Brief History of Lower Broadway
The Broadway Historic District sits in the shadow of the famous Ryman Auditorium. Although you’ll find many tourist-related and music-focused businesses in the area, Lower Broad has attracted many to the honky-tonk bars, live music opportunities, and festive atmospheres that you’ll find here.
It wasn’t always about the music and tourism when taking a stroll down Lower Broadway. Several of the hardware and furniture stores there played crucial roles in the city’s economy during the late 19th century. Although many are now reused for souvenir shops, restaurants, or other needs, the history of each building is still on display for all to see.
The Ernest Tubb Record Shop is an excellent example of Lower Broadway’s history in Nashville. It was the home of the Midnight Jamboree, which holds the distinction of being the second-longest running radio show in history. It’s still broadcast each Saturday night on WSM radio.
Why Do Locals Call It “Lower Broad?”
Lower Broadway is the entertainment district of Nashville, sitting off the major thoroughfare of the same name.
It’s called “Lower Broad” because the area was originally named Broad Street. The road ended at the shipping docks that were built on the Cumberland River.
The street is also notable because it was one of the first east-west routes in Nashville. Even the first public high school city was built on it because of its convenience, with the work completed in 1875.
The Frist Center for the Visual Performing Arts was once a post office, built next to Union Station, as part of the Works Progress Administration activities during the Great Depression.
Jimmie Rodgers was the first musician to perform in the bars along Broadway in the 1930s. After his success, many other artists joined the fun. It has continued to build its reputation since then.
If you visit Lower Broadway, take time to drive less than six miles southwest to Belle Meade Plantation as well.