The Tri-Cities area consists of Bristol, Kingsport and Johnson City, along with the other towns in between, such as Blountville and Bluff City. While the area has many things in common, there are also many things that are different. Of course, there are the fairs and festivals that are unique to each of the cities, but that is just the beginning. When residents make a move from Bristol to Kingsport, there are some very unique things that they discover in their new city. In some ways, it is so close, but yet so far.
It might be assumed that moving from Johnson City to Kingsport, or vice versa, might not be as much of an adjustment, but Bristol is the smaller, slower leg of the triad. There are quite a few quirky little things about Kingsport that make it truly different, but the most obvious difference is the traffic. If you ask around, you will find that anyone in the Tri-Cities will answer that the most dangerous and challenging traffic in the Tri-Cities is in Kingsport, specifically on Stone Drive.
There are higher speed limits all around Kingsport than you would find in corresponding areas of Bristol. It is very disconcerting when a car flies by you on Stone Drive, but even more so in other less busy areas of town where you are not expecting it. However, it is fairly obvious that some of the situation is just the Kingsport drivers who drive much more hurriedly and aggressively than is the norm in Bristol. There are many places in the Kingsport area where you just cannot pull out and get across all the lanes of traffic during busy times of the day. This especially applies to Colonial Heights.
Speaking of Colonial Heights, there is an interesting combination of little towns and communities around Kingsport that are still very much a part of the Kingsport community, but still a distinct community of their own. The Kingsport leaders have been concerned for quite some time that most people who work in Kingsport do not live there, which is very true. Kingsport families are an odd kind of dual residents.
New residents may be very disturbed by the narrow railroad bridge tunnels around Kingsport, especially in Colonial Heights. A few have red lights, but most do not. Big round mirrors are used in these little narrow passageways. Coupled with the cars travelling at such a high rate of speed, these mirrors are frankly frightening! As far as I know, there is not one of these traffic mirrors in Bristol, so new transfers have a kind of learning curve.
There are beautiful green areas around Kingsport that can be enjoyed by families. Parks abound with Bays Mountain and Warrior’s Path two of the largest. There are many other parks scattered around, accessible also by bike trails. Kingsport has invested quite a lot to continue as they started in an organized, planned community that incorporates these green areas. Just recently, the city narrowed Center Street, a main thoroughfare, to only two lanes to make room for a bike lane. This is a bit confusing, though.
There seems to be a lot more people per square foot in Kingsport, and this feeling of being crowded takes a little adjustment, too. With this many people around everywhere you go, you don’t expect to sense the friendliness that is usually there. It’s kind of like a little town with lots of people.
However, if it just doesn't feel quite as safe going out at night in Kingsport as in Bristol, it's not your imagination. Neighborhood Scout.com provides some statistics that compare the crime rates in Kingsport and Bristol. In Bristol, the crime index is 11, meaning that it is safer than 11% of the cities in the United States, and Kingsport's index is at 3. The median is 3.9. (100 would be perfectly safe.) The chance of being a victim in Bristol is 1 in 189, but the stats for Kingsport are 1 in 135. Shortly upon moving here, a family member had her wallet stolen right out of her purse while shopping.
There is a bit of a learning curve upon moving to Kingsport and attempting to be part of the community, small and large. The feeling of connection you feel in Bristol is almost non-existent in Kingsport; everyone is so spread out. It turns out that the local newspaper in Kingsport, the Times-News, is one of the best tools for discovering the area. The newspaper plays a much more localized and central role in Kingsport than it does in Bristol. It is a cohesive force that ties all the loose parts together. It is noticeable upon first perusal that this is predominantly a locally-centered newspaper. It is basically a necessity for those new to the city.
Kingsport is one of the most interesting places to live in Tennessee. There is always something entertaining or educational to do, and the shopping and dining can't be beat. There are stores and restaurants tucked behind stores and restaurants. The choices seem endless, and the discovery process is lots of fun. This small-town Bristol writer is learning something interesting about her new city every day!