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Oak Ridge, Tennessee

From Academic Kids

Oak Ridge is a city located in Anderson and Roane Counties in eastern Tennessee, about 25 miles west of Knoxville. As of the 2000 census, the city had a total population of 27,387. Oak Ridge houses the headquarters of IPIX. Its nicknames are the Atomic City and the Secret City.

Contents

History

Before 1942 the area which now comprises Oak Ridge was rural, including several farm communities: Robertsville, Edgemoor, East Fork, Elza, Bethel, Scarboro, and Wheat. These communities were by far overshadowed by their neighbors: Clinton, in Anderson County and Kingston, in Roane County.

The area was chosen by the federal government as a site for developing materials for the Manhattan Project in 1942. Maj. Gen. Leslie Groves, military head of the Manhattan Project, liked the area for several reasons. Its relatively low population made acquisition affordable, yet the area was accessible by highway and rail. Both water and electricity were readily available. And because the area was sited within a 17-mile-long valley, and the valley itself was linear and partitioned by several ridges, it provided natural protection against disasters at the four major industrial plants -- so they wouldn't blow up "like firecrackers on a string".

It also helped keep the town a secret. Although the population of the settlement grew from about 3000 in 1942 to about 75,000 in 1945, and despite the fact that the K-25 uranium-separating facility by itself covered 44 acres and was the largest building in the world at that time, Oak Ridge was to be kept an official government secret. It did not appear on maps. It wasn't even named until 1949, referred to instead as the Clinton Engineering Works (CEW). All workers were badged, and the town was surrounded by guard towers, a fence, and seven gates.

Beginning in late 1942 the United States Army Corps of Engineers began acquiring more than 60,000 acres (240 km²) for the CEW under authority of the Corps' Manhattan Engineer District. The K-25, S-50, and Y-12 plants were each built in Oak Ridge to separate Uranium-235 from Uranium-238. The X-10 laboratory was established as a pilot plant for production of plutonium. Because of the large number of workers recruited to the area for the Manhattan Project, the Army planned a town for project workers at the eastern end of the valley. The time required for the project's completion caused the Army to opt for a relatively permanent establishment rather than a camp of enormous size.

The architecture firm Skidmore, Owings, and Merrill was contracted to provide a layout for the town and to provide house designs. Prefabricated modular homes, apartments, and dormatories, many made from cemesto (bonded cement and asbestos) panels, were quickly erected. Construction personnel swelled the wartime population of Oak Ridge to as much as 70,000. That dramatic population increase, and the secret nature of the project, meant chronic shortages of housing and supplies during the war years.

The use of the atomic bombs against Japan demonstrated to the people working at Oak Ridge for the first time just what they were working on. Two years after World War II ended, Oak Ridge was shifted to civilian control, under the authority of the Atomic Energy Commission. In 1959 the town was incorporated, and a city manager and City Council form of government was adopted by the community rather than direct federal control. Three of the four major facilities created for the wartime bomb production are still standing today. K-25, where uranium was enriched by the gaseous diffusion process until 1985, is now being decomissioned and decontaminated. Y-12, originally used for electromagnetic separation of uranium, is still in use for nuclear weapons processing and materials storage. X-10, site of a test graphite reactor, is now the site of Oak Ridge National Laboratory. Oak Ridge's scientific heritage is explored in the American Museum of Science and Energy.

The government projects at Oak Ridge are reduced in size and scope, the infrastructure that was new in the 1940s is aging, and the once-isolated city is now incorporated into the Knoxville metropolitan area. Oak Ridge, a proud city with historic international implications, now is challenged to blend into the suburban orbit of Knoxville while its heritage as a "supersecret" government installation subsides. Changing economic forces have led to continuing changes in the commercial sector. For example, the Oak Ridge Mall shopping center is largely empty and is scheduled for partial demolition and redevelopment into a more open type of shopping development beginning in June 2005. As Oak Ridge redefines its workforce and forges new economic directions, the city must determine whether its 20th century science roots are sustainable opportunities or simply historic footnotes.

It is worth noting that Oak Ridge National Laboratory is still the largest multipurpose lab in the National Laboratory system, and is also home to the Spallation Neutron Source, a 1.4 Billion dollar project slated for completion by 2010. Oak Ridge schools are consistently ranked among the best public school systems in the nation. In an August 2004 referendum, city voters approved an increase in local sales taxes to fund a 55 million dollar "rebuilding" project for the city's high school.

Geography

Oak Ridge is located at 35°59'18" North, 84°17'11" West (35.988230, -84.286312)Template:GR. Politically it is part of East Tennessee; physiographically it is in the Ridge-and-valley Appalachians.

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 232.9 km² (89.9 mi²). 221.6 km² (85.6 mi²) of it is land and 11.3 km² (4.4 mi²) of it is water. The total area is 4.86% water.

Demographics

As of the censusTemplate:GR of 2000, there are 27,387 people, 12,062 households, and 7,695 families residing in the city. The population density is 123.6/km² (320.1/mi²). There are 13,417 housing units at an average density of 60.6/km² (156.8/mi²). The racial makeup of the city is 86.96% White, 8.18% African American, 0.30% Native American, 2.10% Asian, 0.02% Pacific Islander, 0.76% from other races, and 1.68% from two or more races. 1.93% of the population are Hispanic or Latino of any race.

There are 12,062 households out of which 26.8% have children under the age of 18 living with them, 49.7% are married couples living together, 11.1% have a female householder with no husband present, and 36.2% are non-families. 32.7% of all households are made up of individuals and 15.0% have someone living alone who is 65 years of age or older. The average household size is 2.24 and the average family size is 2.83.

In the city the population is spread out with 22.4% under the age of 18, 6.6% from 18 to 24, 23.6% from 25 to 44, 26.3% from 45 to 64, and 21.1% who are 65 years of age or older. The median age is 43 years. For every 100 females there are 88.1 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there are 83.4 males.

The median income for a household in the city is $41,950, and the median income for a family is $57,087. Males have a median income of $45,149 versus $27,500 for females. The per capita income for the city is $24,793. 10.9% of the population and 8.0% of families are below the poverty line. Out of the total population, 17.5% of those under the age of 18 and 5.5% of those 65 and older are living below the poverty line.


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State of Tennessee
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Capital:

Nashville

Regions:

East Tennessee | Middle Tennessee | West Tennessee | Blue Ridge Mountains | Ridge-and-valley Appalachians | Cumberland Plateau | Highland Rim | Nashville Basin

Major Metros:

Chattanooga | Clarksville | Johnson City | Knoxville | Memphis | Murfreesboro | Nashville

Smaller Cities:

Athens | Bristol | Brownsville | Cleveland | Columbia | Cookeville | Crossville | Dickson | Dyersburg | Greeneville | Harriman | Jackson | Kingsport | La Follette | Lawrenceburg | Lebanon | McMinnville | Morristown | Newport | Oak Ridge | Paris | Sevierville | Shelbyville | Tullahoma | Union City | Winchester

Counties:

Anderson | Bedford | Benton | Bledsoe | Blount | Bradley | Campbell | Cannon | Carroll | Carter | Cheatham | Chester | Clairborne | Clay | Cocke | Coffee | Crockett | Cumberland | Davidson | Decatur | DeKalb | Dickson | Dyer | Fayette | Fentress | Franklin | Gibson | Giles | Grainger | Greene | Grundy | Hamblen | Hamilton | Hancock | Hardeman | Hardin | Hawkins | Haywood | Henderson | Henry | Hickman | Houston | Humphreys | Jackson | Jefferson | Johnson | Knox | Lake | Lauderdale | Lawrence | Lewis | Lincoln | Loudon | Macon | Madison | Marion | Marshall | Maury | McMinn | McNairy | Meigs | Monroe | Montgomery | Moore | Morgan | Obion | Overton | Perry | Pickett | Polk | Putnam | Rhea | Roane | Robertson | Rutherford | Scott | Sequatchie | Sevier | Shelby | Smith | Stewart | Sullivan | Sumner | Tipton | Trousdale | Unicoi | Union | Van Buren | Warren | Washington | Wayne | Weakley | White | Williamson | Wilson


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