(Today’s article is by guest writer Luke Frazier.)
I just moved to Knoxville, and I’m really loving it. I live downtown and get to explore cool streets, alleys, and parks whenever I care to. Three days after I arrived, I heard the Sunsphere calling—the gold ball, the golf tee of the gods. I had already noticed that it was kind of a hide and seek thing among the buildings, glimpses here and then full shots. A twisty mystery.
I walked through Market Square, cut down Clinch St. and ambled over the pedestrian bridge. Oh my. There she was, a glorious testament to how Knoxville chose to impress the world back in 1982. Put it up and they will wonder: 266 feet tall with a 74-foot diameter. A combination of work by architects, contractors, three kinds of engineers, and plenty of construction workers. And somebody’s vision.
Evidently some town fathers, maybe mothers, made a point at a World’s Fair organizing meeting that what they really should do is build a tower with window glass panels layered in 24-karat gold dust. All right then.
A surprise awaited me—pay a small fee and ride to the observation level (198 feet). I got in the elevator with a family of four. We exchanged how-de-doos and I told them I moved here three days before and just had to take in the Sunsphere. Dad said they’ve lived there for two years and are just getting around to it.
Up I went then around the inside circle a few times, not knowing much of what I was seeing except downtown. I couldn’t find my building. When I saw enough, I rode down and an idea came up for a little personal game: Sphere Spotting. Quite simply—keeping an eye out for views of the Sunsphere as you move about the town.
Because the Sunsphere is one of those things that are kind of hidden in plain sight. I guess because many of us are usually busy and moving to and fro, concentrating on the was, or the will be. Taking the now for granted, letting things right in front of us pass us by. Instead, with our permission, they hide in the background.
My carnival-esque Sunsphere game evolved and I added an aesthetic component: comparing the different views I’ve caught and ranking them. So far, the winner is a tie between looking northwest from the west side of Gay Street bridge and standing near the steps in front of the LMU Law School, looking south.
I don’t know how long it will be until the frequent acknowledgement of the Sunsphere views fades from my routine, but I hope it’s awhile. Things hidden in plain sight have their own kind of power, and noticing them unleashes this power.