Creating Places: A Citizen Observer's Look at Nashville's Built Environment

Writer's Note: William Williams' interest in the manmade environment dates to 1970, at which point the then-young Williams started a collection of postcards of city skylines. The collection now numbers 1,000-plus cards. Among the writer's specific interests are exterior building design, city district planning, demographics, signage, mixed-use development, mass transit and green/sustainable construction and living. Williams began his Creating Places column with The City Paper in February 2005. The column in its original form was discontinued in September 2008 and reinvented via this blog in November 2008. Creating Places can be found on the home page of the website of The City Paper, at which Williams has worked in various capacities since October 2000.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Good-Bye Grit

Nashville recently lost an old-school and gritty structure and seems likely to lose another.

The Tennessee Department of Transportation recently removed the steel, green 1960s-era pedestrian bridge that spanned Interstate 40 (a few hundred yards west of the I-40/Briley Parkway/White Bridge Road exchange). Although the bridge was likely rarely used by walkers, it nevertheless delivered a cool, big-city visual and was the type structure you commonly find in the traditional metropolitan areas in the densely populated North. With the removal, Nashville now has only three similar bridges remaining.

Next on the chopping block? Could be the 1950s-constructed building that was once home to the state's Department of Highways and Public Works. Located at the northwest corner of Charlotte and 22th avenues in Midtown, the building offers a slightly industrial vibe and plays nicely off a rambling old warehouse next door. Many of the building's windows are broken and the beautiful stone continues to gradually deteriorate. To see a quirky and underrated gem like this fall, while generic junk continues to rise throughout the city's core, would be painful.



  1. It's great you're bringing attention to the old Highways and Public Works building. There aren't many examples, if any, in town that show such an interesting and attractive side of 1950's architecture.
    Nashville has not succeeded in preserving our old buildings, so the '50's are about all we have left.
    Christine Kreyling, author of The Plan of Nashville (as you know), will be giving a lecture on adaptive reuse in August. It would be great if she could bring some attention to the 2200 Charlotte Ave. building as well, because it seems unused except for the rear extension, which is used by Metro Motor Vehicle Management.

  2. Isn't it curious that Nashville will be hosting the National Preservation Convention in mid-October this year?

  3. I enjoy reading your insights and info on what is going on "back home"! I loved that pedestrian bridge...sad to hear it is gone.