When friend and fellow blogger Ann Koplow was here in Nashville one of the things she noticed about downtown was the lack of houses with windows. It was an interesting observation, and while I’d never thought about the lack of windows one thing that’s always bothered me about Nashville is that it’s a city that for a long time kept business and residential areas widely separated. At the heart of downtown there are a lot of things to see and do but not a lot of places to live. This even created problems for tourists sometimes. For several years I went to the Southern Festival of Books, always held downtown on a weekend in late September, and while there was a lot going on at the festival it could be hard to get a good lunch because most of the restaurants and other businesses in the area simply shut down for the weekend. Their regular customers were the business people who were only around on weekdays.
Just a few blocks from the Festival was the Nashville Arcade, and while it’s now a bustling part of the Arts District, for several years it was deserted, even on a Friday afternoon.
In the mid ‘80’s and early ‘90’s there was an attempt to revitalize downtown with a summer weekend festival called Summer Lights that combined booths for businesses and free concerts, but all it ever really did was highlight how much of downtown was empty. Once the festival was over everybody left and there was no reason to come back.
As you head outward there are more houses, although there are some weird exceptions too. A stretch of 17th Avenue South, for instance, pictured above, looks like it’s a street of nice little houses, but look closely at the yard signs and you’ll see they’re all recording studios. Homes have been turned into businesses.
That’s slowly changing, especially downtown where some former businesses are being turned into homes—or at least apartments, but it was interesting to hear an outsider’s perspective, to see the city through the window of Ann’s eyes.
I fear that my original awkward phrasing is engendering a mistaken belief that Nashville is filled with houses with no windows. I meant to communicate my amazed realization that everywhere I walked in Nashville, I saw no houses (with windows or without). This comment gives you a window into my commitment to clarity and truth and also to true friends like you, Chris.
I understood exactly what you meant and I’m glad I could provide a window into your perspective.
Sounds like y’all had a fun get together. It reminds me of when four of us (all bloggers who’d never met in real life) met up for a weekend of fun! That was a couple of years ago, but it was one of the best experiences of my adult life! Christopher, you could take on a side job as a tourist guide for Nashville. Every time you talk about it, it makes me want to go and see it for myself! Maybe one of these years. Mona
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Now you’ve got me thinking I really should take a side job as a Nashville tour guide. Or a main job even. But the funny thing is it’s really not just Nashville. I live here so when people are visiting I try to suggest things they’ll enjoy–my hope is to be a good host, but I’ve found good things about all kinds of places I’ve been. Several years ago my wife and I were in Cleveland and the last day I read something in the local paper about how the city’s tourism board was struggling. I thought, heck, I was there three days and found more cool stuff there than I could get to. Maybe I should hire myself out to cities that want to boost their tourism.
That sounds like an amazing plan. I hope you go for it! In the city I live (not Dallas), the City gave a ghost tour for about two weeks around Halloween in 2017? 2018? It sold out as soon as they posted it. Unfortunately, I wasn’t one of the lucky few. I don’t know why they don’t do that on a regular basis, though. I LOVE GHOST TOURS! So, you and your wife are thinking about moving to Dallas and going into the tourism business, fingers crossed? M