Weather for the Following Location: Knoxville on Map



Knoxville isn’t used to being the center of attention. For years, the city kept a quiet profile, content to let the Smoky Mountains and the area’s enormous gorgeous lakes speak for themselves. These are important amenities for both inhabitants and visitors. But, like the city itself, which is now almost two-quarters of a century old, it has a rich and interesting past. Although its story is rooted in the region, Knoxville is, in many ways, America encapsulated in a single location.

The University of Tennessee, one of the nation’s oldest public universities, has a major flagship campus in Knoxville. Aside from higher education and research, UT offers a professional theater company, a variety of museums, and a steady stream of guest speakers and musical performances, not to mention Neyland Stadium.

Knoxville, on the other hand, is much more than a college town. Knoxville, which was founded by George Washington as the capital of the new Southwestern Territory, witnessed the formation of Tennessee and served as the 16th state’s initial capital for more than 20 years.

The long-awaited introduction of railroads in the 1850s re-established Knoxville as a major city – just in time for the Civil War, which split the city along complex and shifting lines. In November 1863, a Confederate siege of Union Fort Sanders ended in failure after a weeks-long siege.

Knoxville was reborn as an industrial city that welcomed investors from both the North and South, as well as immigrants from numerous European countries. It became a city of furnaces and mills, producing iron, lumber, grain, and textiles.

Downtown’s structures, many of which date from the Gilded Age, reflect the tale of a truly American metropolis. For more than 160 years, Market Square, which opened in 1854, has served the same purpose – a farmers’ market – along with a variety of other uses, such as residences and evening entertainment. The Old City, a preserved 1880s manufacturing and entertainment center, is just a few blocks away. Gay Street, which dates back to the 1790s and is home to East Tennessee’s highest skyscrapers, lies between the two. The American Planning Association designated it one of America’s Great Places. The Museum of East Tennessee History, the Emporium art center – and, unusually for a city of virtually any size, two rebuilt historic theaters, the Bijou and the Tennessee, representing different eras and busy with live shows every week – are among Gay Street’s attractions.

Annual festivals reflect a deeper tradition, such as the Rossini Festival, America’s only festival dedicated to the Italian opera composer, and the Big Ears Festival, an international celebration of breakthrough new music.

Knoxville, while not as well-known for music as other Tennessee cities, has played a significant part in the development of popular music for more than a century. Due to its role in supporting the early careers of Roy Acuff, Chet Atkins, Flatt & Scruggs, Dolly Parton, and other key artists, Knoxville is recognized as the Cradle of Country Music. Knoxville, on the other hand, is home to the South’s oldest symphony orchestra. Knoxville also played a role in the birth of rock ‘n’ roll, thanks to people like blues pioneers Brownie and Stick McGhee and famous harmonists the Everly Brothers. It even has a jazz tradition, which is commemorated with an annual festival.

Knoxville produced a number of renowned authors over the way. As unusual as it may seem, English author Frances Hodgson Burnett began her career as a novelist while growing up in Knoxville, and went on to write classics like The Secret Garden. James Agee’s memories of Knoxville were the inspiration for composer Samuel Barber’s famous vocal piece “Knoxville: Summer of 1915,” as well as Agee’s own autobiographical novel A Death in the Family, which received the Pulitzer Prize and has been adapted into multiple films. Nikki Giovanni, a Black Power poet, grew up in Knoxville and wrote poetry and memoirs about her childhood there. Cormac McCarthy, another Pulitzer Prize winner, grew up in Knoxville and set three of his early works there.

The Great Smoky Mountains National Park movement began in Knoxville, and some of the park’s first supporters left a legacy here. Ijams Nature Center is a remarkable and possibly unique urban attraction: a 300-acre sanctuary along the river that includes restored century-old marble quarries that appear to be pure wilderness.

The Tennessee Valley Authority, which was established in 1933 as part of Roosevelt’s New Deal and became internationally famous, made Knoxville a center for planning, architecture, and conservation, attracting intellectuals who made significant contributions to the national environmentalist movement while living here.

Knoxville became a center for energy research thanks to TVA and the nearby Oak Ridge National Lab, making it an obvious choice for the energy-themed 1982 World’s Fair. It drew 11 million visitors from all over the world, leaving Knoxville with an unusual space that has been reborn as an eclectic public park, complete with a convention center, art museum, and specialized high school – as well as the United States’ only large bronze statue of Russian composer Sergei Rachmaninoff.

HERE Knoxville

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