Nashville is the capital of the U.S. state of Tennessee and the county seat of Davidson County. Nashville is the second largest city in Tennessee, after Memphis, and is the fourth largest city in the Southeastern United States. It is located on the Cumberland River in the north-central part of the State. The city is a center for the music, healthcare, publishing, banking and transportation industries, and is home to numerous colleges and universities. Reflecting the citys position in state government, Nashville is home to the Tennessee Supreme Courts courthouse for Middle Tennessee. It is known as a center of the music industry, earning it the nickname "Music City".
Since 1963, Nashville has had a consolidated city-county government which includes six smaller municipalities in a two-tier system. Thirty-five of 40 members are elected from single-member districts; five are elected at-large. According to the 2013 American Community Survey estimates, the consolidated County population stood at 658,602; not including the semi-independent municipalities, the population was 634,464. The 2013 population of the entire 13-county Nashville metropolitan area was 1,757,912, making it the largest metropolitan statistical area in the state. The 2013 population of the Nashville-Davidson–Murfreesboro–Columbia combined statistical area, a larger trade area, was 1,876,933.
The town of Nashville was founded by James Robertson, John Donelson, and a party of Overmountain Men in 1779, near the original Cumberland settlement of Fort Nashborough. It was Named for Francis Nash, the American Revolutionary War hero. Nashville quickly grew because of its strategic location, accessibility as a port on the Cumberland River, a tributary of the Ohio River; and its later status as a major railroad center. By 1800, the city had 345 residents, including 136 African American slaves and 14 free blacks. In 1806, Nashville was incorporated as a city and became the county seat of Davidson County, Tennessee. In 1843, the city was named the permanent capital of the state of Tennessee.
By 1860, when the first rumblings of secession began to be heard across the South, antebellum Nashville was a very prosperous city. The citys significance as a shipping port made it a desirable prize as a means of controlling important river and railroad transportation routes. In February 1862, Nashville became the first State capital to fall to Union troops. The state was occupied by Union troops for the duration of the war. The Battle of Nashville (December 15–16, 1864) was a significant Union victory and perhaps the most decisive tactical victory gained by either side in the war.
Within a few years after the Civil War, the city had reclaimed its important shipping and trading position and also developed a solid manufacturing base. The post–Civil War years of the late 19th century brought new prosperity to Nashville and Davidson County. These healthy economic times left the city with a legacy of grand classical-style buildings, which can still be seen around the downtown area.
Nashville lies on the Cumberland River in the northwestern portion of the Nashville Basin. Nashvilles topography ranges from 385 feet (117 m) above sea level at the Cumberland River to 1,160 feet (350 m) above sea level at its highest point.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 527.9 square miles (1,367 km2), of which 504.0 square miles (1,305 km2) of it is land and 23.9 square miles (62 km2) of it (4.53%) is water.
As the "home of country music", Nashville has become a major music recording and production center. All of the Big Four record labels, as well as numerous independent labels, have offices in Nashville, mostly in the Music Row area. Nashville has been home to the headquarters of guitar company Gibson since 1984. Since the 1960s, Nashville has been the second-largest music production center (after New York) in the U.S. As of 2006, Nashvilles music industry is estimated to have a total economic impact of $6.4 billion per year and to contribute 19,000 jobs to the Nashville area.
Much of the citys cultural life has revolved around its large university community. Particularly significant in this respect were two groups of critics and writers who were associated with Vanderbilt University in the early twentieth century: the Fugitives and the Agrarians.
Popular destinations include Fort Nashborough and Fort Negley, the former being a reconstruction of the original settlement, the latter being a semi-restored Civil War battle fort; the Tennessee State Museum; and The Parthenon, a full-scale replica of the original Parthenon in Athens. The Tennessee State Capitol is one of the oldest working state capitol buildings in the nation, while The Hermitage is one of the older presidential homes open to the public.