You can’t escape the phrase “New Nashville”; a catch-all term for describing rampant demolition, bad architectural decisions, increasing prices, an influx of people and gentrification in general. It applies to the toppling of Fond Object in favor of mixed use development (and the quest to Save the Rock Block from a similar fate) or to Bachelorette Parties flooding downtown or to $16 cocktails.
At the very heart of it, “New Nashville” a disgruntled cry for preserving the charm and uniqueness of our city. There’s plenty of nuanced conversation to be had around the specifics but no one who lives here – regardless of if you’re new or a lifer – wants to see Nashville become a cookie cutter destination that’s impossible to pay for and more impossible to start a thriving, unique, business in.
Photographer Jennifer Bair has set about documenting that uniqueness that many feel is falling by the wayside with her project Not New Nashville, an Instagram feed of scanned photos from the early 2000s taken in and around Nashville. While we all may remember Donelson Bowl, many may not recall The Omni Hut or Denim & Diamonds. Fewer still likely can place the bar Crash Site or video rental destination Rick’s Flicks.
The Not New Nashville feed is filled with images of these unique destinations. Some may appear derelict or desolate; a sign of the impending New Nashville changes or maybe a reflection that running a business has always been hard, regardless of the era? Bair doesn’t flat-out offer an opinion on whether these images are meant to be Better Times or just Previous Times; that’s up to you as the viewer. Regardless of your takeaway, the images are compelling, fascinating and absolutely worth viewing.