By Ralphine Major
It was one of this area’s biggest developments following the 1982 World’s Fair.
In 1984, East Towne Mall brought to the east end of Knoxville what West Town gave the west end years earlier. When the two-story structure opened, gravel parking lots were used for the overflow of vehicles. Area residents and those from neighboring counties no longer had to travel the extra distance to West Town. For years, the mall bustled with activity, shoppers, and special events. Some people came in the early morning to do their daily walking in the spacious center. Others came to casually stroll down the corridors and just enjoy the beauty of the huge shopping mall. At one time, the atrium was even home to a beautiful flowing water fountain. Along with the larger anchor tenants, bookstores, a food court, and numerous specialty shops filled the vast building. No one could have even imagined then that decades later it would be any different.
Eventually, the East Towne Mall name was changed to Knoxville Center Mall. Over the years, eerie images surfaced of malls that have closed all across America. Sadly, Knoxville Center Mall is now a part of that group. One can only hope that the future plans for the mall building rekindle some of the excitement and growth the mall brought to East Tennessee—back in 1984.