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VOL. 43 | NO. 39 | Friday, September 27, 2019

Downtown vs. neighborhood living a tossup

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Nice view from downtown apartment. Not getting that from a neighborhood front porch.

-- Photograph Provided

After more than a year of living downtown, and now entering a fourth month of life in a neighborhood, we ponder the question: Which is better?

It’s an issue I never would have entertained in the 1990s during my first Nashville incarnation. Downtown then was a place to work, and occasionally eat and drink, but it was not ideally equipped as a residential option.

Obviously, things have changed. As I noted in a column for The Tennessean in November, the 2000 census estimated there were only about 3,300 people living downtown; the latest estimate approaches 12,000.

Minus, as of June, the two that are my wife and me.

Recently, we found ourselves wondering about the downtown versus neighborhood trade-offs as we were leaving a Mavericks show at the Ryman. (Don’t miss the Mavericks, if you get the chance.) What if, we thought, we could just walk a few blocks home as we could have back in April or May?

Mind you, it’s not as if we moved to Old Hickory or Bellevue. Downtown is still just a single-digit Uber fare away. But a short car ride is not a short walk. With that in mind, we’ve been thinking about the upsides of each style of living, and have come up with the following:

Advantage downtown

• The sweeping view of the cityscape from our living room, including the Batman building, the Korean War Veterans Bridge with its evolving colors and Nissan Stadium

• The main library, with its extensive collection of fiction, nonfiction and research resources. And overall stately grace

• Oktoberfest in Germantown

• Sushi at Koto

• The Arcade, where we’d been eating our way through the options at lunchtime (Especially missing the House of Pizza and Red Perch)

• Pool at Buffalo Billiards

• H.G. Hill Urban Market. Amazing how such a little place almost always managed to have what we needed.

• Chance meetings with friends who just happened to be downtown for one reason or another

• Acme Feed and Seed, especially for musical appearances by the Jake Leg Stompers

• First Tennessee Park, which, I gather, is being renamed First Horizon Park, whether for Sounds games or a beer festival (Just missed one. Dang.)

• A sandwich shop, Jersey Mike’s, offering a first-rate Italian sub in the ground floor of our building

• The ceremonial lighting of, and then display, of the Nashville Christmas tree, plus various parades and festivals basically just outside our door

• The Capitol, state office buildings and City Hall, offering easy access to various legislative doings

• The Tennessee State Museum, with its new digs and greatly expanded displays of the state’s history

• The Frist

• The Nashville Farmers’ Market, and the food court whose varied fare included the nearest muffuletta

• The State Archives, where my wife could continue digging into her Tennessee roots

Advantage neighborhood

• Sitting on the veranda (or front porch, if you prefer) while watching the hummingbirds feed, listening to the bird and cicada chorus and consuming an adult beverage

• A front yard that features two sycamores, one of my favorite tree types

• Four fireplaces that offer the promise of converting at least two into gas versions of faux coal fires

• Cumberland Hardware Co., where the friendly folks special-ordered some clothing hooks I needed to repair a wall-hanging coat rack

• Google Fiber

• The passing parade of people walking dogs, getting their children to school or day care, or leisurely jogging

• Cat TV – a window perch that the cats can sit on, watch the birds at the non-hummingbird feeder and think predatory thoughts

• The ceremonial lighting and display of our own real Christmas tree, coming soon

• A washer and dryer with enough room to handle more than a day’s worth of laundry

• Recycling, even if it does come only once a month and doesn’t include glass

• Neighbors who introduce themselves and welcome us to our new home

• A screened back porch facing a yard with just enough room to set up a grill and overcook burgers and kebabs

• Space for visiting friends of family to park without having to feed a meter

• Shelby Park

• The Tomato Art Fest

• Italia Pizza

I haven’t weighed each side to see if one or the other comes out ahead. I suspect the verdict would be a tie: In Nashville, either option is pretty damn cool.

If only we could afford both…

Joe Rogers is a former writer for The Tennessean and editor for The New York Times. He is retired and living in Nashville.

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