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Places (POIs) visited during this tour

Place #1
Distance: 0.14mi , Attraction : Walk of Fame Park & Bridgestone Arena
Map Pin
201 Rep. John Lewis Way S, Nashville, TN 37203, USA
POI 1 Tour Image
Walk of Fame Park & Bridgestone Arena
Welcome to Historic America & UCPlaces’ audio walking tour of Downtown Nashville. We’re glad you could join us! I’m Aaron, your guide (but I also respond to professional history nerd). This is the part of the tour where I fit in my shameless plug for our websites – (www.historicamerica.org & www.ucplaces.com – and invite you to use #historicamericatours on social media while traveling alongside us today.

Now that you’ve arrived - let’s get you oriented.

You’re standing at the intersection of Demonbreun St. & John Lewis Way near the southwest corner of Walk of Fame Park (a site we’ll revisit at the end of our tour). From here, walk north along John Lewis Way, on the side of the street directly parallel to Bridgestone Arena. As you walk, I’ll talk.

Let’s start with the sports history of Nashville's recent past as you take notice of Bridgestone Arena to your left. This stadium is home to the Nashville Predators - but most folks in town refer to them as ‘the Preds’. They’re the city’s National Hockey League franchise. The Preds mascot is a saber tooth cat and – to drive the point home – the fans in the stands wave foam fang fingers (say that five times fast) during home matches.

Founded in 1997, the Preds are a comparatively young team who’ve yet to win the Stanley Cup – although they came close in 2017 before falling to the Pittsburgh Penguins in the finals. Maybe this is the year! Or maybe not – we at Historic America have no real concept of the present, because we’re stuck in the past … and we love it.

Let’s move along. I’ll meet you up ahead at the intersection.

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Place #2
Distance: 0.12mi , Attraction : Museum and Auditorium
Map Pin
501 Broadway, Nashville, TN 37203, USA
POI 2 Tour Image
National Museum of African American Music & Ryman Auditorium
You’re now at the intersection of John Lewis Way & Broadway. Pause here for a moment. Along Broadway to the east stretches Honky Tonk Highway, Nashville’s entertainment district. It’s dominated by honky tonks, live country music venues, retail shops, and restaurants along with various & sundry attractions. I know what you’re thinking, and the answer is, “Yes, it’s a total tourist trap.” Which is exactly why we’ll return here later on our tour.

In the meantime, locate the Apple Store with the glass front on the opposite side of the intersection from where you stand. Got it? Now stop looking at the Apple Store and find the building next door – the one with the large digital sign above the entrance. This is the National Museum of African American Music, the only museum in the United States solely dedicated to preserving and celebrating the many music genres created, influenced, and inspired by African Americans. Opened in January of 2021, the museum is new-on-the-Nashville-scene. It boasts 56,000 square feet of space, a 200 seat theater, a research library, myriad interactive exhibits and six period themed galleries which contain over 1,500 artifacts. The collection ranges from stage outfits worn by Whitney Houston & Nat King Cole to B.B. King’s guitar ‘Lucillle’, to Louis Armstrong’s trumpet … and much more.

Although Nashville’s most famous audio export is undoubtedly country music, this museum has become an instantly integral part of the city’s musical landscape. It also serves as a great reminder that Black music & American music are one and the same as journey inside demonstrates the amazing impact Black artists have made on American culture.

Let’s cross the intersection and continue walking north along John Lewis Way as we talk a bit more about how Nashville became known as ‘Music City’.

In October, 1925 a local radio station named WSM was born. Within weeks, WSM debuted a live country music program named the Grand Ole Opry. A few years later, the station upgraded its broadcasting power by installing a 50,000 watt, nation-wide transmitter. As a result, radio listeners across the United States could tune in and both the Opry and the Country Music genre exploded in popularity. Nashville would never be the same.

On June 5th, 1943, WSM relocated the live Grand Ole Opry performances to the Ryman Auditorium. There the Opry played weekly for 31 years and became a national phenomenon; while the Ryman became country music’s high temple and Nashville it’s capital city. Wanna see where it all happened? Well look no further because it’s coming up on your right hand side.

Locate the red brick building with arched windows. That’s the Ryman. When you reach the front, pause so I can tell you more.

Ryman Auditorium was built by Captain Thomas G. Ryman - a successful riverboat captain and business operator whose fleet was based here in Nashville. He was also a religious man who decided to fund the construction of a tabernacle that would allow the people of Nashville to attend large-scale, indoor Christian revival meetings. This building is the result. It opened its doors in 1892 and was originally a church called the Union Gospel Tabernacle. In 1904, after Ryman’s death, the building was renamed Ryman Auditorium in his honor and it eventually converted into a performance space playing host to the Grand Ole Opry from 1943-1974. It is now regarded among the most historic musical locations in the United States.
During its tenure at the Ryman, the Opry showcased all the stars of the country music universe. Blending its origins as a house of worship with its usage as the genre’s premiere performance venue, the Ryma was dubbed "The Mother Church of Country Music”. The sound of legendary performers such as Hank Williams, The Carter Family, Minnie Pearl, Johnny Cash, Patsy Cline and Dolly Parton still echo across the stage.
Since it was originally built to amplify the voice of preachers, the acoustics inside the Ryman are legendary and to this day musical experts consider them among the best in the world. If you’ve got the time, you should go in and experience them yourself.
You might like to stop by the box office and purchase tickets to an upcoming show OR take a self guided tour – available most days between 9am-4pm.
Now remember, although the Grand Ole Opry still exists, it is no longer performed at the Ryman. It relocated to its current & permanent home – the Opry House – in 1974. The Opry House experience is another building in another part of town. Uninitiated visitors to Nashville often get confused on this point - but you were wise enough to take our tour. Well done.
My favorite story from the Ryman’s history has to do with Elvis Presley’s one and only performance at the Grand Ole Opry. While he was still an up-and-coming star, Elvis took the stage and sang the classic country tune “Blue Moon of Kentucky”, but his rock ‘n’ roll swagger and unique style weren’t a good fit for the traditional country crowd and the performance flopped. Years later, Elvis remembered that immediately after his failure, the then Opry Manager – Jim Denny – told him to, “...go back to Memphis and drive a truck” instead. For his part, Mr. Denny didn’t recall being so harsh, but he did tell a local record producer that, “the boy’s good, but is just not right for the Opry.” Elvis would never perform there again.
Let’s move along. Continue walking north along John Lewis and I’ll meet you ahead.

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Tour itinerary stops | Additional places you'll see on this self-guided tour

Map Pin Place 1 Walk of Fame Park & Bridgestone Arena
Map Pin Place 2 National Museum of African American Music & Ryman Auditorium
Map Pin Place 3 John Lewis Mural
Map Pin Place 4 Downtown Presbyterian Church
Map Pin Place 5 Woolworth on 5th/Arcade
Map Pin Place 6 Southern Turf & Gentlemen's Quarter
Map Pin Place 7 Printers Alley
Map Pin Place 8 Cumberland River & Nissan Stadium
Map Pin Place 9 Fort Nashborough
Map Pin Place 10 Broadway & Saloons
Map Pin Place 11 Luke's 32nd Street Bridge
Map Pin Place 12 Goo Goo's
Map Pin Place 13 Nashville Symphony & Siegenthaler Bridge
Map Pin Place 14 Directions/Walk of Fame Park
Map Pin Place 15 Country Music Hall of Fame

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How does the tour work?
UCPlaces acts as your personal tour guide, providing self-guided audio tours fully navigated within our app using GPS-based navigation. You won't need to switch between external navigation apps.
Whenever you approach a point of interest (POI) on the tour, our app will automatically play the relevant audio story at the right time and place.
If you start the tour before reaching the first POI, the app will navigate you to the starting point and then begin the tour.
How is this more convenient than a traditional tour?
UCPlaces offers an innovative and flexible way to explore exciting destinations on your terms.
Here are some key advantages over traditional tours:
  • No need to commit upfront or purchase in advance; buy a tour only when you're ready to go.
  • Walk at your own pace.
  • No waiting for groups; go on your schedule.
  • Take the tour in your preferred language.
  • Start, stop and continue the tour whenever you want.
  • Returning to the same destination? Take the tour again, and again, and again... And bring a friend!
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What's included?
  • A self-guided audio tour taken via the UCPlaces app [Android / iOS (iPhone) / Apple CarPlay].
  • Tour route map and in-app GPS navigation (via the UCPlaces app).
  • Audio stories for places visited during the tour.
  • Apple CarPlay connection (for iOS users); for a seamless driving tour experience.
What's NOT included?
  • Earphones (highly recommended).
  • Smartphone.
  • Any kind of transportation (including tickets and passes).
  • Tickets to the attractions on your tour.
  • Food and drinks
  • Physical tour guide.