Downtown Nashville

Going back home after 20 years was quite the experience.  I was very disappointed in the commercialization of Brentwood and Franklin.  Gone were the 2 lane country roads and farmland replaced by malls, hotels and restaurants.

Downtown Nashville has changed drastically also but, in my opinion, for the better.  The downtown area used to be an unwelcoming place full of peep shows and dives.  Nashville has gotten smart and embraced the Country Music and transformed the downtown area into a beautiful thriving tourist attraction.

From Tootsies to “Crazy Arms”

Thirty years ago I spent a lot of time on Broadway (Lower Broad) in Nashville fostering my love for live music and country music. Especially at a very famous old Honky Tonk called Tootsies.

Lower Broad is much different today from when I was there in the mid-eighties. I would bravely and cautiously venture into Nashville on a Friday or Saturday night, sometimes by myself, sometimes with friends, seeking something I was never sure of. It was dirty with homeless people on the street sharing space with prostitutes and pimps and also musicians who were hoping one day to be able to get to the Grand Ole Opry.  Many buildings were vacant next to the peep shows and XXX movie houses. I recall Ernest Tubbs Record Shop and a few minor store for tourists. There were a handful of bars, none of which were good places to be after dark, but I visited them all watching the characters in the crowd and listening to the live music all the time watching my back and for errant beer bottles flying through the air. The tourists tended to stay down on 2nd Avenue or Music Row back then.

Tootsie's Orchid Lounge
Tootsie’s Orchid Lounge

In the midst of the chaos and debauchery was a little bar I became fascinated with; Tootsies Orchid Lounge. Tootsies was small, less than 25’ wide and maybe 40 or 50 feet deep, if that. It had a sticky bar with grumpy bartenders, old diner tables and non-matching chairs with ripped vinyl seats. Then men’s room had a custom-made trough and I am still not sure what you did if you needed to sit down. Continue reading From Tootsies to “Crazy Arms”

Opryland Hotel

When I lived in Nashville 25 years ago, I often frequented the Opryland Hotel.  During the off season, it was quiet and soothing.  During the Holidays it becomes a Christmas delight decked out with lights, toy soldiers, poinsettias and every thing merry.  And lots of people.

It is one of the few things that has not changed in the long time I have been away except for the $21.00 (+ tax) parking fee.  For a few minutes I felt at home.

At over 4 million square feet, the hotel is the largest non-casino hotel in the Continental United States outside of Las Vegas.  It has 9 acres of lush indoor gardens and cascading waterfalls with  6 floors , 2,711 rooms and 171 suites.

Marriott Marquis – Atlanta, Georgia

Whenever we have visitors from out-of-town visiting who have never been to Atlanta we always take them to the Atlanta Marriott Marquis.  It is a 52-story, 554 feet hotel and it is the 14th tallest skyscraper in the city. The building was designed by Atlanta architect John C. Portman.

Looking at this building from the outside you would never guess what awaits you on the inside; its large atrium.  When I first saw this 30 years ago, I was in awe.  It was the largest atrium in the world upon its completion in 1985, at 470 feet high. The atrium spans the entire height of the building and consists of two vertical chambers divided by elevator shafts and bridges.

A ride to the top and a look down will give almost anyone vertigo with the way the shape and expanding floor draw you down.  It is a true masterpiece of Architecture and Beauty.