Monday, December 03, 2007

Newspaper Attempts to Rename Sulphur Dell Area Around Bicentennial Mall

I have to confess that whenever the Nashville City Paper publishes something on Salemtown, I brace myself for the worst. Even so, I was unprepared for the one-sided infomercial for Schoene Ansicht that appeared in William Williams column this morning.

So much so, that I could not work past Williams' blatantly partial marketing (he's apparently never met a DAAD he didn't like, although others in the housing design community have found a DAAD or two dudworthy) to get to the second portion of his article where he drops the "Sulphur Dell" portion of Bicentennial Mall (south of Jefferson, between 3rd and 5th Streets), "also knowing it as" the "Market District." This is another mistake, which Downtown Cliff at the Charrette already pointed out this morning.

There is some cue that seems to be taken in the moniker "The Market District" from the propensity the real estate community has for making new names out of whole cloth, for ignoring tradition (Sulphur Dell has a proud history that includes immortals like Babe Ruth and Jackie Robinson), and for attempting to appeal to fleeting and fickle empty-nester lifestyles. On the contrary, Sulphur Dell is such a North Nashville tradition that it has its own booth each year at Germantown's Oktoberfest. Could someone direct me to the "Market District" booth?

Why would William Williams angle toward the name change? And why try and fix something that is not broken?


  1. "Market district" was used many times during discussions at Plan of Nashville meetings a few years ago, and I knew exactly the area Williams referred to in the article because of that. Real estate listings in the area often use the term "Market District" when identifying the location of the condos currently for sale, which are known as the District Lofts and Harrison Square. Correct me if I am wrong, but there is absolutely nothing left in the area that indicates the existence of Sulphur Dell, save for the history signs located on the French Lick Greenway. I acknowledge the historic importance of Sulphur Dell, but what we have today is an expanded Farmer's Market lining the park, which is much more of an visual identifier for the area in 2007. Nashvillians, visitors and recent transplants are more likely to know the location of the Farmer's Market over the spring/creek/baseball field that was Sulphur Dell. When the city's Civic Design Center, local media and real estate agents are promoting the Market District moniker, that's what will stick in the minds of those who knew nothing prior of the area to begin with.

  2. Is there anything left in the "East End" that qualifies it as an "End"? What is so "German" about "Germantown"? Why do we continue to use a term like "Printers Alley" for a sidestreet devoid of printers?

    Calling Sulphur Dell "The Market District" seems arbitrary to me. For each person whom I've met in the real estate community who knows where it is I've met 10 outside who have no idea where it is.

    I don't see any connotation within the word "Market" that would lead me to the term "Farmers," and I am just as likely to think of "Market Street Beer," which actually comes from a part of Nashville long known as "The District" before Sulphur Dell was. Planning/Design/Real Estate folk need to be more careful than capricious in naming, it seems to me.

    Lots of ideas are thrown around at Plan of Nashville gatherings, I'm sure. That fact alone does not give them more merit with me.