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Knoxville, Tennessee Information
Knoxville is a city in the U.S. state of Tennessee, and the county seat of Knox County. The city had a population of 178,874 as of the 2010 census, and an estimated population of 182,200 in 2012, making it the state’s third largest city. Knoxville is the principal city of the Knoxville Metropolitan Statistical Area, which in 2012 had an estimated population of 848,350. The KMSA is in turn the central component of the Knoxville-Sevierville-La Follette Combined Statistical Area, which in 2000 had a population of 1,029,155.
First settled in 1786, Knoxville was the first capital of Tennessee. The city struggled with geographic isolation throughout the early 19th century, though 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 some success.
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, as well as 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.
As of the census of 2010, the population of Knoxville was 178,874, a 2.9% increase from 2000. The median age was 32.7, with 19.1% of the population under the age of 18, and 12.6% over the age of 65. The population was 48% male and 52% female. The population density was 1,815 persons per square mile.
The racial and ethnic composition of the city was 76.1% white, 17.1% black, 0.4% Native American, 1.6% Asian, and 0.2% Pacific Islander. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 4.6% of the population. People reporting more than one race comprised 2.5% of the population.
Data collected by the Census from 2005 to 2009 reported 83,151 households in Knoxville, with an average of 2.07 persons per household. The home ownership rate was 51%, and 74.7% of residents had been living in the same house for more than one year. The median household income was $32,609, and the per capita income was $21,528. High school graduates comprised 83.8% of persons 25 and older, and 28.3% had earned a bachelor’s degree or higher. The city’s poverty rate was 25%, compared with 16.1% in Tennessee and 15.1% nationwide.
Knoxville falls in the humid subtropical climate zone (Köppen climate classification Cfa), although it is not quite as hot as areas to the south and west due to the higher elevations. Summers are hot and humid, with the daily average temperature in July at 78.4 °F (25.8 °C), and an average of 36 days per year with temperatures reaching 90 °F (32 °C). Winters are generally cool, with occasional small amounts of snow. January has a daily average temperature of 38.2 °F (3.4 °C), although in most years there is at least one day (average 5.3) where the high remains at or below freezing.
In the 2010 ACCRA Cost of Living Index, Knoxville was rated 89.6 (the national average was 100). Kiplinger ranked Knoxville at #5 in its list of Best Value Cities 2011 citing “college sports, the Smoky Mountains and an entrepreneurial spirit.” In April 2008, Forbes Magazine named Knoxville among the Top 10 Metropolitan Hotspots in the United States, and within Forbes’ Top 5 for Business & Careers, just behind cities like New York and Los Angeles.
Knoxville is home to a rich arts community and has many festivals throughout the year. Its contributions to old-time, bluegrass and country music are numerous, from Flatt & Scruggs and Homer & Jethro to the Everly Brothers. For the past several years an award-winning listener-funded radio station, WDVX, has broadcast weekday lunchtime concerts of bluegrass music, old-time music and more from the Knoxville Visitor’s Center on Gay Street, as well as streaming its music programming to the world over the Internet.
The Knoxville Symphony Orchestra (KSO), established in 1935, is the oldest continuing orchestra in the South. The KSO maintains a core of full-time professional musicians, and performs at more than 200 events per year. Its traditional venues include the Tennessee Theatre, the Bijou Theatre, and the Civic Auditorium, though it also performs at a number of non-traditional venues.
Knoxville is home to the main campus of the University of Tennessee (UTK), which has operated in the city since the 1790s. As of 2011, UTK had an enrollment of over 27,000 and endowments of over $300 million. The school employs over 1,300 instructional faculty, and offers more than 300 degree programs.
Public schools in Knoxville are part of the Knox County Schools system, which oversees 89 schools (50 elementary, 14 middle, 14 high, and 11 adult centers) serving over 56,000 students. This system includes 5 magnet schools and a STEM academy. Knox County high schools had a graduation rate of 86.6%, as of 2011. The average classroom ratio is 14 students per teacher.
The two principal interstate highways serving Knoxville are Interstate 40, which connects the city to Asheville to the east and Nashville to the west, and Interstate 75, which connects the city to Chattanooga to the south and Lexington to the north. The two interstates merge just west of Knoxville near Dixie Lee Junction and diverge as they approach the Downtown area, with I-40 continuing on through the Downtown area and I-75 turning north. Interstate 640 provides a bypass for I-40 travellers, and Interstate 275 provides a faster connection to I-75 for Downtown travellers headed north. A spur route of I-40, Interstate 140 (Pellissippi Parkway), connects West Knoxville with McGhee Tyson Airport.
The Knoxville News Sentinel is the local daily newspaper in Knoxville, with a daily circulation of 97,844 and a Sunday circulation of 124,225, as of 2011. The city is home to 10 weekly, bi-weekly, and monthly publications, most notably Metro Pulse, a standard weekly publication covering popular culture, arts, and entertainment, which has a circulation of 37,500 and a readership of over 92,000.
The Knoxville Daily Sun is a daily digital newspaper bringing news continually throughout the day from Knoxville and surrounding counties, including Sevier, Blount, Grainger, and Loudon. The Daily Sun primarily covers lifestyle, business, entertainment, education, and investigative reporting.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 104.2 square miles (269.8 km2), of which 98.5 square miles (255.2 km2) is land and 5.6 square miles (14.6 km2), or 5.42%, is water. Elevations range from just over 800 feet (240 m) along the riverfront to just over 1,000 feet (300 m) on various hilltops in West Knoxville, with the downtown area resting at just over 900 feet (270 m). High points include Sharp’s Ridge in North Knoxville at 1,391 feet (424 m) and Brown Mountain in South Knoxville at 1,260 feet (380 m). House Mountain, the highest point in Knox County at 2,064 feet (629 m), is located east of the city near Mascot.
Knoxville is the central city in the Knoxville Metropolitan Area, an Office of Management and Budget (OMB)-designated metropolitan statistical area (MSA) that covers Knox, Anderson, Blount, Campbell, Grainger, Loudon, Morgan, Roane and Union counties. MSAs consist of a core urban center and the outlying communities and rural areas with which it maintains close economic ties. They are not administrative divisions, and should not be confused with “metropolitan government,” or a consolidated city-county government, which Knoxville and Knox County lack.