Located in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains, Knoxville is a city bustling with activity. With a population close to 200,000, it is the largest city in Eastern Tennessee and the third largest in the state. Ranked first in "Best Places to Live" in 2004 among cities with populations of less than one million, the town sprawls almost 100 square miles, which gives it a low population density.
The city was founded in 1791 in an area where the French Broad and Holston rivers converge into the Tennessee River. Knoxville is bordered by the Great Smoky Mountains and the Cumberland Mountains, both of which are chains of the Appalachian Mountain range. This gives the city a moderate climate and an average annual temperature of 58 degrees Fahrenheit. As far as precipitation, Knoxville mostly receives rain, although it does get some snow.
ECONOMY AND INDUSTRIES
Knoxville's economy is a diverse one because no specific industry dominates the city. The biggest employers in Knoxville include the University of Tennessee, Lockheed Martin Energy Systems and the Tennessee Valley Authority.
Coal mining and agricultural industries are staples of the Knoxville economy and tourism contributes in a major way, giving residents plenty of vocational opportunities. This diversity has led to a relatively low unemployment rate. Knoxville was ranked 10th in 2008 as "Best Places for Business and Careers." The community is known for being hard working yet family-centered, and it has one of the lowest turnover rates in the United States.
NEIGHBORHOODS AND DISTRICTS
The cost of living index rates Knoxville as low, coming in at 87, while the national average is 100. This is due in part to low housing costs.
The Homemaker Program, a housing program in Knoxville, strives to improve the area and boost home values and sales. Through the Homemaker Program, the city offers both vacant lots and properties that have fallen into disrepair to individuals, businesses and nonprofit groups; buyers agree to rehab homes in substandard condition or build new structures on vacant land. This program offers buyers a relatively low purchase price in exchange for helping to beautify the city.
Prominent neighborhoods in Knoxville include:
- Fourth & Gill is an eclectic neighborhood as well as a historic one. It is one of the original "streetcar suburbs," with structures dating from the 1880s to the 1940s. There is a good bit of architectural variety on the whole, but most of the homes in Fourth & Gill are Queen Anne or Craftsman style.
- Island Home also began as a "streetcar suburb" and received its name from a prominent local businessman's summer cottage, which was named "Island Home." Island Home is located just minutes from two parks, Ijams Nature Center and Island Home Park.
- Old North Knoxville is one of Knoxville's oldest historic communities, dating back to the 1880s. Like 4th & Gill and Island Home, it was originally one of Knoxville's streetcar suburbs. The neighborhood was made a historic district in 1922 and restoration and renovations have been ongoing since that time.
- Historic Mechanicsville contains perhaps the largest collection of 19th century architecture in Knoxville, including several Queen Anne and Italianate houses, as well as many smaller cottage style homes. The area is in transition, with some restored homes and others still waiting for urban renewal to come their way.
- First developed in the 1920s, Fairmont and Emoriland has many homes built in the 30s, 40s, and 50s. Architectural styles in the neighborhood include Tudor, Spanish Eclectic, and Colonial Revival, as well as many cottage style homes.
- West Hills is an established mid-century neighborhood with a strong sense of community. It's located in the heart of West Knoxville, less than a mile from West Town Mall.
- Sequoyah Hills is one of West Knoxville's oldest and most affluent neighborhoods. It sits in a bend in the river and is known for its large, tree-lined main boulevard, gorgeous lake views, and big parks.
Knoxville was the site of one of the battles of the Civil War, giving it a rich historical background. The city was also home to some of America's first settlers. Many of these historic sites are available for tour, and there are several museums dedicated to Knoxville's history.
- Confederate Memorial Hall: This mansion was built in 1858 and was originally dubbed Bleak House. In 1863, it was used by Confederate troops during the siege of Knoxville. Bullet holes are still visible in some of the walls, as are three war-era portraits drawn by an unknown artist. The property is now a museum and can be rented for special events.
- East Tennessee Historical Center: Run by the East Tennessee Historical Society, this center serves to remind both residents and visitors of the history and traditions of Knoxville.
- James White's Fort: James White was the founder of Knoxville; he came to the area after serving in the Revolutionary War. White was given 1,000 acres of land for his military service and built a log home on this land in 1786. He died there in 1821. The home is now open to the public and is one of Knoxville's most popular attractions. This site is included in the annual Ghost Tour of Downtown Knoxville.
Knoxville also has plenty to do aside from visiting historic sites and museums.
- Tennessee Riverboat Company: The Star of Knoxville is an authentic, paddle-wheel riverboat that is available for charter as well as numerous scheduled cruises. Among these cruises are lunch cruises, sightseeing cruises, dinner entertainment cruises and party cruises.
- Ijams Nature Center: Ijams is dedicated to environmental education and operates several children's programs as well as garden festivals, concerts and nature walks.
- World's Fair Park: This was the site of the 1982 World's Fair. It has since been turned into a venue for shops, art galleries and restaurants. It also hosts festivals and performances, and the site features interactive fountains, which are great fun for children.
Knoxville always has something going on, no matter the time of year:
- Bark in the Park, held in April
- Bearden Village Festival of Art, held every April
- Dogwood Arts Festival and Parade, held every April
- Rossini Festival Italian Street Fair in May
- Kuumba Festival, held in June
- Honda Hoot Rally, held every June
- Festival on the Fourth, the annual Fourth of July celebration
- Cherokee Heritage Days in August
- Davy Crockett's Birthday Party, held every August
- Boomsdays, held in September
- Tennessee Valley Fair in September
- Greek Fest, held in September
- Country Market Days in September
- Brewer's Jam in October
- Head of the Tennessee Regatta, held in October
- Fantasy of Trees, held every November
Post-secondary education programs in Knoxville are as diverse as the city's economy. Knoxville is home to the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, which is ranked among the nation's top public universities. Other major colleges and universities are also located in the city:
- Knoxville College
- South College
- Pellissippi State Technical Community College
- Tennessee Real Estate and Comprehensive Sales School
- Johnson Bible College
- Fountainhead College of Technology
- Concord School of Pet Grooming
- Tennessee School of Beauty
- Tennessee School of Therapeutic Massage