Built for the 1982 World’s Fair, the Sunsphere is a one-of-a-kind structure. The 4th Floor Observation Deck offers a breathtaking 360-degree view stretching from downtown to the Great Smoky Mountains including World’s Fair Park, the Tennessee River and the University of Tennessee Campus. A 1982 World’s Fair timeline, gallery, memorabilia and gift shop await you!
Visit Knoxville is pleased to welcome Randy Tyree to the Sunsphere team. Tyree is an East Tennessee native who served as Mayor of Knoxville during the 1982 World’s Fair. From May through October of that year, the Fair welcomed more than 11 million visitors from around the world. Visit Knoxville is thrilled to have Mayor Tyree at the Sunsphere to welcome visitors once again.
Over the course of 10 years, Tyree worked in law enforcement, including service with the Federal Bureau of Investigation as well as the Knoxville Police Department – also holding the title of Police Commissioner in the City of Knoxville.
Tyree was elected Mayor of Knoxville in 1975 at age 34. He was the city’s youngest candidate ever to hold that office and won re-election to a second four-year term to lead planning and preside over the city during the World’s Fair. The Performance Lawn at World’s Fair Park was named in his honor in September 2019.
You will find Mayor Tyree at the Sunsphere Tuesdays – Fridays from 10am-1:30pm. Make plans to visit with him now.
• 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).
• 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.
Please note: no food or drink is allowed on the Observation Deck. Please dispose of trash prior to entering. World’s Fair Park is pet friendly, but only service animals are allowed in the Sunsphere.
The Observation Deck of the Sunsphere is managed by Visit Knoxville in partnership with the City of Knoxville and Knox County.
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.
• 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 was renovated to host the Strohaus throughout the 1982 World’s Fair.
Be sure to visit other attractions in Tennessee such as the Zoo Knoxville, Knoxville Museum Of Art, East Tennessee Historical Society, Navitat Knoxville, Three Rivers Rambler, Ijams Nature Center, Tennessee Theatre, Blount Mansion, James White’s Fort.
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