Founded in 1786, Knoxville is the third-largest city in the state of Tennessee, behind Memphis and Nashville, and is the county seat of Knox County. It is also the largest city in East Tennessee. As of the 2000 United States Census, Knoxville had a total population of 173,890; the July 2007 estimated population was 183,546 Knoxville is the principal city of the "Knoxville Metropolitan Statistical Area" with a metro population of 655,400, which is in turn the central component of the "Knoxville-Sevierville-La Follette Combined Statistical Area" with 1,029,155 residents.
Of Tennessee's four major cities, Knoxville is second oldest to Nashville which was founded in 1779. After Tennessee's admission into the Union in 1796, Knoxville was the state's first capital, in which capacity it served until 1819, when the capital was moved to Murfreesboro, prior to Nashville receiving the designation. The city was named in honor of the first Secretary of War, Henry Knox.
One of Knoxville's nicknames is The Marble City. In the early 20th century, a number of quarries were active in the city, supplying Tennessee pink marble (actually Ordovician limestone of the Holston Formation) to much of the country. Notable buildings such as the National Gallery of Art in Washington are constructed of Knoxville marble. The National Gallery's fountains were turned by Candoro Marble Company, which once ran the largest marble lathes in the United States.
Knoxville was once also known as the Underwear Capital of the World. In the 1930s, no fewer than 20 textile and clothing mills operated in Knoxville, and the industry was the city's largest employer. In the 1950s, the mills began to close, causing an overall population loss of 10% by 1960.
Knoxville is also the home of the University of Tennessee's primary campus (UTK). The university's sports teams, called the "Volunteers" or "Vols", are extremely popular in the surrounding area. In recognition of this popularity, the telephone area code for Knox County and eight adjacent counties is 865 (VOL). Knoxville is also the home of the Women's Basketball Hall of Fame, almost entirely thanks to the popularity of Pat Summitt and the University of Tennessee women's basketball team.
By the 18th century, the Cherokee had become the dominant tribe in the East Tennessee region, although they were consistently at war with the Creeks 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 arrived in the Tennessee Valley in the late 1600s, although there is significant evidence that Hernando de Soto visited the Bussell Island site in 1540. The first major recorded Euro-American presence in the Knoxville area was the Henry Timberlake expedition, which passed through the confluence of the Holston and French Broad into the Tennessee River in December 1761. 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. Since the Cherokee had not ceded this land, however, most of these settlers were in the valley illegally. 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 lots, with the waterfront set aside for a town common, two lots were set aside for a church and cemetery, and four lots were set aside for a school (the school— eventually chartered as Blount College— was the basis for the University of Tennessee). That same year, 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. In 1792, 200 Cherokee lead by John Watts marched on Knoxville, and a second group of Cherokee attacked Covet's Station in 1793. Both attacks were repelled by Knoxville settlers. Knoxville settlers attacked the Cherokee several times as well. 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 Territory South of the River Ohio 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 situation 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.
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 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 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 Union guerillas destroyed seven of the city's bridges. The command of the district passed briefly to George Crittenden and then to Kirby Smith, the latter of whom launched a failed 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. The approach of Union forces under Ambrose Burnside in the Summer of 1863, however, forced Buckner to evacuate Knoxville before the earthworks were completed.
Burnside arrived in Knoxville 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 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 north 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, 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, after word of the Confederate setback at Chattanooga reached Longstreet, Longstreet abandoned his attempts to take Knoxville and retreated into winter quarters at Russellville. He rejoined the Army of Northern Virginia the following Spring.
After the war, northern investors such as the brothers Joeseph 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 John H. Jones. These Welsh families settled in an area now known as Mechanicsville. The Richards brothers also co-founded the Knoxville Iron Works beside the L&N Railroad, also employing Welsh workers. Later the site would be used as the grounds for the 1982 World's Fair.
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 1869, Thomas Hughes, 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 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 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 fallout from the Great Depression. The Tennessee Valley also suffered from constant 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 to 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, author of Inside USA, dubbed Knoxville the "ugliest city" in America. 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.
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 steel truss structure topped with a gold-colored glass sphere, was built for the fair and remains one of Knoxville's most prominent buildings.
Since then, 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, Regal Cinemas, and many new and redeveloped condominiums.
Knoxville is located at (35.972882, -83.942161).
According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 98.1 square miles (254.1 km²), of which, 92.7 square miles (240.0 km²) of it is land and 5.4 square miles (14.1 km²) of it is water. The total area is 5.5% water.
In the southeast part of the city, the French Broad River (flowing from Asheville, North Carolina) joins the Holston River (flowing from Kingsport) to form the Tennessee River. Knoxville is centered around a hilly area along the north bank of the river between its First Creek and Second Creek tributaries. This area now comprises Downtown Knoxville. South Knoxville refers to the industrial and residential areas along the south bank of the river (extending to the Blount County line), and West Knoxville typically refers to the area beyond Sequoyah Hills, much of which is situated along Kingston Pike and the merged I-40 and I-75. The Knox County section of the Tennessee River is technically part of Fort Loudoun Lake, an impoundment of the river created by the completion of Fort Loudoun Dam (near Lenoir City) in 1940.
The hills and ridges surrounding Knoxville are part of the Appalachian Ridge-and-Valley Province, which consists of a series of elongate and narrow ridges that traverse the upper Tennessee Valley. The most substantial Ridge-and-Valley structures in the Knoxville area are Bays Mountain, which runs along the Knox-Blount county line to the south, and Beaver Ridge, which passes through the northern section of the town. The Great Smoky Mountains— a subrange of the Appalachian Mountains— are located approximately south of Knoxville.
Principal highways serving the city Interstate 40 to Asheville, North Carolina, and Nashville and Interstate 75 to Chattanooga and Lexington. Knoxville and the surrounding area is served by McGhee Tyson Airport. Public transportation is provided by KAT Rail freight is offered by CSX and Norfolk Southern.
|Monthly Normal and Record High and Low Temperatures|
|Rec High °F||77||83||86||92||94||102||103||102||103||91||84||80|
|Norm High °F||46.3||51.7||60.3||69||76.3||83.6||86.9||86.4||80.7||69.9||59||49.8|
|Norm Low °F||28.9||31.8||39.1||46.6||55.6||63.9||68.5||67.3||60.8||47.7||38.9||31.9|
|Rec Low °F||-24||-8||1||22||32||43||49||49||36||25||5||-6|
As of the census of 2000, there were 177,661 people, 76,650 households, and 40,164 families residing in the city, and the Knoxville Metropolitan Statistical Area had a population of 616,079. The population density was 1,876.7 people per square mile (724.6/km²). There were 84,981 housing units at an average density of 917.1/sq mi (354.1/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 79.7% White, 16.2% African American, 0.31% Native American, 1.45% Asian, 0.03% Pacific Islander, 0.72% from other races, and 1.57% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 1.58% of the population.
There were 76,650 households out of which 22.8% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 35.3% were married couples living together, 13.7% had a female householder with no husband present, and 47.6% were non-families. 38.3% of all households were made up of individuals and 11.4% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.12 and the average family size was 2.84.
In the city the population was spread out with 19.7% under the age of 18, 16.8% from 18 to 24, 29.5% from 25 to 44, 19.6% from 45 to 64, and 14.4% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 33 years. For every 100 females there were 90.0 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 86.3 males.
The median income for a household in the city is $27,492, and the median income for a family is $37,708. Males had a median income of $29,070 versus $22,593 for females. The per capita income for the city is $18,171. About 14.4% of families and 20.8% of the population were below the poverty line, including 26.1% of those under age 18 and 12.0% of those age 65 or over.
In 2006, ERI published an analysis that identified Knoxville as the most affordable U.S. city for new college graduates, based on the ratio of typical salary to cost of living.
Population and household growth are expected to follow employment growth, causing increased housing demand during the forecast period. Resident employment should continue to grow at a pace equal to that from 2000 to the Current date. As population continues to increase and the labor force grows, the unemployment rate is projected to increase slightly to 3.7 percent. The population growth is estimated to result in 12,900 new households in the HMA by the Forecast date. Demand for new housing for the period from April 1, 2005, to April 1, 2008, is estimated to total 13,100 units — 10,400 sales units and 2,700 rental units.
Because of its central location in the eastern half of the United States and proximity to two major Interstate highways, many warehousing and distribution companies operate in and around Knoxville. The Old City is home to most of Knoxville's historic warehouses and factories.
In April 2008, Forbes Magazine named Knoxville among the Top 10 Metropolitan Hotspots in the United States.
Knoxville is home to the main campus of the University of Tennessee. It is also home to:
In addition, the following institutions have branch campuses in Knoxville:
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 and Hank Williams, who spent the last night of his life there. For the past several years an award-winning listener-funded radio station, WDVX, has broadcast weekday lunchtime concerts of bluegrass music, old-time music and more from the Knoxville Visitor's Center on Gay Street, as well as streaming its music programming to the world over the Internet.
Knoxville also boasts an overachieving Opera Company which has been guided by Don Townsend for over two decades now. The KOC performs a season of opera every year with a talented chorus as the backbone of each production.
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 ’90s, 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. Every Labor Day brings Boomsday, the largest Labor Day fireworks display in the United States, to the banks of the Tennessee River between the University of Tennessee football stadium and downtown.
Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist and playwright James Agee was born in Knoxville and spent his early years there. His novel A Death in the Family centers around the Fort Sanders neighborhood where the Agees lived and chronicles the death of Agee's father. Another Pulitzer recipient, Cormac McCarthy, spent most of his childhood in Knoxville. McCarthy graduated from Knoxville Catholic High School and later attended the University of Tennessee, and his novel Suttree revolves around life among the city's lowly in the early 1950s. Other notable natives include Patricia Neal, Quentin Tarantino, and Johnny Knoxville.