Known for the development of several marble quarries and finishing facilities in the late 19th century, most notably the Ross-Republic quarries at what is now the Ijams Nature Center, and the Candoro Marble Works in Vestal. The completion of the Henley Bridge in 1931 and the opening of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park shortly afterward led to an explosion of commercial development along Chapman Highway, the primary route connecting Knoxville with the park.
As of the 2000 census, South Knoxville had a population of 18,516 residents. Economic initiatives in recent years have centered on improving the waterfront for recreational and commercial uses, development of the Urban Wilderness trail system, and improving the aesthetics and accessibility of Chapman Highway and Maryville Pike. The University of Tennessee Medical Center is one of South Knoxville's largest employers.
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