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Built for the 1982 World’s Fair (one of the last successful World’s Fairs), this iconic feature of the Knoxville skyline is the only structure of its kind.
• The Sunsphere stands 26 stories tall.
• Each pane of glass is made with 24-karat gold, giving the sphere its reflective gold color. Each pane cost around $1,000 at the time of construction.
• The Observation Deck features a gallery of local images and information and offers a breathtaking 360-degree view of Knoxville.
• The Sunsphere stands proudly alongside other famous icons constructed specifically for World’s Fairs,most notably the Eiffel Tower (1889 World’s Fair) and the Seattle Space Needle (1962 World’s Fair).
• Rockabilly band Jason & the Scorchers performed atop the Sunsphere for a Memorial Day concert in 1990. Watch video
• Former Tennessee Vol Dane Bradshaw zip-lined from the top of the Sunsphere carrying the US flag to the Court of Flags for a ceremony celebrating the 25th Anniversary of the 1982 Worlds Fair. Watch video
• The Sunsphere was featured onThe Simpsons television episode “Bart on the Road” as the “Wigsphere”.
• The Rubik’s Cube made its debut at the 1982 World’s Fair. The world’s largest Rubik’s Cube, a gift from the Hungarian government, is on display inside the Knoxville Convention Center.
History of The Sunsphere:
• Designed by the architecture firm Community Tectonics as the theme structure for the 1982 World’s Fair, the Sunsphere is noted for its unique design in several engineering publications.
• Each pane of glass is made with 24-karat gold giving the Sphere its reflective gold color and each pane cost around $1,000 at the time of construction.
• During the time of the World’s Fair, the tower color was blue to represent the color of the sky. The current color of the tower is forest green.
• The Sunsphere and Tennessee Amphitheatre are the only structures that remain from the World’s Fair. NOTE: The Foundry on the Fair Site, built in 1865, was originally operated as a foundry for the casting of railroad spikes and flathead nails from cannonballs. The building fell into disuse, burned, and was later renovated to host the Strohaus throughout the 1982 World’s Fair. The Foundry was purchased in 1993 and reopened to host catered weddings and events.
Check out this video about remembering the World’s Fair in Knoxville.
Help us protect and preserve this ICONIC piece of the Knoxville Skyline
Visit Knoxville established The Sunsphere Fund in 2019 to preserve and maintain this historic structure.