Did you hear? BigWheel is rolling into the Lone Star State! We’re opening an office in Houston, which makes this the perfect time to show off the two great cities we call home.
Houston and Knoxville are more similar than you might think. Both have rich histories, lots of exciting things to do, and top-tier universities. Houston boasts a diverse population with a variety of cultures, music, and food. Knoxville, on the other hand, brings all the fun of a big city but in a smaller package! Both cities have something to offer whether you’re a fine arts lover, sports fanatic, music aficionado, or all of the above.
Named after the first elected president of Texas, Sam Houston, Houston began as a cotton-shipping port. Since then, it’s grown into the fourth largest city in the United States, as well as one of the country’s largest oil and petrochemical centers (Shell, ExxonMobil, BP). In addition to these industries, Houston is home to Texas Medical Center which contains the world's largest concentration of research and healthcare institutions. As one of the best cities for job creation in the U.S., Houston has become a hub of large businesses including Phillips 66, Group 1 Automotive, Halliburton, BMC Software, and many more. The city also boasts the second most Fortune 500 companies in the country. Despite all the business, Houston is probably known best for NASA and their Johnson Space Center.
Knoxville began with the establishment of James White’s Fort in 1786 during the mass settlement west of the Appalachians. Named after Secretary of War Henry Knox, Knoxville has become the third largest city in Tennessee. The railroad provided Knoxville with a boom in the manufacturing industry, but since then it has diversified to include businesses like Scripps Networks (now Discovery Inc.), Regal Entertainment, Bush’s Beans, and the Tennessee Valley Authority.
Turn Up the Volume
If you’re a music fan, both Knoxville and Houston are excellent spots to listen to some tunes. While Knoxville’s music history dates back to the musical traditions of European immigrants, today it’s home to musicians of every genre, whether classical, jazz, R&B, rock-n-roll, Americana, or the avant-garde sounds of ska, or techno. The historic Tennessee Theatre first opened its doors in 1928 and is still putting on shows from classical music (The Knoxville Symphony Orchestra is the oldest continuing orchestra in the southeast) to today’s hottest musicians. Several music festival are held throughout the year including Big Ears and Rhythm N’ Blooms.
Although Houston is a hotbed for music, it’s especially known for its Tejano (or Tex-Mex) music which contains elements from Mexico, other Latin American countries, and Texas. Selena, often referred to as “The Queen of Tejano,” is probably the most famous songwriter and singer of this genre. Today, Tejano music may not be as influential, but a handful of venues identify exclusively as Tejano clubs including Dorado Western Club and Rick’s Den.
Other genres are also flourishing in Houston. R&B singer Beyoncé, rockers ZZ Top, country legend Kenny Rogers, and blues master Lightnin’ Hopkins all hail from Houston. Music festivals such as In Bloom, Day for Night and Middlelands immerse Houston with popular musicians and new music every year.
Grab a Bite
In 2005, USA Today referred to Houston as “the dining-out capital of the nation.” Houstonians ate out at restaurants more often than residents of other American cities. As a port city, it is closely located to Latin America and the Cajun areas of Louisiana which gives them an extensive diversity of food. However, it’s not just Mexican and American fare, you can find Nigerian, Korean, and everything in between. There are too many delicious places to cover them all, so check out the 12 Houston 2018 James Beard semifinalists.
Knoxville may not have the clout of Nashville or Houston when it comes to food, but that doesn’t mean it’s lacking in yummy restaurants. The city actually boasts more restaurants per capita than any city in the U.S. Market Square provides a snapshot into the tasty food that Knoxville is cooking up on a daily basis. In addition, Visit Knoxville provides an informative list for all the restaurants downtown to help you make your eating decisions easier. Knoxville is a sprawling city so it’s easy to find just what you want nearby or in surrounding cities, like Maryville.
Things to Do
The Smoky Mountains and Knoxville are inexplicably intertwined. In just an hour drive, Knoxvillians can be in the most-visited National Park in the nation enjoying a waterfall hike or snapping pictures of wildlife. In terms of things to do, Knoxville packs a big punch in a small package. Whether you’re an outdoor enthusiast or would rather stay indoors, Knoxville has something for you. The Sunsphere is one of the highlights of the skyline and provides a beautiful view of the surrounding area while the Knoxville Museum of Artfeatures the artists of East Tennessee.
Houston may not have mountains to explore like Knoxville, but it is home to several of the world’s largest metro parks including Cullen Park, George Bush Park, and Memorial Park. Houston’s green spaces have enough space for an 18-hole golf course and facilities for sports and festivals. Even the Buffalo Bayou offers a place to kayak through an urban oasis. Of course, one of the most popular places to visit in Houston is the aforementioned Johnson Space Center, but Houston has a lot more to offer like the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo, the Houston Zoo, and America’s second-largest Chinatown.
Two of a Kind
If there’s one thing these two cities have in common, it’s the sayings that are used by locals. Southern sayings like “madder than a wet hen” and “bless your heart” are used in both cities so be prepared to decipher their meanings. In addition, continuous construction is a huge deal and it’s likely that you’ll hear at least one person complain about it during your visit.
So what are you waiting for? Check us out in both of these awesome cities!