HISTORY

Did you know?

• The World’s Fair Park was initially created for the 1982 World’s Fair Exhibition with the theme “Energy Turns the World”. The abandoned 70-acre Louisville and Nashville Railroad Yard (L&N) between Downtown Knoxville and UTK's campus was completely renovated. The existing rail station and foundry were also renovated to hold restaurant spaces, offices for fair officials, and VIP rooms.

• The Sunsphere, which was the icon for the fair, was constructed in 1981 and stands 266ft high and 26 stories tall. The gold globe itself is 5 stories tall and each pane of glass is made of 24-karat gold. During the fair for $2, you could ride the elevator up to the 4th floor to the observation deck that offers an incredible 360 view of Knoxville.

• The nickname "Scruffy City" originated from skepticism about Knoxville's ability to successfully host a World's Fair. Knoxville was described as a "scruffy little city" in a critical news article about the idea for the fair's location from the Wall Street Journal. When the fair turned out to be a success, fair officials created commemorative buttons that stated "The Scruffy Little City Did It."

• President Ronald Reagan opened the fair at the Court of Flags with Dinah Shore serving as master of ceremonies. As the gates opened, there were performances by Porter Wagoner and Ricky Skaggs. Other notable guests included Bob Hope, Phillipines President & First Lady Ferdinand & Imelda Marcos, and Crown Prince of Jordan Hassan bin Talal.

•  On opening day, May 1st 1982, the fair hosted 87,000 people and opening week saw 387,000 people. Overall, 11million people total from across the world traveled to Knoxville to visit the fair. The fair officially closed 5 months later on October 1st 1982. The cost of a one-day adult ticket was $9.95 and a children’s ticket was $8.25. A six-month pass to the fair sold for $100.

•  Many notable businesses and innovations made their debut at the 1982 fair. Among them were Petro's Chili & Chips (the name 'Petro' came from the term 'petroleum' to honor the energy theme of the fair), Texaco's concept of 'pay at the pump', Coca-Cola's 'Cherry Coke' flavor, as well as the budding concept of touch screens.

•  The 1982 Fair cost the city of Knoxville $46 million and was the last successful World's Fair held in America (first ever in the South) with a total profit of $57 dollars.

Legacy

• The Sunsphere and the Amphitheater are the only two remaining original structures built for the fair

• The Sunsphere not only offers the observation deck to visitors, it also houses private events on its event floors as well as providing studio space for local artists

• Home of the former World's Largest Rubik's Cube (10ft tall and 1,200lbs), it now lives in the Knoxville Convention Center

• The Foundry (German Strohaus) is now an indoor event space

• L&N Railway Station is now home to L&N STEM Academy

• Petro’s Chili & Chips is now a large multi-state franchise that spans the southeastern United States

Sources/Continued Reading

NY TimesKnoxville Gov.Bie ParisVisit KnoxvilleWikipedia
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