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Gay Street Project Offers Glimpse into Knoxville’s Past 
Reconstruction in the 700 block of South Gay Street recovered and preserved old rail trolley tracks.

As Knoxville's downtown evolves and its infrastructure is upgraded, glimpses of its past are sometimes revealed along the way. Reconstruction projects along the Cumberland Avenue Corridor and in the 700 block of South Gay Street have led to the uncovering of rail tracks from the trolleys of yesteryear.

Knoxville had an expansive rail trolley system from the early 1900s through the 1950s; approximately 25 cars served the downtown and Fort Sanders areas. Then, transportation habits and residential patterns changed, as suburbs sprang up and more and more people fell in love with the freedom of driving whenever and wherever they pleased. Knoxville's streets were adapted for cars, and rail-track trolleys lines were discontinued.

The old-time rail trolleys won't be coming back, but Knoxville Area Transit does offer a robust vehicular trolley system; KAT, in fact, begins an expanded trolley service on Monday, May 2 (check out the new routes HERE). And the new trend is avoiding commute time in cars in preference of walkability; downtown residency is expected to more than double in the next few years.

If you want to see what the old trolleys looked like, stop by the East Tennessee History Center on Gay Street. There, you can find a streetcar that operated in Knoxville in the 1920s and 1930s.

- Communications intern Tucker Hyde
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Posted by evreeland On 28 April, 2016 at 11:01 AM