Once upon a time, in a place called Knoxville, a passenger arrived at the Southern Railroad station. The passenger wasn't carrying much luggage, just a small case. Given that he had no heavy burden, he thought, "what the hay, I'll just walk to the Andrew Johnson." He walked the nine blocks passing clothing shops, banks, restaurants, movie theaters, soda fountains, and druggists. He found a real city, an unbroken canyon of commerce all the way from the train rails to the railings on the Gay Street Bridge. There was so much hustle and bustle that there wasn't an open space between store fronts, not a parking lot or un-visited "park" in sight. And that, readers, is what Gay Street used to be like. So what happened, you might ask. Well readers, the 1970's happened, 1974-75 in particular. I haven't done the math, but I would be willing to wager that downtown proper lost more buildings between 1973-1976 than at any other time in its history. In those
Some comments by a reader have prompted me to say something about my recent absence. I have not been able to devote the time it takes to write these history posts as of late because my wife and I welcomed a baby into the world back in February. The little guy has completely captured my free time. Maybe one day I will be able to add the blog back into my juggling routine. Keep checking for updates.