Waking up from a nap during a drive back from the beach, a young girl catches a glimpse of the Sunsphere and immediately knows it’s only a short hour until she’s back home for a more comfortable nap in her bed.
The young girl, now an adult, was me.
I’ve heard mixed reviews about the Sunsphere from different Knoxvillians. Some say it’s atrocious, while others have no clue what the thing is. Even Bart Simpson thought there may be a wig shop inside (and here’s a blog I stumbled upon looking for a video clip of the episode). I can remember taking field trips to the Knoxville Zoo in kindergarten and driving past, thinking it was a golden tee-ball perched on a stand.
Either way, it’s one of Knoxville’s most prominent pieces of architecture.
Built for the 1982 World’s Fair, the Sunsphere is now 26 years old and was recently re-modeled on the inside. It offers spectacular views of Downtown Knoxville and the University of Tennessee from the Observation Deck located on level 4. Tidbits of interesting history about Knoxville are displayed throughout the Observation Deck, giving visitors an understanding of what they’re looking at.
My first visit to the Sunsphere was both spontaneous and lovely. After dinner at The Bridge View Grill (located above the Lady Vols Boathouse on Neyland Drive), my boyfriend and I took a stroll ending at World’s Fair Park. Neither of us had been inside the Sunsphere, so we decided to satisfy our curiosity and go. It couldn’t have been a more perfect evening for it; a spring day was coming to a close and what better place to witness it than in the Sunsphere? Besides a prom going on upstairs, it was a perfect way to end a date.
Some may view the Sunsphere as a scar on the Knoxville skyline. Others may not have a clue what it is or what it means. But to me, it’s a golden ball full of memories, telling me I’m home.
Photography by theparadigmshifter