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1982 World's Fair

From Academic Kids

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The 1982 World's Fair Logo.

The 1982 World's Fair was held in Knoxville, Tennessee in the United States. It opened on May 1, 1982 and closed on October 31, 1982 after receiving over 11 million visitors. With the theme of "Energy Turns the World," the fair was built on a largely-abandoned railroad yard next to downtown Knoxville (trains still ran through at night on the remaining track after the fair closed down) and the University of Tennessee.

The Sunsphere, a 266-foot steel tower topped with a five-story bronze globe, was built for the 1982 World's Fair. It is still standing and remains a symbol for the city of Knoxville.

The fair, run by the Knoxville International Energy Exposition, was widely considered to be a failure because of the lack of follow-on development and the bankruptcy of several local banks, in part due to World's Fair-related debt. The fact that this Fair has been largely forgotten even by residents of East Tennessee was spoofed in an episode of The Simpsons, in which Bart, Milhouse, Nelson and Martin take an ill-fated trip to Knoxville under the belief that the World's Fair is still taking place.

The biggest problem associated with the fair was probably the fact that local hotels and other accommodations were not allowed to take reservations for rooms during the fair directly. All room reservations had to be routed through the Knoxville Visitors' Bureau, Knoxvisit. This operation proved to be incredibly bureaucratic and inefficient, essentially totally incompetent, and all sorts of allegations of favoritism and corruption grew up around it. Finally it was decided to disband this monopoly and allow the properties to make reservations on their own, but by this point the event was winding down and a very poor reputation which was impossible to be obviated in the time remaining had been indelibly established.

This was actually the second World's Fair to be held in the state, the first being the Tennessee Centennial Exposition of 1897.

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