The 1982 World’s Fair, officially known as the Knoxville International Energy Exposition (KIEE) and simply as Energy Expo ’82 and Expo ’82, was an international exposition held in Knoxville, Tennessee, United States. Focused on energy and electricity generation, with the theme Energy Turns the World, it was officially registered as a “World’s Fair” by the Bureau International des Expositions (BIE).
The KIEE opened on May 1, 1982, and closed on October 31, 1982, after receiving over 11 million visitors. Participating nations included Australia, Belgium, Canada, The People’s Republic of China, Denmark, Egypt, France, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Japan, Luxembourg, Mexico, the Netherlands, Panama, Peru, the Philippines, Saudi Arabia, South Korea, the United Kingdom, the United States, and West Germany. It was the second World’s Fair to be held in the state of Tennessee, with the first being the Tennessee Centennial Exposition of 1897, held in the state’s capital, Nashville.
The fair was constructed on a 70-acre site between Downtown Knoxville and the University of Tennessee campus. The core of the site primarily consisted of a deteriorating Louisville and Nashville Railroad yard and depot. The railroad yard was demolished, with the exception of a single rail line, and the depot was renovated for use as a restaurant during the fair. The Sunsphere, a 266-foot steel tower topped with a five-story gold globe, was built as the main structure and symbol for the exposition. Today, the Sunsphere stands as a symbol for the city of Knoxville.