Jack Neely has some interesting things to say (as usual) about downtown Knoxville in this week’s Metro Pulse. He apparently was digging out some old clips and came across the impressions from an Atlanta visitor. Neely also makes a subtle point about being compact in downtown (emphasis added):
Knoxville had existed long before Atlanta. About 30 years earlier, Knoxville and Atlanta had been about the same size.
“Knoxville as a city presents a pretty appearance, though it is thoroughly hilly. It reminds me of Rome or Vicksburg….” Rome, Italy, or Rome Georgia, the point is the same. They’re both hilly cities. Hilliness may account for Knoxville’s original compactness. In 1882, the whole urban part of town was on top of a bluff.
“The city is very compactly built, as already stated. The corporate limits are very narrow, being only one mile across one way, by a mile and three quarters the other. Including suburbs and all, the city is not two miles wide, and yet 20,000 people are crowded into that space. I cannot begin to unfold, in a single letter, the many points of interest there.”
Since then, compactness—especially in terms of residential density—has been shown to be the main indicator of what a city can sustain. A small city that’s compact can offer a greater variety of amenities and diversions than a larger city that’s not compact. If you’ve got 500 people who like, say, scones, or crepes, or gelato, or Belgian high-gravity beer, it’ll be a population that’s invisible and unserved unless they’re concentrated.
Another MP article also caught my eye, about art space in the community. I remember back in the day in Charlotte – say, 10 years ago – the North Davidson area being a hot little spot for the bohemian types and jazzy folks and art peoples of the world.
Then, as happens with the first wave of gentrification, the youngish folks moved in. Then the richer folks. Then the artists were priced out of their neighborhood. Galleries still exist there, but not as many artists – who have picked up for other envrions in the kinda ‘spensive city. I digress. From Paige Huntoon in the MP, previewing a public meeting to come:
Thanks to Knoxville’s relatively cheap cost of living, many artists around here can thrive, Zenni says. But the Emporium has 10 visual artists who rent space to work there—in addition to the residential apartments, offices for various groups like the Knoxville Symphony Orchestra, an art gallery on the main floor, and performance spaces—and the building is now “maxed out,” Zenni says.
“What we heard from our individual artists is [they] wanted studio space,” she says. But there’s also another need: a performance space smaller than the Bijou Theatre that can seat about 300 people.
Enter the national non-profit property developer Artspace, whose specialty is creating affordable housing and work space for artists; representatives from the group will visit Knoxville on April 23 to study the feasibility of establishing such a space here.
Big marathon last weekend in Knoxville. Good times with the KNS guys who ran. Speaking of, SouthFest is happening this weekend. Go see what Donila has to say:
(Personally, I hope this because an annual thing and grows each year to the point of backed-up traffic, heavy partying and general craziness.)
Hear, hear! Just some good clean fun.