Here’s the Heart of the City on a Wednesday Night

Patios at Shonos in City and Tupelo Honey on a Wednesday Night, Market Square, Knoxville, July 2013

Patios at Shonos in City and Tupelo Honey on a Wednesday Night, Market Square, Knoxville, July 2013

About 8:30 last night Urban Woman decided I should walk to Market Square to secure some yogurt from Orange Leaf. I didn’t object. As always happens when I leave home without my camera – something that is pretty rare – I see things that need to be photographed. After fulfilling my yogurt duties I got my camera and walked back to the square.

Contortionist, A Wednesday Night, Knoxville, July 2013

Contortionist, A Wednesday Night, Knoxville, July 2013

Balloon Animals on Market Square on a Wednesday Night, Knoxville, July 2013

Balloon Animals on Market Square on a Wednesday Night, Knoxville, July 2013

It wasn’t that any one thing was amazing or magical, it was that the whole of Market Square and surrounding areas was magical. What was so incredible? The sheer number of crazy things going on at once in a very small area. I missed some of the action. One of the first things that caught my attention was the drumming emanating from the edge of the Bill Lyons Stage. Several drummers a singer and several spontaneous dancers celebrated the night joyously.

Patio at Preservation Pub, A Wednesday Night, Knoxville, July 2013

Patio at Preservation Pub, A Wednesday Night, Knoxville, July 2013

Cocoa Moon on a Wednesday Night, Market Square, Knoxville, July 2013

Cocoa Moon on a Wednesday Night, Market Square, Knoxville, July 2013

The water fountains performed their duties late in the day while toddlers barreled through the shooting water. Balloon animals had children wide-eyed and waiting in line. Couples and small groups laughed and walked about. A couple of buskers had worked all evening just outside Tupelo Honey.

Oodles Uncorked on a Wednesday Night, Knoxville, July 2013

Oodles Uncorked on a Wednesday Night, Knoxville, July 2013

The outdoor patios, filled to capacity each assumed a life and personality of their own. The gritty, scruffiness of Preservation Pub contrasted with the elegance of Cocoa Moon. Patios at Oodles Uncorked and Cafe Four brimmed  with conversation. Bella Luna, Shonos and Tupelo Honey each filled their patios while Urban Outfitters sparkled in the background.

Tai Chi, Market Square on a Wednesday Night, Knoxville, July 2013

Tai Chi, Market Square on a Wednesday Night, Knoxville, July 2013

Tai Chi, Market Square on a Wednesday Night, Knoxville, July 2013

Tai Chi, Market Square on a Wednesday Night, Knoxville, July 2013

A contortionist walked about carrying the tennis racket through which he can snake his entire body. Two young men appeared to be fighting, but closer inspection revealed Tai Chi in action as they synchronously in the dusk. Two other men appeared to be dancing, but instead leaped about improbably keeping a hacky sack airborne for long periods of time. Jason Mann appears to be the central figure in the Knoxville Footbag Association and he tells me they gather on Market Square every Wednesday night.

Knoxville Footbagging Association on a Wednesday Night, Market Square, Knoxville, July 2013

Knoxville Footbagging Association on a Wednesday Night, Market Square, Knoxville, July 2013

Knoxville Footbagging Association on a Wednesday Night, Market Square, Knoxville, July 2013

Knoxville Footbagging Association on a Wednesday Night, Market Square, Knoxville, July 2013

Jason Mann of the Knoxville Footbagging Association on a Wednesday Night, Market Square, Knoxville, July 2013

Jason Mann of the Knoxville Footbagging Association on a Wednesday Night, Market Square, Knoxville, July 2013

Just off Market Square, patrons spilled out of the Union Avenue location of Coffee and Chocolate, sipping coffee drinks, laughing and talking in groups and pairs. A family stood at the edge of Krutch Park looking at Market Square as if it was a wonderland. The father took photographs with his iphone.

Available Rickshaw on a Wednesday Night, Knoxville, July 2013

Available Rickshaw on a Wednesday Night, Knoxville, July 2013

Family in a Rickshaw on a Wednesday Night, Knoxville, July 2013

Family in a Rickshaw on a Wednesday Night, Knoxville, July 2013

Rickshaws approached from different directions, one empty, one full. The driver of one waved. An older boy, riding in the other rickshaw with his family stared out onto the street with an expression designed to appear bored, but he wasn’t making it work. It’s hard to be bored in a rickshaw in 2013 even if you are twelve years old.

Coffee and Chocolate on Union Avenue, A Wednesday Night in Knoxville, July 2013

Coffee and Chocolate on Union Avenue, A Wednesday Night in Knoxville, July 2013

I took the long way home and walked past the Clinch Avenue location of Coffee and Chocolate. Two couples talked softly on the porch, others sat at the bar and tables inside. The place glowed in the increasing darkness. Quieter than Market Square, but with its own charm. The gentler part of the city.

Coffee and Chocolate on Clinch Avenue, A Wednesday Night in Knoxville, July 2013

Coffee and Chocolate on Clinch Avenue, A Wednesday Night in Knoxville, July 2013

This is Wednesday night. In Knoxville. I’m not sure where else you could go to find that much concentrated and disparate activity. I’ve been to much larger cities and had a hard time finding a spot with so much synergy. It’s vibrant, it’s happening and its growing. This is not First Friday or any Friday. It is not a Saturday night. This is an otherwise nondescript middle of the week Knoxville evening. And it is spectacular. Don’t miss this golden era in our hometown.

Here’s a little coda for those of you who read this far: This web site will be featured on “Live at Five at Four” today. Tell your friends and neighbors!

Comments

  1. This is so wonderful!

  2. Excellent. Around 7:30 Wednesday night I walked over to Worlds Fair Park and was surprised to see what appeared to be a yoga class on the amphitheater stage. They were getting ready to leave, so I can’t be certain it was yoga, but they had mats and were dressed like yoga folks. Pretty big group. I wonder if that’s a regular thing? There was also an ultimate frisbee game on the lawn, and a lot of kids at the big splash fountain. A busy night everywhere downtown …

    • KnoxvilleUrbanGuy says

      Yes. I really didn’t intend to write about that, but it just struck me when I walked out that this is the downtown we want people to know about. The downtown that people who haven’t been down here in a while can’t imagine. And, yes, Debra, it really was wonderful.

  3. We were sitting outside at Cocoa Moon marveling at the strange and wonderful scene. We saw you execute the yogurt honey-do and return with the camera. Thanks for documenting this experience. I can’t help but believe that, if more people knew what a rare and fascinating place downtown Knoxville has become, we would see a lot more growth here. Would that make things better or worse? We are so happy to have discovered this place ourselves, largely through your blog, and to have relocated to downtown Knoxville. Great story, Urban Guy!

  4. Positively LOVE Market Square and downtown anytime……and we live in West Knox. I’ve told everybody what a fabulous place to spend time in! Wish we could afford a loft….;-)

    • KnoxvilleUrbanGuy says

      We used to come downtown all the time from our west Knoxville home and say the same thing . . . if only. One day we decided life is too short and just did it. Nearly four years later, we’ve never regretted it. I can’t imagine giving up this awesome neighborhood.

  5. West Knoxville here too, but a lover of downtown. Love this post Urban Guy! Downtown is very special and a treasure for the Knoxville region to have. Congrats on the news coverage! I’ll be watching to see if I see you.

  6. Poetry! This might be your best post yet.

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