The horizon of Knoxville, TN is clearly spotted by a unique building that stands out - especially when the sun's rays hit it at just the right angle. The reflection off of the gold glass can easily be seen from a long way off. The Sunsphere Tower has come to be the symbol of the City.
The Sunsphere was built for the 1982 World's Fair when it was held in Knoxville. It was the very first spherical building ever built in the United States. The tower stands 266-feet tall, and is easily tall enough to be able to see much of the city of Knoxville from its Observation Decks.
The sphere itself is 75-feet in diameter. Originally, it was planned to be 86.5 feet, because of the sun's diameter of 865,000 miles. The theme for the World's Fair that year was on "Energy Turns the World." The base that supports the globe is hexagonal. The sphere gets its gold color from a coating of 24-carat gold dust on the seven different shapes of glass. The unique design of the Sunsphere meant that it quickly caught the attention of several engineering magazines at the time and they had feature articles about it.
During the World's Fair, it cost just two dollars to ride the elevators up to the top. There was a restaurant up there at the time and visitors could buy a Sunburger, and a cocktail made of rum and a fruit juice. Altogether, there are three floors for restaurants in the Sunsphere, and two observation decks. The Sunsphere and the amphitheater are the only two original building's that remain from the Worlds' Fair. From the Sunsphere, visitors can get a beautiful 360-degree view of the city.
Since the Fair, the Sunsphere has largely been unused. Just a couple of events have taken place or only a few groups have rented space in it since that time. Space is now available. Several companies now have offices on the fifth through eighth floors of the sphere.
The Mayor of Knoxville, Bill Haslam, determined to renovate it and open it to the public for free. Visitors can now go up in the tower for free to the observation deck and get a grand view of the city. In the observation deck, you will find a number of exhibits with pictures and videos that present some of the history of the area and of the World's Fair, too. There is a bar and lounge there, as well. Parking is also free around the park.
At the present time, there is no gift shop. This means that souvenirs for the Sunsphere cannot be purchased. Being able to look over the city of Knoxville from such a unique and historic building, does offer its own special occasion to all members of the family.
If you are not from the area, there are also many other fantastic places to go to that are not far away. Other hotspots would have to include Gatlinburg, Dollywood, and also the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
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