With a design conceived by the local architectural firm Tuck Hinton Architects, the Bicentennial Capitol Mall State Park bears a striking resemblance to the Mall in Washington DC. The park, as its name suggests, was constructed to honor and remember the state’s 200thyear anniversary. Commonly known by its shorter name ‘the Bicentennial Mall’, the park is actually an outdoor museum with free admission.
Let’s begin our walking tour of the Bicentennial Mall at 7th Avenue right by the railroad trestles. What used to be trestles made of wood soaked with creosote is now a structure built of steel with a contemporary architectural look and feel. A nearby map created using granite measures 200 feet wide and shows different locations of the state of Tennessee, including the 95 counties and water features.
Below the trestles is one of the park’s main charms that kids will love, the Tennessee Fountains. Thirty-one fountains that erupt like geysers correspond to the thirty-one most prevalent bodies of water of Tennessee. Also in the vicinity are the tourist information center and a couple of picnic tables.
A total of four paths can be used to walk through the park. The exterior paths are called Pathway of the Counties and Pathway of History. On the other hand, the paths inside of the wall are the Path of Volunteers. Each path holds a lovely and unique view of the park.
Further to the east and turning north lies a wall named the Pathway of History. This granite wall measures 400 feet in length, carved with numerous dates detailing the history and timeline of the state. The information dates back to the lives of the first inhabitants and proceeds to modern events. The wall is fractured at the time of the civil war, symbolizing the state of the nation during this great conflict.
Points of interest along the Pathway of History are the native plants, the McNairy Springs which is a representation to the founding of Tennessee, and a World War II memorial.
The Tennessee Ampitheater is situated at the center of the park. With a design similar to ancient Greece amphitheaters, this is where many plays and concerts are conducted annually.
Located at the end of the park, the Court of 3 Stars represents the center of the Tennessee flag with its large red, white and blue circle. The three stars correspond to the three land formations of the state: the flat lands of western Tennessee, the mountains to the east, and the hills mid-state. Containing 95 bells that represent the 95 counties, fifty large columns of Greek design surround the three stars. A part of the Tennessee Waltz is played by these bells, structured to form a carillon, every 15 minutes and completes the whole song every hour.
Proceeding along the Pathway of History and walking back to the capital lead to the Walkway of the Counties. Here, markers which contain time capsules represent the state’s 95 counties. The time capsules will be opened come Tennessee’s 300th year anniversary.
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