As a follow up to my last post on some of the history of development and the levees at Metrocenter I wanted to post this sequence of maps from the US Geological Survey. They’re all on the same scale and cropped to roughly the same area. You can find them for yourself at the USGS map store.
This is the 1952 map, and it’s the base map all the others get their contours from. I want to point out Cumberland Airfield in the left-center area, along with the big swamp and the railroad spur. You’ll also want to note Bush Lake. A helpful commenter from the Nashville Scene tells me Bush Lake was originally a quarry created by W.G. Bush & Company. In a few paragraphs the location of Bush Lake will be important.
Next up we have the 1968 map. Bush Lake is still there, but Cumberland Airfield is gone and the swampy area in the center seems to have been drained with the exception of a few small ponds. You can see the proposed location of what is now Rosa Parks Boulevard on the hill south of Buena Visa Park. This would have been after Cheatham Dam was built, but before the levee.
Now we have the 1983 map with the purple items showing what has changed since the previous map. This would have been 5-10 years after the levees were built. Bush Lake is gone and several buildings are where it used to be on the eastern edge of the area. Most of the streets and drainage canals are in place but only the eastern side seems to have many buildings. The western portion is now the site of a golf course. Rosa Parks Boulevard has been built, but it’s north of Buena Vista Park and at the bottom of the hill rather than the proposed location from the previous map. (I assume this was changed in order to avoid the heavy residential area on top of the hill.) The large purple blob in the center is much as it is today.
The last map is from 1997 and is largely as it appears today. Bush Lake is mostly gone with all the buildings along Great Circle Road built over its old location. If you look closely you’ll see a sliver of blue still on the old Bush Lake site. Google maps still calls it Bush Lake but these days it’s not much more than a stormwater detention pond.
That’s the geographic history of the Metrocenter as best I’ve been able to trace it. I’m particularly bummed that the earliest map was 1952, but this type of mapping requires aerial capabilities that weren’t really available for civilian use until post World War II. If you’re so inclined, you can find the 2010 map at the USGS map store link above. It’s not significantly different from the 1997 map above other than including