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PHofKS

Nashville's Church Street Rennaissance

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A lot of a Cities growth is not only reflected in the number of cranes on the skyline, but in the street level infrastructure being put in place.

Church Street was the retail center of Nashville years ago with the three major department stores and many movie theaters, not to mention several churches. It died economically in the early 70's as a last ditch effort to make a pedestrian mall was built. Nevertheless, it ceased to be a vibrant part of the City.

Now, however, with the Cumberland Apartments and the 32 story Viridian under construction and the planned federal Courthouse and the 55 story signature tower, all featuring street level retail, the street should come alive again. The serpentine, brick paver, street has now been taken out and the street will be made into a two-way street (I now know how I will die. :cry: After crossing the one-way street for forty years and only looking west before I cross, I may never get used to looking east for traffic).

Here is where the road project started:

MBSet007.jpg

And here is where it is now.

SummerFall05021.jpg

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Good that Nashville got rid of that mall/one-way-street business. A number of cities did the the mall thing in the 70's, mostly unsuccessfully. I believe Knoxville did it with Gay Street, not sure how that worked out.

In Memphis, Main Street is still a mall for about a half-mile from Beale Street up to past the Civic Center. When it was put in in the mid-seventies, it really hastened the death of Main St. which was Memphis' equivalent of Church. It's still a mall, but at least has had streetcars on it since the early 90's. I think it's worth noting though that the section of Main St.--south Main--which was never a mall has boomed while the mall section still needs work.

It was a dumb idea all around.

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Church will be finished soon. I just came from there and people were walking around, sitting on benches (not just the homeless) and scurrying here and there. The District was packed at midday with people just everywhere. The street crossings looked like NYC (in our own special way) for blocks in every direction. It's really good to see this; we're very lucky that way. When the new signage is installed that actually embraces the Music City moniker with directional signs for venues, clubs, etc., the colorful additions will really polish thing up. It was a beautiful day. I saw cars from Florida to Alaska and most points in between. It's so nice to be famous.

The tourists have changed so much over the years. The demographic is much younger and hipper than I remember. Wait, sleepy, I'll save you the time, lol. I'm just much older and stodgier than I used to be. Ha.

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Good that Nashville got rid of that mall/one-way-street business. A number of cities did the the mall thing in the 70's, mostly unsuccessfully. I believe Knoxville did it with Gay Street, not sure how that worked out.

Maryville (a Knoxville suburb, but also a large City in itself) had the serpentine put in in the 70's and just recently had it removed with one-way streets being converted to two-way, also. It looks a lot nicer now with decorative street lights, signal poles and street furniture.

Knoxville is looking at Gay Street as a main street also. They want to eliminate overhead wires and traffic lights so they can hold parades and such. The newly rebuilt Gay Street bridge over the river is beautiful. The new Tennessee Theater has been restored and should provide a good anchor to the development of Gay Street.

The trolleys in Memphis make it's mall unique and not easily converted to vehicular traffic. They still ought to look into doing that somehow. I think it would really be special with wide landscaped sidewalks, parallel parking, landscaping and the trolley. It would make a good extension to Beale Street.

Chattanooga recently converted a one way pair going from downtown to UT Chattanooga and the arts district into a two-way boulevard and it is wonderful. It ties the campus in with the rest of the town very effectively.

We need more, friendly two-way, pedestrian two-way streets and fewer one-way pairs. And fewer by-passes also.

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Wait, sleepy, I'll save you the time, lol. I'm just much older and stodgier than I used to be. Ha.

As Eudora Welty would say, Hush Pappy. :P

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sleepy, you've been up north too long, lol, it's "Hush up, Pappy."

This would be a good place to link this historic nashville site for those of you who don't realize just what's happened around here in the past 100 years or so. You think Church St looks different now....well, find the pic of 1900.

Some of this is just sad, but time goes on. This should probably be a separate thread to bring up discussions of some of these places, but this is a good intro.

I might open the thread tomorrow. I'm not through it all yet. I'm still having a hard time with some of the things that are gone...that shoudn't be.

http://www.historicnashville.com/

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Indeed I have been up north too long, but "Hush Pappy" is the closing line in a Eudora Welty short story--"The Petrified Indian".

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sleepy, you've been up north too long, lol, it's "Hush up, Pappy."

This would be a good place to link this historic nashville site for those of you who don't realize just what's happened around here in the past 100 years or so. You think Church St looks different now....well, find the pic of 1900.

Some of this is just sad, but time goes on. This should probably be a separate thread to bring up discussions of some of these places, but this is a good intro.

I might open the thread tomorrow. I'm not through it all yet. I'm still having a hard time with some of the things that are gone...that shoudn't be.

http://www.historicnashville.com/

That site is in my favorites folder. I feel that in order to plan the future of Nashville, we must embrace the past.

Thanks for the thread. This is some interesting discussion.

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I remember going downtown to shop on Church Street. That was pretty cool. I mostly remember Church Street Center (wouldn't it benice to still have that AND a new library too). I can remember Cain Sloans right before they imploded it. The new Streetscapes on Church are great - looks a lot like Chicago (Michigan Ave.) to me. I am still longing for some retail on Church though. Would anyone care if they tore down the old Harvey's Building? It doesn't seem to historical to me at this point.

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One thing that is missing from Church Street and will never come back are some of the authentic characters who you would see on a regular basis such as the fellow who whistled tunes loudly every where he went.

One person I remember was a poor blind, black man who sold shopping bags outside Harvey's Department Store in the 60's. I am thinking his name was Cortella Clark, or something like that, and he played the blues on an old beat up guitar all day selling bags for a dime apiece. One day, someone from music row came by and recorded his music and put it on an album. The album didn't sell, but it won a grammy. So he returned to the sidewalk and played his grammy winning music selling shopping bags until he perished in a fire a year or so later.

I'm sure there are other stories like that on Church Street.

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I guess I lost some of my innocence on Church Street (and never got it back.) I was working for my uncle on an old building being coverted into a bookstore called BookWorld. There was a Krystal right across the street. Being 15, I was the one who got sent to pick up lunch for the crew. One day, the foreman was at the door to a movie house called Midtown Cinema and motioned for me to bring the lunch in there. Trust me, being 15 in 1968 is a lot different than being 15 now, but that was my first experience with a full screen porn theater. The workers just howled. I know I looked like a real Opie and very shocked...but admittedly, very intriqued at the same time. That first screen image is forever burned into this old brain.

I also saw my first R movie on Church Street, some old Ann Margret thing. I just remember lots of traffic and cabs and my friend's dad telling the doorman we were old enough to go it. We weren't.

As far as the old Harvey's building goes. IMO, it should stay at all costs, something cool wrapped around it would be nice though.

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As far as the old Harvey's building goes. IMO, it should stay at all costs, something cool wrapped around it would be nice though.

I, too, have memories of Church Street despite being fairly young (31). I saw it in the late '70s-early '80s when it was in its death throes. Even at the age of 5 in 1979, I remember fondly being able to shop at Castner-Knott's, Cain-Sloan's, and Harvey's and walking down Church all the way to First Avenue, which was truly dead in those days. Old train cars still on their old tracks were permanently parked across from where Riverfront Park is now and there was a hulking concrete garage at the end of Broadway that seemingly rose right out of the river. You had to descend down the steep muddy banks there to board the old riverboat rides they offered at the time.

Getting back to Church for a moment, I watched with sadness as the department stores closed one by one, first Harvey's in 1984, Cain-Sloan in 1987, and then Castner's in the late 1990s. The former two were always my favorites. The other Harvey's at the old 100 Oaks Mall was a poor substitute (it closing, too, only a few years after the downtown store). Over time, I grew to resent the suburban malls for forcing the closing of these grand old downtown stores. No matter what they do, they never had the same "magic" that their downtown counterparts did. To experience those places now, you have to go to our nation's largest cities (and even there, it's not quite the same, as many great stores have closed over the past 20 years), such as Macy's in New York or Marshal-Field's in Chicago as some of those still remaining.

I was downtown the evening before they imploded the vacant Cain-Sloan in the spring of 1994, perhaps taking the very last photos of it before its walls saw its last sunset. I didn't quite realize how emotionally attached to the old place I was until walking through its empty lot a few months later and started to sob. The final insult, it seemed, was the needless gutting/demolition of the central building in the Harvey's block, leaving a gaping hole that still remains today (and making a lot of Church Street by 2000 virtually a non-urban looking street with empty lot after empty lot, as the Nashville Scene glumly observed at the time). We can keep the remaining structure that stands, but it almost seems as if it is too little, too late. By removing its heart, it just isn't Harvey's anymore. :(

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I hope you guys enjoy the red bows on the light poles on church and capitol blvd. I spent 3 hours in the freezing cold putting them up today.

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I spoke with a couple of residents in the Berger Building today. Ted, the guy that owns the toy museum, is known as Fred Sanford because of all the trash and junk that he piles up behind the place and he refuses to clean it up. I mentioned the Christine Kreyling article in the Scene a month or so ago and they said she was wrong and they are NOT going to tear down the Berger Building. I mentioned the Courthouse will be on their back door, and they were convinced for some reason that even the Sears building was staying! Well, it is obvious that Fred does not keep his tennants to well informed.

My prediction: The Berger Building comes down. It is in bad shape and according to the new federal regulations, new courthouses need 50 feet of frontage to the street, this means it goes down. Believe me, the feds will give him plenty of money for it.

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Well I'm sure you guys could live without the red bows but it would be pretty hard to get by without some of the other services we provide. Thats one unique thing about Public Works, one day youre building roads and the next day youre hanging bows.

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Doorman

I agree I think the Berger Building is gone. It makes no sense to keep the building on that block. The museum is almost never open and you characterized the back of the building correctly as a 'junkyard', no way the feredral judges want to look at that every morning not to mention the security risk. Now if we can get the Feds to start moving... :)

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More on Maryville (pronounced Murvul) regarding the streetscape project mentioned in an earlier reply. I thought I'd drag this thread to the top one more time as Maryville alone didn't seem thread-worthy at this time.

Looks like Church Street minus the towers

Fall05020.jpg

Actually there is a tower in Maryville (16 Stories)

Fall05021.jpg

They saved the trees however.

Fall05019.jpg

And finally, the skyline.

Fall05015.jpg

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Ditto. Ive never been to Maryville and thos are the first pictures of Maryville I've seen. Thanks for sharing them. It looks like a properous town I hear that it's growing pretty fast.

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Good that Nashville got rid of that mall/one-way-street business. A number of cities did the the mall thing in the 70's, mostly unsuccessfully. I believe Knoxville did it with Gay Street, not sure how that worked out.

In Memphis, Main Street is still a mall for about a half-mile from Beale Street up to past the Civic Center. When it was put in in the mid-seventies, it really hastened the death of Main St. which was Memphis' equivalent of Church. It's still a mall, but at least has had streetcars on it since the early 90's. I think it's worth noting though that the section of Main St.--south Main--which was never a mall has boomed while the mall section still needs work.

It was a dumb idea all around.

I've said for so long that Main Street needs to be accessible by vehicle. Although the street is quite narrow, I think it could work with a 15 mph speed limit so people won't smash into the trolleys. The retail there would do much better if vehicle traffic were allowed IMO.

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