Nashville's Pikes: A Collection Of Photo Essays | Nashville Public Radio

Nashville's Pikes: A Collection Of Photo Essays

Nashville's many pikes have a long history of connecting Middle Tennessee. Some were likely Native American trails before European settlers arrived. In the 1800s, decades before interstate highways, they were privately-owned toll roads.

Like spokes of a wheel, the major pikes stretch out from downtown and run through Nashville's busiest neighborhoods. We wanted to capture snapshots of them today — not so much in a journalistic sense. Rather, we wanted to document the feel of these roads.

In this series of photo essays, Joe Nolan captures the details that are easy to miss: hand-painted signs and murals, interesting mixtures of color and texture that point — if indirectly — to the culture that brings them to life. 

Add Your Own Photos
Take your own photos along Nashville's pikes, and share them on Twitter and Instagram with the hashtag #pikesproject. You can also follow @pikesproject on Instagram and @MightyJoeNolan on Twitter to see more of Joe's photos from the pikes. 

Joe Nolan

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 performancesregional and local art exhibitions, contributing interactive communities connected through an Instagram account, and a place in Metro Arts' permanent public art collection

Joe Nolan

Dickerson Pike was always on my list for the first four installments of the Pikes Project, and I’ve had a lot of time to explore it while working on my portraits of Gallatin, Nolensville and Charlotte Pike.

Joe Nolan


When I moved to Nashville in the early 1990s, Charlotte Pike was one of the first places I found that had some of the bohemian funk I was looking for in my new home.

I discovered the New Life Record Shop and the vintage and thrift stores — where I found clothes and books and a table for my apartment. I became addicted to a Mexican restaurant that sold huge platters of chicken nachos smothered in queso for four bucks — just right for a new kid in town trying to get his bearings.

Joe Nolan

I most often make my way to Nolensville Pike following an appetite for huevos con chorizo or a craving for authentic kebabs or to buy ingredients for my world famous chicken vindaloo. Nolensville Pike offers some of the best dining in the city partly because it's also home to the most diverse neighborhoods in Nashville.

Joe Nolan


Gallatin Pike is gritty, but it's also groovy — and even gorgeous if you know where to look. It's the main vein of the beating heart of one of the city's most dynamic communities, the East Nashville and Inglewood neighborhoods. The pike's used tire shops, fast food chains, vintage boutiques, music venues, bars and markets are as diverse as the neighbors they serve.