”

The Grand Ole Opry, which left the Ryman and opened its Opryland location in 1974, offers visitors backstage tours after each performance.

Kerry J. Byrne is a lifestyle reporter with Fox News Digital.

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