Founded in 1786, Knoxville is the third-largest city in the state of Tennessee, behind Memphis and Nashville, and is the county seat of Knox CountyGR6. It is also the principal city of the "Knoxville, Tennessee Metropolitan Statistical Area" which is included in the "Knoxville-Sevierville-La Follette Combined Statistical Area". As of the 2000 United States Census, Knoxville had a total population of 173,890 with a metro population of 655,400.
Of Tennessee's four major cities, Knoxville is second oldest to Nashville which was founded in 1779. Knoxville also was the state's first capital when Tennessee was admitted into the Union in 1796, in which capacity it served until 1819, when the capital was moved to Murfreesboro. The city was named in honor of the first Secretary of War, Henry Knox.
One of Knoxville's nicknames is The Marble City. In the early 20th century, a number of quarries were active in the city, supplying Tennessee pink marble (actually Ordovician limestone of the Holston Formation) to much of the country. Notable buildings such as the National Gallery in Washington are constructed of Knoxville marble. The National Gallery's fountains were turned by Candoro Marble Company, which once ran the largest marble lathes in the United States.
Knoxville was once also known as the Underwear Capital of the World. In the 1930s, no fewer than 20 textile and clothing mills operated in Knoxville, and the industry was the city's largest employer. Most of the mills were located in the historic Old City. In the 1950s, the mills began to close, causing an overall population loss of 10% by 1960.
Knoxville is also the home of the University of Tennessee's primary campus (UTK), and the city is often referred to as "Knoxvegas" by the UTK student body. The university's sports teams, called the "Volunteers" or "Vols," are extremely popular in the surrounding area. In recognition of this popularity, the telephone area code for Knox County and eight adjacent counties is 865 (VOL). Knoxville is also the home of the Women's Basketball Hall of Fame, almost entirely thanks to the popularity of Pat Summitt and the University of Tennessee women's basketball team.
As of the censusGR2 of 2000, there were 177,661 people, 76,650 households, and 40,164 families residing in the city, and the Knoxville Metropolitan Statistical Area had a population of 616,079. The population density was 724.6/km² (1,876.7/mi²). There were 84,981 housing units at an average density of 354.1/km² (917.1/mi²). The racial makeup of the city was 79.7% White, 16.2% African American, 0.31% Native American, 1.45% Asian, 0.03% Pacific Islander, 0.72% from other races, and 1.57% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 1.58% of the population.
There were 76,650 households out of which 22.8% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 35.3% were married couples living together, 13.7% had a female householder with no husband present, and 47.6% were non-families. 38.3% of all households were made up of individuals and 11.4% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.12 and the average family size was 2.84.
In the city the population was spread out with 19.7% under the age of 18, 16.8% from 18 to 24, 29.5% from 25 to 44, 19.6% from 45 to 64, and 14.4% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 33 years. For every 100 females there were 90.0 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 86.3 males.
The median income for a household in the city is $27,492, and the median income for a family is $37,708. Males had a median income of $29,070 versus $22,593 for females. The per capita income for the city is $18,171. About 14.4% of families and 20.8% of the population were below the poverty line, including 26.1% of those under age 18 and 12.0% of those age 65 or over.
Population and household growth are expected to follow employment growth, causing increased housing demand during the forecast period. Resident employment should continue to grow at a pace equal to that from 2000 to the Current date. As population continues to increase and the labor force grows, the unemployment rate is projected to increase slightly to 3.7 percent. The population growth is estimated to result in 12,900 new households in the HMA by the Forecast date. Demand for new housing for the period from April 1, 2005, to April 1, 2008, is estimated to total 13,100 units — 10,400 sales units and 2,700 rental units.
Knoxville's economy is largely fueled by the regional location of the main campus of the University of Tennessee, the Oak Ridge National Laboratory and other Department of Energy facilities in nearby Oak Ridge, the National Transportation Research Center, and the Tennessee Valley Authority. These make Knoxville the heart of the high-tech Tennessee Valley Corridor, which extends from Blacksburg, Virginia to Huntsville, Alabama.
Because of its central location in the eastern half of the United States and proximity to two major Interstate highways, many warehousing and distribution companies operate in and around Knoxville. The Old City is home to most of Knoxville's historic warehouses and factories.
Knoxville is home to the main campus of the University of Tennessee. It is also home to:
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 and Hank Williams, who spent the last night of his life there. 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.
Beyond bands with banjos, BLENDER magazine, in its "20 Most Rock & Roll towns in the U.S." feature (May '03), ranked Knoxville the 17th best music scene in the United States. In the ’90s, noted alternative-music critic Ann Powers, author of Weird Like Us: My Bohemian America, referred to the city as “Austin without the hype".
The city also hosts numerous art festivals, including the 17-day Dogwood Arts Festival in April, which features art shows, crafts fairs, food and live music. Also in April is the Rossini Festival, which celebrates opera and Italian culture. June’s Kuumba (meaning creativity in Swahili) Festival commemorates the region’s African American heritage and showcases visual arts, folk arts, dance, games, music, storytelling, theater, and food. Autumn on the Square showcases national and local artists in outdoor concert series at historic Market Square, which has been revitalized with specialty shops and residences. Every Labor Day brings Boomsday, the largest Labor Day fireworks display in the United States, to the banks of the Tennessee River between the University of Tennessee football stadium and downtown.
James Rufus Agee, Pulitizer-Prize winning novelist and playwright, was born in Knoxville and spent his early years there. His novel, A Death in the Family, centers around the Fort Sanders neighborhood where the Agees lived and the death of Agee's father. Other notable natives are Patricia Neal, Quentin Tarantino, and Johnny Knoxville.