Part of the Nashville Art Walk / History and Architecture Tour:
In what was once known as Overton Alley, local businessman Daniel C. Buntin created the city’s first enclosed shopping area with the Arcade. Modeling it after the famous Galleria Vittorio Emmanuele (1865-77) in Milan, Italy, Buntin persuaded owners of buildings along the alley that an arcade would be a lucrative development. They commissioned the local firm of Thompson, Gibel, and Asmus to design the two-story arcade. Entrances to the Arcade, at Fourth and Fifth Avenues, are marked by identical Palladian facades. The interior space is two stories high, open to the gabled glass roof. Shops and restaurants line both sides of the first level while shops and offices occupy the second floor mezzanine. The Nashville Bridge Company installed the roof’s rolled steel bracing system; the contractor was the Edgefield and Nashville Manufacturing Company. The Arcade caused so much excitement that more than 40,000 people attended the grand opening in 1903. At the time, the population of Davidson County was approximately 125,000.