WATCH: Downtown Nashville Is Barely Recognizable in This 1994 Video Footage
Twenty-five years ago, Nashville's Lower Broadway was in transition, moving from the seedy haven for pawn shops, discount furniture stores and adult entertainment seen in older pictures and to current status as a cleaned-up, tourist-centered strip of country star-sponsored bars and bachelorette party destinations. But the rest of Nashville looked a bit different back then, too.
For a glimpse of that in-between time, when the area around the Ryman Auditorium juggled its downtown-area charm and big-city edge with an increasing focus on family-friendly tourism, check out the above archival footage, tweeted out on Wednesday (July 31) by Fox Nashville. The video also takes viewers down Broadway into downtown, out to the Bluebird Cafe on Hillsboro Pike and onto I-440, all of which look much different than they do more than two decades later.
The Lower Broadway area's decline in the 1970s can be traced to the Grand Ole Opry's move from the Ryman to its new facility at the now-defunct theme park, Opryland USA, outside of downtown Nashville. After the Ryman's rebirth in the '90s, new shopping, dining and drinking options joined an area known for such long-running destinations as Tootsie's Orchid Lounge and the Earnest Tubb Record Shop.
Nowadays, the relatively sparse traffic in the video is much heavier, often log-jammed by party buses, and the plain-looking brick buildings are adorned with neon signs. For some, the area has lost its charm; to others, its growth offers a little something for just about any visitor to downtown Nashville, from country purists to bar-hoppers and hockey fans.
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