Knoxville, Tennessee facts for kids
Quick facts for kids
|City of Knoxville|
The City of Knoxville, Tennessee
The Marble City, Heart of the Valley, Queen City of the Mountains, K-Town, Scruffy City, Gateway to the Great Smoky Mountains.
|Founded by||James White|
|Named for||Henry Knox|
|• City||104.2 sq mi (269.8 km2)|
|• Land||98.5 sq mi (255.2 km2)|
|• Water||5.6 sq mi (14.6 km2) 5.4%|
|Elevation||886 ft (270 m)|
| • Estimate
|• Rank||US: 128th|
|• Density||1,816/sq mi (701.0/km2)|
|• Urban||558,696 (US: 74th)|
|• Metro||852,715 (US: 64th)|
|• CSA||1,096,961 (US: 50th)|
|Time zone||UTC-5 (EST)|
|• Summer (DST)||UTC-4 (EDT)|
37901-37902, 37909, 37912, 37914-37924, 37927-37934, 37938-37940, 37950, 37995-37998
|GNIS feature ID||1648562|
Knoxville is a city in the U.S. state of Tennessee, and the county seat of Knox County. The city had an estimated population of 185,291 in 2015 and a population of 178,874 as of the 2010 census, making it the state's third largest city after Memphis and Nashville. Knoxville is the principal city of the Knoxville Metropolitan Statistical Area, which, in 2013, had an estimated population of 852,715. The KMSA is, in turn, the central component of the Knoxville-Sevierville-La Follette Combined Statistical Area, which, in 2013, had a population of 1,096,961.
First settled in 1786, Knoxville was the first capital of Tennessee. The city struggled with geographic isolation throughout the early 19th century. The arrival of the railroad in 1855 led to an economic boom. During the Civil War, the city was bitterly divided over the secession issue, and was occupied alternately by both Confederate and Union armies. Following the war, Knoxville grew rapidly as a major wholesaling and manufacturing center. The city's economy stagnated after the 1920s as the manufacturing sector collapsed, the downtown area declined and city leaders became entrenched in highly partisan political fights. Hosting the 1982 World's Fair helped reinvigorate the city, and revitalization initiatives by city leaders and private developers have had major successes in spurring growth in the city, especially the downtown area.
Knoxville is the home of the flagship campus of the University of Tennessee, whose sports teams, called the "Volunteers" or "Vols," are extremely popular in the surrounding area. Knoxville is also home to the headquarters of the Tennessee Valley Authority, the Tennessee Supreme Court's courthouse for East Tennessee and the corporate headquarters of several national and regional companies. As one of the largest cities in the Appalachian region, Knoxville has positioned itself in recent years as a repository of Appalachian culture and is one of the gateways to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
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- See also: Timeline of Knoxville, Tennessee
The first people to form substantial settlements in what is now Knoxville arrived during the Woodland period (c. 1000 B.C. – A.D 1000). One of the oldest artificial structures in Knoxville is a burial mound constructed during the early Mississippian culture period (c. A.D. 1000-1400). The earthwork mound is now surrounded by the University of Tennessee campus. Other prehistoric sites include an Early Woodland habitation area at the confluence of the Tennessee River and Knob Creek (near the Knox-Blount county line), and Dallas Phase Mississippian villages at Post Oak Island (also along the river near the Knox-Blount line), and at Bussell Island (at the mouth of the Little Tennessee River near Lenoir City).
By the 18th century, the Cherokee had become the dominant tribe in the East Tennessee region, although they were consistently at war with the Creek and Shawnee. The Cherokee people called the Knoxville area kuwanda'talun'yi, which means "Mulberry Place." Most Cherokee habitation in the area was concentrated in the Overhill settlements along the Little Tennessee River, southwest of Knoxville.
The first Euro-American traders and explorers were recorded as arriving in the Tennessee Valley in the late 17th century. There is significant evidence that Hernando de Soto visited Bussell Island in 1540. The first major recorded Euro-American presence in the Knoxville area was the Timberlake Expedition, which passed through the confluence of the Holston and French Broad into the Tennessee River in December 1761. Henry Timberlake, who was en route to the Overhill settlements along the Little Tennessee River, recalled being pleasantly surprised by the deep waters of the Tennessee after having struggled down the relatively shallow Holston for several weeks.
The end of the French and Indian War and confusion brought about by the American Revolution led to a drastic increase in Euro-American settlement west of the Appalachians. By the 1780s, Euro-American settlers were already established in the Holston and French Broad valleys. The U.S. Congress ordered all illegal settlers out of the valley in 1785, but with little success. As settlers continued to trickle into Cherokee lands, tensions between the settlers and the Cherokee rose steadily.
In 1786, James White, a Revolutionary War officer, and his friend James Connor built White's Fort near the mouth of First Creek, on land White had purchased three years earlier. In 1790, White's son-in-law, Charles McClung—who had arrived from Pennsylvania the previous year—surveyed White's holdings between First Creek and Second Creek for the establishment of a town. McClung drew up 64 0.5-acre (0.20 ha) lots. The waterfront was set aside for a town common. Two lots were set aside for a church and graveyard (First Presbyterian Church, founded 1792). Four lots were set aside for a school. That school was eventually chartered as Blount College and it served as the starting point for the University of Tennessee, which uses Blount College's founding date of 1794, as its own. Also in 1790, President George Washington appointed North Carolina surveyor William Blount governor of the newly created Territory South of the River Ohio.
One of Blount's first tasks was to meet with the Cherokee and establish territorial boundaries and resolve the issue of illegal settlers. This he accomplished almost immediately with the Treaty of Holston, which was negotiated and signed at White's Fort in 1791. Blount originally wanted to place the territorial capital at the confluence of the Clinch River and Tennessee River (now Kingston), but when the Cherokee refused to cede this land, Blount chose White's Fort, which McClung had surveyed the previous year. Blount named the new capital Knoxville after Revolutionary War general and Secretary of War Henry Knox, who at the time was Blount's immediate superior.
Problems immediately arose from the Holston Treaty. Blount believed that he had "purchased" much of what is now East Tennessee when the treaty was signed in 1791. However, the terms of the treaty came under dispute, culminating in continued violence on both sides. When the government invited the Cherokee's chief Hanging Maw for negotiations in 1793, Knoxville settlers attacked the Cherokee against orders, killing the chief's wife. Peace was renegotiated in 1794.
Knoxville served as capital of the Southwest Territory and as capital of Tennessee (admitted as a state in 1796) until 1817, when the capital was moved to Murfreesboro. Early Knoxville has been described as an "alternately quiet and rowdy river town." Early issues of the Knoxville Gazette—the first newspaper published in Tennessee—are filled with accounts of murder, theft, and hostile Cherokee attacks. Abishai Thomas, a friend of William Blount, visited Knoxville in 1794 and wrote that, while he was impressed by the town's modern frame buildings, the town had "seven taverns" and no church.
Knoxville initially thrived as a way station for travelers and migrants heading west. Its location at the confluence of three major rivers in the Tennessee Valley brought flatboat and later steamboat traffic to its waterfront in the first half of the 19th century, and Knoxville quickly developed into a regional merchandising center. Local agricultural products—especially tobacco, corn, and whiskey—were traded for cotton, which was grown in the Deep South. The population of Knoxville more than doubled in the 1850s with the arrival of the East Tennessee and Georgia Railroad in 1855.
Among the most prominent citizens of Knoxville during the Antebellum years was James White's son, Hugh Lawson White (1773–1840). White first served as a judge and state senator, before being nominated by the state legislature to replace Andrew Jackson in the U.S. Senate in 1825. In 1836, White ran unsuccessfully for president, representing the Whig Party.
The U.S. Civil War
- See also: Knoxville Campaign
Anti-slavery and anti-secession sentiment ran high in East Tennessee in the years leading up to the U.S. Civil War. William "Parson" Brownlow, the radical publisher of the Knoxville Whig, was one of the region's leading anti-secessionists (although he strongly defended the practice of slavery). Blount County, just south of Knoxville, had developed into a center of abolitionist activity, due in part to its relatively large Quaker faction and the anti-slavery president of Maryville College, Isaac Anderson. The Greater Warner Tabernacle AME Zion Church, Knoxville was reportedly a station on the underground railroad.
Business interests, however, guided largely by Knoxville's trade connections with cotton-growing centers to the south, contributed to the development of a strong pro-secession movement within the city. The city's pro-secessionists included among their ranks Dr. J.G.M. Ramsey, a prominent historian whose father had built the Ramsey House in 1797.
Thus, while East Tennessee and greater Knox County voted decisively against secession in 1861, the city of Knoxville favored secession by a 2-1 margin. In late May 1861, just before the secession vote, delegates of the East Tennessee Convention met at Temperance Hall in Knoxville in hopes of keeping Tennessee in the Union. After Tennessee voted to secede the following month, the convention met in Greeneville and attempted to create a separate Union-aligned state in East Tennessee.
In July 1861, after Tennessee had joined the Confederacy, General Felix Zollicoffer arrived in Knoxville as commander of the District of East Tennessee. While initially lenient toward the city's Union sympathizers, Zollicoffer instituted martial law in November of that year after pro-Union guerillas burned seven of the city's bridges. The command of the district passed briefly to George Crittenden and then to Kirby Smith, the latter launching an unsuccessful invasion of Kentucky in August 1862. In early 1863, General Simon Buckner took command of Confederate forces in Knoxville. Anticipating a Union invasion, Buckner fortified Fort Loudon (in West Knoxville, not to be confused with the colonial fort to the southwest) and began constructing earthworks throughout the city. However, the approach of stronger Union forces under Ambrose Burnside in the summer of 1863 forced Buckner to evacuate Knoxville before the earthworks were completed.
Burnside arrived in early September 1863. Like the Confederates, he immediately began fortifying the city. The Union forces rebuilt Fort Loudon and erected 12 other forts and batteries flanked by entrenchments around the city. Burnside moved a pontoon bridge upstream from Loudon, allowing Union forces to cross the river and build a series of forts along the heights of South Knoxville, including Fort Stanley and Fort Dickerson.
As Burnside was fortifying Knoxville, the Confederate army defeated the Union forces at the Battle of Chickamauga (near the Tennessee-Georgia line) and subsequently laid siege to Chattanooga. On November 3, 1863, the Confederates dispatched General James Longstreet to attack Burnside at Knoxville. Longstreet initially wanted to attack the city from the south, but lacking the means to carry the necessary pontoon bridges, he was forced to cross the river further downstream at Loudon (November 14) and march against the city's heavily fortified western section. On November 15, General Joseph Wheeler unsuccessfully attempted to dislodge Union forces in the heights of South Knoxville, and the following day Longstreet failed to cut off retreating Union forces at Campbell's Station (now Farragut). On November 18, Union General William P. Sanders was mortally wounded while conducting delaying maneuvers west of Knoxville, and Fort Loudon was renamed Fort Sanders in his honor. On November 29, after a two-week siege, the Confederates attacked Fort Sanders, but retreated after a fierce 20-minute engagement. On December 4, when word of the Confederate setback at Chattanooga had reached Longstreet, he abandoned his attempts to take Knoxville and retreated into winter quarters at Russellville. He rejoined the Army of Northern Virginia the following Spring.
Reconstruction and the Industrial Age
After the war, northern investors such as the brothers Joseph and David Richards helped Knoxville recover relatively quickly. Joseph and David Richards convinced 104 Welsh immigrant families to migrate from the Welsh Tract in Pennsylvania to work in a rolling mill then co-owned by Thomas Walker. These Welsh families settled in an area now known as Mechanicsville.
Other companies that sprang up during this period were Knoxville Woolen Mills, Dixie Cement, and Woodruff's Furniture. Between 1880 and 1887, 97 factories were established in Knoxville, most of them specializing in textiles, food products, and iron products. By the 1890s, Knoxville was home to more than 50 wholesaling houses, making it the third largest wholesaling center by volume in the South. The Candoro Marble Works, established in the community of Vestal in 1914, became the nation's foremost producer of pink marble and one of the nation's largest marble importers. In 1896, Knoxville celebrated its achievements by creating its own flag. The Flag of Knoxville, Tennessee represents the city's progressive growth due to agriculture and industry.
In 1869, Thomas Humes, a Union-sympathizer and president of East Tennessee University, secured federal wartime restitution funding, and state-designated Morrill Act funding to expand the college, which had been occupied by both armies during the war. In 1879, the school changed its name to the University of Tennessee, hoping to secure more funding from the Tennessee state legislature. Charles Dabney, who became president of the university in 1887, overhauled the faculty and established a law school in an attempt to modernize the scope of the university.
The post-war manufacturing boom brought thousands of immigrants to the city. The population of Knoxville grew from around 5,000 in 1860 to 32,637 in 1900. West Knoxville was annexed in 1897, and over 5,000 new homes were built between 1895 and 1904.
In 1901, train robber Kid Curry (whose real name was Harvey Logan), a member of Butch Cassidy's Wild Bunch was captured after shooting two deputies on Knoxville's Central Avenue. He escaped from the Knoxville Jail and rode away on a horse stolen from the sheriff.
The Progressive Era and the Great Depression
The growing city of Knoxville hosted the Appalachian Exposition in 1910 and again in 1911, and the National Conservation Exposition in 1913. The latter is sometimes credited with giving rise to the movement to create a national park in the Great Smoky Mountains, some 20 miles (32 km) south of Knoxville. Around this time, a number of affluent Knoxvillians began purchasing summer cottages in Elkmont, and began to pursue the park idea more vigorously. They were led by Knoxville businessman Colonel David C. Chapman, who, as head of the Great Smoky Mountains Park Commission, was largely responsible for raising the funds for the purchase of the property that became the core of the park. The Great Smoky Mountains National Park opened in 1933.
Knoxville's reliance on a manufacturing economy left it particularly vulnerable to the effects of the Great Depression. The Tennessee Valley also suffered from frequent flooding, and millions of acres of farmland had been ruined by soil erosion. To control flooding and improve the economy in the Tennessee Valley, the federal government created the Tennessee Valley Authority in 1933. Beginning with Norris Dam, TVA constructed a series of hydroelectric and other power plants throughout the valley over the next few decades, bringing flood control, jobs, and electricity to the region. The Federal Works Projects Administration, which also arrived in the 1930s, helped build McGhee-Tyson Airport and expand Neyland Stadium. TVA's headquarters, which consists of two twin high rises built in the 1970s, were among Knoxville's first modern high-rise buildings.
In 1948, the soft drink Mountain Dew was first marketed in Knoxville, originally designed as a mixer for whiskey. Around the same time, John Gunther dubbed Knoxville the "ugliest city" in America in his best-selling book Inside U.S.A. Gunther's description jolted the city into enacting a series of beautification measures that helped improve the appearance of the Downtown area.
Knoxville's textile and manufacturing industries largely fell victim to foreign competition in the 1950s and 1960s, and after the establishment of the Interstate Highway system in the 1960s, the railroad—which had been largely responsible for Knoxville's industrial growth—began to decline. The rise of suburban shopping malls in the 1970s drew retail revenues away from Knoxville's Downtown area. While government jobs and economic diversification prevented widespread unemployment in Knoxville, the city sought to recover the massive loss of revenue by attempting to annex neighboring communities in Knox County. These annexation attempts often turned combative, and several attempts to merge the Knoxville and Knox County governments failed though the school boards merged on 1 July 1987.
With annexation attempts stalling, Knoxville initiated several projects aimed at boosting revenue in the Downtown area. The 1982 World's Fair—the most successful of these projects—became one of the most popular world's fairs in U.S. history with 11 million visitors. The fair's energy theme was selected due to Knoxville being the headquarters of the Tennessee Valley Authority and for the city's proximity to the Oak Ridge National Laboratory. The Sunsphere, a 266-foot (81 m) steel truss structure topped with a gold-colored glass sphere, was built for the fair and remains one of Knoxville's most prominent structures, along with the adjacent Tennessee Amphitheater which underwent a renovation that was completed in 2008.
Ever since, Knoxville's downtown has been developing, with the opening of the Women's Basketball Hall of Fame and the Knoxville Convention Center, redevelopment of Market Square, a new visitors center, a regional history museum, a Regal Cinemas theater, several restaurants and bars, and many new and redeveloped condominiums. Since 2000, Knoxville has successfully brought business back to the downtown area. The arts in particular have begun to flourish; there are multiple venues for outdoor concerts, and Gay St. hosts a new arts annex and gallery surrounded by many studios and new business as well. The Tennessee and Bijou Theaters underwent renovation, providing a good basis for the city and its developers to re-purpose the old downtown, and they have had great success to date revitalizing this once great section of Tennessee.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 104.2 square miles (269.8 km2), of which 98.5 square miles (255.2 km2) is land and 5.6 square miles (14.6 km2), or 5.42%, is water. Elevations range from just over 800 feet (240 m) along the riverfront to just over 1,000 feet (300 m) on various hilltops in West Knoxville, with the downtown area resting at just over 900 feet (270 m). High points include Sharp's Ridge in North Knoxville at 1,391 feet (424 m) and Brown Mountain in South Knoxville at 1,260 feet (380 m). House Mountain, the highest point in Knox County at 2,064 feet (629 m), is located east of the city near Mascot.
Knoxville is situated in the Great Appalachian Valley (known locally as the Tennessee Valley), about halfway between the Great Smoky Mountains to the east and the Cumberland Plateau to the west. The Great Valley is part of a subrange of the Appalachian Mountains known as the Ridge-and-Valley Appalachians, which is characterized by long, narrow ridges, flanked by broad valleys. Prominent Ridge-and-Valley structures in the Knoxville area include Sharp's Ridge and Beaver Ridge in the northern part of the city, Brown Mountain in South Knoxville, parts of Bays Mountain just south of the city, and parts of McAnnally Ridge in the northeastern part of the city.
The Tennessee River, which slices through the downtown area, is formed in southeastern Knoxville at the confluence of the Holston River, which flows southwest from Virginia, and the French Broad River, which flows west from North Carolina. The section of the Tennessee River that passes through Knoxville is part of Fort Loudoun Lake, an artificial reservoir created by TVA's Fort Loudoun Dam about 30 miles (48 km) downstream in Lenoir City. Notable tributaries of the Tennessee in Knoxville include First Creek and Second Creek, which flow through the downtown area, Third Creek, which flows west of U.T., and Sinking Creek, Ten Mile Creek, and Turkey Creek, which drain West Knoxville.
Knoxville falls in the humid subtropical climate zone (Köppen climate classification Cfa), although it is not quite as hot as areas to the south and west due to the higher elevations. Summers are the warmest time of year, with the daily average temperature in July at 78.4 °F (25.8 °C), and an average of 36 days per year with temperatures reaching 90 °F (32 °C). Winters are generally much cooler and less stable, with occasional small amounts of snow. January has a daily average temperature of 38.2 °F (3.4 °C), although in most years there is at least one day (average 5.3) where the high remains at or below freezing. The record high for Knoxville is 105 °F (41 °C) on June 30 and July 1, 2012, while the record low is −24 °F (−31 °C) on January 21, 1985. Annual precipitation averages just under 48 in (1,220 mm), and normal seasonal snowfall is 6.5 in (17 cm); however, usually no snow occurs outside of January and February. The one-day record for snowfall is 17.5 in (44 cm), which occurred on February 13, 1960. <section begin="weather box" />
|Climate data for Knoxville, Tennessee (McGhee Tyson Airport), 1981−2010 normals, extremes 1871–present|
|Record high °F (°C)||77
|Average high °F (°C)||47.3
|Average low °F (°C)||29.2
|Record low °F (°C)||−24
|Precipitation inches (mm)||4.32
|Snowfall inches (cm)||2.7
|Avg. precipitation days (≥ 0.01 in)||11.2||11.0||12.0||10.7||11.4||11.4||11.3||8.8||7.7||8.2||9.9||11.6||125.2|
|Avg. snowy days (≥ 0.1 in)||1.5||1.2||0.6||0.1||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0.8||4.2|
|Source: NOAA (relative humidity and sun 1961–1990)|
<section end="weather box" />
Knoxville is the central city in the Knoxville Metropolitan Area, an Office of Management and Budget (OMB)-designated metropolitan statistical area (MSA) that covers Knox, Anderson, Blount, Campbell, Grainger, Loudon, Morgan, Roane and Union counties. MSAs consist of a core urban center and the outlying communities and rural areas with which it maintains close economic ties. They are not administrative divisions, and should not be confused with "metropolitan government," or a consolidated city-county government, which Knoxville and Knox County lack.
The Knoxville Metropolitan area includes unincorporated communities such as Halls Crossroads, Powell, Karns, Corryton, Concord, and Mascot, which are located in Knox County outside of Knoxville's city limits. Along with Knoxville, major municipalities in the Knoxville Metropolitan Area include Alcoa, Maryville, Lenoir City, Loudon, Farragut, Oak Ridge, Clinton, and Maynardville. As of 2012, the population of the Knoxville Metropolitan Area was 837,571.
Additionally, the Knoxville MSA is the chief component of the larger OMB-designated Knoxville-Sevierville-La Follette TN Combined Statistical Area (CSA). The CSA also includes the Morristown Metropolitan Statistical Area (Hamblen, Grainger, and Jefferson counties) and the Sevierville (Sevier County), La Follette (Campbell County), Harriman (Roane County), and Newport (Cocke County) Micropolitan Statistical Areas. Municipalities in the CSA, but not the Knoxville MSA, include Morristown, Rutledge, Dandridge, Jefferson City, Sevierville, Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge, LaFollette, Jacksboro, Harriman, Kingston, Rockwood, and Newport. The combined population of the CSA as of the 2000 Census was 935,659. Its estimated 2008 population was 1,041,955.
Georgia Tech researchers have mapped the Knoxville MSA as one of the 18 'Major Cities' in the Piedmont Atlantic Megaregion.
Knoxville's two tallest buildings are the 27-story First Tennessee Plaza and the 24-story Riverview Tower, both on Gay Street. Other prominent high-rises include the Tower at Morgan Hill (21 stories), the Andrew Johnson Building (18), the Knoxville Hilton (18), the General Building (15), the Holston (14), the TVA Towers (12), and Sterchi Lofts (12). The city's most iconic structure is arguably the Sunsphere, a 266-foot (81 m) steel truss tower built for the 1982 World's Fair and, with the Tennessee Amphitheater, one of only two structures that remain from that World's Fair.
The downtown area contains a mixture of architectural styles from various periods, ranging from the hewn-log James White House (1786) to the modern Knoxville Museum of Art (1990). Styles represented include Greek Revival (Old City Hall), Victorian (Hotel St. Oliver and Sullivan's Saloon), Gothic (Church Street Methodist Church and Ayres Hall), Neoclassical (First Baptist Church), and Art Deco (Knoxville Post Office). Gay Street, Market Square, and Jackson Avenue contain numerous examples of late-19th and early-20th century commercial architecture.
Residential architecture tends to reflect the city's development over two centuries. Blount Mansion (1791), in the oldest part of the city, is designed in a vernacular Georgian style. "Streetcar suburbs" such as Fourth and Gill, Parkridge, and Fort Sanders, developed in the late 19th century with the advent of trolleys, tend to contain large concentrations of Victorian and Bungalow/Craftsman-style houses popular during this period. Early automobile suburbs, such as Lindbergh Forest and Sequoyah Hills, contain late-1920s and 1930s styles such as Tudor Revival, English Cottage, and Mission Revival. Neighborhoods developed after World War II typically consist of Ranch-style houses.
Knoxville is home to the nation's largest concentration of homes designed by noted Victorian residential architect George Franklin Barber, who lived in the city. Other notable local architects include members of the Baumann family, Charles I. Barber (son of George), R. F. Graf, and more recently, Bruce McCarty. Nationally renowned architects with works still standing in the city include Alfred B. Mullett (Greystone), John Russell Pope (H.L. Dulin House), and Edward Larrabee Barnes (Knoxville Museum of Art).
Knoxville is roughly divided into the Downtown area and sections based on the four cardinal directions: North Knoxville, South Knoxville, East Knoxville, and West Knoxville. Downtown Knoxville traditionally consists of the area bounded by the river on the south, First Creek on the east, Second Creek on the west, and the railroad tracks on the north, though the definition has expanded to include the U.T. campus and Fort Sanders neighborhood, and several neighborhoods along or just off Broadway south of Sharp's Ridge ("Downtown North"). While primarily home to the city's central business district and municipal offices, the Old City and Gay Street are mixed residential and commercial areas.
South Knoxville consists of the parts of the city located south of the river, and includes the neighborhoods of Vestal, Lindbergh Forest, Island Home Park, Colonial Hills, and Old Sevier. This area contains major commercial corridors along Chapman Highway and Alcoa Highway.
West Knoxville generally consists of the areas west of U.T., and includes the neighborhoods of Sequoyah Hills, West Hills, Bearden, Cumberland Estates, Westmoreland, Suburban Hills, Cedar Bluff, Rocky Hill, and Ebenezer. This area, concentrated largely around Kingston Pike, is home to thriving retail centers such as West Town Mall.
East Knoxville consists of the areas east of First Creek and the James White Parkway, and includes the neighborhoods of Parkridge, Burlington, Morningside, and Five Points. This area, concentrated along Magnolia Avenue, is home to Chilhowee Park and Zoo Knoxville.
North Knoxville consists of the areas north of Sharp's Ridge, namely the Fountain City and Inskip-Norwood areas. This area's major commercial corridor is located along Broadway.
List of notable neighborhoods
As of the census of 2010, the population of Knoxville was 178,874, a 2.9% increase from 2000. The median age was 32.7, with 19.1% of the population under the age of 18, and 12.6% over the age of 65. The population was 48% male and 52% female. The population density was 1,815 persons per square mile.
The racial and ethnic composition of the city was 76.1% white, 17.1% black, 0.4% Native American, 1.6% Asian, and 0.2% Pacific Islander. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 4.6% of the population. People reporting more than one race comprised 2.5% of the population.
Data collected by the Census from 2005 to 2009 reported 83,151 households in Knoxville, with an average of 2.07 persons per household. The home ownership rate was 51%, and 74.7% of residents had been living in the same house for more than one year. The median household income was $32,609, and the per capita income was $21,528. High school graduates comprised 83.8% of persons 25 and older, and 28.3% had earned a bachelor's degree or higher. The city's poverty rate was 25%, compared with 16.1% in Tennessee and 15.1% nationwide.
According to the opinion of the Economic Research Institute in a 2006 study, Knoxville was identified as the most affordable U.S. city for new college graduates, based on the ratio of typical salary to cost of living. In 2014, Forbes ranked Knoxville one of the top five most affordable cities in the United States.
- See also: Music of East Tennessee
Knoxville is home to a rich arts community and has many festivals throughout the year. Its contributions to old-time, bluegrass and country music are numerous, from Flatt & Scruggs and Homer & Jethro to the Everly Brothers. For the past several years an award-winning listener-funded radio station, WDVX
The Knoxville Symphony Orchestra (KSO), established in 1935, is the oldest continuing orchestra in the southeast. The KSO maintains a core of full-time professional musicians, and performs at more than 200 events per year. Its traditional venues include the Tennessee Theatre, the Bijou Theatre, and the Civic Auditorium, though it also performs at a number of non-traditional venues.
Knoxville also boasts the Knoxville Opera which has been guided by Don Townsend for over two decades. The KOC performs a season of opera every year with a talented chorus as the backbone of each production. The city is also known as a venue for Sergei Rachmaninoff's final concert in 1943.
In its May 2003 "20 Most Rock & Roll towns in the U.S." feature, Blender ranked Knoxville the 17th best music scene in the United States. In the 1990s, noted alternative-music critic Ann Powers, author of Weird Like Us: My Bohemian America, referred to the city as "Austin without the hype".
The city also hosts numerous art festivals, including the 17-day Dogwood Arts Festival in April, which features art shows, crafts fairs, food and live music. Also in April is the Rossini Festival, which celebrates opera and Italian culture. June's Kuumba (meaning creativity in Swahili) Festival commemorates the region's African American heritage and showcases visual arts, folk arts, dance, games, music, storytelling, theater, and food. Autumn on the Square showcases national and local artists in outdoor concert series at historic Market Square, which has been revitalized with specialty shops and residences.
The Knoxville Christmas in the City event runs for eight weeks of events at locations throughout the city including the Singing Christmas Tree and ice skating on the Holidays on Ice skating rink.
- Asian Festival
- Bacon Fest
- Big Ears Festival
- Big KnoxVenture Race
- Biscuit Festival
- Boo At The Zoo
- Corvette Expo
- Destination ImagiNation Global Finals
- Dogwood Arts Festival
- Fantasy of Trees
- Feast With the Beasts at Knoxville Zoo
- Festival on the Fourth
- Great Knoxville Rubber Duck Race
- Hank Days
- Hola Festival
- Holi Festival
- Honda Hoot
- International Festival
- International Biscuit Festival
- Knoxville Brewers' Jam
- Knoxville Lindy Exchange
- Knoxville Marathon
- Knoxville Pride Festival
- Kuumba Festival
- Market Square Farmers' Market
- Medal of Honor Convention
- NSRA Street Rod Nationals South
- Pride Fest
- Rhythm & Blooms Festival
- Rossini Festival
- Scruffy City Comedy Festival
- Sevier Heights Living Christmas Tree
- Shakespeare on the Square
- Sundown in the City
- Symphony in the Park
- Tennessee Valley Fair
Sites of interest
- Beck Cultural Exchange Center
- Bijou Theatre
- Bleak House
- William Blount Mansion
- Fountain City Art Center
- Candoro Marble Works
- Civic Coliseum
- Fort Dickerson
- Haley Heritage Square
- Ijams Nature Center
- James White's Fort
- Knoxville Botanical Gardens and Arboretum
- Knoxville Convention Center
- Knoxville Greenways
- Knoxville Museum of Art
- Knoxville Police Museum
- Zoo Knoxville
- Mabry-Hazen House
- Marble Springs
- Market Square
- Frank H. McClung Museum
- Museum of East Tennessee History
- National Register of Historic Places, Knox County, Tennessee
- Old City
- Ramsey House
- Tennessee Amphitheater
- Tennessee River Boat
- Tennessee Theatre
- Three Rivers Rambler Train Ride
- Volunteer Landing
- Women's Basketball Hall of Fame
- World's Fair Park
The two principal interstate highways serving Knoxville are Interstate 40, which connects the city to Asheville (directly) and Bristol (via I-81) to the east and Nashville to the west, and Interstate 75, which connects the city to Chattanooga to the south and Lexington to the north. The two interstates merge just west of Knoxville near Dixie Lee Junction and diverge as they approach the Downtown area, with I-40 continuing on through the Downtown area and I-75 turning north. Interstate 640 provides a bypass for I-40 travellers, and Interstate 275 provides a faster connection to I-75 for Downtown travellers headed north. A spur route of I-40, Interstate 140 (Pellissippi Parkway), connects West Knoxville with McGhee Tyson Airport.
Knoxville's busiest road is a stretch of U.S. Route 129 known as Alcoa Highway, which connects the Downtown area with McGhee Tyson Airport. A merged stretch of US-70 and US-11 enters the city from the east along Magnolia Avenue, winds its way through the Downtown area, crosses the U.T. campus along Cumberland Avenue ("The Strip"), and proceeds through West Knoxville along Kingston Pike. US-441, which connects Knoxville to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, passes along Broadway in North Knoxville, Henley Street in the Downtown area, and Chapman Highway in South Knoxville. US-25W connects Knoxville with Clinton.
Tennessee State Route 158 loops around the Downtown area from Kingston Pike just west of U.T.'s campus, southward and eastward along Neyland Drive and the riverfront, and northward along the James White Parkway before terminating at I-40. TN-168, known as Governor John Sevier Highway, runs along the eastern and southern periphery of the city. TN-162 (Pellissippi Parkway) connects West Knoxville with Oak Ridge. TN-331 (Tazewell Pike) connects the Fountain City area to rural northeast Knox County. TN-332 (Northshore Drive) connects West Knoxville and Concord. TN-33 (Maryville Pike) traverses much of South Knoxville.
Four vehicle bridges connect Downtown Knoxville with South Knoxville, namely the South Knoxville Bridge (James White Parkway), the Gay Street Bridge (Gay Street), the Henley Street Bridge, or Henley Bridge (Henley Street), and the J. E. "Buck" Karnes Bridge (Alcoa Highway). Two railroad bridges, located between the Henley Street Bridge and Buck Karnes Bridge, serve the CSX and Northfolk Southern railroads. Smaller bridges radiating out from the downtown area include the Western Avenue Viaduct and Clinch Avenue Viaduct, the Robert Booker Bridge (Summit Hill Drive), the Hill Avenue Viaduct, and the Gay Street Viaduct.
Public transportation is provided by Knoxville Area Transit (KAT), which operates over 80 buses, road trolleys, and paratransit vehicles, and transports more than 3.6 million passengers per year. Regular routes connect the Downtown area, U.T., and most residential areas with major shopping centers throughout the city. KAT operates using city, state, and federal funds, and passenger fares, and is managed by Veolia Transport.
Knoxville and the surrounding area is served by McGhee Tyson Airport (IATA:TYS), a 2,000-acre (810 ha) airport equipped with twin 9,000-foot (2,700 m) runways. The airport is located south of Knoxville in Alcoa, but is owned by the non-profit Metropolitan Knoxville Airport Authority (MKAA). McGhee Tyson offers 8 major airlines serving 19 non-stop destinations, and averages 120 arrivals and departures per day. The airport includes the 21-acre (8.5 ha) Air Cargo Complex, which serves FedEx, UPS, and Airborne Express. The McGhee Tyson Air National Guard Base, located adjacent to the civilian airport, is home to the Tennessee National Guard's 134th Air Refueling Wing.
The MKAA also owns the Downtown Island Airport, a 200-acre (81 ha) general aviation facility located on Dickinson's Island in southeast Knoxville. This airport is equipped with a 3,500-foot (1,100 m) runway, and averages about 225 operations per day. Over 100 aircraft, mostly single-engine planes, are based at the airport.
Rail freight in Knoxville is handled by two Class I railroads, CSX and Norfolk Southern, and one shortline, the Knoxville and Holston River Railroad. Railroads account for about 12% of the Knoxville area's outbound freight and 16% of the area's inbound freight. The city has two major rail terminals: the Burkhart Enterprises terminal at the Forks of the River Industrial Park just east of the city, and the TransFlo facility adjacent to the U.T. campus. Knoxville's two old passenger stations, the Southern Terminal and the L&N Station, now primarily serve non-railroad functions.
Norfolk Southern, which controls about 210 miles (340 km) of tracks in the Knoxville area, averages 35 freight trains through the city per day, and operates a major classification yard, the John Sevier Yard, just east of the city. The company uses a small rail yard near the I-40/I-275 interchange in Downtown Knoxville for a staging area. The Norfolk Southern system includes spur lines to the coal fields around Middlesboro, Kentucky, and the ALCOA plants in Blount County.
CSX controls about 76 miles (122 km) of tracks in the Knoxville area, much of which is located along an important north-south line between Cincinnati and Louisville to the north and Chattanooga and Atlanta to the south. Minor switching operations for CSX occur at the TransFlo facility near the U.T. campus. The CSX system includes spur lines to TVA's Bull Run Fossil Plant and the Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Anderson County, and the ALCOA plants in Blount County.
The Knoxville and Holston River Railroad (KXHR) is a subsidiary of Gulf and Ohio Railways, a shortline holding company headquartered at the James Park House in Downtown Knoxville. The KXHR operates a 19-mile (31 km) line between the Burkhart terminal at Forks of the River and the Coster Yard in North Knoxville, where the freight is transferred to CSX and Norfolk Southern lines or transloaded onto trucks. The KXHR also manages the Knoxville Locomotive Works at the Coster Yard, and operates the Three Rivers Rambler, a tourist train that runs along the riverfront.
Knoxville is an international port connected via navigable channels to the nation's inland waterways and the Gulf of Mexico. The city's waterfront lies just under 700 river miles from the Mississippi River (via the Tennessee and Ohio rivers), and just under 900 river miles from Mobile, Alabama, on the Gulf of Mexico (via the Tennessee River and Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway). TVA maintains a minimum 9-foot (2.7 m) channel on the entirety of the Tennessee River. The minimum size of locks on Tennessee River and Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway dams is 600 feet (180 m) by 110 feet (34 m).
Most commercial shipping on the Tennessee River is provided by barges, which deliver on average a half-million tons of cargo to Knoxville per year, mostly asphalt, road salt, and steel and coke. Burkhart Enterprises operates the city's most active public barge terminal at its Forks of the River facility, handling approximately 350,000 tons of barge cargo per year. Knoxville Barge and Chattanooga-based Serodino, Inc., provide barge shipping services to and from the city.
Recreational craft that frequent the river include small johnboats, fishing boats and yachts. Boat slips and a marina are located at Volunteer Landing in the Downtown area. The VOL Navy, a flotilla of several dozen boats, swarms the river during weeks when the U.T. football team plays at Neyland Stadium. Cruise lines operating in the city include the Volunteer Princess, a luxury yacht, and the Star of Knoxville, a paddlewheel riverboat.
Knoxville has seven sister cities as designated by Sister Cities International:
- Chełm, Lublin Voivodeship, Poland
- Chengdu, People's Republic of China
- Kaohsiung, Taiwan
- Larissa, Greece
- Muroran, Japan
- Neuquen, Argentina
- Yesan County, South Korea
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