Morristown is a city in and the county seat of Hamblen County, Tennessee, United States. The population was 29,137 at the 2010 United States Census. It is the principal city of the Morristown, Tennessee Metropolitan Statistical Area, which encompasses all of Grainger, Hamblen, and Jefferson counties. The Morristown metropolitan area is also a part of the Knoxville-Sevierville-La Follette Combined Statistical Area.
The first European settler of what eventually became Morristown was farmer Gideon Morris. It is recorded in Goodspeed's "History of Tennessee" that Gideon, along with an unspecified number of his siblings, arrived in the area of present-day Morristown from the Watauga Settlement, a short-lived semi-autonomous settlement located in northeast Tennessee that was originally leased from the resident Cherokee tribes during the 1770s.
Records in North Carolina indicate that the Morris clan moved to the Watauga Settlement from North Carolina. According to Cora Davis Brooks, author of "History of Morristown 1787 - 1936":
The settlement founded by Gideon has, as far as is known, always been called Morristown. No known records exist demonstrating land grants in the area to anyone aside from Gideon and his extended family. Jefferson County, located southwest of Hamblen County, possesses a record in the Jefferson County Court House of the results of the execution of Gideon Morris' will, which includes property deeded to John Morris in 1817 for a 400-acre (160 ha) tract of land originally granted to Gideon by the State of North Carolina, and presumably comprising only a portion of the original grant due to the known size of the Morris family at that time. The record further details the fact that Gideon lived on the 400-acre (160 ha) tract of land until his death, and the inference that he was buried in the Morris family graveyard ends the record.
The Morris family graveyard was located near the original family home. It is located on what is now called East Louise Avenue, south of Main Street in east Morristown, southeast of the Morristown-Hamblen Library. Today it consists of a single acre (4,000 m²) enclosed by a fence of iron, and has a simple sign affixed to its gate with nothing more than 'Morris' on the plate. The oldest date recorded on the burial slabs is for one John Morris, born in 1770. His wife, Rachel, is recorded nearby as having been born in 1786. Another notable stone marks the resting place of Mary Spoon, listed as born in 1779 and died in 1882, which would make her over one hundred three years old at the time of death.
Gideon was known to have had three sons with him when he arrived in the area of present-day Morristown. Their names are recorded as John, Gideon, and Shadrack.
One daughter of Gideon's by name of Elizabeth, is listed in official records as having married a man with the name of Hurst, and their son was James Hurst. At the present time, the name Hurst is fairly common in Hamblen and surrounding counties, with many of those bearing the name in prominent positions in those counties.
Morristown’s Main Street area, with an approximate area of a square mile, grew up directly above a main line railroad and a waterway known as Turkey Creek. In 1962, the creek flooded, nearly wiping out the downtown commercial district. At the same time, a suburban shopping mall on the city's west side was ruining the historic downtown district, and the city developed a plan to modernize Main Street by creating an "overhead sidewalk" that would turn the second floor of the existing buildings into a new "street" while serving as a canopy for the sidewalks below. Building owners spent nearly $2 million upgrading their properties and linking them to the ramp, while the government contributed over $5 million to build the ramp and place Turkey Creek underground. The project was completed in 1969, and the city fathers hoped it would turn the dilapidated central business district into a bright and enticing commercial haven and aesthetically place the downtown on par with any shopping center. In the end, however, the Skywalk was no match for air-conditioned and enclosed suburban shopping malls, and it has served as little more than a roof over the sidewalk and a remnant of the idealism of 1960s urban renewal. However, the overhead sidewalks still stand.
Morristown is embarking on a resurrection of the Skywalk as a social and commercial hub. A newly accessible ramp has been built up to the walkway, and it has been made a key element in a greenway master plan for the region. In an effort to renew public interest, city officials, the Downtown Morristown Association and the Morristown Area Chamber of Commerce hold events in the city's downtown or the "Skywalk District" throughout the year, mainly during the warmer months of May to September.
Morristown is located at coordinates: (36.210615, −83.296141).
According to the 2010 Census, the city has a total area of 20.9 square miles (54.1 km²).Some of the area is covered with water, specifically Cherokee Lake, an artificial reservoir built by the Tennessee Valley Authority in the 1940s.
Morristown falls in the humid subtropical climate zone (Köppen climate classification Cfa), although it is not quite as hot as areas to the south and west of Tennessee due to the higher elevations. Summers are hot and humid, with July highs averaging , lows averaging , and an average of 44 days per year with temperatures above . Winters are generally cool, with occasional small amounts of snow. January averages a high of around and a low of around , although low temperatures in the teens are not uncommon. The record high for Morristown, since 1991, is , while the record low is . Annual precipitation averages around 46.8 in (1,189 mm), and average winter snowfall is 10.3 inches (26 cm).
The 2010 census listed the following: 29,137 people, 11,412 households, and 7,278 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,194.7 people per square mile (461.2/km²). There were 12,705 housing units at an average density of 528.1 per square mile (203.9/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 75.5% White, 15.8% Hispanic or Latino, 6.4% African American, 0.8% Asian, 0.1% Native American, 0.1% Pacific Islander, and 1.3% of other races.
There were 11,412 households out of which 22.5% had children under 17 years of age living with them, 45.2% were married couples living together, 11.4% had a female householder with no husband present, and 36.2% were non-families. 31% of all households were made up of individuals and 11.0% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.47 and the average family size was 3.07.
In the city, the population was spread out with 24.85% under 17 years of age, 9.45% from 18 to 24, 26.5% from 25 to 44, 23.2% from 45 to 64, and 16% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 36 years. For every 100 females there were 91.2 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 91.9 males.
The median income for a household in the city was $27,005, and the median income for a family was $33,391. Males had a median income of $26,724 versus $20,515 for females. The per capita income for the city was $15,894. About 14.6% of families and 19.2% of the population were below the poverty line, including 24.9% of those under age 18 and 17.3% of those age 65 or over.