The Pikes Project began in 2015 with the publishing of a photo essay of Gallatin Pike on the WPLN website. Three years later, we're five pikes long and rolling through an ongoing intermedia experiment that includes poetry broadcasts and performances, regional and local art exhibitions, contributing interactive communities connected through an Instagram account, and a place in Metro Arts' permanent public art collection.
Lebanon Pike is the first photo essay I've done after publishing profiles on Gallatin, Nolensville, Charlotte and Dickerson pikes. It feels a bit like a new project in a way, and Lebanon Pike's downtown roots off Hermitage Avenue give way to a patchwork of rural and suburban stretches that I followed as far as Donelson. I also found lots to see along that stretch of Old Lebanon Pike that will be familiar to lovers of Fletcher's Pizza or the kind of connoisseurs who convene at Rick's Comic City. Like all of the pikes, Lebanon is a unique place with a visual presence that reflects the community that lives along its lazy meander east towards, well, Lebanon.
Of course, Lebanon Pike also conjures visions of legendary, ancient Lebanon while simultaneously offering glimpses of historic buildings, hand-painted murals and signage, vintage storefronts, and even a bit of graffiti here and there, imbuing empty spaces with symbolic energy and meaning. Lebanon Pike calls to mind Andrew Jackson's Tennessee, but it also points back to mythic stories packed with heroes, monsters, and sky-defying forests. From Gilgamesh to Old Hickory to New Nashville, it's all there on the pike.
I love the phrase "This is the place." It's inherently exclamatory - the herald of an anticipated discovery. Lo and behold! We found it. If you find yourself at this place you're on the last length of Hermitage Avenue before it becomes Lebanon Pike as the road rolls out of downtown. And this place is as good as any to start from.
The Sidewalk Is Holey
The Pikes Project loves signs of all kinds, and even a single spray painted word, and a random arrangement of orange traffic cones can read like the cryptic script of a magical race living beneath the city where they stash a vast cache of rhinestones, Dippin’ Dots and black-eyed peas
Our Fearful Trip Is Done
Ahoy! This Captain's ship crashed on Lebanon Pike. He was lashing himself to the mast like old Odysseyous just as the ship found ground. Oh, Captain! My Captain!
My favorite tomb at my favorite cemetery. This Masonic marker is justified and ancient down on Lebanon Pike.
Iwo Jima on Lebanon Pike at the VFW hall.
Roll local or don't roll at all, y'all.
Beware the perils of this world.
Thoughts and prayers, y'all.
This no trespassing sign looks like it's part of this mural along Old Lebanon Pike in Donelson - it looms on the lawn just outside image of Clover Bottom Mansion. What did Woody Guthrie say? "As I went walking I saw a sign there . And on the sign it said 'No Trespassing.' But on the other side it didn't say nothing..." This pike is made for you and me.
The End Of An Era
At one of the last Nashville motels to discontinue hourly-rate accommodations, a little white paint makes for a nice edit on Airways' no-nonsense sign.
The Pikes Project loves a vintage sign. This one hits the spot.
Enter The Hound Dog
The Pikes Project loves the front windows of strip shop dojos. I found Kid Kick rocking a Memphis pompadour on Lebanon Pike.
Get both your soles stitched straight here.
New And Used
The Pikes Project can't resist a hand-painted tire shop sign.
Bikes And Burgers
Parking places are selling at premium rates downtown. But at Twin Kegs II, it's first come first served when you roll in on two wheels. Try the Big Bad Breakfast Burger.
Don’t be a stooge.
I call this photo "Meet the Beetles"
Smile and the pikes smile with you.
A suppertime prayer at Hermitage House. Etymologically speaking "smorgasbord" might be translated as "A meal of bread and butter at the kitchen table." Diners will find a broader take on Scandinavia gone Southern here.
The stars will guide you down Lebanon Pike.