Thursday, October 9, 2008

Emporium

The Emporium building on the 100 block of Gay Street was built in the 1890s as a clothing manufacturing and retail outlet. It's currently full of high end condos. I love the architectural details. And look! There's a person sitting in the window!
All of this is really leading up to a tour that I took last Friday, sponsored by Knox Heritage, of "Underground Knoxville."
In the early 1900s, this section of Gay Street was raised 15 feet in order to build a viaduct over the Southern Railroad tracks. The street level facades that you see on this block today are really the original second stories; one story buildings were buried underground.
But wait! The construction didn't fill in the sidewalks and storefronts underground, and they can still be accessed from many of the "basements." It's kind of like Underground Seattle, but not as extensive.
I'd been to a few Halloween parties in the 90s down there, and it sure was spooky. But now, a preservation project is underway. I'll have some photos of Underground Knoxville, and the people who love it in the next few days.

9 comments:

Tanya said...

How cool, that guy in the window, sitting like a cat!
There's an Atlanta Underground too, but not so safe an area. Atlanta's kinda dicey anyway!

babooshka said...

Goes without saying I am going to adore this image. I like the sound of these undergound parties, and the whole underground Knoxville. Good to see it's being preserved too. Gay street! A whole new meaning in the UK.

Virginia said...

Can't wait to see what you have to show us of this great sounding place.

marley said...

Great photo. You can't beat architectural detail like this. It would be a brilliant place to live. I'm looking forward to seeing some of Underground Knoxville, it sounds intriguing!

Hope said...

I have heard about Underground Knoxville and even watched a Heartland Series episode on this mostly unknown fact about Knoxville. Fascinating! I can't wait to see your photos and read your posts!

Hilda said...

Now this is interesting and very new to me. I'll be looking forward to your next posts.

Strangetastes said...

Don't jump! This looks a lot like the old commercial buildings along Washington Avenue in St. Louis, but no underground here. "Emporium" sounds like such an old-fashioned word. The dictionary on my Mac defines it simply as a large retail store selling a wide variety of goods.

Leedra said...

a lot of people in Knoxville really don't know about underground Knoxville. I think it would be great if it was revived like Atlanta's. Atlanta's goes good for awhile and then scary for awhile. Did not know it was bad again until I read one of the earlier comments on this post. Last time I was there it had alot of great shops. Knoxville needs to do that.

angela said...

I love that building and the fact that the facade was preserved rather than demolished to make way for more concrete but the underground thing is really intriguing..I look forward to hearing more..