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Knoxville Photos!

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Looking north from the Fort Sanders neighborhood. Mechanicsville is in the background, and I-40 splits the photo. Sharp's Ridge is prominent along the horizon.

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Thanks for the pics!  I really love downtown Knoxville.  I just wish the city as a whole would embrace it's urban past a bit more.  It sounds like that might be starting to change, finally, but it's just a shame that Knoxville was allowed to become the sprawly mess that it is today in the first place.  You'd think that given how beautiful the scenery is there and how precious developable land is being built into the foothills of the Appalachians, that folks there would have an appreciation for more efficient development patterns and a general respect for the land.

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I was on the faculty at U.T. for 12 years and never "got" Knoxville.  Victor Ashe's biggest blunder as mayor was building a useless convention center downtown instead of a baseball stadium.  The AA Smokies are now out in far-flung Sevierville.  Knoxville's tiny convention center hosts little more than wedding receptions and the annual Christmas tree festival.  Knoxville is a classic example of a city that had no business building a convention center.  Rather, they should've built a nice downtown baseball stadium for the Smokies and for U.T.  And don't get me started on the folly of letting the World's Fair Park amphitheater go to pot.

I'm glad to see there are new developments in Knoxville's humble downtown which, frankly, is way behind its peers Chattanooga and Asheville.  With over 20,000 college students right on downtown's doorstep, downtown Knoxville should never have let itself languish as long as it did.  City leaders should've done more (and should be doing more) to encourage more downtown student housing.  Imagine if all those student housing developments south of the river were instead downtown.

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2 hours ago, jmtunafish said:

I was on the faculty at U.T. for 12 years and never "got" Knoxville.  Victor Ashe's biggest blunder as mayor was building a useless convention center downtown instead of a baseball stadium.  The AA Smokies are now out in far-flung Sevierville.  Knoxville's tiny convention center hosts little more than wedding receptions and the annual Christmas tree festival.  Knoxville is a classic example of a city that had no business building a convention center.  Rather, they should've built a nice downtown baseball stadium for the Smokies and for U.T.  And don't get me started on the folly of letting the World's Fair Park amphitheater go to pot.

I'm glad to see there are new developments in Knoxville's humble downtown which, frankly, is way behind its peers Chattanooga and Asheville.  With over 20,000 college students right on downtown's doorstep, downtown Knoxville should never have let itself languish as long as it did.  City leaders should've done more (and should be doing more) to encourage more downtown student housing.  Imagine if all those student housing developments south of the river were instead downtown.

As a current student, I can attest to the transportation woes from South Knoxville to campus. The benefit is that those developments are cheaper than available student housing in Fort Sanders, which is why the demand is so high to live there. (By comparison, $400 per person vs. $650 for a 4 BR unit.) But to cross the river to get to downtown without driving? No option exists.  The rugged, elevated terrain on the south side of the river is mostly to blame for the lack of biking/pedestrian options, but there are also no bus routes for the student housing developments on Cherokee Trail. The only buses going to South Knoxville will pick up commuters near the Henley and Gay St. bridges, which has existing pedestrian infrastructure; those developments are also very expensive. Affordable student housing on the south side of the river imposes extreme limitations on your mobility, as your only way to leave is by car or by the private shuttle for your development which runs every half hour and only during class hours. 

Knoxville has a geography problem. The river constrains the City's ability to create infill, and the terrain makes new infrastructure very expensive. Decades of poor city planning have led to students winding up in inconvenient housing with one or two means of transportation.

Edited by nativetenn

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@BnaBreaker and @jmtunafish nail some more candid thoughts surrounding Knoxville, but I will attest, @nativetenn, that the geography is especially linked to the development (and lack thereof). I lived in the Fort, and I remember how easy it was to access campus- whether walking/sweating up hills or hopping on the North/South. I also remember finding it so strange that I had friends living in a gated, cottage community in South Knoxville. The Retreat, I believe, which had the most lax security (if you memorized the code or just hit random numbers, you could always get passed the gate).  Us in the Fort were envious of the nice conditions in S Knox while they were envious of our transportation ease, including walking anywhere/everywhere.

To your point, geography in TN's 4 largest downtowns are all tricky. I grew up in Chatt, and I've recently lived/studied in Knox. I compared and contrasted constantly my 4 years. I'll give the geography cred to Knoxville because it IS especially difficult in its urban center, not even considering the caves downtown (I want to say limestone?). Chatt is fortunate to having more of a valley downtown, but the twist in the comparison is its metro is difficult to develop geographically. Knoxville's is the opposite, hence I-40 latitudinal sprawl. (Isn't there a song lyric about West Town mall sprawl?) Go macro at even the surface levels, and the MSA/CSA sprawl in Knoxville is so much that the US gov at one point had to dedicate extra time defining it. Chatt's is close to half the size as Knoxville, and one county east begins another MSA. It's crazy looking at a cross-section of such seemingly similar cities.

TL;DR: Knoxville is a jewel of TN. It should have a brighter spotlight, but geography + poor leadership and planning over the years = beleaguered regional city

Edited by xtianpoop
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It's beautiful. I have been to every state in the South. From Louisiana to Virginia. I truly believe Knoxville is one of the most underrated cities in the South. It's a matter of time before it's in step with Asheville, Greenville, and Chattanooga. I moved from Nashville to attend UT in 2015 and quickly fell in love with the place. It's great to watch a city improve while you're living in it. Renovation is everywhere, and there are new buildings going up alongside the old. If you're a history geek, Knoxville is a great place to check out. This region of the state is home to Tennessee's original European settlements. Walking around downtown Knoxville is like a history tour. This is due in part to the lack of economic activity that stifled Knoxville for so long, but I consider it a little more of a blessing that Knoxville didn't bulldoze its past for cheap low-rise hotels. 

While I'm on the topic of underrated Southern cities, allow me to nominate Lexington, Huntsville, Jackson (MS), and Roanoke. If you enjoy Southern charm with good nightlife, clean parks, nearby wilderness and relatively low crime, check out these cities. They're nowhere near as vibrant as Charleston or Asheville, but I promise you that if you like cities like Knoxville, they are worth visiting.

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More miscellaneous pictures.

Looking NE at the Sunsphere, with Min Kao Computer Science and Electrical Engineering Bldg. in the right foreground.

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UT Campus Pedestrian Bridge at night.

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Painted staircase at World's Fair Park, with Cumberland Ave. in the background.

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Scenic pictures of UT Campus.

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Urban Oasis: The Greenway in Bearden:

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Hey y'all,

Sorry for my month-long hiatus. Long story short, I have been out of town for a few weeks. It was completely unexpected, but I have returned to Knoxville and all is well again.

Here are a couple of photos I took of North Broadway earlier this week.

Now that I have returned, I'll have more updates on the construction around town.  Check out the construction thread soon.20190211_175432.thumb.jpg.6a65f3a73d150cd338c2323b89eca62e.jpg20190211_175153.thumb.jpg.76bf349578d3abbef41618d43d08fa55.jpg20190211_175315.thumb.jpg.328136e9340e09d1392d46f6c742d9a9.jpg

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On 5/16/2018 at 2:59 PM, jmtunafish said:

Victor Ashe's biggest blunder as mayor was building a useless convention center downtown instead of a baseball stadium.  The AA Smokies are now out in far-flung Sevierville.

Randy Boyd is trying to bring the Smokies back to Knoxville...downtown near the Old City.  Likely not before 2025 unless he works an agreement to break the lease in Sevier County.

Top Golf was also scouting for a place in Knoxville.

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Shot from the Engineering Campus at UT, looking SE-ish. You can see the Henley Street Bridge and the riverfront developments in the background.

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