One thing (well kinda the ONLY thing) Knoxville is famous for is the Sunsphere. It was constructed for the 1982 World's Fair. It was created to be symbolic of the sun. "The glass panels are layered with 24-karat gold dust and cut to seven different shapes (Wikipedia)." During the World's Fair you could take the elevator up to the observation deck and to eat at the restaurant inside.
After the fair, the Sunsphere's observation deck was opened to the public, but by 1999 was closed and stayed that way for quite awhile. Several proposals were made to reopen the sphere but nothing happened until 2007. Southern Graces, a catering company, moved their business to the 5th and 6th floors. Soon after, level 5 became the Skybox bar. Level 4 still serves as a public observation deck complete with the history of the sphere. Some of the other floors have office space available as well.
But the MOST important thing you must know about the Sunsphere is that there was a Simpsons episode based around a visit to it. In the episode, the Sunsphere has become a wig shop (of course, why not?) known as the Wigsphere. However, by the end of the episode it is destroyed after Nelson throws a rock at it in anger. If you haven't seen this episode you gotta watch it! Here's a clip:
I also came across a cool Knoxville blog www.wigsphere.com.
But all joking aside, if you live close to Knoxville or are even just passing through make a trip to the Sunsphere. The whole concept of the golden ball is pretty neat. Until then, you can enjoy my experience through pictures...
Above: The Tennessee Amphitheater (which was also constructed for the fair).
Above: A view of downtown. Pictured is the John Duncan Federal Office Building, along with the First Tennessee Bank building which is the tallest in Knoxville.
Above: A glimpse of the Tennessee River, Neyland Stadium, and The University of Tennessee campus.