The Short Nashville Ghetto Story
Hidden by the city and its known culture of country music and rural city life, the urban communities and ‘hoods of a city known as Cashville are transforming by following a nationwide trend.
Though the streets of West Nashville, Out East, South Side, and the North Side are small, the impact of the Nashville ghetto neighborhoods in the city out weigh the actual size of the city’s few urban communities.
Driving along Clifton Avenue, from 40th to 28th Avenues, serves as the base of West Nashville in an area that was once centered around the old Preston Taylor Homes.
Built during the early 1950s, the Preston Taylor Homes replaced one of the city’s original black communities that was established after the ending of slavery.
The only housing complex of West Nashville was named after a prominent figure in the black community who established some of the country’s first all-black institutions, especially as Tennessee State University is located less than a mile away.
Currently, Preston Taylor has been rebuilt after becoming Nashville’s first housing project to be torn down during the beginning of the 2000s leaving many to relocate into other complexes and neighborhoods of Nashville after building a reputation for years around 40th and Clifton.
Made famous by Starlito, East Nashville consisted of neighborhoods like Settle Court and Lischey of the Sam Levy Homes in the McFerrin Park area, North 6th, and South 8 of the James Cayce Homes, as well other sections along Dickerson Road or in Ingleside.
The majority of East Nashville neighborhoods are experiencing heavy gentrification, leaving only the area of the South 8 and James Cayce Homes intact with some expanding the community further east along Gallatin Pike or Dickerson Road.
Similar to gentrification, the original black community of East Nashville, which was based around the Historic Edgefield neighborhood centered on Shelby Avenue, was demolished and replaced by construction of the local housing projects, during the time white flight left nearby sections of the area abandoned.
The largest side of Nashville, the North Side expands from D B Todd Boulevard to Ewing Drive as this section of Nashville once served as the heart of the city’s black population.
While in the city’s early days many of the black neighborhoods were labeled as slums, lacking mostly all of the needed resources and necessities for a community to strive, but Jefferson Street of the North Side was bright spot for the community.
Some of the nation’s first all-black institutions were based around the success of the Jefferson Street as the area would become famously known as one of the most thriving black communities of the south, before the area was mostly replaced by highways I-40 and I-65.
After the demolishing of the majority of Nashville’s original black communities, due to urban renewal of the 1950s and 1960s, the city’s urban neighborhoods began to have other issues, especially after the major introduction to drugs.
Housing complexes like Jo Johnston and Dodge City (Cumberland View Apartments), or neighborhoods like 12th and Buchanan, Salem Town, Bordeaux, Kings Lane and Haynes Manor became the center for the streets of North Nashville.
While gentrification is affecting every section of Nashville’s urban communities, outside of North Side neighborhoods south of Cumberland River like Salem Town or DB Todd Boulevard, North Nashville communities have seen little interest in plans for rebuilding.
The South Side of Nashville is primarily divided between two separate neighborhoods, one being the Edgehill community around 12th Avenue South and an area along Lafayette Street, both are communities of public housing complexes.
While at times there has been conflict, especially among the Lafayette Street neighborhoods of JC Napier and University Courts, these communities are tight-knit and family orientated as some these areas are some of the city’s most reputable.
Long before the 1970s, the era of a rise in street activity, the South Side was home to some of the city’s first black neighborhoods, like the Black Bottom and the Trimble Bottom, both were located around what is now Lafayette Street.
With the nearby slave plantations and the Civil War bringing an end to slavery, African-Americans relocated into Nashville, but were forced to reside in designated areas of the city as many would work as servants or very low wage paying jobs.
Fast forwarding into modern day Nashville, the black population of the city has been expanding further south into the area of Antioch as the large neighborhood of Antioch seems to be one of the destinated places for many of the Nashvillians that have been displaced by gentrification.
*Note: All information is provided either through people of the community, outside sources, and/or research. Some information might not be current and/or 100% accurate.