Bulger's Beat: Classic photos show Nashville in 1946 - WSMV Channel 4

Bulger's Beat: Classic photos show Nashville in 1946

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Photo by Ed Clark Photo by Ed Clark
Ed Clark spoke with Channel 4 News in 1992 Ed Clark spoke with Channel 4 News in 1992
Photo by Ed Clark Photo by Ed Clark

Downtown Nashville on a Saturday night is one big party, and that's nothing new, as a unique collection of photos shows the party was already going strong all the way back in the 1940s.

Longtime Life magazine photographer and Nashville resident Ed Clark used his camera to document the pulse of Music City for decades, and his snapshots are now on display at The Arts Company on 5th Avenue.

It's just a short walk from the Ryman Auditorium, where, in 1946, the Grand Ole Opry brought crowds of music lovers to downtown.

Clark, who died in 2000, captured a day in the life of Lower Broadway, on July 20, 1946, three years before the arrival of television.

"All the men wore hats, all the women wore hats. They got on the back of trucks. They put mattresses, and the folks at the Ryman said those must have been the first tour buses with everyone climbing on the back of those trucks," said Anne Brown, with The Arts Company.

The stars did come out, too, including Minnie Pearl at the age of 33.

The snapshots are historical because they're old, but the concept of a big night out downtown isn't that different from today.

Dim the lights on a given night, and the jam-packed wooden pews at the Ryman still have a 1940s feel. It's just that today's T-shirts and shorts don't deliver the classic vibe.

"The people on the streets looked like someone called for extras, but that's what it looked like. It doesn't look real, but it is," Brown said.

Time magazine credited Clark, also a former Tennessean photographer, with taking one of the top 10 greatest photos of all time at President Franklin Roosevelt's funeral.

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