Local Life and Lore in Knoxville
Don’t believe your eyes -- some Knoxville names don't sound like they look.
Krutch Park: (KROOTCH, not "crutch")
This downtown green spot is named for a local photographer of German heritage who willed his considerable money to the city.
Ijams Nature Center: (EYE-ums)
Named for the family who created the wildlife sanctuary that eventually became Ijams Nature Center, the name is easier than it looks.
West Knoxville neighborhood that you might think sounds like "bear den," but doesn't.
Neyland Stadium: (KNEE-luhnd, not NEIGH-luhnd)
Even locals can't seem to agree on this, but those close to the Neyland family swear it sounds like the joint in your leg, not what a horse says.
Bedroom community whose local pronunciation is a litmus test. If you say "Merry-ville," you ain't from here.
"Blunt" County is where "Murrvuhl" is
These people, places and things are familiar landmarks in Knoxville conversation:
- Knox Vegas, Knoxpatch, K-Town -- common nicknames for Knoxville
- The Ball -- the Sunsphere
- The Old City -- historic section of downtown and popular nightspot whose main arteries are Central Avenue and Jackson Avenue
- The Strip -- the section of Cumberland Avenue adjacent to the University of Tennessee campus; parking there is a local joke
- The Rock -- big boulder on campus where messages, slogans and personal philosophies are painted, usually in the middle of the night and often under the influence
- SmartFix40 -- the current construction snarl around Interstate 40 through downtown, so named to remind drivers that the project is a good idea
GOOD TO KNOW
For your information:
- The word "scruffy" is sort of a compliment in Knoxville. A Wall Street Journal reporter once expressed astonishment that the 1982 World's Fair was being hosted by such a "scruffy little city," and what was first an insult has now been adopted as a badge of honor. Scruffy and proud of it, Knoxvillians say.
- It's been covered by The New York Times, so there's no point pretending otherwise: local politics here are thorny. Knoxville has two governments and two mayors (county and city), which sets the stage for heated jurisdictional squabbling and some soap opera-worthy plot lines. To get started on your background reading, Google "Knox County Commission" and "Sunshine Law."
- The buildings of Knoxville are not actually connected by a secret underground passageway frequented by spies -- a myth whose origins likely lie in the fact that the city is built on hole-riddled limestone -- but you're welcome to pretend all you like.
- Finally, "Rocky Top," UT's fight song, is a joyful little ditty and never suffers from too much repetition. Embrace it!