Nashville is the capital and second largest city in Tennessee. Known worldwide as the center of country music, it has long been a destination for music-related tourism. The city has been working for some time to renovate its downtown area and attract first-class amenities. Areas of downtown, notably the District, have stylish older buildings repurposed into shopping and nightlife areas. Nashville is a big sports town: The Tennessee Titans are the state’s first NFL team and there are minor-league or secondary league teams in just about every sport. Vanderbilt University, Fisk University and an assortment of smaller colleges add a higher education dimension with the expected amenities.
Beyond tourism and music, the economic base encompasses government, banking, finance, and insurance. More recently, it has become a center for the modern automotive industry. In the early 1990’s, General Motors located Saturn in Spring Hill, about 30 miles to the southwest. Then Nissan set up its U.S. assembly plant in Smyrna, and later moved their North American headquarters to the area in 2006. The Nashville area is also a center for the national healthcare industry and is headquarters for Caremark Rx and HCA, a hospital administrator. The city is sometimes called the “Protestant Vatican”- it doesn’t take too long to be reminded that you’re in the Bible Belt even though Nashville has grown into a large and relatively progressive metro area.
For a big city, Nashville has an attractive cost of living profile. There are growth and sprawl issues, and related problems with traffic and air quality. Some of the better neighborhoods lie east and south, like the historic town of Franklin. Murfreesboro is a college town southeast, home to the large Middle Tennessee State University. It is close enough for residents to commute to the city’s prosperous southeastern suburbs, but it has its own identity and economy. Overall, the area’s job growth projections have tapered off, growth effects are being felt, and crime rates remain stubbornly high.
Nashville is in a river valley along the edge of the Highland Rim, which rises 300 feet to 400 feet above the basin and forms an amphitheater about the city. The climate is typical for the region with warm, humid summers and alternating periods of cool and cold in the winter. Topography generally does not affect the weather. Great extremes seldom occur, but the location near major storm tracks brings frequent weather changes. Summer thunderstorms are sometimes severe. Periods of winter precipitation are common with an occasional stronger winter storm.