“the most democratic place on earth”
Market Square is a pedestrian mall located in Knoxville, Tennessee, United States. Established in 1854 as a market place for regional farmers, the square has developed over the decades into a multipurpose venue that accommodates events ranging from concerts to political rallies, and has long provided a popular gathering place for artists, street musicians, war veterans, and activists. Along with the Market House, Market Square was home to Knoxville's City Hall from 1868 to 1924. Market Square was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1984.Land for the market place was given to the city by William G. Swan and Joseph A. Mabry. Farmers from the surrounding area would bring their wagons to the Market House, where they sold their produce and wares. During the Civil War, the Union Army used the Market House as a barracks and magazine. Knoxville's post-Civil War population boom brought about continued development in Market Square, most notably the construction of Peter Kern's confections store (now The Oliver Hotel) in 1875 and Max Arnstein's seven-story department store in 1906. After the Market House damaged by fire in 1960, the remainder of the building was demolished, and Market Square was converted into a pedestrian mall.A local newspaper once dubbed Market Square, "the most democratic place on earth," where "the rich and the poor, the white and the black, jostle each other in perfect equality." The Square has been mentioned in the works of James Agee, Cormac McCarthy, David Madden, and Richard Yancey, and has hosted performers ranging from Duke Ellington to Steve Winwood. Politicians and activists who have delivered speeches at the Square include Frances Willard, Booker T. Washington, William Jennings Bryan, Edward Ward Carmack, and Ronald Reagan.
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