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Our History - 1950-1999

Timeline of Nashville / Davidson County

Prepared with information from the website of the Nashville Public Library and from research conducted at the Metropolitan Archives of Nashville and Davidson County.

Special thanks to members of the staff and management of the Metro Archives for their professionalism in helping to gather this information.

Year Events and Milestones
1950 Capitol Records becomes the first major company to locate its director of country music in Nashville.
1951 Belmont College opens.
1953 Thomas Y. Cartwright is Sheriff of Davidson County. The Nashville City Directory shows separate phone numbers for the Jail and for Radio Patrol.
1955 Kelley v. The Board of Education leads to a school desegregation plan in Nashville.
1956 Phone numbers in Nashville and Davidson County now have named prefixes. The Sheriff’s Office telephone number is published as
“ALpine 62674″.
1956 Tom B. Cartwright is Sheriff of Davison County.
1957 Davidson County’s population is estimated at 368,514 with 47% living in Nashville and 53% living in the unincorporated areas. Davidson
County’s assessed property valuation is $528,255,360, of which Nashville comprises 59%, with the remaining 41% in the unincorporated areas.
1957 The “L&C” (Life and Casualty) Tower is completed downtown.
1960 The Nashville Sit-In Movement leads to widespread desegregation of public facilities.
1961 Building permits issued in Davidson County total $67,693,222.
1961 Leslie E. Jett is Sheriff of Davidson County. The Sheriff’s Office has added a Traffic Safety section and an Education Director.
1961 The Maxwell House Hotel is destroyed by fire.
1961 The municipal airport opens.
1962 Metropolitan government, to combine Nashville and Davidson County into one entity, is approved in a voters’ referendum.
1962 Tennessee’s first interstate highway, connecting Nashville with Memphis, arrives in Nashville.
1963 Metropolitan government is formally inaugurated on April 1. County Judge Beverly Briley takes office as the first Mayor. Within its 533 square miles, Davidson County is home to an estimated population of 423,150.
1965 Robert R. Poe is Sheriff of Davidson County.
1966 The Davidson County Jail is located at 110 N. Public Square, telephone (615) 747-4389.
1967 Davidson County’s voters approve liquor by the drink.
1967 John A. Frazier is Sheriff of Davidson County.
1970 The population of Davidson County is estimated at 469,400.
1972 Themepark Opryland USA opens in northeast Davidson County.
1973 Lafayette (“Fate”) Thomas is Sheriff of Davidson County.
1974 The Grand Ol’ Opry moves from the Ryman Auditorium into the facilities at Opryland.
1975 Congressman Richard Fulton is elected the second Mayor of Metropolitan Nashville/Davidson County.
1976 The United Nations comes to Nashville for its first meeting away from New York City.
1978 Amtrak passenger train service through Nashville comes to an end.
1978 Professional baseball returns to Nashville with the Nashville Sounds.
1979 Celebration of Nashville/Davidson County’s bicentennial begins.
1980 The Tennessee Performing Arts (“T-PAC”) opens.
1982 The first Summer Lights Festival is held.
1983 Riverfront Park opens on Broadway, January 10.
1983 The Sheriff’s Office releases some inmates under a new state law authorizing up to 25% of some convicted misdemeanants’ sentences to be credited for good behavior .
1984 Nashvillian Tracy Caulkins wins three Olympic gold medals.
1986 Union Station re-opens a hotel.
1987 Congressman Bill Boner is elected Mayor of Nashville/Davidson County.
1987 Nashville opens a new convention center downtown as well as a new airport in east Nashville.
1990 After 13 years of allegations and investigations, Sheriff “Fate” Thomas is indicted  on charges of corruption. He later pleads guilty and is sentenced to five years in federal prison. He is released in late 1994.
1990 The population of Nashville/Davidson County is reported as 508,181.
1990 An immense statue of Athena is unveiled in the Parthenon. Over 4 stories tall, it is the largest indoor sculpture in the western world.
1990 Henderson (“Hank”) Hillin is Sheriff of Davidson County.
1990 A Federal Judge mandates a maximum allowable population for the Davidson County jail system.
1990 The population of Nashville/Davidson County is reported as 508,181.
1991 Phil Bredesen is elected Mayor of Nashville/Davidson County.
1992 Al Gore, Jr., of Carthage outside Nashville, is elected Vice President of the United States, November 3.
1993 The Sheriff’s Office Workhouse is closed as a correctional facility and remodeling begins to convert it to office space.
1994 Gayle Ray is Sheriff of Davidson County.
1994 The BellSouth Building opens, October 20. The public soon nicknames the structure “The Bat-Building” for its profile’s resemblance to the fantasy hero Batman.
1996 Tennessee celebrates its bicentennial.
1996 The Metro Library Board approves a $125M plan to build a new 315,000 sq. ft. mail library and five regional branches.
1996 The Tennessee Bicentennial Mall State Park opens the celebration of the states 200th birthday, June 1.
1997 Opryland-USA closes with “Christmas in the Park” at year-end.
1997 The National Football League comes to Nashville as the Oilers move from Houston to Tennessee.
1997 The National Hockey League comes to the Nashville Arena with the Predators, September 25.
1998 The daily evening newspaper, the Nashville Banner, ceases publication with its final edition, February 20.
1998 Tornados strike downtown and east Nashville in the middle of work- and school-day, April 16.
1998 The Sheriff’s Office Correctional Development Center-Male wins national accreditation by the American Correctional Association.
1998 Tennessee’s NFL team changes its name from its old Houston name, the Oilers, to the Tennessee Titans, and adopts a new logo, December 22.
1998 The Southern Festival of Books, held annually in Nashville, holds its tenth anniversary celebration.
1999 Bill Purcell takes office as Mayor, September 21.
1999 Davidson County’s becomes the first Sheriff’s Office Jerry Newson Center to be awarded national accreditation by the American
Correctional Association.
1999 The abandoned Central State Mental Hospital on Murfreesboro Road is demolished to begin construction of a Dell Computers manufacturing site.
1999 The 90-year-old Shelby Street Bridge closes permanently to vehicular traffic, and reconstruction begins to convert it to a pedestrian
walkway to Adelphia Coliseum.
1999 Ground is broken for a new main library on Church Street, July 24.
1999 The first game is played in the new Adelphia Coliseum, August 15.
1999 The new Nashville Zoo at Grassmere opens.