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john disque journalistRising with the Daily Sun
A daily column by John Disque

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Good Morning East Tennessee!

While on a long drive a friend and I were discussing Knoxville's difference (What makes Knoxville different? What we do better than anyone and what are the things we need to work on?) This lead to a discussion of what city is comparable to Knoxville in size and population.

The closest comparable guesses were Charleston, SC, Mobile, Alabama and maybe Pensacola, Florida. From there you couldn't help but wonder if these cities had Knoxville's problems; what their unemployment rate was, what their corruption level is, what their homeless issues are, their crime, what we do better than them and what we could learn from them.

What do people who have never lived here think about us? What are the first things that come to mind? "A midsize, southern town, minimal crime, UT football, The Smoky Mountains...." Neither of us really knew. We were both just guessing while trying to walk in the stranger's shoes.

I think the immediate thought would be "a wholesome, family-oriented, safe, clean, midsize city" . For the most part, they are right.

• Knoxville was named after Henry Knox who was President Washington's war secretary.
• Some Knoxville land once had an abundance of marble and we were known as "The marble city."
• Kenny Chesney grew up in Knoxville.
• Knoxville continually receives high rankings from American Chamber of Commerce Researchers Association (ACCRA) for our quality of life. "Quality of life" measurement is relative to other cities across America and measures our cost of living index: housing prices, service and goods pricing relative to average income level.
• Actor Brad Renfro grew up in Knoxville.
• Knoxville is home to 87 public schools with 4,088 teachers.
• The Cherokee Indian tribe were the first inhabitants of Knoxville.
• James White was the first non-indian to settle in Knoxville
• Today the city of Knoxville has 170,000 residents.
• City and county residents total 382,032
• Within the city and county, Knoxville has 270 neighborhood associations.
• Parts of the Movie "Road Trip" with Tom Green were filmed on campus at UT.
• Knoxville has 540 churches.
• We have 6,167 acres of park and recreation space.
• We have 7 hospitals and 1 children's hospital with 2,251 beds.
• Chet Atkins started his career on Knoxville radio when he was 18 years old.
• Seven lakes outline the Knoxville region - Cherokee, Douglas, Ft. Loudon, Melton Hill, Norris, Watts Bar and Tellico.
• UT has a little over 27,000 students.
• Dave Thomas (Wendy's fast-food restaurant owner) once worked at Regas restaurant.
• We have 17 libraries.
• Knox county is 527 square miles. The city of Knoxville is 101 square miles.
• We have 20 radio stations and 9 TV stations.
• The Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) was founded during the great depression (1933) to create jobs by providing electricity. Famous brilliant writer James Agee was born in Knoxville in 1909.
• 31% of our residents graduated college.
• Knoxville has 182 shopping centers.
• We have 583 office buildings.
• In 1897 Knoxville was devastated by a gigantic, out of control fire that destroyed most of Gay Street.
• In 1860 Knoxville was home to 3,700 residents.
• The Knoxville Zoo attracts 400,000 visitors per year.
• Knoxville is home to 20 museums.
• Johnny Knoxville DID, in fact, grow up in Knoxville.

IReferences: www.knoxvilledemographics.com, www.knoxmpc.org, www.ci.knoxville.tn.us

Have a great day!

Published January 15, 2011

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