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Columbia, Tennessee
Columbia, Tennessee courthouse square
Columbia, Tennessee courthouse square
Official logo of Columbia, Tennessee
Mule Town
Old South Charm, New South Progress Something good around every corner.
Location of Columbia in Maury County, Tennessee.
Location of Columbia in Maury County, Tennessee.
Country United States
State Tennessee
County Maury
 • Total 33.12 sq mi (85.77 km2)
 • Land 33.09 sq mi (85.70 km2)
 • Water 0.03 sq mi (0.07 km2)
643 ft (196 m)
 • Total 41,690
 • Density 1,258.76/sq mi (486.01/km2)
Time zone UTC-6 (Central (CST))
 • Summer (DST) UTC-5 (CDT)
ZIP codes
Area code(s) 931
FIPS code 47-16540
GNIS feature ID 1269483
Website City of Columbia
Maury County Courthouse
Mule day
Mule Day 2018

Columbia is a city in and the county seat of Maury County, Tennessee, United States. The population was 41,690 as of the 2020 United States census. Columbia is included in the Nashville metropolitan area.

The self-proclaimed "mule capital of the world," Columbia annually celebrates the city-designated Mule Day each April. Columbia and Maury County are acknowledged as the "Antebellum Homes Capital of Tennessee"; the county has more antebellum houses than any other county in the state. The city is home to one of the last two surviving residences of James Knox Polk, the 11th President of the United States; the other is the White House.


The James K. Polk Ancestral Home in Columbia is the only one of President Polk's private homes that is still standing

A year after the organization of Maury County in 1807 by European Americans, Columbia was laid out in 1808 and lots were sold. The original town, on the south bank of the Duck River, consisted of four blocks. The town was incorporated in 1817. For decades during the antebellum years, it was the county seat when Maury County was the richest in the state, based on its agricultural wealth in plantations, which cultivated commodity crops of tobacco and hemp, and high-quality livestock. There were many farms for breeding thoroughbred race horses. To support these industries, the county slaveholders held a significant proportion of slave workers. Although Tennessee had competitive voting during Reconstruction, in the late 19th century, the state legislature passed laws to disenfranchise African Americans, a political exclusion that continued deep into the 20th century. This adversely affected racial relations for decades in Columbia and Maury County.

During World War II there was an expansion in Columbia of phosphate mining and the chemical industry to support the war effort. By the 1940 census, the total city population was 10,579, of whom more than 3,000 were African American. Chemical plants were a site of labor unrest between white and black workers after the war, as veterans sought to re-enter the economy. Black veterans did not want second-class status after having fought in the war. This period led to a more active campaign for civil rights during the 1950s and 1960s throughout the state.

Today, the county is a heritage tourist destination, because of its numerous historic sites. Attractions include the James K. Polk Ancestral Home, the Columbia Athenaeum, Mule Day, and nearby plantation homes.

Columbia is the location of Tennessee's first two-year college, Columbia State Community College, established in 1966. President Lyndon B. Johnson and his wife Lady Bird Johnson arrived to dedicate the new campus on March 15, 1967.

Columbia race riot of 1946

On February 25, 1946, a civil disturbance dubbed "the Columbia Race Riot" broke out in the county seat. It was covered by the national press as the first "major racial confrontation" following World War II.


Columbia is located at 35°36′54″N 87°2′40″W / 35.61500°N 87.04444°W / 35.61500; -87.04444 (35.615022, −87.044464). It is nestled along the banks of the Duck River at the southern edge of the Nashville Basin with the higher elevated ridges of the Highland Rim located to the south and west of the city. The Duck River is the longest river located entirely within the state of Tennessee. Free flowing for most of its length, the Duck River is home to over 50 species of freshwater mussels and 151 species of fish, making it the most biologically diverse river in North America. It enters the city of Manchester and meets its confluence with a major tributary, The Little Duck River, at Old Stone Fort State Park, named after an ancient Native American structure between the two rivers believed to be nearly 2,000 years old. The Duck River is sacred to most of the founding Native American tribes east of the Mississippi River.

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 29.6 square miles (77 km2), of which 29.6 square miles (77 km2) is land and 0.03% is water. Incorporated in 1817, the city is at an elevation of 637 feet (194 m).


Historical population
Census Pop.
1850 2,977
1860 4,069 36.7%
1870 2,550 −37.3%
1880 3,400 33.3%
1890 5,370 57.9%
1900 6,052 12.7%
1910 5,754 −4.9%
1920 5,526 −4.0%
1930 7,882 42.6%
1940 10,579 34.2%
1950 10,911 3.1%
1960 17,624 61.5%
1970 21,471 21.8%
1980 26,571 23.8%
1990 28,583 7.6%
2000 33,055 15.6%
2010 34,681 4.9%
2020 41,690 20.2%

2020 census

Columbia racial composition
Race Number Percentage
White (non-Hispanic) 26,962 64.67%
Black or African American (non-Hispanic) 7,659 18.37%
Native American 108 0.26%
Asian 430 1.03%
Pacific Islander 19 0.05%
Other/Mixed 2,065 4.95%
Hispanic or Latino 4,447 10.67%

As of the 2020 United States census, there were 41,690 people, 15,070 households, and 9,855 families residing in the city.


City council elections

Year Elected Votes  % Seat
2011 Carl McCullen 269 67% Ward 1
2011 Debbie Matthews UO Ward 2
2011 Christa Martin 242 88% Ward 3
2011 Mike Greene UO Ward 4
2011 Mark King 304 57% Ward 5


The climate in this area is characterized by hot, humid summers and generally mild to cool winters. According to the Köppen Climate Classification system, Columbia has a humid subtropical climate.

Popular culture

  • In 1986, a brief scene from the film At Close Range was filmed east of Columbia at a water-filled rock quarry.
  • In 1999, parts of the film The Green Mile were filmed in Williamsport, near Columbia.
  • In 2002, Stuey was filmed in Columbia and Nashville.
  • The film Daltry Calhoun, starring Johnny Knoxville, was filmed in Columbia and Spring Hill in 2004.
  • In 2009, Hannah Montana: The Movie was filmed at spots in downtown Columbia, at Maury County Airport, and a local dairy farm. Other local area film locations included Franklin High School in nearby Franklin and Nashville.
  • In 2009, scenes for Bailey [1] (2010), a Mario Van Peebles film, were shot in downtown Columbia on the square and in other locations.


The city is served by Maury County Public Schools. Private schools include Agathos Classical School, Zion Christian Academy and Columbia Academy. The city is home to the main campus of Columbia State Community College, a community college serving nine counties in southern Middle Tennessee.

Notable people

  • James Edwin Ruthven Carpenter, Jr., architect
  • Lynnette Cole, Miss Tennessee USA 2000, Miss USA 2000
  • Dr. Marion Dorsett, discovered in 1903 that swine fever (hog cholera) was caused by a virus; in 1935 he helped develop the crystal violet vaccine to prevent this disease.
  • Andrew Frierson, opera singer
  • Cecil Gant, blues musician
  • Lyman T. Johnson, civil rights movement
  • Jim Kelly, professional football player
  • Red Lucas, professional baseball player
  • Coo Coo Marlin, auto racer, father of Sterling Marlin
  • Sterling Marlin, auto racer, back-to-back Daytona 500 winner in 1994 and 1995
  • Shaq Mason, NFL offensive guard and Super Bowl LI and LIII champion with the New England Patriots
  • Fran McKee, first female line officer to hold the rank of rear admiral in the U.S. Navy
  • Lindsey Nelson, radio and television sportscaster
  • David Phelps, Christian vocalist
  • James K. Polk, Governor, Congressman, Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives and 11th President of the United States
  • Sandra Seaton, playwright and librettist
  • Natalie Stovall, country music singer
  • Cowboy Troy, country music singer
  • Dan Uggla, professional baseball player
  • William Van Landingham, former MLB pitcher for the San Francisco Giants.
  • Mary Jane Watkins, dentist and actress
  • Ben West, former Nashville mayor and supporter of civil rights movement, architect
  • John Harlan Willis, United States Navy sailor, recipient of Medal of Honor for actions during Battle of Iwo Jima in World War II

Images for kids

See also

Kids robot.svg In Spanish: Columbia (Tennessee) para niños

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