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Sunsphere Tower, Knoxville

#9 of 98 in Things to do in Knoxville
Observation Deck · Hidden Gem · Tourist Spot
The Sunsphere, in Knoxville, Tennessee, is a 266ft high hexagonal steel truss structure, topped with a 75ft gold-colored glass sphere that served as the symbol of the 1982 World's Fair.DesignDesigned by the Knoxville architectural firm Community Tectonics, the Sunsphere was created as the theme structure for the 1982 World's Fair. It was noted for its unique design in several engineering publications.The World's Fair site later became a public park alongside Knoxville's official convention center and adjacent to the University of Tennessee's main campus. The Sunsphere remains standing directly across a man-made pond from the Tennessee Amphitheater, the only structure other than the Sunsphere that still remains from the 1982 World's Fair.In its original design, the sphere portion was to have had a diameter of 86.5ft to represent symbolically the 865000mi diameter sun. The tower's window glass panels are layered in 24-karat gold dust and cut to seven different shapes. It weighs 600 tons and features six double steel truss columns in supporting the seven-story sphere. The tower has a volume of 203689cuft and a surface of 16742sqft.HistoryDuring the fair it cost $2 to take the elevator to its observation deck. The tower served as a restaurant and featured food items such as the Sunburger and a rum and fruit juice cocktail called the Sunburst. In the early morning hours on May 12, 1982, a shot was fired from outside the fair site and shattered one of the sphere's windows. No one was ever arrested for the incident.
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TripAdvisor traveler rating 4.0
579 reviews
  • Absolutely beautiful.. first time ever visiting there besides the history that is given and the beautiful view. It's now a long lasting memory for me and my new fiance. He asked and I said yes..
  • Pretty cool view, but I recommend going when there is still light outside. At night the lights inside reflect off the glass and reduce your view to outside. It still is cool, but would be better during the daytime or at sunset.

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