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Editor's Letter

Rick Dover recently remarked: “You can see the path through the rearview window but not through the windshield.”

Looking through the rearview window, it seems I have been in the process of moving to downtown Knoxville since the 1980s.

In the early 80s, I often joined friends downtown. In 1982, I went to the World’s Fair at least once every single day until the final fireworks.

In 1983, through a side gig as research assistant for New York author Sandy Johnson, who was here to write a book about Mary Evans [google it], I met Annie McCarthy of Annie’s restaurant. Annie, who lived at Kendrick Place, was the first person I knew who lived downtown, and I thought Kendrick Place was the coolest place.

In 1995, Bill and I moved into what we assumed was our forever home: five bedrooms, big yard, lots of trees, a large swimming pool. Why would we leave that?

In 2000, I’d gone back to graduate school, and the research for my dissertation “Civic Engagement in Cyberspace” involved interviews with people who spent a lot of time downtown. Bill was appointed to the KCDC board and later became its chair, leading the public process that resulted in the redevelopment of Market Square and Krutch Park.

The downtown you see today is the result of an organic and participative process that focused on historic sense of place.

Public and private investment and visionary developers and business owners played important roles—along with free parking nights and weekends. There was an energy that was electric, a positive vibe, a collaborative spirit, a sense that downtown Knoxville was becoming the place we always hoped it could be, a place that plays on our strengths, our authenticity and our unique sense of place.

Feeling that contagious energy, we bought a condo—at Kendrick Place—in 2005, thinking it’d be fun to stay downtown sometimes. In 2008, we sold our house and most of its contents and became fulltime downtown residents.

We love the sense of community, the walkability, the convenience, the energy of a vibrant downtown. I think we’ve found our forever home—even if it took a few decades to figure that out.


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