I often show you the details of this place that I call home, but today I'm pulling back to the bigger picture to tell you the story of the Scruffy Little City and the 1982 World's Fair.
In 1974, the president of the Downtown Knoxville Association proposed the idea of hosting a World's Fair in Knoxville. At first the idea was met with skepticism - after all, how could a small city in the Mid-South achieve such a huge goal? But the idea caught on, and city movers and shakers of the time lined up financing and exhibitors. The city secured an abandoned railway switching yard along Second Creek to transform from an eyesore into a beautiful fair site.
Of course there were critics, the biggest being the Wall Street Journal. The Journal published an article calling Knoxville "a scruffy little city on the banks of the Tennessee River" and opined that this fair would never see the light of day. They might as well have thrown rocks at a hornet's nest. East Tennessseans got riled up, as they say around here, and went on to create a successful fair.
Twenty-six years later, we still call our town the "scruffy little city," mostly with affection. The Sunsphere, one of the few remaining structures from the fair, is often lampooned, most notably in the Simpson's episode "Bart on the Road." We have World's Fair Park, with large lawns and a new interactive fountain that attracts parents and kids in the summer months. You can see the fountain (with kids) and the Sunsphere in the photo I took there this past Thursday.
All in all, the fair created a good legacy for new generations to enjoy. Not bad for a scruffy little city.