World's Fair Park

World's Fair Park is a public park in downtown Knoxville, Tennessee. The park sits on the former fairgrounds of the 1982 World's Fair hosted in Knoxville. Today, the park is home to the Sunsphere and the Tennessee Amphitheater, the two remaining structures from the exposition.

World's Fair Park
Worlds fair park knox.jpg
World's Fair Park, with the Sunsphere and Tennessee Amphitheater in the background
TypePublic park
LocationKnoxville, Tennessee, United States
Coordinates35°57′41″N 83°55′26″W / 35.9614°N 83.9239°W / 35.9614; -83.9239
CreatedMay 1, 1982
Owned byCity of Knoxville
Operated byKnoxville Public Building Authority
Open6:00 a.m. to 12:00 a.m.
Public transit accessKAT 10, 11, 17, 42, 81, 82


The park features a festival and performance lawn, a small lake with a fountain, and the Sunsphere.[1] The 5-acre (2.0 ha) performance lawn is used for cultural and community events.[2] Knoxville's Public Building Authority manages the park, except for the Sunsphere.[1] The Knoxville Museum of Art, the Knoxville Convention Center, and the L&N STEM Academy, at the former Louisville and Nashville station, surround the park. To the west of the park borders a building known as the Candy Factory, which formerly housed the South, Littlefield & Steere Company and its factory. During the fair, the Candy Factory building was used by administration. Recently, the building was renovated into office, gallery, and rehearsal space, and later into condominiums.[3]

The Knoxville District K&A Line, operated by the Norfolk Southern Railway, starts at northernmost part of the park and ends in Maryville in nearby Blount County. As of 2019, the tracks are being considered by urban developers and city councilmembers for a conversion into a light rail line.[4]


Before the fair, the site was used as a railroad yard. The land was converted into park space for the 1982 World's Fair.[1] After the fair closed in October 1982, the site was cleaned up; the city had to demolish pavilions, remove graffiti, and remove homeless individuals from the remaining abandoned buildings. Through-out the rest of the 1980s and into the early 1990s, the Sunsphere and U.S. Pavilion were left without tenants.[5] In 1991, the U.S. Pavilion was demolished by implosion due to structural damage caused by neglect.[6] In 2007, the Sunsphere began to see occupancy. Today, it currently houses offices and an public observation deck.[7]

In 2018, the Knoxville City Council approved a $2.5-million renovation of the Sunsphere and Amphitheater, updating the Sunsphere's elevators, replacing HVAC units, repairing windows, and repainting the exterior of both structures.[7] In 2019, the park's performance lawn closed for a $3 million renovation, and reopened later in July of the same year.[2] In 2019, the Knoxville Marathon's finish line was relocated to the park, due to renovations at Neyland Stadium, the location of the original finish line.[8]



  1. ^ a b c Published 8:00 a.m. ET June 30, 2017 (2017-06-30). "World's Fair Park keeps building on its eclectic history". Retrieved 2019-04-04.
  2. ^ a b "World's Fair performance lawn closing 5 months for improvements". Retrieved 2019-04-04.
  3. ^ "The Candy Factory (66) - Knox Heritage - Preserve. Restore. Transform". Knox Heritage. Retrieved 2019-04-04.
  4. ^ "A connecting line | News". Retrieved 2019-04-04.
  5. ^ By WILLIAM E. SCHMIDTMAY 18, 1984 (1984-05-18). "The Desolate Legacy Of Knoxville's World's Fair - The New York Times". Retrieved 2019-04-04.
  6. ^ Burk, Tonja (2012-03-30). "Remembering the 1982 World's Fair". Retrieved 2020-03-11.
  7. ^ a b "Knoxville City Council approves $2.5M for Sunsphere improvements". Retrieved 2019-04-04.
  8. ^ "Knoxville Marathon finish moved from Neyland Stadium to World's Fair Park". 2018-07-30. Retrieved 2019-04-04.

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