Urban Scenes and Urban Plans for the Weekend

A Wedding on Market Square meets GMO Demonstration, Knoxville, May 2014

A Wedding on Market Square meets GMO Demonstration, Knoxville, May 2014

Some things just don’t happen in the suburbs – or in rural areas. I’ll grant that maybe the statement could be reversed, but it’s someone else’s job to highlight the unique in those settings. Today I’ll feature some photographs of what I consider uniquely urban events or scenes, along with a couple of urban suggestions for the weekend.

Artist in front of the Downtown Grind, Knoxville, May 2014

Artist in front of the Downtown Grind, Knoxville, May 2014

I’ve enjoyed this artist who seems to have set up camp outside the Downtown Grind. His work is quite good and I’m hoping that sometime soon I can get a cup of coffee from Cynthia and sit outside on a pretty day and watch him work.

Hooping outside Sky Bar, Gay Street, Knoxville, May 2014

Hooping outside Sky Bar, Gay Street, Knoxville, May 2014

Hooping outside Sky Bar, Gay Street, Knoxville, May 2014

Hooping outside Sky Bar, Gay Street, Knoxville, May 2014

Doing work of a different sort, just across the street in front of Sky Box, I spotted these two ladies hooping. Urban Girl was with me and she was spellbound by their skills. Quite a few guys walking by were captivated, as well. I’m not sure it’s getting people in the doors, but they are certainly stopping traffic.

Beautification Mob, Summit Hill and Central, Knoxville, May 2014

Beautification Mob, Summit Hill and Central, Knoxville, May 2014

A couple of weeks ago the Beautification Mob settled in on the corner of Summit Hill and Central to make the area look more appealing. It’s, I suppose, a small-scale form of tactical urbanism. The area definitely looked better when they finished, but it also underscored the basic problem on that corner: this prominent corner in downtown needs to have a permanent structure with an urban design, not a re-purposed diner and a parking lot.

Community Band, Market Square Stage, Knoxville, May 2014

Community Band, Market Square Stage, Knoxville, May 2014

Urban Moon with First Tennessee Star, Knoxville, May 2014

Urban Moon with First Tennessee Star, Knoxville, May 2014

As a part of the Thursday night music series on Market Square, the Community Band performed a couple of weeks ago and they were great fun. It’s pretty cool to see older people with talent to play in a band given the opportunity. The sky shot was taken one midnight on my way home. Suburbs have moons, but not stars like that one.

Destination Imagination Children in Town, Knoxville, May 2014

Destination Imagination Children in Town, Knoxville, May 2014

Destination Imagination Children in Town, Knoxville, May 2014

Destination Imagination Children in Town, Knoxville, May 2014

Destination Imagination has come and gone for another year and, while i know opinions on the event vary, I have to say I absolutely love having the children and their families in town. They add energy and simple joy as they bound about the city streets. The families spend large amounts of money in downtown restaurants and stores and I get to hear several languages spoken every time I walk around the center city. To me, there really isn’t a downside to the event. I hope they come back for many years.

Busker in the City, Knoxville, May 2014

Busker in the City, Knoxville, May 2014

Urban Alley, Knoxville, May 2014

Urban Alley, Knoxville, May 2014

The caliber of buskers continues to improve around downtown. Though we continue to have exceptions, many are quite good. The young man pictured here is very, very good, and a nice addition. The alley? Well, I like alleys and this one, while not the best in the city looked interesting to me the day I took the photograph.

A Wedding in World's Fair Park, Knoxville, May 2014

A Wedding in World’s Fair Park, Knoxville, May 2014

A Wedding on Market Square meets GMO Demonstration, Knoxville, May 2014

A Wedding on Market Square meets GMO Demonstration, Knoxville, May 2014

A Wedding on Market Square meets GMO Demonstration, Knoxville, May 2014

A Wedding on Market Square meets GMO Demonstration, Knoxville, May 2014

Weddings are big business downtown this time of year. The first photograph above is of a wedding in the World’s Fair Park and was taken from the Sunsphere. The second wedding party arrived on the square in full wedding attire from some other spot downtown. Maybe they got married in Krutch Park. There’s a wedding there this Saturday at 2:00, so you could drop by that one and see how it works, if you’re interested.

A Wedding on Market Square meets GMO Demonstration, Knoxville, May 2014

A Wedding on Market Square meets GMO Demonstration, Knoxville, May 2014

Things got interesting when the wedding party did a little mash-up with the March on Monsanto. Everyone seemed to like the merger of the two and smiles were seen all around. Only in a city – see what I’m talking about?

Urban Flowers, Knoxville, May 2014

Urban Flowers, Knoxville, May 2014

Urban Flowers, Knoxville, May 2014

Urban Flowers, Knoxville, May 2014

Flowers aren’t uniquely urban, of course, but I think they really pop in an urban environment. Beauty and the Streets, the Grit and the Glitter, I’m not sure how you want to characterize the juxtaposition of beauty on edginess, but I really like it.

Princess Cut

Finally, I’ll leave you with a couple of urban suggestions for downtown this weekend. Of course there’s great music all about and the Farmers’ Market is a must-stop, but a couple of events are particularly street. First, I plan to attend “Princess Cut” tonight at the Square Room. It’s a Yellow Rose production and the topic is sex trafficking. Not a pretty topic, but an urban issue and the play focuses on one woman’s story as it played out in Knoxville, so it cuts close to home. It starts at 7:30, tickets are $10 and a panel discussion follows.

deadend

On Saturday, another uniquely urban topic will be addressed at Union Avenue Books at 4:00 PM when author Benjamin Ross reads from, discusses and signs his book, Dead End: Suburban Sprawl and the Rebirth of American Urbanism. The book traces how the retreat from cities to more green spaces mutated into McMansions and strip malls. He advocates for smart growth, sustainabilty, light rail and affordable housing. It promises to be a lively discussion of urban issues and I plan to be there. I’d love to see you there, as well.

Comments

  1. Love this issue! So many interesting things happen in a city…even a small city like ours.

  2. I get so cranky about that diner being an Enterprise Rent-A-Car instead of a, y’know, diner. It did used to be a restaurant (I wouldn’t’ve called it a ‘diner’ by any stretch, though).
    This is a rare sentiment for me, but I wouldn’t object to tearing that building down and putting a Waffle House there.

  3. I get a bit grouchy when I see that diner, as well. For one thing, why use what’s clearly a diner as something so completely unrelated? And for another, who goes downtown and *then* rents a car? Doesn’t make a lick of sense to me.

    Sure, you want a rental place at the airport, and perhaps by the clusters of auto dealerships for those who want a car while their own is being serviced. But downtown? I’ve walked or driven past there dozens if not hundreds of times, and never seen anybody go in or out.

    I’d love to see Enterprise up sticks and go somewhere else more logical, and that property returned to what it should be — a diner. (And a good one, at that: Knoxville is crying out for a decent, affordable diner to complement all the yuppie-tastic restaurants everywhere else. Or perhaps a replacement for the still-mourned Harold’s Deli.)

  4. Art Wagner says

    I think that corner lot at Central and Summit Hill has the same effect on just about everyone, sentiment that ranges from ‘what a waste’ to expressions containing expletives. Corners like that have a lot of potential for interesting and useful rounded-off architecture that could serve mixed retail and residential above. That may not have sounded practical when what existed there was razed and the retro diner thing was constructed. Downtown in 2014 is a different story and the pedestrian traffic pattern between Gay Street and the Old City would benefit from it.
    Tons of examples–here is one:https://www.flickr.com/photos/army_arch/4548105054/

  5. Waffle House might work – or some kind of 24 comfort food establishment. And perhaps they could disquise it somewhat like that McDonalds at the base of Biltmore House. It’s still a McDonalds, but they tried to make it match the local aesthetic rather than stick with the brand look. I’m not sure what the aesthetic of that corner would be though. Still, waffles and coffee do sound good.

  6. “24 hour”

  7. The punchline is that you can’t even rent a car at Enterprise Rent-A-Car. If you go in there and say “hi, I’d like to rent a car,” they’ll look at you blankly like you just said “hi, I’d like to rent a bucket of frogs.” You can arrange to rent one, though, if you don’t mind coming back in a couple of days to pick it up. I honestly don’t know what the purpose of them renting that building is.

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