The City Cemeteries: A Review (Hey, if Metro Parks Lists Them on Their Parks Page, Who Am I to Argue?)

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The City Cemetery is a lovely place for a walk.
  • The City Cemetery is a lovely place for a walk.
In Short: Location: 4th Avenue South at Oak Street Crowds: Minimal Approximate Age of Patrons: 35-50ish Topics of Conversation: What kind of dog is that? Hmm, it looks like a boxer. Stray Dogs Seen: None Types of Vehicles in Parking Lots: My car Perceived Safety: Low to middling. The neighborhood leaves a lot to be desired (though all over are signs that gentrification is coming), but the cemetery itself feels quite safe Number of Gunshots Heard: None Dog Friendliness: High. There are usually poop bags provided. There's a lot of grassy areas for dogs to enjoy and lots of things for dogs to sniff. Just remember, though, that you're in a cemetery, so you want to make sure not to leave any unpleasant surprises for the families of the folks who are there. Also, watch that your leash does not get tangled on tombstones or on the old fences that surround some plots. Number of pitbulls sighted: One (mine). Accessibility: Very good. The cemetery is very level, with wide paths that can easily accommodate motorized scooters or wheelchairs. There are benches for people who need to stop and rest. And the whole cemetery is fairly small, so you're never going to be too far from your car. Incorporation of Local History: Excellent. Everywhere you look there are signs telling you about the people buried in the cemetery and what their role in Nashville history was. If you take a history buff here, be prepared to spend hours. Also, you're right at the bottom of the hill Fort Negley sits on, so that's cool. Recommended patrons: Families of the deceased, Goths, hoodoo practitioners, history buffs, members and admirers of secret societies (there are tons of Masonic symbols all over the cemetery), and magnolia tree enthusiasts (the cemetery has some lovely specimens). The city puts the City Cemetery on its park page and supplies bags for dog poop (usually, though I didn't find any today), if you want to walk your dog there, so I'm considering it a city park. As far as city parks go, it's one of my favorites. Yes, the neighborhood is still terrible, but the cemetery itself is lovely. Unless you're there on a day when volunteers are present, it's
Yes, there's graffiti, but it's cheerful.
  • Yes, there's graffiti, but it's cheerful.
almost always empty. There are wide walkways for strolling and benches and picnic tables for sitting. Just about the only thing it's missing is a place to go to the bathroom. And it's a good opportunity to familiarize yourself with some of Nashville's founders. The cemetery has some problems still with graffiti and other kinds of vandalism, but from the evidence I saw, it's being dealt with. There's not a whole lot of parking. But it is centrally located, so no matter where you are in the cemetery, you can keep an eye on your car. I could gush, but I won't. I'll just say that this is one of my favorite spots in Nashville. I'd be remiss, however, if I didn't check out the other city cemeteries. So on my way
There's nothing to see at the old city cemetery location, not even a historical sign.
  • There's nothing to see at the old city cemetery location, not even a historical sign.
home, I took a look at the old old city cemetery, located just south of Jefferson at roughly 4th Avenue. Supposedly, all of the bodies from this cemetery were disinterred and moved to the current "old" city cemetery and there's not much to see, just some overgrown backyards and warehouses. It is NOT considered a park of any sort. There's nothing to mark it. And I saw no evidence of it at all. If I didn't know where it was, I wouldn't have even been able to guess. And then we made our way over to Potter's Field. Potter's Field is at the end of 18th Avenue North, past the Jewish cemeteries. There's a big green sign and a chain link fence and one headstone. It looked as if there might have been other, smaller markers, but I couldn't get a good look, since the gate is locked. Unlike the city cemetery, this cemetery (listed on the Parks page as the county cemetery) is closed to visitors. You can call and someone will let you in, but you can't get in on your own.
The County Cemetery is not exactly open to the public.
  • The County Cemetery is not exactly open to the public.
You know, unless you can squeeze through the gates. And I am not a small woman and I think could have squeezed through the gates, if I'd had a mind to. They appear to be spread apart from regular squeezing-through. I'm not sure what's going on with this. But if the city cemetery, which is in a bad neighborhood, can be open to the public and used (yes, by few) as a park, it makes no sense to me why the county cemetery can't be open to the public and used as a park. Like the city cemetery, it's in a crappy neighborhood -- but unlike the city cemetery, unless there's some part full of headstones you can't see from the street, there's not a lot to vandalize. That's a lot of open green space you're asking people who live on very small lots, many of which butt right up against the cemetery, to not use. It doesn't seem right. What's wrong with the people in the county cemetery that even in death we have to keep them fenced off from the rest of us? Clearly, nothing. They're dead. It's obvious that people are already sneaking in there to use it as a park. Why not find a way to open it up to legitimate use?

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