Like many Americans, having reached the age of 60, I find myself becoming more and more interested in history in general, and the history of Nashville, Tennessee (my home town) in particular. Having grown up in what is still often referred to as "the Highlands of Belle Meade," a district in the southwest area of Nashville, I have wondered more than once how some of the streets and roads in my old stomping grounds came to be located where they are, and have the names that they do.
Happily, within the last year, Ridley Wills II, one of Nashville's best-known and most respected historians, has answered many of my questions on this subject in his latest book, "Nashville Streets & Their Stories." Some five hundred of Nashville's streets and public roads have their history explained in this work, written in a relaxed and entertaining style.
To be sure, there ARE some faults in this work. For example, there are a number of glaring typo's (i.e., "Inquirer" instead of "ENquirer," and the year that Cheekwood was donated to the State of Tennessee is listed as "1969," when in fact it was "1959"!). And, unfortunately, there are a number of omissions (e.g., West Tyne Boulevard and Nichol Lane; the latter, I believe, was named after my paternal grandfather, who resided in a house at the corner of West Tyne and Belle Meade Boulevards for a number of years), some of which are mentioned in passing in other listings, but are not given listings of their own! In the case of a lesser writer, such mistakes would be considered inexcusable. On the other hand, when one is writing a ground-breaking work such as this, some such miscues are all but inevitable. And not all of Nashville's streets have historical information about them as readily available as others. Hopefully, at some future date, an updated version of this volume can be prepared and published.
Overall, in spite of the minor flaws I have just detailed, "Nashville Streets & Their Stories" would be an invaluable addition to the library of anyone who calls Nashville home, and is interested in the colorful and eventful history of Music City, USA.
"Nashville Streets & Their Stories," by Ridley Wills II. (Franklin, Tennessee: Plumbline Media, LLC, 2012.) $18.95 (paperback). ISBN: 978-1-937824-01-3. Available through Amazon and Barnes and Noble, and at local bookstores and gift shops.