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Murfreesboro, Tennessee
City of Murfreesboro
From top left, cannon at Stones River National Battlefield, Rutherford County Courthouse, City Center, MTSU's Paul W. Martin Sr. Honors Building, Battle of Stones River.
From top left, cannon at Stones River National Battlefield, Rutherford County Courthouse, City Center, MTSU's Paul W. Martin Sr. Honors Building, Battle of Stones River.
Official logo of Murfreesboro, Tennessee
"The 'Boro"
Creating a better quality of life.
Location of Murfreesboro in Rutherford County, Tennessee.
Location of Murfreesboro in Rutherford County, Tennessee.
Murfreesboro, Tennessee is located in Tennessee
Murfreesboro, Tennessee
Murfreesboro, Tennessee
Location in Tennessee
Country  United States
State  Tennessee
County Rutherford
Settled 1811
Incorporated 1817
 • Type Council–Manager
 • City 63.03 sq mi (163.23 km2)
 • Land 62.89 sq mi (162.88 km2)
 • Water 0.14 sq mi (0.35 km2)  0.25%
610 ft (186 m)
 • City 152,769
 • Rank US: 188th
 • Density 2,423.75/sq mi (935.91/km2)
 • Urban
350,000 (US: 241st)
Time zone UTC−6 (CST)
 • Summer (DST) UTC−5 (CDT)
ZIP Codes
Area code(s) 615, 629
FIPS code 47-51560
GNIS feature ID 1295105
Website City of Murfreesboro

Murfreesboro is a city in and county seat of Rutherford County, Tennessee, United States. The population was 152,769 according to the 2020 census, up from 108,755 residents certified in 2010. Murfreesboro is located in the Nashville metropolitan area of Middle Tennessee, 34 miles (55 km) southeast of downtown Nashville.

Serving as the state capital from 1818 to 1826, it was superseded by Nashville. Today, it is the largest suburb of Nashville and the sixth-largest city in Tennessee. The city is both the center of population and the geographic center of Tennessee.

Since the 1990s, Murfreesboro has been Tennessee's fastest-growing major city and one of the fastest-growing cities in the country. Murfreesboro is home to Middle Tennessee State University, the largest undergraduate university in the state of Tennessee, with 22,729 total students as of fall 2014.


In 1811, the Tennessee State Legislature established a county seat for Rutherford County. The town was first named "Cannonsburgh" in honor of Newton Cannon, then Rutherford County's member of the state legislature, but it was soon renamed "Murfreesboro" for Revolutionary War hero Colonel Hardy Murfree. Author Mary Noailles Murfree was his great-granddaughter.

As Tennessee settlement expanded to the west, the location of the state capital in Knoxville became inconvenient for most newcomers. In 1818, Murfreesboro was designated as the capital of Tennessee. Eight years later, however, it was itself replaced by Nashville.

Civil War

On December 31, 1862, the Battle of Stones River, also called the Battle of Murfreesboro, was fought near the city between the Union Army of the Cumberland and the Confederate Army of Tennessee. This was a major engagement of the American Civil War, and between December 31 and January 2, 1863, the rival armies suffered a combined total of 23,515 casualties. It was the bloodiest battle of the war by percentage of casualties.

Following the Confederate retreat after the drawn Battle of Perryville in central Kentucky, the Confederate army moved through East Tennessee and then turned northwest to defend Murfreesboro. General Braxton Bragg's veteran cavalry successfully harassed Union General William Rosecrans' troop movements, capturing and destroying many of his supply trains. However, they could not completely prevent supplies and reinforcements from reaching Rosecrans. Despite the large number of casualties, the battle was inconclusive. Nevertheless, it is usually considered a Union victory, since afterwards General Bragg retreated 36 miles (58 km) south to Tullahoma. Even so the Union army did not move against Bragg until a full six months later in June 1863. The battle was significant since it did provide the Union army with a base to push the eventual drive further south, which allowed the later advances against Chattanooga and Atlanta. These eventually allowed the Union to divide the Eastern and Western theaters, followed by Sherman's March to the Sea. The Stones River National Battlefield is now a national historical site.

General Rosecrans' move to the south depended on a secure source of provisions, and Murfreesboro was chosen to become his supply depot. Soon after the battle, Brigadier General James St. Clair Morton, Chief Engineer of the Army of the Cumberland, was ordered to build Fortress Rosecrans, some 2 miles (3.2 km) northwest of the town. The fortifications covered about 225 acres (0.91 km2) and were the largest built during the war. Fortress Rosecrans consisted of eight lunettes, four redoubts and connecting fortifications. The Nashville and Chattanooga Railroad and the West Fork of the Stones River both passed through the fortress, while two roads provided additional transportation.

The fort's interior was a huge logistical resource center, including sawmills, warehouses, quartermaster maintenance depots, ammunition magazines, and living quarters for the 2,000 men who handled the operations and defended the post. The fortress was completed in June 1863, and only then did Rosecrans dare to move south. The fortress was never attacked, in part because the Union troops held the town of Murfreesboro hostage by training their artillery on the courthouse. Major portions of the earthworks still exist and have been incorporated into the battlefield site.

Post-Civil War

Murfreesboro had begun as a mainly agricultural community, but by 1853 the area was home to several colleges and academies, gaining the nickname the "Athens of Tennessee". Despite the wartime trauma, the town's growth had begun to recover by the early 1900s, in contrast to other areas of the devastated South.

In 1911, the state legislature created Middle Tennessee State Normal School, a two-year institute to train teachers. It would soon merge with the Tennessee College for Women. In 1925 the Normal School was expanded to a four-year college. In 1965 it became Middle Tennessee State University. MTSU now has the largest undergraduate enrollment in the state, including many international students.

World War II resulted in Murfreesboro diversifying into industry, manufacturing, and education. Growth has been steady since that time, creating a stable economy.

Murfreesboro has enjoyed substantial residential and commercial growth, with its population increasing 123.9% between 1990 and 2010, from 44,922 to 100,575. The city has been a destination for many immigrants leaving areas affected by warfare; since 1990 numerous Somalis and Kurds from Iraq have settled here. The city has also become more cosmopolitan by attracting more numerous international students to the university.

Murfreesboro conducted its first pride parade in 2016.


Swanson building 9743
City Center. Built by Joseph Swanson, a major developer in the area.

Murfreesboro is located at 35°50′46″N 86°23′31″W / 35.846143°N 86.392078°W / 35.846143; -86.392078.

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 39.2 square miles (102 km2). 39.0 square miles (101 km2) of it is land and 0.2 square miles (0.52 km2) of it (0.54%) is water. However, as of 2013 the city reports its total area as 55.94 square miles (144.9 km2).

Geographic Center of Tennessee PC270247
Plaque on a stone monument erected in 1978 designating the geographic center of Tennessee.

Murfreesboro is the geographic center of the state of Tennessee. A stone monument marks the official site on Old Lascassas Pike, about 0.5 miles (0.80 km) north of MTSU.

The West Fork of the Stones River flows through Murfreesboro. A walking trail, the Greenway, parallels the river for several miles. A smaller waterway, Lytle Creek, flows through downtown including historic "Cannonsburgh Village". Parts of the 19-mile (31 km) long creek suffer from pollution due to the urban environment and its use as a storm-water runoff.

Murfreesboro is home to a number of natural and man-made lakes plus several small wetlands including Todd's Lake and the Murfree Spring wetland area.

Murfreesboro has been in the path of destructive tornados several times. On April 10, 2009, an EF4 tornado struck the fringes of Murfreesboro. As a result, two people were killed and 41 others injured. 117 homes were totally destroyed, and 292 had major damage. The tornado is estimated to have caused over $40 million in damage.



Murfreesboro is served by Nashville International Airport (IATA code BNA), Smyrna Airport (MQY) and Murfreesboro Municipal Airport (MBT). The city also benefits from several highways running through the city, including Interstates 24 and 840; U.S. Routes 41, 70S, and 231; and State Routes 1, 2, 10, 96, 99, and 268.

Industry also has access to north–south rail service with the rail line from Nashville to Chattanooga. Into the latter 1940s the Nashville, Chattanooga & St. Louis Railway's #3/#4 (Memphis - Nashville - Atlanta) served Murfreesboro. By 1950 that train's route was shortened to Nashville - Atlanta. Until 1965 the Louisville & Nashville's Dixie Flyer (Chicago - Florida) made a stop in the town on its route. Likewise, the #3/#2 (renumbered from #3/4) continued to that period as an overnight train between Nashville and Atlanta, also making a stop in town.

Public transportation

In April 2007 the City of Murfreesboro established a public transportation system with nine small buses, each capable of holding sixteen people and including two spaces for wheelchairs. The system is called Rover; the buses are bright green with Rover and a cartoon dog painted on the side. As of 2019, buses operate in six major corridors: Memorial Boulevard, Gateway, Old Fort Parkway, South Church Street, Highland Avenue and Mercury Boulevard.

A one-way fare is US$1.00 for adults, US$0.50 for children 6–16 and seniors 65 and over, and free for children under 6. The system operates Monday to Friday, 6:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.


Historical population
Census Pop.
1850 1,917
1860 2,861 49.2%
1870 3,502 22.4%
1880 3,800 8.5%
1890 3,739 −1.6%
1900 3,999 7.0%
1910 4,679 17.0%
1920 5,367 14.7%
1930 7,993 48.9%
1940 9,495 18.8%
1950 13,052 37.5%
1960 18,991 45.5%
1970 26,360 38.8%
1980 32,845 24.6%
1990 44,922 36.8%
2000 68,816 53.2%
2010 108,755 58.0%
2020 152,769 40.5%
U.S. Census Bureau
U.S. Decennial Census

2020 census

Murfreesboro racial composition
Race Number Percentage
White (non-Hispanic) 94,941 62.15%
Black or African American (non-Hispanic) 29,416 19.26%
Native American 398 0.26%
Asian 5,748 3.76%
Pacific Islander 90 0.06%
Other/Mixed 8,258 5.41%
Hispanic or Latino 13,918 9.11%

As of the 2020 United States census, there were 152,769 people, 52,530 households, and 31,732 families residing in the city.

As of the 2010 census, there were 108,755 people living in the city. The racial makeup of the city was 75.62% White, 15.18% Black / African American, 0.35% Native American, 3.36% Asian, 0.04% Pacific Islander, 2.79% from other races, and 2.65% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 5.93% of the population.

In the 2000 Census, There were 26,511 households, out of which 30.7% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 43.8% were married couples living together, 11.9% had a female householder with no husband present, and 40.6% were non-families. 28.3% of all households were made up of individuals, and 7.0% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.42 and the average family size was 3.02.

In the city, the population was spread out, with 22.7% under the age of 18, 20.5% from 18 to 24, 30.8% from 25 to 44, 17.3% from 45 to 64, and 8.8% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 29 years. For every 100 females, there were 98.7 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 97.2 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $39,705, and the median income for a family was $52,654. Males had a median income of $36,078 versus $26,531 for females. The per capita income for the city was $20,219. About 8.2% of families and 14.1% of the population were below the poverty line, including 12.0% of those under the age of 18 and 11.1% of those 65 and older.

Special census estimates in 2005 indicated 81,393 residents, and in 2006 the U.S. Census Bureau's American Community Survey estimated a population of 92,559, with 35,842 households and 20,979 families in the city. Murfreesboro's 2008 special census reported that the population had reached 100,575, while preliminary information from the 2010 U.S. Census indicates a population of 108,755. In October 2017, the City of Murfreesboro started another special census. Given the continuous growth in the general area, the population is expected to exceed the 2016 estimate of 131,947.


Cannonsburgh Village is a reproduction of what a working pioneer village would have looked like from the period of the 1830s to the 1930s. Visitors can view the grist mill, school house, doctor's office, Leeman House, Caboose, Wedding Chapel, and other points of interest. It is also home to the World's Largest Cedar Bucket.

Old Fort Park is a 50-acre (200,000 m2) park which includes baseball fields, tennis courts, children's playground, an 18-hole championship golf course, picnic shelters and bike trail.

Barfield Crescent Park is a 430-acre (1,700,000 m2) facility with eight baseball fields, 7 miles (11 km) of biking/running trails, an 18-hole championship disc golf course, and ten picnic shelters.

Murfreesboro Greenway System is a system of greenways with 12 miles (19 km) of paved paths and 11 trail heads. In 2013, the city council approved a controversial 25-year "master plan" to extend the system by adding 173 miles worth of new greenways, bikeways and blueways at an estimated cost of $104.8 million.



Murfreesboro hosts several music-oriented events annually, such as the Main Street Jazzfest presented by MTSU's School of Music and the Main Street Association each May. For over 30 years, Uncle Dave Macon Days has celebrated the musical tradition of Uncle Dave Macon. This annual July event includes national competitions for old-time music and dancing.

Because of MTSU's large music program, the city has fostered a number of bands and songwriters, including: The Tony Danza Tapdance Extravaganza, A Plea for Purging, Self, Fluid Ounces, The Katies, Count Bass D, Destroy Destroy Destroy and The Features.


The Murfreesboro Center for the Arts, close to the Square, entertains with a variety of exhibits, theatre arts, concerts, dances, and magic shows. Murfreesboro Little Theatre has provided the community with popular and alternative forms of theatre arts since 1962.

Murfreesboro's International FolkFest began in 1982 and is held annually during the second week in June. Groups from countries spanning the globe participate in the festival, performing traditional songs and dances while attired in regional apparel.

The MTSU Student Film Festival showcases student-submitted films annually during the second week in April.

Other organizations include Youth Empowerment through Arts and Humanities and the Murfreesboro Youth Orchestra.


The Discovery Center at Murfree Spring is a nature center and interactive museum focusing on children and families. The facility includes 20 acres (8 ha) of wetlands with a variety of animals.

Bradley Academy Museum contains collectibles and exhibits of the first school in Rutherford County. This school was later renovated to become the only African American school in Murfreesboro, which closed in 1955.

The Stones River National Battlefield is a national park which memorializes the Battle of Stones River, which took place during the American Civil War during December 31, 1862, to January 3, 1863. The grounds include a museum, a national cemetery, monuments, and the remains of a large earthen fortification called Fortress Rosecrans.

Oaklands Historic House Museum is a 19th-century mansion which became involved in the Civil War. It was occupied as a residence until the 1950s, after which it was purchased by the City of Murfreesboro and renovated into a museum by the Oaklands Association.


There are two main malls located within the city limits. Stones River Mall is a traditional enclosed mall, featuring stores and restaurants such as Forever 21, Aéropostale, Journey's, Hot Topic, Agaci, Dillard's, Buckle, Books-A-Million, Olive Garden, and T.G.I. Friday's.

The Avenue Murfreesboro is an outdoor lifestyle center with such shops as American Eagle, Hollister, Best Buy, Belk, Petco, Dick's Sporting Goods, Express, Mimi's Cafe, Romano's Macaroni Grill, and LongHorn Steakhouse.

The Historic Downtown Murfreesboro district also offers a wide variety of shopping and dining experiences that encircle the pre-Civil War Courthouse.

Points of interest

  • Discovery Center at Murfree Spring
  • Geographic center of Tennessee
  • Middle Tennessee State University
  • Oaklands Historic House Museum
  • Stones River Greenway Arboretum
  • Stones River National Battlefield
  • Cannonsburgh Village

Murfreesboro is the home of a Consolidated Mail Outpatient Pharmacy (CMOP). It is part of an initiative by the Department of Veterans Affairs to provide mail order prescriptions to veterans using computerization at strategic locations throughout the United States. It is located on the campus of the Alvin C. York Veterans Hospital.

The City Center building (also known as the Swanson Building) is the tallest building in Murfreesboro. Located in the downtown area it was built by Joseph Swanson in 1989. It has 15 floors, including a large penthouse, and stands 211 feet (64 m) tall. As a commercial building its tenants include Bank of America and is the headquarters for the National Healthcare Corporation (NHC).


Top employers

According to Murfreesboro's 2018 Comprehensive Annual Financial Report, the top employers in Rutherford County are:

# Employer # of Employees
1 Nissan 8,000
2 Rutherford County government and schools 6,482
3 Middle Tennessee State University 2,205
4 National Healthcare 2,071
5 Ingram Content Group 2,000
6 State Farm Insurance 1,650
7 Amazon 1,550
8 St. Thomas Rutherford Hospital 1,400
9 Alvin C. York Veterans Administration Medical Center 1,300
10 Asurion 1,250


Elementary education within the city is overseen by Murfreesboro City Schools (MCS). MCS focuses on prekindergarten through sixth grade learning. The city has 12 schools serving 8,800 students between grades pre-K through 6th.

Secondary schools are overseen by Rutherford County Schools, which has 47 schools and a student population of over 44,000.

The Japanese Supplementary School in Middle Tennessee (JSMT, 中部テネシー日本語補習校 Chūbu Teneshī Nihongo Hoshūkō), a weekend Japanese education program, holds its classes in Peck Hall at Middle Tennessee State University, while its school offices are in Jefferson Square.

Notable people

  • Jerry Anderson (1953–1989), football player
  • Toni Baldwin (born 1995), singer and songwriter
  • Rankin Barbee (1874–1958), journalist and author
  • Ronnie Barrett (born 1954), firearms manufacturer
  • Rex Brothers (born 1987), Major League Baseball pitcher, currently on the Chicago Cubs
  • James M. Buchanan (1919–2013), economist
  • Bryan M. Clayton - businessman and real estate investor,  CEO and cofounder of GreenPal
  • Reno Collier, stand-up comedian
  • Crystal Dangerfield (born 1998), Minnesota Lynx point guard
  • Colton Dixon (born 1991), singer
  • Will Allen Dromgoole, (1860–1934), author and poet
  • Harold Earthman (1900–1987), politician
  • Corn Elder (born 1994), football player
  • Jeff Givens (died 2013), horse trainer
  • Bart Gordon (born 1949), politician and lawyer
  • Joe Black Hayes (1915–2013), football player
  • James Sanders Holman (1804-1867), 1st mayor of Houston, Texas
  • Montori Hughes (born 1990), football player
  • Yolanda Hughes-Heying (born 1963), professional female bodybuilder
  • Robert James (born 1947), football player
  • Marshall Keeble (1878–1962), African American preacher
  • Muhammed Lawal (born 1981), mixed martial artist
  • Andrew Nelson Lytle (1902–1995), novelist, dramatist, essayist and professor
  • Jean MacArthur (1898–2000), wife of U.S. Army General of the Army Douglas MacArthur
  • Bayer Mack (born 1972), filmmaker, journalist and founder of Block Starz Music.
  • Matt Mahaffey (born 1973), record producer and recording engineer
  • Philip D. McCulloch Jr. (1851–1928), politician
  • Ridley McLean (1872–1933), United States Navy Rear Admiral
  • Hank Mizell (1923-1992), singer and songwriter
  • William Northcott (1854-1917), lieutenant governor of Illinois
  • Andre Alice Norton (1912-2005), author of science fiction and fantasy
  • Joseph B. Palmer (1825–1890), lawyer, legislator, and soldier
  • Sarah Childress Polk (1803–1891), First Lady of the United States
  • Patrick Porter, singer-songwriter
  • David Price (born 1985), Major League Baseball pitcher
  • Grantland Rice (1880–1954), iconic sportswriter, journalist and poet
  • Mary Scales (1928–2013), professor and civic leader
  • Robert W. Scales (1926–2000), Vice-Mayor of Murfreesboro
  • Margaret Rhea Seddon (born 1947), NASA astronaut
  • Adam Smith (born 1990), Arena Football League player
  • Chuck Taylor (born 1942), Major League Baseball relief pitcher
  • Chris Young (born 1985), country music artist
  • Audrey Whitby (born 1996), actress
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