Here are ten more things you might not know about Knoxville. Come visit us here sometime!
11. Knoxville has been home to several people with literary connections: Cormac McCarthy (All the Pretty Horses), poet Nikki Giovanni, James Agee (A Death in the Family), Frances Hodgson Burnett (The Secret Garden). Writer Alex Haley (Roots) moved to the Knoxville area later in his life and was very active in the community. There is a 13-foot, 4,200 pound bronze statue of Alex Haley in a Knoxville park, thought to be the largest statue of an African American in the US.
12. These famous Knoxvillians have been involved in the world of movies and television: Patricia Neal, Polly Bergen, Quentin Tarantino, John Cullum, David Keith, Brad Renfro, and.... Johnny Knoxville. Tina Wesson, the winner of the second season of Survivor, is from Knoxville. (I met her at a fund raiser and had my picture made with her.) The movie October Sky was filmed in and around Knoxville.
13. The main campus of the University of Tennessee is located in Knoxville. The school was founded in 1794 and today has 26,400 students (20,400 undergraduate and 6,000 graduate). There are 8300 faculty and staff members, one of whom is me. There are over 400 different academic programs. U.S. News and World Report ranks UT Knoxville as 51 among all public universities. They ranked UT's College of Business Administration (where I teach) 24th in the nation among public universities.
14. The UT Football stadium (Neyland Stadium) is one of the largest in America, seating over 104,000 fans. The team is known as the Volunteers, the Vols and also the "Big Orange," and fans come to games dressed in bright orange. Hundreds of fans arrive by boat on the nearby river and are called the "Vol Navy." Peyton Manning was the quarterback of the Vols for four years beginning in 1994.
15. The University of Tennessee women's basketball team is known as the Lady Vols and is consistently one of the top women's basketball programs in the country. They have won the national title eight times, most recently in 2008. The team has been coached for 25 years by Pat Head Summit, who just won her 1000th game.
16. Knoxville is home to more than 20 museums, including the Women's Basketball Hall of Fame. The world's largest basketball (10 tons) is locatd on one end of the building. The most interesting "museum" in this area is the Museum of Appalachia in Norris, Tennessee, which is a living museum showcasing life in this area in pioneer and frontier days.
17. Knoxville is 20 miles from Oak Ridge, a town built during World War II to develop the atomic bomb that ended the war. Today Oak Ridge is home to the Oak Ridge National Laboratory, which employs about 1600 scientists and engineers and is an international center for energy research and development. The laboratory occupies about 58 square miles of U.S. government land.
18. Two-thirds of the US population lives within a day's drive of Knoxville. (See here to see how far you are.) We are located where I-81, I-40 and I-75 come together.
19. The main street of downtown Knoxville is Gay Street. Two beautifully restored historic theaters are located on Gay Street: the Tennessee Theatre (1928) and the Bijou Theatre (1909). There is a real emphasis on downtown revitalization, highlighted by the opening of a very successful Mast General Store on Gay Street a few years ago.
20. Knoxville has a strong and varied economic base. National companies headquartered in this area include: Scripps Networks (HGTV, Food Network); Pilot Corporation (travel centers); Bush Brothers (baked beans); Regal Entertainment (movie theaters); Ruby Tuesday (restaurants) and Clayton Homes (manufactured homes). The boat industry has been a major industry in this area.