What were the Biggest Downtown Stories of 2017?

Merchants of Beer, 137 South Central Street, Knoxville, May 2017
HGTV’s Urban Oasis Home, Fourth and Gill, Knoxville, August 2017

I always enjoy this look back at the end of the year. It gives me a chance to reflect on all the support I’ve gotten from various quarters and to quantify the growth of the blog in a way I don’t usually take the time to contemplate. Each year since I started the blog has been better than the year before and 2017 was no exception. I give each of you all the credit and I will be eternally grateful that you took this crazy ride with me whether you were on board from the beginning or just joined me today for the first time.

The blog has continued to win awards, which are always appreciated and also give a great assist to elevating its profile and lending the legitimacy of the groups involved. A great thank you to Blank Newspaper and the American Advertising Federation’s Knoxville Chapter for recognizing the blog this year.

Willow Avenue Elevation, Stockyard Lofts, Knoxville, July 2017

I’ve also continued partnerships and added new ones this year. It’s a trend you’ll see continue in the coming year. Blank Newspaper continues to carry one of my articles each month and I’ve just completed my first full calendar year of weekly radio shows on WUTK. The Sunday morning (10 AM) Knoxcentric radio show on WUTK has allowed me to expand the formats and include topics much better suited to that medium and I am very appreciative to the station and their great staff.

Television partnerships have also expanded this year. You may have seen me giving updates on downtown progress on WVLT with my friend Casey Wheeless. The recent Christmas spot there was particularly well received. I’ve also worked with WTNZ Fox 43 and Knoxville Weekend along with my friend Erin Slocum. What started as a sharing of content expanded to a Trolly Talk and then to segments featuring myself and Jack Neely of the Knoxville History Project looking at Knoxville Then and Now. Here are our first couple of episodes looking at Market Square and 36 Market Square (Market House Cafe).

Rendering of “Riverwalk by the Bridges”

A great word of appreciation goes to the advertisers who make it possible for me to spend so many hours on this site. Click their ads, check them out, do business with them and thank them for supporting a blog you enjoy.

It’s been a great year of growth on various social media platforms. Twitter (https://twitter.com/KnoxvilleUrbanGuy, @knoxvilleurbanguy) followers have grown this year from about 1880 to about 2400 and Instagram (https://www.instagram.com/knoxvilleurbanguy/)  followers increased from 1300+ to 1800+.  The Inside of Knoxville Facebook Page, which feeds a lot of the traffic, grew from 10,700 fans to over 13,300 by the end of the year. I hear I may be on Pinterest, of all things, very soon! Nearly 300 articles were published and the site was viewed over 900,000 times!

Kendrick Place, Knoxville, April 2017

A word on determining which articles are most “popular:” From a reader’s perspective, if an article elicits a lot of comments, it might seem to be a very popular article. As it turns out, some articles generate a lot of conversation, but not as much readership. Other times, a massive readership is generated for an article, but while many people are interested, there just isn’t that much to say. Here’s a list of the articles with the most comments this year:

10. HGTV Builds a Local Urban Oasis with a Little Help From Our Friends (September, 29 comments)

9. An Update on Riverwalk at the Bridges (The Baptist Hospital Site) (January, 31 comments)

7 (tie). SoKno Taco Cantina Opens Just South of Downtown (March, 33 comments)

7 (tie). The Telephone Building – The Second of Two Articles on the Downtown AT&T Building (October, 33 comments)

6. Stockyard Lofts: Major New Construction Announced for the Old City (July, 35 Comments)

5. Comments on Comments (September, 49 Comments)

4. Perennial Question: What Does Downtown Need? (October, 52 Comments)

3. Downtown Knoxville Project Updates (February, 53 Comments)

2. Saw Works Brewing Company: A Story of Promise and of Promises Broken (Part Two of Two) (September, 54 Comments)

1. Urban Father: A Tribute to Don Sims (December, 70 Comments)

A couple of notes on those articles are in order. First, they are mostly about business and development, which underscores the passion that goes with those topics and leads to conversation. The Saw Works article would have gone higher, but I cut comments off when they deteriorated to the point of nastiness. Which leads to the “Comments on Comments” article which I wrote in response to those comments, so my comments on comments drew a lot of comments. Finally, another “thank you” for all the kind words on the death of my father in the most commented article of the year.

Merchants of Beer, 137 South Central Street, Knoxville, May 2017

But what about most “read?” That’s really how I define the biggest or most popular stories of the year. A footnote to the numbers: They include only people who clicked directly to that article. Every day many people go directly to the homepage and read the new article, but since they didn’t click the article particularly, it doesn’t enter that article’s numbers. Still, the ranking should be accurate and you get an idea of the relative magnitude. So, let’s hit the top 25 of the year (#25 to #11 today):

#25. New Restaurant Opens at 19 Market Square: 19 Square Bar and Asian Kitchen (June, 4,206 views)

#24. Yes, They Are Open (Except One That Has Closed) (May, 4,386 views)

#23. A Long-term Downtown Business Closes (January, 4,558 views)

#22. A Look Inside the Keener Lighting Building, Plus Future Plans (August, 4,603 views)

#21. Central Filling Station: Year-Round Food Truck Park Coming to Central (October, 4,724 views)

#20. It’s Home Tour Season: A Small Preview of the City People Downtown Home Tour (April, 4,735 views)

#19. Plans Announced for a Major Building on Gay Street (October, 4,793 views)

#18. Merchants of Beer Opens at Last! (May, 4,811 views)

#17. Three Downtown Businesses Will Soon Be Forced to Relocate (August, 4,933 views)

#16. Landing House Opens on Sevier Avenue (July, 4,954 views)

#15. The Parlor at Maple Hall Opens on Gay Street (April, 5,438 views)

#14. An Update on Riverwalk at the Bridges (The Baptist Hospital Site) (January, 5,440 views)

#13. Stockyard Lofts: Major New Construction Announced for the Old City (July, 5,917 views)

#12. Yes, Downtown Knoxville Has a Pharmacy, And Now We Have a New Pharmacist (August, 6,126 views)

#11. HGTV Builds a Local Urban Oasis With a Little Help From Our Friends (September, 6,306 views)

Landing House, 1147 Sevier Avenue, Knoxville, July 2017

So, there is the buildup to the top ten. You’ll have to wait all the way to 2018 to learn what the top ten stories of 2017 turned out to be. That gives you the weekend to catch up on the articles above that slipped by you the first time – and plenty of time to join the fun on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook! I’ll catch you over the weekend for the 10 Day Planner. Have a very happy (and safe) New Year!