Standing above Knoxville for more than three decades, the Sunsphere, a 266-foot steel structure topped with a gold-colored glass ball, was built for the 1982 World’s Fair.
That Fair — which drew 11 million visitors in six months — unleashed two major inventions to the world, the touch-screen display and Cherry Coke, but the Sunsphere is its lasting legacy.
A trip to the observation deck during the Fair cost $2 and once there a visitor could feast on a Sunburger and enjoy a rum and juice cocktail called the Sunburst. You would think that that alone would have drawn 10 million people over six months.
But Sunsphere isn’t the only thing notable about Knoxville. The campus of the University of Tennessee brings about 30,000 people on an average day and triple that to Neyland Stadium for Vol football Saturdays. Folks in Knoxville are particularly enthusiastic about their orange-clad warriors.
And then there is the Tennessee Valley Authority — the nation’s largest public power provider signed into existence by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt during the Great Depression. The federally owned corporation — headquartered in Knoxville — has more than 10,000 employees and generates more than $10 billion in revenue each year. Its scope is 11 coal-powered plants, 29 hydroelectric dams, three nuclear pants and 14 gas combustion plants.
That’s a lot of power!