Top Ten Things I WON”T Miss About Knoxville

The other day I told you my Top Ten Things I would miss about Knoxville.  This post is about the things I won’t miss about Knoxville.  Now, to be clear, this is what I won’t miss.  Not what I hate.  I don’t want to be that negative about a place I truly love.  So with that cleared up, here we go: (in no particular order)

10. Knoxville’s Identity Crisis

The thing that makes living in Knoxville so weird is that Knoxville doesn’t know what kind of city it wants to be.  Don’t get me wrong.  It is a great community, full of wonderful people.  It is just that it has no true sense of itself.  I once heard a local writer call Knoxville “the city of the almost” and I think he was spot on.  From what I have read and heard, Knoxville could have been Nashville.  Country music was born in the hills of East Tennessee.  I have heard that Knoxville didn’t embrace country music, so country music headed a little west to Nashville.  Or does Knoxville want to be like Asheville?  A nice little mountain town that embraces the mountatins for their beauty and capitalizes on it rugged, artistic side.   Nope.  We got Dollywood, putt-putt golf, and tacky outlet shops.  More to come on this one.  Knoxville could embrace the beautiful river that runs through downtown, like Chattanooga does, except the fact it can’t because of all the factories that line themselves up by the river. We’ve got Calhoun’s on the River, but that’s about it.  The problem with Knoxville is that it could be so great.  It has so many great resources.  I guess it doesn’t want to settle on just one.  As they say “Jack of all trades, master of none.”

9. Knoxville is 60% Interstate

Most big cities have an interstate that run beside them to help commerce and business thrive.  Knoxville, though, has two major interstates that run through the middle of town and cut into its best real estate.  Knoxville is dissected by these two interstates and looks like a big concrete jungle.  Add to this the endless construction on said interstates and you get one reason I won’t miss Knoxville.

8. UT Orange

Do I even have to say any more then that?  I mean, give me Auburn orange, Clemson orange, I would even take Texas rusty-brown orange.  But neon, hunter’s vest orange?  It is shameful that on football game days you can’t tell between the people that are going to the game and people that have just been out hunting. Sometime because after hunting people come right to the game with the same outfit on. I can’t bring myself to buy any UT paraphernalia because I think of Halloween every time I do.  I will give the athletic department props for trying to work around the UT orange over the past years.  Its like they know what we’re all thinking.  They have come out with navy blue hats with an orange “T” on them.  The orange pattern of plaid they now have, that’s a good step forward…almost.  Its a step in the right direction, but if you ever look at the burberry orange plaid design, you will notice that no self-respecting clothing designer would use UT orange in a pattern. They tame the color down a bit.  Or how about the UT women’s athletics?  They added a baby blue accent color to try to detract from the hideous orange vest jerseys they have to wear.  So whether you are hunting, picking up trash on the interstate as part of your community service probation, or supporting the men and women of UT, your blood still runs the same, ugly orange.

7. UT Campus

There are a couple of things that I can’t stand about the University of Tennessee campus.

One is that fact that it is so expansive.  Its not just its size, stretching for the AG campus to the Hill, a distance of like 100 miles.  Its the fact that the campus is in middle of the downtown area.  Walk across any street at UT to get to class and you are taking your life in your hands.  Most big college campus are enclosed and surrounded by the major roads.  UT’s campus has major roads running through the middle.  And to all those in coming UT freshmen that think they are going to bring their bikes to campus so they can get around faster.  Forget about it.  You will literally ride up hill both ways to get to class.  People walking will get there before you.

The second thing about UT’s campus that is so hideous is the architecture.  I don’t know who designed most of the buildings at UT, but they were probably using an “Etch-a-Scetch” to do it. Most of the building look like they were inspired by the last level of Tetras.  Where the blocks all get stacked on one another too quickly. Now I am no architect and I’m sure that the team that designed most of the buildings thought they were way ahead of their time when the designed most of the buildings.  The only problem is that they were ahead of their time when they designed it in the 50’s and they all look like “modern” box buildings of the 70’s.  They have a place at UT called “Presidential Courtyard”.  Sounds good, right?  You think, Mt. Vernon, rotundas, Monticello.  Wrong.  Image your two year old playing with Legos for the first time and that about sums up the buildings.  Mix in there some classical architecture to remind you what most places of higher learning should look like and you have UT’s campus.  I mean when you have a building nicknamed the “Spam can” because of its resemblance to a package of processed meat product and my point is made for me.

6. Knoxville has 3 Roads (Middlebrook Pike, Kingston Pike, I-75)

Drive anywhere in Knoxville for more then 10 minutes and you will end up on one of these roads.  They all run parallel to one another and if there is an accident on one, you can be sure that all that traffic will get diverted to one of the others. I want to know if it is even possible to get from downtown to let’s say the Cedar Bluff area without driving on any of the roads or crossing over them.  And can you do it on one tank of gas?


If you didn’t have problems with your allergies before you got to Knoxville, don’t worry you will.  Stock up on your “Z-packs” and settle in as soon as the weather starts to get cool.  I don’t know if its better in Cleveland, but I hope so.

4. Being a top target for nuclear bombs

I am not sure if this one is true or not, but I have always heard that Knoxville would be a prime target if big, red buttons ever started getting pushed.  I think it has something to do with Oak Ridge, the important interstates that take up all of Knoxville, the other factories that could quickly be readied for military armaments, or the secret level 7 cache of nuclear weapons hidden under Dollywood.  I just hope that Cleveland is out of the blast radius.

3. Pigeon Forge/Gatlinburg

Okay, let’s say that you were on the planning commission for your small town’s city planning board.  Let’s call this fictional city Patlinburg or Gigeon Gorge.  Now, what do you do? What do you do?  You say “Hey, I think there is a huge market for pancake houses, 30 foot tall Space Needles, laser tag, kitschy Native American artifacts made in China, and themed restaurants that are centered around Elvis, Nascar, the Titanic, and  Dixie.”  “Yes! That’s it!”, others would scream.  “People headed to the mountains to enjoy God’s amazing creation will want to stop here first!” Trail mix and laffy taffy, fly fishing and laser tag, hiking and Nascar, Scenic views and discounted clothing items…they go hand in hand  While God creates the Smoky Mountains with a word from his mouth, we create Gatlinburg as a constant reminder of the Fall.

2. Trees that smell like death (a.ka Bradford Pear Trees)

If you live in Knoxville then you know what I am talking about.  It’s Spring time.  Birds are chirping.  Children are playing.  And you are wondering, “Who in the world threw a dead fish up in that tree?”  Man, they stink.  I don’t know if they have these trees in Cleveland, TN, but I hope not.

1. That people refer to Knoxville as “Knox-vegas”

Knox-vegas.  It’s not easier to say then Knox-ville.  It has the same number of letters in it so its not like we are saving any time by saying “Knox-vegas” instead of Knoxville.  So what is with the use of this term?  Let’s compare the two shall we.  Vegas, founded by gangsters, known as “sin city”, city motto is “What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas”, biggest exports-broken lives, broken bank accounts, and broken real estate markets.  Not wanting to squash people’s desire to give Knoxville a trendy nickname, how about Knox-heaven.  That’s more positive.  Knoxy.  Short and sweet.  Knox-topia.  It could catch on.  Knox-iccus, imperial and Roman sounding.  Those are just a couple that I think would better suit Knoxville, then Knox-vegas.  You be the judge.

On a more positive note, Knoxville is where my wife and I have raised our kids to this point, have fallen deeper in love, where some of our favorite people live, and where we have called home for the past 10 years.  The good will always out weigh the bad and I will always be proud to call Knoxy, catchy isn’t it, home.

You tell me what you think.


About Todd Van Dyke

Father, Husband, Son, and most of all lover of Christ.
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7 Responses to Top Ten Things I WON”T Miss About Knoxville

  1. Sarah says:

    um….I say Knox-vegas all the time! However, I might start using Knox-topia….it has a nice ring to it. good job, my love.

  2. Shawn says:

    I can’t wait to hear about the 100 things you hate about Clevand. I’ll get you started…it’s not the one in Ohio

  3. Molly Herbst says:

    Todd, I will never forget the first city Ed and I lived in. I will never forget the small house where all 3 of my children were born. The “large” 900 square feet where my husband and I grew more in love everyday. The neighborhood that, well, loved us. Loved the way we borrowed tools, let our children run naked through sprinklers, and let us walk their streets with 3 crying babies in the middle of the night. Bob and Aggie the 70 year old couple who would watch my dirty babies so Ed and I could get ice-cream and tell each other our dreams for the future. This was our life, our first house, our first city. Now after 21 years, 5 houses later, and 3 almost grown children, I remember Oklahoma with the greatest of fondness. This was where it all began.

    I pray you and Sarah will have a large life, full of love, happy children and most of all the Lord to guide you. In him is where you draw your strength and in him is where your future will lie. God Bless You my friend and have a great life!

    Molly Herbst

  4. Joseph says:

    At least they’re not calling it “Knox-ous.” Oh, I laughed hard. Blessings on this next season in your lives!


  5. cflows says:

    I loved your comment about Pigeon Forge. That is right on! It always makes me laugh when I see license plates from far away when I go there. I always want to go up to them and apologize.

  6. Mark says:

    It’s really great that you will be heading to Cleveland, TN. I read both of your lists and hope that you find more things to like here than dislike.

    You’ll be happy to know there isn’t any SMOG, though we do get FOG. I am sure that we probably have some of those horrible smelling trees, but I have never noticed any. Of course I live about a mile from the Mars plant, so many days it smells like CHOCOLATE outside my house. Definitely something to look forward to. :)

    You guys settle in and we’ll give you the grand tour of Cleveland.

  7. Barbara H. says:

    OK, the bomb thing is scary. The first time we came to visit and look at schools, houses, churches, etc., we went to a science museum that was woefully out of date, but that’s when I first learned about the Y-12 stuff, etc.

    I am not a fan of any kind of orange except that in fall foliage. And maybe orange juice — to drink, though, not to wear.

    I hadn’t heard Knox-vegas til now. Shudder.

    We visited Gatlinburg a few years ago, and I confess I didn’t quite “get it.” I figured maybe I just didn’t know where to go. We did like Dollywood, though.

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