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article imagePhoto Essay: Contrasting sights of downtown Nashville Special

By Greta McClain     Dec 20, 2012 in Travel
Nashville - The downtown area of Nashville is a collage of interesting architecture, honky tonks, neon signs, industrial zones, historical landmarks, great food and a plethora of music.
There are plenty of historic old buildings to enjoy in Nashville, along with many newer buildings such as the Bell South building, which locals have dubbed "The Batman Building' due to the two spires at the top of the building. There is also a wide variety of activities to enjoy. One area that many enjoy visiting is Printers Alley.
Printers Alley got it's name because of it's close proximity to Nashville's printing and publishing industry. Although most of the printing companies are long gone, Lifeway Publishing is only a few blocks away. The nightclubs and bars in Printers Alley began opening in the 1940's, with legendary performers such as Boots Randolph, Chet Atkins, Hank Williams and Dottie West performing in one night club or another on any given night.
The Rainbow Room is perhaps the most famous of all the clubs in Printers Alley. Owned by David "Skull" Schullman, called "The Mayor of Printers Alley" by locals, the club began as an "exotic dance" club. In the 1990's is was converted into a Country and Western bar. On January 21, 1998, Schullman and his wife were robbed and murdered in the Rainbow Room after it closed. His ghost is said to still wander the alley at night.
View of the world famous Printers Alley in Nashville  TN
View of the world famous Printers Alley in Nashville, TN
Bourbon Street Blues Bar in Printers Alley.
Bourbon Street Blues Bar in Printers Alley.
The Shelby Street Bridge, originally called the Sparkman Street Bridge, was built in 1908. Crossing the Cumberland River, it connected the East Nashville area to downtown Nashville. It was the first North American bridge to have arched concrete trusses. In 1982, the bridge was converted to a pedestrian only bridge, with the Downtown Connector Bridge being built to take its place. The bridge is home to several annual events such as "Wine on the River" and "Dinner at the Bridge".
View from Downtown towards East Nashville on the Shelby Street Pedestrian Bridge.
View from Downtown towards East Nashville on the Shelby Street Pedestrian Bridge.
The Shelby Street Pedestrian Bridge
The Shelby Street Pedestrian Bridge
The The Gulch area of Downtown Nashville lies west of Union Station Hotel. Early in Nashville's history, it was the main hub for the railroad. In 2001, the area began a transformation, and The Gulch is now an area full of high-rise condominiums, shops, restaurants and offices. Just north of the Gulch, you can still find a more industrial area and feel.
Set of railroad tracks in the Gulch area of Downtown Nashville.
Set of railroad tracks in the Gulch area of Downtown Nashville.
Railroad tracks run between building in Nashville s Gulch area.
Railroad tracks run between building in Nashville's Gulch area.
During a walking tour of downtown Nashville, you can find interesting old signs, paintings and alleyways full of unique architecture and character.
This wall notifies visitors that the are entering the  Honky Tonk  zone of Nashville.
This wall notifies visitors that the are entering the "Honky Tonk" zone of Nashville.
Thirsty anyone?
Thirsty anyone?
Alleyway off of Broadway in Nashville  TN
Alleyway off of Broadway in Nashville, TN
Although Rotiers Restaurant is not actually located in the downtown area of Nashville, it is a short 7-10 minute drive west. Located on Elliston Place, the restaurant sits in what was once the carriage house for the Elliston mansion. In 1945, John and Evelyn Rotier decided to open a restaurant in the building, and it has been in the Rotier family ever since. Famous for their cheeseburgers, Rotiers also has a wonderful "meat and three" menu.
Rotiers Restaurant sign
Rotiers Restaurant sign
No matter your taste, whether it is bright neon signs, an industrial landscape, vintage and historic landmarks, classic architecture, or modern design, downtown Nashville has something for everyone.
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