Building the Modern City
Federal funds were allotted for important public buildings in Nashville as part of Franklin D. Roosevelt's New Deal for Americans.
Panel 1 portrays Nashville's Main Post Office (1934) and the Davidson County Courthouse (1936-38), handsome additions designed to set Nashville on its way to becoming a modern city. Ridley has included an American eagle, used as a symbolic ornament on many Federal Architecture Project and Works Progress Administration buildings. Federal funds also went into building schools including Pearl, Howard, Cameron, Eakin, Bailey and Stokes, as well as providing campus facilities for Fisk and Tennessee State Universities.
Panel 2 combines images of schools across the city.
Panel 3 focuses on Fisk University and its flowering of the arts in the 1930s. The Great Depression that effectively ended New York's Harlem Renaissance brought notable artists and writers, such as Aaron Douglas, Langston Hughes, Arna Bontemps and Zora Neale Hurston to Fisk. Ridley has also included eminent sociologist Charles S. Johnson, Fisk University's first African-American president, and William Edmondson, a self-taught sculptor from Nashville and the first African-American artist to have a one-man show at New York's Museum of Modern Art (1937).
Panel 4 shows Nashville's first airport, Berry Field (1937), constructed by the WPA and named for Colonel Harry S. Berry.
Panel 5 pictures the Cumberland River frozen solid in 1940.
Alcove 15: Nashville in the 1940s and 1950s