Founded in 1786, Knoxville is the third-largest city in the U.S. state of Tennessee, U.S.A., behind Memphis and Nashville, and is the county seat of Knox County. It is the largest city in East Tennessee, and the second-largest city (behind Pittsburgh) in the Appalachia region. As of the 2000 United States Census, Knoxville had a population of 173,890; the July 2007 estimated population was 183,546. Knoxville is the principal city of the Knoxville Metropolitan Statistical Area with a metro population of 655,400, which is in turn the central component of the Knoxville-Sevierville-La Follette Combined Statistical Area with 1,029,155 residents.
Of Tennessee's four major cities, Knoxville is second oldest to Nashville, which was founded seven years earlier. After Tennessee's admission into the Union in 1796, Knoxville was the state's first capital, in which capacity it served until 1819, when the capital was moved to Murfreesboro, prior to Nashville receiving the designation. The city was named in honor of the first Secretary of War, Henry Knox.
One of Knoxville's nicknames is The Marble City. In the early 20th century, a number of quarries were active in the city, supplying Tennessee pink marble (actually Ordovician limestone of the Holston Formation) to much of the country. Notable buildings such as the National Gallery of Art in Washington are constructed of Knoxville marble. The National Gallery's fountains were turned by Candoro Marble Company, which once ran the largest marble lathes in the United States.