Ice and Snow in the City, February 2015

Ice, Knoxville, February 2015

Ice, Knoxville, February 2015

It’s become a tradition for me to walk about in the snow each winter and take photographs of downtown Knoxville. The twist this year was that our initial snow wasn’t a snow at all, but was the most ice I believe I’ve ever seen at one time. I missed the last big ice storm locally. It fell in early 1982 and I didn’t make Knoxville my home until August of that year. The stories were still vivid.

Ice in Market Square, Knoxville, February 2015

Ice in Market Square, Knoxville, February 2015

Ice in Krutch Park, Knoxville, February 2015

Ice in Krutch Park, Knoxville, February 2015

Ice in First Presbyterian Cemetery, Knoxville, February 2015

Ice in First Presbyterian Cemetery, Knoxville, February 2015

Walking around downtown after the ice fell (the first six photographs shown here) was very remarkable. The photographs and the naked ice detected very little difference in appearance between the two. The foot could tell the difference, however. I became quite taken with the reflection of the sky and opposing buildings in the side of the BB&T tower and wondered if I might not get a better view if I walked into the actual plaza.

Reflection in BB&T Building, Knoxville, February 2015

Reflection in BB&T Building, Knoxville, February 2015

Ice at Blount Mansion, Knoxville, February 2015

Ice at Blount Mansion, Knoxville, February 2015

Naturally, it was chained off, which I took to be a suggestion that everyone else should stay out. What could go wrong? So, I walked almost to the spot that seemed most likely to give me the shot I wanted and then I took flight. Somehow I impulsively threw my camera hand into the air. It still whiplashed downward and struck the ice, but not nearly as hard as my body. The lens hood popped in half, but the lens and body were fine. My body did fine until a couple of days later when I became pretty sore. Overall a win, though I never got the shot.

Bijou Theatre in the Snow, Knoxville, February 2015

Bijou Theatre in the Snow, Knoxville, February 2015

Arlo Guthrie stopped in Knoxville Friday night and, with the ice on the ground and snow predicted, a number of people gave away tickets. As a recipient of one of those tickets, I can report that the show was as warm and vibrant as the street was cold and bleak outside. I wasn’t allowed to take my camera inside, so I only took the outside photo as the show ended and the snow began to fall. One thing that puzzled me was the fact that after a Monday ice event, many of the sidewalks on Gay Street had not been cleared. I walked in the street most of the way back home.

UT Conference Center and Sunsphere, Knoxville, February 2015

UT Conference Center and Sunsphere, Knoxville, February 2015

Flow Brew Parlor, Knoxville, February 2015

Flow Brew Parlor, Knoxville, February 2015

Flow Brew Parlor, Knoxville, February 2015

Flow Brew Parlor, Knoxville, February 2015

The other photographs, beginning with the UT Conference Center were taken Saturday after we had a proper snow. Footing remained tricky as much of that ice still lurked just beneath the surface, but it was better. The temperatures had finally risen above the single digits, so even that made for a more comfortable walk. I stopped in at Flow and found it largely filled and a vinyl copy of Creedence Clearwater Revival’s first album playing on the stereo. Coffee and the first band I ever loved. Not bad.

Former Baptist Hospital Site, Knoxville, February 2015

Former Baptist Hospital Site, Knoxville, February 2015

Former Baptist Hospital Site, Knoxville, February 2015

Former Baptist Hospital Site, Knoxville, February 2015

Church Street United Methodist Church, Knoxville, February 2015

Church Street United Methodist Church, Knoxville, February 2015

Church Street United Methodist Church, Knoxville, February 2015

Church Street United Methodist Church, Knoxville, February 2015

I watched a mini-avalanche as all the snow fell off one side of the Mary Boyce Temple house. Brian waved out the window just after it fell. It must have been loud inside the house, as well. I’ll be glad when construction begins on the south side of the bridge because the hole where the hospital used to be makes me more sad than I’d expected. Church Street United Methodist Church is a beautiful subject anytime. I’m a fool for arches, unless they are over a McDonald’s.

Rachmaninoff, Knoxville, February 2015

Rachmaninoff, Knoxville, February 2015

Rachmaninoff, Knoxville, February 2015

Rachmaninoff, Knoxville, February 2015

World's Fair Park, Knoxville, February 2015

World’s Fair Park, Knoxville, February 2015

Convention Center, Knoxville, February 2015

Convention Center, Knoxville, February 2015

World's Fair Park Playground, Knoxville, February 2015

World’s Fair Park Playground, Knoxville, February 2015

I’m not sure I’ve ever had Rachmaninoff on the blog before. It’s not real clear in the photograph, but he had a spray of snow on his head that looked like white hair. Someone needs to erect a statue of Hank Williams and George Jones in that same area and we could build a tourist draw on artists whose deaths are associated with our city. Morbid. Yeah, but I would love to have statues of those two.

Railway, Knoxville, February 2015

Railway, Knoxville, February 2015

Former McClung Warehouse Site, Knoxville, February 2015

Former McClung Warehouse Site, Knoxville, February 2015

Train Yard, Knoxville, February 2015

Train Yard, Knoxville, February 2015

Southern Railway Station, Knoxville, February 2015

Southern Railway Station, Knoxville, February 2015

Southern Railway Station and Depot, Knoxville, February 2015

Southern Railway Station and Depot, Knoxville, February 2015

From the Rail Yard, Knoxville, February 2015

From the Rail Yard, Knoxville, February 2015

Like many Americans (is it as true of other nationalities?), I’m drawn to train tracks, trains and stations, so I spent a good bit of time on that end of town photographing all of the above. Icicles dangling from the train cars impressed me. The icicle award has to go to Urban Bar and Corner Cafe. Pretty impressive and cool, isn’t it? It’s one of several of my favorite structures in the Old City.

Urban Bar and Corner Cafe, Knoxville, February 2015

Urban Bar and Corner Cafe, Knoxville, February 2015

Old City Java, Knoxville, February 2015

Old City Java, Knoxville, February 2015

Albert Paley, Envious Composure, Knoxville, February 2015

Albert Paley, Envious Composure, Knoxville, February 2015

Market Square, Knoxville, February 2015

Market Square, Knoxville, February 2015

Java was packed and warm. Sean told me they managed to open every day last week, which is impressive and was true of a number of businesses downtown, though many of them shortened hours. As I walked past, I realized that “Envious Composure” won’t be with us much longer as the art is switched out in early spring. I’ll miss it. I passed through Market Square, spoke with friends and stopped into Just Ripe where Kristen had braved the elements to make her last batch of biscuits for the public out of the store before completely handing over the keys. I secured two Dixie Biscuits and headed home to the warmth.

Comments

  1. Larry Lewis says:

    Got this from Arlo’s guitarist, by email last night. I’ve edited it, just a tiny bit! “Yeah, Knoxville was great; the crowd at the Bijou was over the top. The weather sure is bull**** though.”

  2. The entire staff was fascinated by the gigantic icicles outside of Urban. They looked pretty sharp. (I may or may not have threatened to stab one of my friends with one of the icicles. I was probably just kidding if I did threaten them)

  3. Larry Lewis says:

    Urban Guy…for now, here are a few photos taken the day before Arlo’s Bijou show; a day off for everyone. Should be the 2nd entry down. Maybe they could have left their hotel (near the interstate?) and gone into DT to help clear those sidewalks! I’ll relay the Brownie McGhee factoid to the mutual friend.
    https://www.facebook.com/BobbySweetMusic?fref=ts

  4. Excellent photos of a snow-ified downtown! Even poor Rachmaninoff looks good. For those who may not be up on Knoxville’s connection to Sergei Rachmaninoff and the reason for the statue, here are three links to more than you probably want to know. (two of which are from the former Metro Pulse).
    Classical Journal, Alan Sherrod: http://bit.ly/1vsQ4SC
    Metro Pulse, Jack Neely (Feb 2013) : http://bit.ly/17rqCSj
    Metro Pulse, Alan Sherrod (Feb 2013): http://bit.ly/1vsPLqK

  5. Great description of the “fall”, I could almost visualize it!
    Hope you’re feeling better!

  6. Patricia Kerschieter says:

    Many of the people who live in the downtown area live in lofts over most of the businesses there, so why do they not shovel the sidewalks in front of their homes instead of slipping and sliding and blaming the city or the businesses for not shoveling the sidewalks in front of their homes. No one shovels the walks in front of my home, nor any other city sidewalks, everyone is responsible for their own sidewalk if they want them cleared! So grab a shovel and pretty soon all the sidewalks on Gay Street would be cleared. Seems like the people who have moved downtown seem to think that since they live there that everything should be just wonderful for them since they pay such high rents for their wonderful loft penthouses. So either hire it done or do it yourself, or take it up with the businesses. I don’t know of any other park in the city that has their sidewalks cleared? Why should the city clear Kutch park if they don’t clear Ftn. City Park or Adair Park?

    • The sidewalks next to our condo building downtown are always among the first shoveled. Props to Al and David!

      Sorry to burst your bubble, Pat.

    • KnoxvilleUrbanGuy says:

      Patricia,

      This has been on my mind since you posted it yesterday. It seems there are some differences in downtown and suburbs or other out-lying areas which make these situations not analogous. First, sidewalks in many places, like neighborhoods, are a nice amenity. You can walk there to stroll the neighborhood or get a bit of exercise. Downtown the sidewalks are an important lifeline. We can’t get about without them. And it isn’t just residents who use them. Everyone who drives into downtown to work or shop or eat has to use the sidewalks. The people from outlying counties who came to the concert had to use the sidewalk.

      Also, the sidewalks in front of Fountain City Park aren’t likely used by very many people to get to work or other necessary spots. The sidewalk beside Krutch Park is on Gay Street which is, of course, the single most walked street in Knox County. I would guess we are comparing thousands a day to dozens a day.

      Finally, when you live in a downtown condo, you don’t have a barn, storage shed or even garage in which to keep a snow shovel. Most of us drastically reduce what we own and the space we live in when we move to the city. Snow shovels aren’t likely to be an item kept and stored beside the living room couch. Most of us don’t live in “wonderful loft penthouses,” nor do we expect to have everything “wonderful” for us all the time. We do think for everyone’s safety that it would be a good thing for Gay Street sidewalks to be cleared so that residents, guests, visitors and workers don’t get hurt.

    • Unlike residential neighborhoods/single family detached housing, the City owns and regulates the sidewalks downtown. If a business wants to use the sidewalks for seating, they must get a permit from the city and carry a million dollar insurance policy for the city’s benefit; likewise, if a resident wanted to use a sidewalk for personal use, it would be rapidly made clear to you that you’re in the city’s public space (just try to set up a lawn chair and drink a beer in front of your downtown loft and see how quickly the city will remind you that you’re on THEIR sidewalk). I think that is where businesses and residents get the (not-unreasonable?) expectation that shoveling/de-icing the sidewalks would likewise be the City’s responsibility… That said, many of the buildings and owners do in fact do a great job of clearing the sidewalks in front of their spaces (looking at you, Dewhirst Properties). Other buildings do have HOA’s that seem to be asleep at the wheel…or have hired property managers that are. And, as Urban Guy notes, lawn maintenance equipment is usually the first thing to be “downsized” when moving downtown.

  7. Steve Hooks says:

    I moved back to Knox area last summer after a 15-year absence. These photos prove Knoxville is as beautiful, if not moreso, than many other mid-size cities I’ve been to: Portland, Pittsburgh, Calgary, Roanoke, Albuquerque … just wish we could get on a Memphis-Nashville-Knoxville-Asheville-Chattanooga passenger rail line. Speaking of trains, it’s always more thrilling to travel by train than interstate.

  8. Larry Lewis says:

    On a side note, thanks for mentioning the Jones & Rachmaninoff connections to Knoxville. I researched the specifics, after reading this…..very intriguing info. A friend of a friend is playing lead guitar on Arlo’s tour. I’ll ask whether he had any comments about the Bijou stop and relay anything of interest on here.

    • KnoxvilleUrbanGuy says:

      That would be interesting. He’s such a good soul. Related to Arlo and Knoxville, he mentioned “Brownie and Sonny” as two blues musicians “from the Carolinas.” In fact, Brownie McGhee was born in Knoxville. I wish he’d known that, but then I bet there weren’t a half-dozen in the crowd who knew it, either.

  9. I was walking in the streets too, Urban Guy. The sidewalks just were not safe – for the entire week! I don’t understand why so many businesses did nothing to clear the ice off the sidewalks in front of their businesses. All these people living downtown, all tired of being cooped up inside, all wanting to get out and about and spend money. Many braved the ice and risked injury to patronize our downtown businesses, but how many were discouraged by the conditions of the sidewalks?

    And where was the city? They were the worst offenders. The sidewalk in front of Krutch Park on Gay Street is still a sheet of ice. Same for the south side along Clinch where the trolley stops. Unsafe and unwelcoming. Crosswalks were filled with ice and slush. Trying to cross the streets made you sorry you even ventured out.

    The attitude seems to be that we just have to suffer through this and wait for it all to be over. This isn’t the attitude that has made downtown great. We have overcome much greater obstacles than this. And the solution is so simple – get a shovel and get to work! After a few days all that was required was to shovel the melted mess off the sidewalk during the day before it refrozen again at night.

    What if, after the first day, all of the sidewalks and street crossings were clear? I can picture the sidewalks full of people shopping, eating, strolling and enjoying a wonderful downtown experience. Maybe next time?

  10. Nice pics!

    Downtown businesses and the city have a bad attitude about clearing sidewalks. Businesses are responsible for clearing the sidewalk in front of their place. When they don’t, they’re liable if someone slips and hurts themself. I’m surprised they take the risk and leave ice/snow on the sidewalk. The potential lawsuits would scare the crap out of me.

    The city is just as bad. They cleared most of the ice from the sidewalk on the west side of Krutch Park, but left one icy patch to trap the unwary. Crazy. The south side of the park was never cleared and neither was the Gay Street sidewalk in front of Krutch Park extension. That stretch is still super-slick. Safety for pedestrians is clearly not a top priority.

  11. Thanks for the tour! As always, you have captured the beauty of the city. The photo of the building’s reflection in the BB&T windows is amazing. If you look closely, the windows appear to be melting, and the roof looks wavy. As you said, a win. If you haven’t already, you should give serious thought to putting your photos into a coffee table style book. That would be a win for all of us!

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