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High points include Sharp’s Ridge in North Knoxville at 1,391 feet and Brown Mountain in South Knoxville at 1,260 feet . House Mountain, the highest point in Knox County at 2,064 feet , is located east of the city near Mascot. As Burnside was fortifying Knoxville, a Confederate army under Braxton Bragg defeated Union forces under William S. Rosecrans at the Battle of Chickamauga (near the Tennessee-Georgia line) and laid siege to Chattanooga. On November 3, 1863, the Confederates sent General James Longstreet to attack Burnside at Knoxville and prevent him from reinforcing the Union at Chattanooga. Longstreet wanted to attack the city from the south, but lacking the necessary pontoon bridges, he was forced to cross the river further downstream at Loudon and march against the city’s heavily fortified western section. On November 15, General Joseph Wheeler unsuccessfully attempted to dislodge Union forces in the heights of South Knoxville, and the following day Longstreet failed to cut off retreating Union forces at the Battle of Campbell’s Station .
- The city’s largest hospital as of 2022 was the University of Tennessee Medical Center, which had 581 beds, followed by Fort Sanders Regional Medical Center , Parkwest Medical Center , and Physicians Regional .
- The development consisted of three office buildings, including a new headquarters for Regal Entertainment Group, a hotel, student housing, and 300 multi-family residential units.
- The city was bitterly divided over the secession issue during the American Civil War and was occupied alternately by Confederate and Union armies, culminating in the Battle of Fort Sanders in 1863.
- Interstate 640 provides a bypass for I-40 travelers, and Interstate 275 provides a faster connection to I-75 for Downtown travelers headed north.
Anticipating a Union invasion, Buckner fortified Fort Loudon and began constructing earthworks throughout the city. However, the approach of stronger Union forces under Ambrose Burnside in the summer of 1863 forced Buckner to evacuate Knoxville before the earthworks were completed. Knoxville served as capital of the Southwest Territory and as capital of Tennessee until 1817, when the capital was moved to Murfreesboro. Early Knoxville has been described as an “alternately quiet and rowdy river town”. Early issues of the Knoxville Gazette—the first newspaper published in Tennessee—are filled with accounts of murder, theft, and hostile Cherokee attacks. Abishai Thomas, a friend of William Blount, visited Knoxville in 1794 and wrote that, while he was impressed by the town’s modern frame buildings, the town had “seven taverns” and no church.
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Beginning with Norris Dam, TVA constructed a series of hydroelectric and other power plants throughout the valley over the next few decades, bringing flood control, jobs, and electricity to the region. The Federal Works Projects Administration, which also arrived in the 1930s, helped build McGhee-Tyson Airport and expand Neyland Stadium. TVA’s headquarters, which consists of two twin high rises built in the 1970s, were among Knoxville’s first modern high-rise buildings.
Knoxville is situated in the Great Appalachian Valley , about halfway between the Great Smoky Mountains to the east and the Cumberland Plateau to the west. The Great Valley is part of a sub-range of the Appalachian Mountains known as the Ridge-and-Valley Appalachians, which is characterized by long, narrow ridges, flanked by broad valleys. Since 2000, Knoxville has successfully brought business back to the downtown area. The arts in particular have begun to flourish; there are multiple venues for outdoor concerts, and Gay Street hosts a new arts annex and gallery surrounded by many studios and new businesses as well. The Tennessee and Bijou Theaters underwent renovation, providing an initiative for the city and its developers to re-purpose the old downtown. During the 1980s and into the 1990s, the city would see one of its largest expansions of its city limits, with a reported 26 square miles of “shoestring annexation” under the administration of Mayor Victor Ashe.
After the war, northern investors such as the brothers Joseph and David Richards helped Knoxville recover relatively quickly. Joseph and David Richards convinced 104 Welsh immigrant families to migrate from the Welsh Tract in Pennsylvania to work in a rolling mill then co-owned by Thomas Walker. The Richards brothers also co-founded the Knoxville Iron Works beside the L&N Railroad, also employing Welsh workers. The first white traders and explorers were recorded as arriving in the Tennessee Valley in the late 17th century. There is significant evidence that Spanish explorer Hernando de Soto visited Bussell Island in 1540.
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In 1879, the school changed its name to the University of Tennessee, hoping to secure more funding from the Tennessee state legislature. Charles Dabney, who became president of the university in 1887, overhauled the faculty and established a law school in an attempt to modernize the scope of the university. Burnside arrived in early September 1863, beginning the Knoxville Campaign.