Historic Old City

Region: Downtown
Jackson Avenue
Knoxville, TN 37902



The Old City occupies only a few linear blocks near the railroad on the northeastern corner of downtown, but its history is extraordinarily complex. It once contained the region’s highest density of saloons, and, for a while, Knoxville’s informal (and, for a while, formal) red-light district. During the same era, but for much longer, it was the city’s wholesale food district, and ensconced in it were flour and coffee factories which became famous. And it was also the meatpacking district, with a stockyard that attracted area cattlemen. At the same time, somehow, it was a residential neighborhood that included families of free slaves and their descendants as well as several waves of European immigrants.