A Collaborative effort of the Nashville Historical Commission and the Public Library of Nashville and Davidson County.
January 1996

8000 BC First Indian inhabitants build villages in the Nashville area.

1200 AD (Mississippian Era) Large Indian villages cover the Nashville area.

1450 AD Indian villages disappear; Middle Tennessee becomes a hunting area.

1600s Charleville, a French-Canadian fur trader, establishes a trading post at the French Lick.

1714 Charleville’s post is abandoned; Middle Tennessee becomes a shared hunting ground for the Cherokee, Choctow, Chickasaw, and Creek Indian tribes.

1769 Timothy Demonbreun, a French-Canadian fur trader, arrives at the French Lick and begins hunting in the area.


1775 North Carolinian Richard Henderson meets with Cherokee Indian leaders on the Wautauga River and bargains with them for claim to the land between the Ohio and Cumberland Rivers.


1779 At Henderson’s urging, James Robertson leads a small group of men to explore the Cumberland Bluff in the spring.

1779 Robertson leads the first group of settlers, mostly men and boys to the Cumberland Bluff; they arrrive on Christmas Day.

1779 Col. John Donelson prepares flotilla of flatboats to bring women and children by water.

1780 Donelson arrives with second group on April 24 after a river voyage of 1,000 miles.

1780 Cumberland Compact, detailing the rights of the settlers, is signed by 250 men May 13.


1783 North Carolina legislature creates Davidson County.

1784 North Carolina legislature passes an act establishing the town of Nashville, naming it for General Francis Nash

1785 Davidson Academy, the first school, is chartered.

1785 Colonel John Donelson, a founder of Nashville, is mysteriously killed.

1785 The first physician, Dr. John Sappington, arrives in Nashville.

1787 Real estate in Nashville is assessed and taxed one dollar per acre.

1788 Andrew Jackson arrives in Nashville to serve as public prosecutor.

1788 Bob Renfroe, a free African American, opens popular tavern in Nashville.

1794 James Robertson leads Nickajack Expedition against Creek Indians.

1796 Tennessee becomes the 16th state admitted to the Union.

1796 The first church, a Methodist Church, is erected on the public square, near the courthouse, jail, and stocks.

1799 Nashville’s first newspaper, Henkle’s Tennessee Gazette & Mero Advertiser, is printed.

1806 Nashville is incorporated as a town, electing six aldermen and a mayor.

1806 Cumberland College is chartered as the successor to Davidson Academy.

1807 The first fire-fighting force of volunteers is established.

1807 Tennessee’s first bank, the Bank of Nashville, is founded

1810 The first book is published.

1812 WAR OF 1812 BEGINS

1812 The first legislature meets in Nashville.

1813 James Robertson, a founder of Nashville, dies near Memphis.

1815 Andrew Jackson defeats British troops at the Battle of New Orleans, January 8.

1815 WAR OF 1812 ENDS

1816 The Nashville Female Academy is founded.

1818 Nashville celebrates the first arrival of a steamboat, the Andrew Jackson.

1819 James Monroe makes the first presidential visit to Nashville.

1820 Ann Rodgers Grundy begins first Sunday School class in Nashville.

1821 Nashville Medical Society, the first medical association in Tennessee, is founded in the log courthouse on the public square.

1822 The first bridge, made of stone, is built across the Cumberland.

1822 The City Cemetery is established on 4th Avenue, South.

1824 Andrew Jackson is defeated in his campaign for president of the United States.

1824 Music publishing begins in Nashville with the publication of Western Harmony, a book of hymns and instructions for singing.

1824 Philip Lindsley comes to Nashville to head Cumberland College.

1825 The Marquis de Lafayette visits Nashville on his grand tour of the United States.

1826 The General Assembly passes an act establishing the University of Nashville.

1828 Andrew Jackson is elected seventh president of the United States.

1833 Nashville’s first publicly owned waterworks is completed.

1833 The first insurance company, the Tennessee Marine and Fire Insurance Company, is founded.

1838 Cherokee Indians pass through Nashville on the Trail of Tears.

1843 Nashville is named the permanent capital of Tennessee.

1844 James K. Polk is elected president of the United States.

1845 Construction of the Tennessee State Capitol begins.

1845 Andrew Jackson dies at his home, The Hermitage.

1847 The Nashville Merchant’s Exchange, the predecessor of the Chamber of Commerce, is founded.

1847 St. Mary’s Catholic Church, the first permanent Roman Catholic Church in Tennessee, is completed.

1848 The first telegraph message is received.

1849 James K. Polk dies in Nashville.

1850 The first steam engine, the No. 1, ordered by the Nashville and Chattanooga Railroad, arrives in Nashville.

1851 The first gas street lamp is lighted at 2nd Avenue, North, and the Public Square.

1851 The first Jewish religious organization, the Benevolent Burial Society, is organized.

1852 A public school system is authorized by the city aldermen.

1854 The Methodist Publishing House is established.

1855 Nashville’s first public school opens on the northeast corner of 8th Avenue, North, and Broad Street.

1855 Mount Olivet Cemetery is established.

1859 The Tennessee State Capitol is completed.

1859 The building of the Maxwell House Hotel begins.


1862 Federal troops occupy Nashville, the first southern capital to fall to the Union army.

1862 African American laborers help Union troops build Fort Negley.

1864 Union troops defeat Confederate forces in the Battle of Nashville, December 15 and 16.


1865 First mule-drawn streetcars appear in Nashville.


1866 Fisk University is founded.

1867 John Berrien Lindsley founds Montgomery Bell Academy from funds left to the University of Nashville by Montgomery Bell at his death in 1855.

1869 Mount Ararat Cemetery for African Americans is established.

1871 The Jubilee Singers begin a series of singing tours to raise money for the struggling school.

1873 Vanderbilt University is founded.

1873 Sampson Keeble becomes first African American to serve in the Tennessee General Assembly.

1876 Meharry Medical College is founded.

1876 Jubilee Hall, the first building in the U.S. constructed for the higher education of African Americans, is built.

1877 World’s first airmail is flown from Nashville to nearby Gallatin via balloon.

1877 The city’s first telephone call is made.

1880 Nashville celebrates the centennial year of its founding.

1882 Nashville sees its first electric light.

1885 Nashville’s first professional baseball game is played in Athletic Park near the Sulphur Spring Bottom north of downtown.

1889 Electric trolleys replace mule-drawn streetcars.

1889 The Tennessee legislature passes a poll tax as a prerequisite for voting.

1890 Vanderbilt plays Peabody in Nashville’s first football game.

1890 General Hospital opens with 60 beds.

1891 David Lipscomb College begins as the Nashville Bible School.

1892 The Union Gospel Tabernacle, now Ryman Auditorium, is completed.

1892 Joel Owsley Cheek develops Maxwell House Coffee blend.

1892 Nashvillian Edward Emerson Barnard, an astronomer, discovers the fifth moon of Jupiter.

1896 The first automobile is driven in Nashville.

1896 R. H. Boyd founds the National Baptist Publishing Board for the publication of religious materials relevant to the African American experience.

1897 The Centennial Exposition opens with the Parthenon as its centerpiece.

1900 Union Station opens.

1902 Centennial Park is acquired by the city, marking the beginning of Nashville’s public park system.

1902 National Life Insurance Company is founded.

1903 The Arcade opens.

1904 The city’s first Carnegie Library opens at the corner of 8th Avenue, North, and Union Street.

1904 Downtown street names are changed to numbered streets.

1904 Nashville’s first skyscraper is constructed at the southeast corner of Fourth Avenue, North, and Church Street.

1904 The One-Cent Savings Bank, now Citizens Bank, opens.

1904 Lockeland Spring water wins a prize at the St. Louis Exposition.

1905 The African American community institutes a streetcar boycott to protest a new law requiring separation of the races on electric streetcars.

1907 Tony Sudekum opens the first movie theater, The Dixie, on 5th Avenue, North, next to the Arcade.

1907 Theodore Roosevelt visits Nashville.

1908 Ex-Senator and Prohibitionist leader Edward Ward Carmack is shot on 7th Avenue, North, near Union Street by his political adversaries.

1909 The college descended from Davidson Academy, Cumberland College, the University of Nashville, and Peabody Normal College becomes George Peabody College for Teachers.

1909 Statewide Prohibition is passed over Governor Patterson’s veto.

1910 The Marathon Motor Car is manufactured in Nashville.

1910 The Hermitage Hotel opens in downtown Nashville.

1910 The world’s first night airplane flight takes off from Cumberland Park in Nashville.

1911 A Model T Ford climbs the steps of the Capitol to prove that the automobile could replace the horse.

1911 Nashvillian James C. Napier becomes Registrar of the U.S. Treasury.

1912 Tennessee Agricultural and Industrial State Normal School, later Tennessee State University, opens.

1912 The Eighth Avenue Reservoir ruptures, flooding the South Nashville area nearby.

1912 Goo Goo Candy Bar is concocted.

1914 The National American Woman Suffrage Association meets in Nashville.

1916 East Nashville is devastated by fire.


1918 The town of Old Hickory and a powder plant are built by DuPont.



1919 “Hampton Field” becomes Nashville’s first airfield.

1920 Tennessee becomes the 36th and deciding state to vote for ratification of the 19th (Woman Suffrage) Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

1920 The first Nashville symphony orchestra was organized.

1925 Grand Ole Opry begins.

1925 The War Memorial Building is constructed to expand state office space.

1927 The city buys 131 acres in West Nashville for the first airport, McConnell Field.

1927 Percy Warner Park, Tennessee’s largest municipal park, is established.


1931 The Parthenon reopens in its permanent form.


1933 A tornado wreaks havoc on East Nashville.

1937 The present Davidson County Courthouse is completed and opened.

1937 Nashvillian William Edmondson becomes the first African American to be given a one-man show at the Museum of Modern Art in New York.

1937 American Airlines lands the first plane in the new airport.

1938 The Nashville Housing Authority is created.


1941 Buses replace electric streetcars.

1941 The first Iroquois Steeplechase is run.

1943 Cornelia Fort becomes the first woman pilot to die on war duty in American history.

1943 The Grand Ole Opry moves to Ryman Auditorium.

1945 World War II ends.

1945 Three WSM engineers open “Castle Studio,” the first recording studio, in the Tulane Hotel.

1945 The Children’s Museum, now the Cumberland Science Museum, opens on Rutledge Hill.

1946 Walter Sharp leads the founding of the Nashville Symphony.

1949 The Capitol Hill Redevelopment Project is approved as the nation’s first urban renewal project.

1950 Capital Records becomes the first major company to locate its director of country music in Nashville.

1951 Belmont College opens.


1955 Kelley Vs The Board of Education in Nashville leads to school desegregation plan.

1957 The L & C Tower is completed.

1958 The Country Music Association is founded.

1960 Nashville Sit-In Movement leads to widespread desegregation of public facilities.

1960 Wilma Rudolph and Ralph Boston of Tennessee A & I State College win Olympic Gold Medals in track.

1961 The municipal airport opens.

1961 The Maxwell House Hotel burns.

1962 Metropolitan Government is approved by the voters.

1962 Tennessee’s first interstate highway, connecting Nashville to Memphis, arrives in Nashville.

1963 Metropolitan Government is formally inaugurated; County Judge Beverly Briley takes office as the first mayor.


1967 Davidson County voters approve liquor by the drink.

1968 Hospital Corporation of America, Hospital Affiliates International, and General Care Corporation are founded.

1968 Nashvillian Samuel Stritch becomes the first American to be appointed to the Roman Curia.

1972 Opryland USA opens.

1974 The Grand Old Opry moves from Ryman Auditorium to Opryland.

1975 Congressman Richard Fulton elected second mayor of Metropolitan Nashville and Davidson County.

1976 The United Nations comes to Nashville for its first meeting away from New York City.

1978 Amtrak passenger train service through Nashville ends.

1978 Professional baseball returns to Nashville, the Nashville Sounds.

1979 Celebration of Nashville’s bicentennial year begins, Century III.

1980 Century III celebration continues.

1980 Tennessee Performing Arts Center opens.

1982 The first Summer Lights Festival is held.

1983 January 10th, Riverfront Park opens on Broadway river front.

1984 Nashvillian Tracy Caulkins wins three Olympic gold medals.

1986 Union Station reopens as a hotel.

1987 The Nashville Convention Center and the new airport open.

1987 Congressman Bill Boner was elected the third mayor of Metropolitan Nashville and Davidson County.

1988 The Parthenon reopens after a two-year renovation of the gallery space.

1990 The Athena statue in the Parthenon is unveiled in the spring.

1990 Bellevue Mall opens August 9, 1990.

1991 Marathon Motor Company Building renovated and used for arts and business space.

1991 Philip Bredesen is elected mayor of Metropolitan Nashville and Davidson County.

1992 Groundbreaking for the Bell South Tower April 7, 1992.

1992 Al Gore, Jr. elected vice president of the United States on November 3, 1992.

1993 Ryman Auditorium reopens as an entertainment venue June 1st, 1994.

1994 Work on the Bicentennial Mall begins.

1994 American General Building purchased in January by the state of Tennessee to become Tennessee Towers state office building

1994 Bell South Tower (“the Batman Building”) has its grand opening Oct. 20, 1994

1995 Philip Bredesen is re-elected for a second term as mayor.

1995 100 Oaks Mall, Nashville’s first mall, is renovated and reopens Oct. 27, 1995

1995 Ground is broken for Nashville’s first greenway, Shelby Bottoms Greenway.

1996 Tennessee celebrates its Bicentennial.

1996 Tennessee Bicentennial Mall State Park opens during June 1st Celebration of our state’s 200th birthday.

1996 Construction begins on new downtown apartments Cumberland Towers.

1996 Metro Library Board passes $125 million plan to build new 315,000 sq. ft. main library and 5 regional branches on Tuesday afternoon July 16th.

1996 Frist Art Center named and plans drawn up for renovation of the old U.S. Post Office Building on Broadway to a visual arts center.

1996 Nashville Arena at 5th & Broadway officially opens Dec. 15th.

1997 Groundbreaking for new Nashville Stadium (later Adelphia Coliseum) on May 3rd.

1997 NFL (National Football League) comes to Nashville. Oilers arrive from Houston, Texas in July.

1997 NHL (National Hockey League) comes to Nashville Arena. The name Nashville Predators is chosen Sept. 25th.

1997 Summer Lights Festival which started on June 1982 held for last time in summer 1997.

1997 Opryland U.S.A. closes with Dec. 31st Christmas in the Park.

1998 Nashville Banner Newspaper ceases with final edition Friday, February 20, 1998.

1998 April opening of newly renovated Grassmere Mansion as a working 19th Century farm at Grassmere Zoo & Wildlife Park.

1998 Tornado strikes downtown and East Nashville April 16th, 1998.

1998 WPLN Public Radio becomes independent in May.

1998 Oilers name changes to Tennessee Titans and new logo chosen Dec. 22, 1998.

1998 Red Grooms’ Tennessee Fox Trot Carousel opens Nov. 28th at Riverfront Park.

1998 Southern Festival of Books held annually in Nashville has its 10th anniversary celebration this fall.

1999 Jacksonian Apartments built in 1917 torn down in January to make room for a new Walgreen’s Drug Store.

1999 Dell Computer signs deal in May to build in Nashville.

1999 Old Tennessee Central State Mental Hospital on Murfreesboro Road at Donelson Pike torn down in October for the new Dell Computer plant.

1999 June groundbreaking for new downtown Country Music Hall of Fame.

1999 1,500 acre Alvin G. Beaman Park & Greenway near Joelton opens in September.

1999 New mayor, Bill Purcell, takes oath of office on September 21st at Hume-Fogg High School.

1999 The Tennessee Electronic Library network established.

1999 Name “Adelphia Coliseum” chosen in June for new stadium. First game in new coliseum is played on August 15, 1999.

1999 Ninety year old Shelby Street Bridge closes to vehicle traffic and reconstruction as a pedestrian bridge begins.

1999 First American Bank, Nashville’s last locally owned bank is bought out by AmSouth Bancorp in October, will keep name until 2000.

1999 Construction begins on the $125 million Nashville Superspeedway located in Wilson County on Aug. 1999.

1999 Nashville Zoo at Grassmere opens in stages with last animals making the move to Grassmere in the fall.

1999 Nashville Arena renamed the Gaylord Entertainment Center on Aug.4th.

1999 New library on Church Street has groundbreaking on July 24th.

2000 WDCN Public Television changes its call letters to WNPT on February 22nd to reflect Nashville Public Television in letters.

2000 Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame opens in first real home in the Gaylord Entertainment Center on January 12th.

2000 Tennessee Titans play in the Super Bowl on Sunday January 30th.

2000 Al Gore Jr. is defeated by George W. Bush in a controversial Presidential election.

2001 The Frist Center for the Visual Arts opens in what was formerly Nashville’s historic main post office on April 8th

2001 The Country Music Hall of Fame opens at a new downtown location at 222 Fifth Ave. S on May 17th.

2001 The Nashville Public Library opens a new building at 615 Church St. on June 9th.