Some places are considered conservative while others are known to be more liberal. Knoxville, TN would almost certainly fall in the first category. SoÂ I wasn’t exactly expecting it to be the friendliest of cities. Upon entering itsÂ city limits, though,Â looks likeÂ any ‘olÂ industrial city USA. IÂ drove toward downtown for a respite, down a cutthroatÂ hill to a parking lot for small private practice offices on the north bank of Holston River. Henley Street BridgeÂ appeared larger than life as it rose infinitely up and away from where I stood. People crossed the bridge’s pathway Â on lunch break and the whole scene looked like a live billboard. In thisÂ midday bustle I made myself invisible.
A man dressed in a crispy municipal shirt and pressed khakis waited for the light to change soÂ I excused myself and asked for the nearest facilities. He took painstaking effort, longer than I would spend on a passing stranger, offering directions toÂ one option and another just a fewÂ blocks away. He also took the time to find out a little about me. And he did. Where I am from, and what brings me to these here parts, how long I’ll be visiting, where I’m parked and if my car would be okay parked there for a while. Sending me off with a warm Southern-drawl farewell. It was evident the people of this town see themselves as interconnected.
My eyelids were heavy from trekking through the Smoky MountainsÂ at dawn I wanted to relax a bit before I hit the road again. So I stuck around followingÂ signs for Old City that led me to Knoxville’s historic district. Old wood paneled storefronts of run-down parts of town thickened by paint and given new lifeÂ characteristic of gentrificationÂ and an effervescentÂ Bohemia: The Hipsters, it seems you’ll find them along with newsstands stacked with every town’s alternative weeklyÂ andÂ good strong hand-selected coffee beans.
Knoxville. Hope you’ll have me back someday.