Thursday, May 17, 2012

Two Hundred Years in the Making

Last month Amy and I visited Nashville so that we could spend some time with my Grandma before she headed home.  She is now 92 (as of April 1, 2012--yes, she was born on April Fool's Day) but she keeps up to some extent with Facebook, she also texts, and she has a Kindle!  But it is nice to see her in person as well. While we were down there Amy wanted to do some exploring.  She pointed out, correctly, that we usually see someplace new when we visit Richmond, but we hadn't done much traveling on our Nashville trips.  So we decided to go to the Bicentennial Mall in Nashville.

The Mall was created in 1996, during Tennessee's bicentennial celebrations, and is somewhat modeled upon the National Mall in D.C.  It is connected to the capitol building as well as a Farmer's Market.  We started out by parking next to the market and walking through there on our way over to the Mall.

There wasn't too much in the market at that time of year/day, but there were still several interesting things to see (though we some more interesting things later).  I was really excited to see the Mall however.  It had been quite some time since I'd been there and I didn't have any pictures from my last trip (which was when I was a kid visiting the area with my parents).

Along the side of the Mall there is a wall in which are engraved key points from Tennessee history, large pillars on the other side of the side walk mark milestones (mainly ten year increments on the 6's I think).  But more on that later--first we walked over towards the capitol side of the Mall.  Normally there are quite a few fountains there, however they were extremely damaged in the 2010 floods and aren't expected to be operational until August of 2012.

The white "bridge" that you can see in both of these pictures is a railroad bridge that passes through the mall--between the main grassy area and the capitol.  It is nicely decorated and also serves to protect a number of picnic tables as well as a visitors center.  The visitors center looked closed, but we tried the door and it was open, so we went in.  I spied a map up on the wall I started telling Amy and my mom different things about the Civil War and US history  when the ranger said after a bit "I'll just give you my uniform and you can take over."  She then explained that she had focused more on natural history and wasn't an expert on history.  It felt good to know that my historical knowledge was appreciated.

Right next to the visitors center was a map of the mall, so I of course had to take a picture of that.

Right now we're in the middle of the 150th anniversary of the Civil War.  Apparently the visitor center exhibits will be changing to depict different periods of the war throughout the anniversary (i.e. until 2015).

On the far side of the railroad trestle is a massive map of the state of Tennessee.  All of the major cities, roads, rivers, and other prominent features are etched into the stone "to scale, with 12 inches equal to 2½ miles."  It is fun to find different places.  I texted my nephew Townsend a picture of the label for Townsend, TN.  I also took a picture from the perspective of Ocoee (where my sister Laurie now lives) with Amy in the background standing on Nashville (where we were at that moment).  She looks quite far away doesn't she?  As I recall it is a good long drive between Ocoee and Nashville--but no so long as it is between Cincinnati and Richmond, ;-).  Amy's family used to drive across Tennessee when they would travel from Richmond to visit family in Texas.  They would drive from Bristol to Memphis on the interstate (81 I think), so took a video of Amy following the same route on the map:

Above the map are a series of smaller relief maps that explain various portions of Tennessee geography, sociology, and history.  I took pictures of all of them, though I didn't take the time to read all of them.  I was with three people who don't spend quite as much time with historical things as I like to, ;-).

To see all of the signs look at the Picasa/Google+ photo album linked at the bottom of this post.  While we were standing there a train came over the trestle.  I took a video, but it was windy that day so the audio isn't great and there were no train whistles, so you'll have to settle for a picture.  The stone bridge is also part of the trestle, but spans a road.  You can just make out the carved numerals 1776 and 1996 on its towers.
 There was also a circle of Tennessee state flags and I took several pictures as they flapped in the wind until I was happy with one of them.

As we started down the row of historical moments from Tennessee's past I had to take pictures of the signs I saw, ;-).

The first of the historical markers started in the distant "past."
You can read more about these markers in another blog post (rather than making this post extra long).

We came to an amphitheater along our walk and when I stopped to take a picture I also found a sign that talked about what had been in the area before it was designated as the Bicentennial Mall.  Apparently it was extensively used for the playing of baseball during the Civil War and long after.

Because I was taking pictures Amy and I were walking behind my parents.  Normally my dad walks faster than my mom (I also tend to walk faster than Amy), however this day he was walking with her and I managed to take a couple pictures of them walking hand-in-hand.

We also walked through the Centennial Memorial (commemorating Tennessee's celebrations of its 100th anniversary in 1896) and the World War II Memorial, but I decided those two would better be served by two separate blog entries.  At the end of the mall we came to the carillons and the court of the 3 stars.
From this area you could get a great view of the entire Mall with the capitol in the distance.

There are three stars on the Tennessee state flag, representing the three areas of the state I think (perhaps amongst other things).

The area is pretty amazing, especially since things are arranged so that if you stand in the center you hear your voice amplified as if you are speaking into a mic.  I took several videos, but because of the wind you couldn't hear anything of consequence.

We headed back down to the mall and again entered the Farmer's Market area, but at a different point.  There appear to be several different sections of the market including the sheds where we first entered as well as a flea market.  It might be a nice place to go back to during a busier season to see what all there is to see.  Some of the interior reminded me of Findlay Market in Cincinnati.

Before we entered there were some interesting bike racks so we staged a couple pictures.

Amy likes tomatoes, so she got her picture from inside of a tomato.
I think the holes through each slice are for bike locks.  From the side you can see how all of the slices are arranged.

I chose to be photographed amidst the stalks of corn!

Once inside we wandered through a small ethnic food store (most of the areas around the food court were closed for the day).  I found an interesting sign.  It was posted on the outside door of the shop, which was still located inside the main building.

Before we left I had to get one last picture of myself next to a giant ear of corn!


Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Bicentennial Mall: Tennessee's Wall of History

The Tennessee Bicentennial Mall State Park website describes the "wall of history" briefly and succinctly:
Along the west side of the park, a 1,400-foot Wall of History is engraved with historic events that have occurred over the past two centuries. A granite pylon marks each ten-year period along the wall. The wall 'breaks' at the time of the Civil War to represent the divisive nature of the war on the state.
As I mentioned previously the first part of the wall starts in the distant "past" with a "1 Billion Years Ago" marker.

A while after that things got a bit more factual and quite a bit more interesting, ;-).

A small courtyard is located next to the 1796 pylon that marks entrance of Tennessee into the Union.

Looking back there were plenty of inscriptions from before Tennessee became a state.  Tennessee was long considered part of North Carolina since many early colonial claims started at the Atlantic and went all the way to the Pacific Ocean.

As mentioned in the website quotation from above the portion of the wall depicting the Civil War is fragmented.  Tennessee was the last state to join the Confederacy and did not do so unanimously.  Many of the state's citizens were loyal to the North, and in fact the North occupied a good portion of the state for much of the war.

Here you can see the first crack in the wall.

At the middle of the Civil War section you can see a description of the division between North and South (though in Tennessee it was frequently an East/West division).

Near the end of the war Lincoln was assassinated and Tennessean Andrew Johnson became president.

The next year Tennessee was readmitted to the Union.

This is the last crack in the wall.

I also took a video detailing the whole Civil War section of the wall with its many cracks.

I had no idea that the SBC publishers started printing in Nashville in 1891.

It is interesting to note the rise of school spending.

I've been to a Piggly Wiggly store before, but I had no idea that it was the first modern grocery store.  From the company's website:
Piggly Wiggly®, America's first true self-service grocery store, was founded in Memphis, Tenn. in 1916 by Clarence Saunders. In grocery stores of that time, shoppers presented their orders to clerks who gathered the goods from the store shelves. Saunders, a flamboyant and innovative man, noticed that this method resulted in wasted time and expense, so he came up with an unheard-of solution that would revolutionize the entire grocery industry: he developed a way for shoppers to serve themselves.

I definitely knew about the Scopes trial previously.  I do find this description somewhat inaccurate (but I'm not surprised by this).  The issue in the trial was the teaching of the Evolution of Man.  General evolutionary theory (concerning all other life besides man) wasn't contested--only the special creation of man.  For more about the trial check out this article.

I was informed by my parents that this man's name is pronounced "P" instead of P-A as might be expected from the spelling Peay.  I did know that normal school is an old name for teacher training colleges.

I don't think I'd heard this number before.

I took this picture knowing that our next trip would be going to Big South Fork.  I plan to blog about that trip soon.

I know some in Tennessee would rather forget about this milestone, ;-).  But seriously, it is an accomplishment--though nobody tends to remember most vice presidents unless they are elected to the presidency on their own.  I know a good bit of history and I don't remember many vice presidents.

Looking back along the wall you can get an idea of how long it is.

If you'd like to see all of the inscriptions, or at least their text, you can download this pdf from the park's website.  I thought the concept, especially the fractured wall during the Civil War period was neat and very well executed.  You should definitely check it out the next time you're in Nashville.