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  • Writer's pictureBrandi & Candace

Public Square Park

Updated: Jan 30, 2021

This area has been a part of Nashville history since 1784. The courthouse bordered one aspect of the square, and the other three sides were flanked by markets and grocery and other important areas for Nashvillians. There was a ton of progress… buildings were torn down and built. The development of Public Square Park was announced in 2005. It was originally supposed to be named after former Mayor Richard H. Fulton, but the Metro City Council decided against it- in case it would be considered a gift or favor if the city of Nashville were ever in court in front of Fulton, his friends, or his opponents. It was originally proposed at $26.5 million. It was decided as a place to pump up interest in a neglected area of downtown, to create a parking garage for downtown and near Nissan Stadium, and to overlook the riverfront. The finished park includes a little over 6 acres.

The park opened October 1st, 2006. It has an observation tower, marked with memorials to the people who founded the city: John Donelson and James Robertson, with maps of their paths to the city. This was the kickoff of Nashville’s Bicentennial. That same year, Public Square Park became the home to the official Nashville Christmas Tree, hosting an annual lighting ceremony- which is my personal favorite park tradition. Since then, there have been a TON of events there, including Live on the Green concerts, Gay Pride Events, festivals, 5Ks, and Mayoral Inaugurations. As it sits on the foot of the courthouse, it’s also been home to many political events, including protests, rallies, and vigils. Noteably, the Nashville protests in the aftermath of the murder of George Floyd escalated into violence that damaged parts of the park and the courthouse.

There is currently an art installation called “Witness Walls”, wherein the artist, Walter Hood, took pictures from the Nashville Archives from the Civil Rights Movement in Nashville and memorialized it in concrete walls. It’s an awe-inspiring installation, and worth the visit alone, in and of itself. It has reflecting pools, lots of benches and tables, and a large lawn. Now- the observatory. Hours say it’s open daily from sunrise to sunset. I was there at 11am on a Sunday, and the observatory was padlocked up. Was it due to COVID? Winter? Homeless? Unsure. I wish it was clearer. Also, there were two different pieces of the park destroyed and shattered. It could be from the George Floyd riots from June, but the debris that still stood six months later made me doubt that. I’d love to know if this park has been neglected due to COVID budget cuts, or something different. Ultimately, though, the pros FAR outweigh the cons of this park.

Name: Public Square Park

Address: 10 Public Square Park, 37201

History: 5 out of 5

Walkability: 5 out of 5

Kid Like-ability- 3 out of 5

Date Night-ability- 5 out of 5

Charm: 5 out of 5

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