“Attractions & Culture in Knoxville, TN”
Gay Street is a street in Knoxville, Tennessee, United States, that traverses the heart of the city's downtown area. Since its development in the 1790s, Gay Street has served as the city's principal financial and commercial thoroughfare, and has played a primary role in the city's historical and cultural development. The street contains Knoxville's largest office buildings and oldest commercial structures. Several buildings on Gay Street have been listed on the National Register of Historic Places.Part of Charles McClung's original 1791 plat of Knoxville, Gay Street was a focal point for the early political activity of both the city as well as the State of Tennessee. By 1850, Gay Street was home to three-fourths of Knoxville's commercial activity, and in 1854, the street became Knoxville's first paved road. On the eve of the Civil War, Gay Street was the site of simultaneous Union and Confederate recruiting rallies. After the war, Gay Street saw extensive commercial development as railroad construction brought an industrial boom to Knoxville.Gay Street and events that took place on Gay Street have been mentioned in the works of James Agee, Cormac McCarthy, Mark Twain, and George Washington Harris. Cultural institutions established along Gay Street include the Lawson McGhee Library (1885), the Bijou Theatre (1909), the Riviera Theatre (1920), the Tennessee Theatre (1928), and the East Tennessee History Center (2004). The Knoxville Journal, Knoxville Whig, and Knoxville Register were all once headquartered on Gay Street, and radio stations WNOX and WROL both broadcast from Gay Street at various times during the 20th century.
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