Nashville is the capital of the U.S. state of Tennessee and the county seat of Davidson County. It is located on the Cumberland River in the north-central part of the state. The city is a center for the music, health care, publishing, banking and transportation industries, and is home to a large number of colleges and universities. Reflecting the city's position in state government, Nashville is home to the Tennessee Supreme Court's courthouse for Middle Tennessee. It is known as a center of the music industry, earning it the nickname "Music City".
Nashville has a consolidated city–county government which includes six smaller municipalities in a two-tier system. As of the 2010 census the population of Nashville, not including the semi-independent municipalities, stood at 601,222. The population of Nashville as a whole, including all municipalities, was 626,681. Nashville is the second largest city in Tennessee, after Memphis, and the fourth largest city in the Southeastern United States. The 2010 population of the entire 13-county Nashville metropolitan area was 1,589,934, making it the largest Metropolitan Statistical Area in the state. The 2010 population of the Nashville-Davidson–Murfreesboro–Columbia combined statistical area, a larger trade area, was 1,670,890.
The town of Nashville was founded by James Robertson, John Donelson, and a party of Overmountain Men in 1779, near the original Cumberland settlement of Fort Nashborough. It was named for Francis Nash, the American Revolutionary War hero. Nashville quickly grew because of its strategic location, accessibility as a river port, and its later status as a major railroad center. In 1806, Nashville was incorporated as a city and became the county seat of Davidson County, Tennessee. In 1843, the city was named the permanent capital of the state of Tennessee.
By 1860, when the first rumblings of secession began to be heard across the South, antebellum Nashville was a very prosperous city. The city's significance as a shipping port made it a desirable prize as a means of controlling important river and railroad transportation routes. In February 1862, Nashville became the first state capital to fall to Union troops. The Battle of Nashville (December 15–16, 1864) was a significant Union victory and perhaps the most decisive tactical victory gained by either side in the war.
Within a few years after the Civil War the city had reclaimed its important shipping and trading position and also developed a solid manufacturing base. The post–Civil War years of the late 19th century brought a newfound prosperity to Nashville. These healthy economic times left the city with a legacy of grand classical-style buildings, which can still be seen around the downtown area.
In 1963, Nashville consolidated its government with Davidson County, forming a metropolitan government. Since the 1970s, the city has experienced tremendous growth, particularly during the economic boom of the 1990s under the leadership of then-Mayor and later-Tennessee Governor, Phil Bredesen, who made urban renewal a priority, and fostered the construction or renovation of several city landmarks, including the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum, the downtown Nashville Public Library, the Bridgestone Arena, and LP Field.
LP Field (formerly Adelphia Coliseum) was built after the National Football League's (NFL) Houston Oilers agreed to move to the city in 1995. The NFL team debuted in Nashville in 1998 at Vanderbilt Stadium, and LP Field opened in the summer of 1999. The Oilers changed their name to the Tennessee Titans and saw a season culminate in the Music City Miracle and a close Super Bowl game that came down to the last play.
In 1997 Nashville was awarded an NHL expansion team which was subsequently named the Nashville Predators. Since the 2003/04 season, the Nashville Predators have made the playoffs every season except for two.