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The two RV Gypsies
at World's Fair Park
Knoxville, Tennessee
October 10, 2016

Knoxville is a city in the U.S. state of Tennessee, and the county seat of Knox County. The city is the state's third largest city after Nashville and Memphis.

history clipart bookFirst settled in 1786, Knoxville was the first capital of Tennessee. The city struggled with geographic isolation throughout the early 19th century. The arrival of the railroad in 1855 led to an economic boom. During the Civil War, the city was bitterly divided over the secession issue, and was occupied alternately by both Confederate and Union armies. Following the war, Knoxville grew rapidly as a major wholesaling and manufacturing center. The city's economy stagnated after the 1920s as the manufacturing sector collapsed, the Downtown area declined and city leaders became entrenched in highly partisan political fights. Hosting the 1982 World's Fair helped reinvigorate the city, and revitalization initiatives by city leaders and private developers have had major successes in spurring growth in the city, especially the downtown area.

USA map showing location of TennesseeTennessee Map showing location of Knoxville

Knoxville is the home of the flagship campus of the University of Tennessee, whose sports teams, called the "Volunteers" or "Vols," are extremely popular in the surrounding area. Knoxville is also home to the headquarters of the Tennessee Valley Authority (where Lee Duquette once worked), the Tennessee Supreme Court's courthouse for East Tennessee and the corporate headquarters of several national and regional companies. As one of the largest cities in the Appalachian region, Knoxville has positioned itself in recent years as a repository of Appalachian culture and is one of the gateways to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

Knoxville sign

The 1982 World's Fair, formally known as the Knoxville International Energy Exposition, was held in Knoxville, Tennessee, United States. The theme of the exposition was "Energy Turns the World."

It opened on May 1, 1982, and closed on October 31, 1982, after receiving over 11 million visitors. Participating nations included Australia, Belgium, Canada, China, Denmark, Egypt, France, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Japan, Luxembourg, Mexico, the Netherlands, Panama, Peru, the Philippines, Saudi Arabia, South Korea, the United Kingdom, the United States, and West Germany.

The opening ceremony was broadcast on local and regional TV, with President Ronald Reagan arriving to open the fair. TV personality Dinah Shore was the master of ceremonies, and artists such as Porter Wagoner and Ricky Skaggs performed as the gates opened. A six-month pass to the fair sold for $100. The fair drew over 11 million visitors, making it one of the most popular world's fairs in US history, and even turned a small profit ($57), but short of the projected $5 million surplus. Knoxville itself was left with a $46 million debt.

The fair was constructed on a 70-acre site between downtown Knoxville and the University of Tennessee. The core of the site primarily consisted of a deteriorating Louisville and Nashville Railroad yard and depot. The railroad yard was demolished, with the exception of a single rail line, and the depot was renovated into a restaurant.

The Sunsphere, a 266-foot steel tower topped with a five-story gold globe, was built for the 1982 World's Fair. It still stands and remains a symbol for the city of Knoxville. (see photos below)

In 2007, the East Tennessee Historical Society opened an exhibit commemorating the 25th anniversary of the World's Fair.

(above quotes from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1982_World%27s_Fair)

World's Fair Park map The Sunsphere golden globe and reflections

tall post for the World's Fair Park

The Sunsphere

The Sunsphere was constructed for the 1982 World's Fair and during that time, it served as the symbol to the Fair. It was also home to a full service restaurant and the Observation Deck, which in 1982 cost $2.00 for the elevator ride up for a visit. The Sunsphere closed to the public with the Fair's end and remained vacant or under-utilized for most of its post-fair life. The Sunsphere and the Tennessee Amphitheater are the only structures that remain from the 1982 World's Fair. In 2007, the Sunsphere and TN Amphitheater were renovated without use of taxpayer's money. Later that year, the Sunsphere's Observation Deck reopened to the public free of charge and Mayor Haslam held his Inaugural Address, for his second term in office, in the Amphitheater. In early 2008, privately-owned businesses took up residence on the fifth, sixth, seventh, and eighth levels of the Sunsphere.

The Observation Deck got a new look and feel in May 2014, thanks to the efforts of Visit Knoxville, in partnership with the City of Knoxville and the Public Building Authority, to renovate the information features. The 4th level of the Sunsphere houses the Observation Deck open April through October. The 5th level of the Sunsphere houses a restaurant. The 6th level of the Sunsphere houses an event floor.

The Sunsphere

Lee Duquette at The Sunsphere

Below: The Knoxville Convention Center which is located next to the Sunsphere.

The Knoxville Convention Center

The Tennessee Amphitheater was constructed during the 1982 World’s Fair and during that time, it was home to both country music and classical music concerts. The Sunsphere and the Tennessee Amphitheater are the only structures that remain from the 1982 World’s Fair. After the Fair’s closing, the Amphitheater continued to be used for various activities until it was closed in 1998 for construction of the new Convention Center and renovation of the World’s Fair site. Once these projects were complete, the Amphitheater reopened briefly until it was closed again in 2002 due to structural problems. However, in 2007 Mayor Haslam held his Inaugural Address, for his second term in office, in the Amphitheater. This was the first event to be held in the structure after being closed and empty for years.

The Tennessee Amphitheater

The Tennessee Amphitheater

The Tennessee Amphitheater inside the The Tennessee Amphitheater

View of part of the area from the road

View of part of the area from the road

Views from the observation deck of the Sunsphere.

view from Observation deck

view from Observation deck

The 4th level of the Sunsphere houses the Observation Deck. It offers a 360-degree view of the original 1982 World's Fair site (now World's Fair Park), downtown Knoxville, the Tennessee River, the University of Tennessee, and the Smoky Mountains. There is no admission charge to visit the Observation Deck and access is limited to the double elevators facing the lake at the base of the Sunsphere and at the Convention Center level.

view from Observation deck

Although the view from the Observation Deck is the main attraction, the interior walls on the 4th level were also attractively painted and displayed wonderful information about Knoxville.

painted interior wall of the Sunsphere

sign about Knoxville

A zoomed-in photo of a great mural on a building, and a regular view from the Observation Deck.

mural

view from Observation Deck

Below: Information on the wall about the Fair's Hungarian Pavilion that was home to a giant version of what is now the famous Rubik's Cube that was currently on display in the lower lobby of the Holiday Inn at World's Fair Park. The two RV Gypsies went to see the Rubik's Cube and a link to those photos and more is at the bottom of this page.

info on the Rubik's Cube

Below: The Court of Flags Fountain, and a one-story high geyser. The Grounds are greater in size than two football fields, the Performance Lawn is a carefully maintained open area providing a natural amphitheater-like setting perfect for concerts, festivals, parties and other special events.

The Court of Flags Fountain

The Court of Flags Fountain

The Court of Flags Fountain

The Court of Flags Fountain

The Court of Flags Fountain

The Court of Flags Fountain

Rainbow in the water fountain

Rainbow in the water fountain

Rainbow in the water fountain

Karen Duquette in the water fountain. It was a very hot day and she could not resist running through the waters even though she got soaked. It actually felt good to her, even though it meant riding back to the campground in wet clothes.

Karen Duquette in the water fountain

Karen Duquette in the water fountain

Karen Duquette in the water fountain

Karen Duquette in the water fountain

Karen Duquette in the water fountain

Karen Duquette in the water fountain

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