North Nashville isn’t always North. And West Nashville isn’t only West.
If you find yourself on the west side Nashville on either Interstate 40 or Charlotte Avenue, whether or not you are in “North” or “West” Nashville will depend on which side of Charlotte or I-40 you find yourself on.
If you are north of Charlotte in most cases you are in “North” Nashville, and if you on the south side you will be told you are in “West” Nashville. Though it isn’t always this clear. Because if you happen to be on the north side of both Charlotte and I-40 but west of the railroad tracks between 41st and 43rd Avenues you will be in “West” Nashville, what is called “The Nations.” And if you find yourself north of Charlotte but between 38th and 33rd Avenues you will be told you are in “West” Nashville.
People often talk about Interstate 40 and they speak of the highway in terms of history and bad ideas– specifically the three mile section of I-40 between I-65 and 46th Ave that was completed in 1971. Separating truth and fact from fiction and anger can be difficult. Some things are true about that construction. It is true the construction of the Interstate created a physical barrier between two historically different neighborhoods of Nashville–the working class “North” Nashville and the affluent “West.” But why this construction happened the way it did has never been fully understood. Motives are a difficult thing to determine by looking at maps and old planning commission minutes.
We may not know why this happened but a walk along a particular street in this part of Nashville today definitely reveals something about “what” happened. A walk along Nashville’s Delaware Ave is a walk of through detours and dead ends.