Chattanooga, Tennessee

Chattanooga, Tennessee
Chattanooga, Tennessee
Chattanooga from Lookout Mountain


Nickname(s): Scenic City (official), River City
Location within the US state of Tennessee
Coordinates: 35°2′44″N 85°16′2″W / 35.04556°N 85.26722°W / 35.04556; -85.26722Coordinates: 35°2′44″N 85°16′2″W / 35.04556°N 85.26722°W / 35.04556; -85.26722
Country United States
State Tennessee
Counties Hamilton, Marion
 - Mayor Ron Littlefield (D)
 - City 143.2 sq mi (370.8 km2)
 - Land 135.2 sq mi (352.2 km2)
 - Water 8.0 sq mi (20.6 km2)
Elevation 676 ft (206 m)
Population (2010)[1]
 - City 167,674
 - Density 1,264/sq mi (485/km2)
 Metro 518,441
Time zone EST (UTC-5)
 - Summer (DST) EDT (UTC-4)
Area code(s) 423
FIPS code 47-14000[2]
GNIS feature ID 1307240[3]

Chattanooga is the fourth-largest city in the US state of Tennessee (after Memphis, Nashville and Knoxville), with a population of 169,887. It is the seat of Hamilton County. Located in southeastern Tennessee on Chickamauga Lake and Nickajack Lake, which are both part of the Tennessee River, Chattanooga lies approximately 120 miles (190 km) to the northwest of Atlanta, Georgia, 120 miles (190 km) to the southwest of Knoxville, about 135 miles (217 km) to the southeast of Nashville, and about 148 miles (238 km) to the northeast of Birmingham, Alabama. Chattanooga abuts the Georgia border, and the region is at the junction of three major interstate highways: I-24, I-75, and I-59.

The city, which has a downtown elevation of approximately 680 feet (210 m), lies at the transition between the ridge-and-valley portion of the Appalachian Mountains and the Cumberland Plateau. The city is therefore surrounded by various mountains and ridges. The official nickname for Chattanooga is the Scenic City.

Chattanooga is ranked 8th out of America's 100 largest metro areas for the best "Bang For Your Buck" city, according to Forbes magazine.[4] The study measured overall affordability, housing rates, and more.



The first inhabitants of the Chattanooga area were American Indians. Sites dating back to the Upper Paleolithic period showed continuous occupation through the Archaic, Woodland, Mississippian/Muskogean (900–1650), and Cherokee (1776–1838) periods.

The first part of the name "Chattanooga" derives from the Muskogean word cvto /cható/ – 'rock'.[5] The latter may be derived from a regional suffix -nunga meaning dwelling or dwelling place.

Cherokee Chief John Ross, whose first language was English and whose family moved to the area in the 19th century, was said to have stated[6] that Chattanooga was Cherokee for "The Big Catch" because of good fishing on the Tennessee River.

A late 19th century history recounted:

With only occasional allusion to the various interpretations of Cherokee names, which have so long been accepted as true, their actual meaning, as derived from John Ross, the celebrated Cherokee chief, and from Lewis Ross, his brother, are here given. Chattanooga, originally was the name of a small Indian hamlet, situated near the base of Lookout Mountain, on the bank of Chattanooga creek. It means, in the Cherokee language, "to draw fish out of water", and hence was applied to the collection of huts, which were occupied by Indian fishermen. The humble hamlet disappeared, and its name, at first suggestive and appropriate, was inherited by the town of the white man, with meaningless application. A somewhat similar name was applied by the Cherokees to the cliffs, rising boldly from the river above the town, which was derived from Clanoowah, the name of a warlike but diminutive hawk, which was supposed to embody the spirit of the tribe. These cliffs were the favorite nesting-place of the bird, and hence a name was given which expressed this fact, and which, perhaps, has suggested the myth, that 'Chattanooga' means 'eagle's nest.'[7]

The earliest Cherokee occupation dates from Dragging Canoe, who in 1776 separated himself and moved downriver from the main tribe to establish American Indian resistance (see Chickamauga Wars) to European settlement in the southeastern United States. In 1816 John Ross, who later became Principal Chief, settled here and established Ross's Landing. Located along what is now Broad Street, it became one of the centers of Cherokee Nation settlement, which also extended into Georgia and Alabama.[8]

In 1838 the US government forced the Cherokees, along with other American Indians from southeastern U.S. states, to relocate in what is presently the state of Oklahoma. Their journey west became known as the "Trail of Tears" for their exile and fatalities along the way. The US Army used Ross's Landing as the site of one of three large internment camps, or "emigration depots", where American Indians were held prior to the journey on the Trail of Tears. One of the internment camps was located in Fort Payne, Alabama and the largest was at Fort Cass, Tennessee.[9]

In 1838, the community of Ross's Landing incorporated as the city of Chattanooga, the Creek word for Lookout Mountain.[10] The city grew quickly, initially benefiting from a location well-suited for river commerce. With the arrival of the railroad in 1850, Chattanooga became a boom town. The city was known as the site "where cotton meets corn," referring to its location along the cultural boundary between the mountain communities of Southern Appalachia to the north and the cotton-growing states to the south.[8]

Confederate prisoners of war at a railroad depot in Chattanooga

During the American Civil War, Chattanooga was a center of battle. During the Chickamauga Campaign, Union artillery bombarded Chattanooga as a diversion and occupied it on September 9, 1863. Following the Battle of Chickamauga, the defeated Union Army retreated to safety in Chattanooga. On November 23, 1863, the Battles for Chattanooga began when Union forces led by Maj. Gen. Ulysses S. Grant reinforced troops at Chattanooga and advanced to Orchard Knob against Confederate troops besieging the city. The next day, the Battle of Lookout Mountain was fought, driving the Confederates off the mountain. On November 25, Grant's army routed the Confederates in the Battle of Missionary Ridge. These battles were followed the next spring by the Atlanta Campaign, beginning just over the nearby state line in Georgia and moving southeastward.

Market Street in 1907

After the war ended, the city became a major railroad hub and industrial and manufacturing center.[11] By the 1930s it was known as the "Dynamo of Dixie", inspiring the 1941 Glenn Miller big-band swing song "Chattanooga Choo Choo".

However, the same mountains that provided Chattanooga's scenic backdrop also served to trap industrial pollutants which caused them to settle over the community, so much so that in 1969, the federal government declared that Chattanooga's air was the dirtiest in the nation. But environmental crises were not the only problems plaguing the city. Like other early industrial cities, Chattanooga entered the 1980s with serious socioeconomic challenges, including job layoffs due to de-industrialization, a deteriorating city infrastructure, racial tensions and social division. Because of these factors, Chattanooga's population declined by more than 10% in the 1980s. However, Chattanooga was the only major U.S. city to lose this proportion of its population in the 1980s and then regain growth in the next two decades.[12]

In recent years, private and governmental resources have been invested in transforming the city's tarnished image. They have worked to revitalize its downtown and riverfront areas, making use of its natural resources.[13][14] An early cornerstone of this project was the restoration of the historic Walnut Street Bridge. The Walnut Street Bridge is the oldest surviving bridge of its kind in the Southeastern United States.[15]

Efforts to improve the city include the "21st Century Waterfront Plan" – a $120 million redevelopment of the Chattanooga waterfront and downtown area. The Tennessee Aquarium has become a major waterfront attraction that has helped to spur neighborhood development.[16] Over the last ten years the city has won three national awards for outstanding "livability", and nine Gunther Blue Ribbon Awards for excellence in housing and consolidated planning.[17]


Downtown Chattanooga

Chattanooga's economy includes a diversified and growing mix of manufacturing and service industries.

Notable Chattanooga businesses include Access America Transport, BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee, CBL & Associates, The Chattanooga Bakery, Chattem, the world's first Coca-Cola bottling plant, Coker Tire, Coptix, Covenant Transport, Double Cola, Gordon Biersch Brewery Restaurant Group, Krystal, Litespeed, Miller & Martin, National Model Railroad Association, Olan Mills, Inc., Republic Parking System, Retro Television Network (RTN), Rock/Creek, Southtree, Tricycle Inc., and Unum. The city also hosts large branch offices of Cigna, AT&T, T-Mobile USA and UBS. McKee Foods Corporation, maker of Little Debbie brand snack cakes, is a privately held, family-run company headquartered in nearby Collegedale, Tennessee.

Notable companies that have manufacturing or distribution facilities in the city include Alstom, BASF, DuPont, Invista, Komatsu, Rock-Tenn, Plantronics, Domtar Corp., Norfolk Southern, Alco Chemical, Colonial Pipeline and Buzzi Unicem. The William Wrigley Jr. Company has a prominent presence in Chattanooga, now the sole production facility for Altoids breath mint products. There is also a Vulcan Materials quarry in the vicinity of the city.

In May 2011, Volkswagen Group of America inaugurated its Chattanooga Assembly Plant.[18] The $1 billion plant, opened in May 2011,[citation needed] will serve as the group's North American manufacturing headquarters. The plant is the first for Volkswagen since the 1988 closure of the Volkswagen Westmoreland Assembly Plant near New Stanton, Pennsylvania.[19]

In addition to corporate business interests, there are many retail shops in Chattanooga, including three shopping malls: Hamilton Place Mall in East Brainerd, Northgate Mall in Hixson, and Eastgate Mall in Brainerd.


Chickamauga Lock and Dam on the Tennessee River at Chattanooga

Electric power for most of the city and surrounding area is provided by the city-run Electric Power Board (EPB). EPB is also providing high-speed Internet service, video, and telephone service to business and residential customers throughout Hamilton County.[20] The services that EPB provides to residents and businesses throughout Hamilton County is done via what is the nation's largest municipally owned fiber-optic system.[21][22] The TVA operates the nearby Sequoyah Nuclear Power Plant, Chickamauga Dam and the Raccoon Mountain Pumped-Storage Plant, all of which provide electricity to the greater Chattanooga area. TVA's corporate power generation and distribution organization is also headquartered in downtown Chattanooga.

Natural gas and water are provided by the privately run Chattanooga Gas Company and Tennessee-American Water Company, respectively. In 2005 Mayor Ron Littlefield stated his desire for the city to purchase the Tennessee-American Water Company,[23] which was sold in a public offering in 2007.[24] Former Mayor Jon Kinsey's attempts to have the city buy control of Tennessee-American Water were defeated in court.

Comcast is the cable provider for most areas of the city. The incumbent telephone company is AT&T. However, competing phone companies, cellular phones and VoIP are making inroads. A major interstate fiber optics line operated by AT&T traverses the city, making its way from Atlanta to Cincinnati.

Politics, government and law

The current mayor is Ron Littlefield, a long-time city councilman, who was elected in a run-off election in April 2005. Mayor Littlefield was reelected to a second four year term in March 2009.

The city operates under a charter granted by the state legislature in 1852, and the charter has been subsequently amended. The city operates under a strong mayor system.

See a list of Mayors of Chattanooga, Tennessee.

The city's legislative branch is split up into nine districts, with a council member for each district selected in partisan elections. The current council members are Deborah Scott (District 1), Sally Robinson (District 2), Pam Ladd (District 3), Jack Benson (District 4), Russell Gilbert (District 5), Carol Berz (District 6), Manuel "Manny" Rico (District 7), Andrae McGary (District 8) and Peter Murphy (District 9).


Primary and secondary education

Most of Chattanooga's primary and secondary education is funded by the government. The public schools in Chattanooga (and Hamilton County) fall under the purview of the Hamilton County School System.[25] The Howard School, now a magnet school, was the first public school in the area, established in 1865 after the Civil War.[26] The Chattanooga School for the Arts and Sciences and the Chattanooga High School Center for Creative Arts are additional public magnet schools.

In addition, the city is home to several private and parochial secondary schools, including Baylor School, Boyd-Buchanan School, McCallie School, Girls Preparatory School, Chattanooga Christian School, and Notre Dame High School. Siskin Children's Institute in Chattanooga is a specialized institution in the field of early childhood special education.[27]

Higher education

University of Tennessee at Chattanooga's Founders Hall

In addition to the various elementary, middle and secondary schools that Chattanooga has, a variety of higher education institutions can be found in the city and nearby. The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga is the second largest campus of the University of Tennessee System, with a student population of over 10,000.[28] Chattanooga State Community College is a two-year community college with a total undergraduate enrollment of roughly 11,000 students. Tennessee Temple University is a Baptist college located in the Highland Park neighborhood. Chattanooga is also home to a branch of the University of Tennessee College of Medicine, which provides medical education to third and fourth year medical students, residents, and other medical professionals in southeast Tennessee through an affiliation with Erlanger Health System. Covenant College, a private liberal arts college operated by the Presbyterian Church in America, is located in the adjacent suburb of Lookout Mountain, Georgia, and has a student population of about 1,000. Southern Adventist University is located in the suburb of Collegedale, Tennessee, and enrolls roughly 3,000 students.

Public library

The Chattanooga-Hamilton County Bicentennial Library system had been jointly operated by the city and county governments since 1976; but due to a recent change in the distribution of sales tax, the city has taken over full funding.[29] The city was gifted with a Carnegie library in 1904, and the two-story purpose-built marble structure survives to this day at Eighth Street and Georgia Avenue as commercial office space. In 1939, the library moved to Douglas Street and McCallie Avenue and shared the new building with the John Storrs Fletcher Library of the University of Chattanooga. This building is now called Fletcher Hall and houses classrooms and offices for the University. The city library was moved to its third and current location in 1976 at the corner of Tenth and Broad streets.

Health care

Chattanooga's health care sector has three hospital systems. Erlanger Hospital is a non-profit academic teaching center affiliated with the University of Tennessee's College of Medicine.[30] It's also the area's primary trauma center, a Level-One Trauma Center for adults, and the only provider of tertiary care for the residents of southeastern Tennessee, north Georgia, north Alabama, and western North Carolina.[30] Erlanger treats approximately 250,000 people every year.[30] In 2008, Erlanger was named one of the nation's "Top 100 teaching hospitals for cardiovascular care" by Thomson Reuters.[31] Erlanger has been operated by the Chattanooga-Hamilton County Hospital Authority since 1976.[32]

Parkridge Hospital is located east of downtown in the Glenwood District and is run by Tri-Star Healthcare. Tri-Star also operates Parkridge East Medical Center in nearby East Ridge. Also located downtown is Memorial Hospital, which is operated by Catholic Health Initiatives. In 2004, Memorial was named one of the "Top 100 teaching hospitals" by Solucient Top Hospitals.[33]

Culture and tourism


Modern extension of the Hunter Museum of American Art

Chattanooga is home to the Hunter Museum of American Art. As the birthplace of the tow truck, Chattanooga is the home of the International Towing and Recovery Hall of Fame and Museum.[34] Another transportation icon, the passenger train, can be found at the Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum, or called TVRM by locals, which is the largest operating historic railroad in the South. Other notable museums include the Chattanooga Regional History Museum,[35] the National Medal of Honor Museum,[36] the Houston Museum,[37] the Chattanooga African American Museum,[38] and the Creative Discovery Museum.[39]

Arts and literature

Chattanooga has a range of performing arts in different venues. Its historic Tivoli Theatre has been renovated and is home to the Chattanooga Symphony and Opera, under the baton of Kayoko Dan.[40] The Chattanooga Theatre Centre offers 15 productions each year in three separate theater programs: the Mainstage, the Circle Theater, and the Youth Theater.[41] Another popular performance venue is Memorial Auditorium.

Chattanooga hosts several writing conferences, including the Conference on Southern Literature[42] and the Festival of Writers,[43] both sponsored by the Arts & Education Council of Chattanooga.[44]


Tennessee Aquarium

Chattanooga touts many attractions, including the Tennessee Aquarium, caverns, and new waterfront attractions along and across the Tennessee River. In the downtown area is the Chattanooga Choo Choo Hotel, housed in the renovated Terminal Station and exhibiting the largest HO model train layout in the United States. Also downtown are the Creative Discovery Museum, a hands-on children's museum dedicated to science, art, and music; an IMAX 3D Theatre; and the newly expanded Hunter Museum of American Art. The Tennessee Riverwalk, an approximately 13-mile (21 km) long trail running alongside the river, is another attraction for both tourists and residents alike.

Across the river from downtown is the North Shore district, roughly bounded by the Olgiati Bridge to the west and Veterans Bridge to the east. The newly renovated area draws locals and tourists to locally owned independent boutiques and restaurants, plus attractions along the Chattanooga Riverpark system, including Coolidge Park[45] and Renaissance Park.[46] Chattanooga's only floating hotel, the Delta Queen, is a unique attraction alongside the North Shore, and is permanently docked at Coolidge Park.

The Chattanooga Zoo at Warner Park is located a short distance from the downtown area.

Parks and natural scenic areas provide other attractions. The red-and-black painted "See Rock City" barns along highways in the Southeast are remnants of a now-classic Americana tourism campaign to attract visitors to the Rock City tourist attraction in nearby Lookout Mountain, Georgia. The mountain is also the site of Ruby Falls and Craven's House.[47] The Lookout Mountain Incline Railway is a steep funicular railway that rises from the St. Elmo Historic District to the top of the mountain, where passengers can visit the National Park Service's Point Park and the Battles for Chattanooga Museum.[48] Formerly known as Confederama, it contains a diorama that details the Battle of Chattanooga. From the military park, visitors can enjoy the panoramic views of Moccasin Bend and the Chattanooga skyline from the mountain's famous "point" or from vantage points along the well-marked trail system.

Near Chattanooga, the Raccoon Mountain Reservoir, Raccoon Mountain Caverns and Reflection Riding Arboretum and Botanical Garden boast a number of outdoor and family fun opportunities. Other arboretums include Bonny Oaks Arboretum, Cherokee Arboretum at Audubon Acres and Cherokee Trail Arboretum. The Ocoee River, host to a number of events at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics, features rafting, kayaking, camping and hiking. Also just outside Chattanooga is the Lake Winnepesaukah amusement park. The Cumberland Trail begins in Signal Mountain, just outside of Chattanooga.

Maggie the Mayfield cow at the Chattanooga Market.

Festivals and events

Chattanooga hosts the Riverbend Festival, an annual nine-day music festival held in June in the downtown area. One of the most popular events is the "Bessie Smith Strut", a one-night showcase of blues and jazz music named for the city's most noted blues singer. The annual "Southern Brewer's Festival" and the "River Roast" festival celebrate such traditional Southern staples as beer and barbecue.

New events, such as GoFest!,[49] "Between the Bridges" wakeboard competition and Talespin[50] attract new audiences. Back Row Films is a city-wide celebration of film co-sponsored by the Hunter Museum of American Art, the Arts & Education Council and UTC.[51]

"Nightfall"[52] is the free weekly concert series in Miller Plaza on Friday nights that continues to bring an eclectic mix of rock, blues, jazz, reggae, zydeco, funk, bluegrass, and folk to downtown Chattanooga from Memorial Day until the end of September. The Chattanooga Market features events all year round as part of the "Sunday at the Southside", including an Oktoberfest in mid-October.

The Chattanooga Dulcimer Festival, held each June, features workshops for mountain dulcimer, hammered dulcimer, and auto harp, among others, along with performances by champion performers from across the nation.[53] Chattanooga is also the center of much bluegrass music. In 1935, as well as from 1993 to 1995, the city hosted the National Folk Festival.

Each January, Chattanooga plays host to Chattacon,[54] a science fiction and fantasy literary convention. The convention is organized by the nonprofit Chattanooga Speculative Fiction Fans, Inc. First held in 1976, the convention drew more than 1,000 attendees to the Chattanooga Choo Choo Hotel in 2010.


Chattanooga was the home of the NCAA Division I Football Championship game, which had been held at the Max Finley Stadium, which is south of downtown, from 1997 to 2009. From 2010 to 2012, the Dallas, Texas suburb of Frisco will host the NCAA Division I Football Championship game.

The Chattanooga Lookouts, a Class AA Southern League baseball team affiliated with the Los Angeles Dodgers,[55] boast a loyal following and respectable participation in season-end playoffs. Games take center stage at the downtown AT&T Field with tickets starting at only $4.

Chattanooga is also home to Chattanooga FC, a semi-professional soccer team that currently plays in the National Premier Soccer League.

The Southern Chiefs Rugby League Football Club are a rugby league team who are hoping to compete in the AMNRL by 2012. They aim to compete in AMNRL events in 2011 and introduce the game into high schools and colleges in the area.[56]

CJR Leightweight Double Head of the Hooch 2009

The Tennessee River, which flows through the middle of Chattanooga, is a great place to row. The well-known Head of the Hooch rowing regatta takes place in downtown Chattanooga during the first weekend of November. The head race originally took place on the Chattahoochee River in Atlanta, giving it the name the Head of the Hooch. With 1,922 boats in 2010, this ranked as the 2nd largest regatta in the United States.[57] There are multiple rowing clubs such as the Lookout Rowing Club for adults and Chattanooga Junior Rowing Club for high school students. The weekend of the Head of the Hooch also sees hot-air balloon rides and other activities.

Outdoor sports

Due to its location at the junction of the Cumberland Plateau and the southern Appalachians, Chattanooga has become a haven for outdoor sports such as hunting, fishing, trail running, road running, adventure racing, rock climbing, mountain biking and road biking. The city boasts a number of outdoor clubs: Scenic City Velo, SORBA-Chattanooga, The Wilderness Trail Running Association, and The Chattanooga Track Club. The city also funds Outdoor Chattanooga, an organization focused on promoting outdoor recreation. In September 2004, the city appointed its first-ever executive director of Outdoor Chattanooga to implement the organization's mission, which includes promoting bicycling for transportation, recreation and active living.[58] For paddlers, Chattanooga offers the Tennessee River Blueway, a 50-mile (80 km) recreational section of the Tennessee River that flows through Chattanooga and the Tennessee River Gorge. The Tennessee Aquarium has a high speed catamaran, the River Gorge Explorer, to allow up to 70 people to explore the Tennessee River Gorge.[59] The Explorer departs from the Chattanooga Pier.[60]


Historical populations
Census Pop.
1870 6,093
1880 12,892 111.6%
1890 29,100 125.7%
1900 30,154 3.6%
1910 44,604 47.9%
1920 57,895 29.8%
1930 119,798 106.9%
1940 128,163 7.0%
1950 131,041 2.2%
1960 130,009 −0.8%
1970 119,923 −7.8%
1980 169,514 41.4%
1990 152,466 −10.1%
2000 155,554 2.0%
2010 167,674 7.8%

As of the census[2] of 2000, there were 155,554 people, 65,499 households, and 39,626 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,150.5 people per square mile (444.2/km²). There were 72,108 housing units at an average density of 533.3 per square mile (205.9/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 59.71% White, 36.06% Black, 0.29% American Indian, 1.54% Asian, 0.11% Pacific Islander, 1.01% from other races, and 1.30% from two or more races. 2.11% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race. The 2006 revised estimated population was 168,293 which is an 8.4% percent increase over the original 2006 estimate. In 2009, the US Census Bureau estimated that Chattanooga's overall population grew some 9.3% from 2000 to 2008, which is as fast as Tennessee's largest cities. Also, the Census Bureau reported that it estimated that the city of Chattanooga added some 15,326 residents since the 2000 census, for an estimated 2008 population of 170,880 people.[12]

There were 65,499 households out of which 25.3% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 39.2% were married couples living together, 17.3% had a female householder with no husband present, and 39.5% were non-families. 33.5% of all households were made up of individuals and 11.6% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.29 and the average family size was 2.92. Same-sex couple households comprised 0.4% of all households.[61]

In the city the population was spread out with 22.4% under the age of 18, 10.8% from 18 to 24, 28.8% from 25 to 44, 22.8% from 45 to 64, and 15.2% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 37 years. For every 100 females there were 89.3 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 85.2 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $32,006, and the median income for a family was $41,318. Males had a median income of $31,375 versus $23,267 for females. The per capita income for the city was $19,689. About 14.0% of families and 17.9% of the population were below the poverty line, including 27.0% of those under age 18 and 13.8% of those age 65 or over.

Chattanooga's Metropolitan Statistical Area, which includes Hamilton, Marion, and Sequatchie counties in Tennessee and Catoosa, Dade, and Walker counties in Georgia, grew from 476,531 people, as of the 2000 census, to 496,704 people, as estimated on July 1, 2006.[62] By July 1, 2008, the US Census Bureau had estimated the Chattanooga metropolitan area had grown to 518,441 people, up 9.6% from July 2006.[63] The Chattanooga-Cleveland-Athens Combined Statistical Area, which includes Bradley, Hamilton, Marion, McMinn, Polk, and Sequatchie counties in Tennessee, and Catoosa, Dade, and Walker counties in Georgia, had an estimated population of 658,201 in 2006.[64] The Chattanooga-Cleveland-Athens Combined Statistical Area had an estimated population of 683,095 people, as of July 1, 2008, up 9.6% from July 2006.[65]


Location of Chattanooga, Tennessee

The city is located at latitude 35°4' North, longitude 85°15' West.

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 143.2 square miles (371 km2), of which, 135.2 square miles (350 km2) of it is land and 8.0 square miles (21 km2) of it (5.56%) is water.

The most prominent natural features in and around Chattanooga are the Tennessee River and the surrounding highlands. The city is nestled between the southwestern Ridge-and-valley Appalachians and the foot of Walden's Ridge; the river separates the ridge from the western side of downtown. Several miles east, the city is bisected by Missionary Ridge, which hosted an important battle of the American Civil War.

The Tennessee River is impounded by the TVA's Chickamauga Dam north of the downtown area. Five automobile bridges, one railroad trestle, and one pedestrian bridge cross the river.

Road transport is served by Interstate 75 to Atlanta and Knoxville, Interstate 24 to Nashville, and Interstate 59 to Birmingham. Chattanooga and the surrounding area is served by the Chattanooga Metropolitan Airport. Rail freight is offered by CSX to Atlanta and Nashville, and Norfolk Southern to Atlanta, Birmingham, Cincinnati, Knoxville and Memphis.


In addition to the restoration of downtown, many of Chattanooga's neighborhoods have experienced a rebirth of their own. Chattanooga has many buildings on the National Register of Historic Places, including three neighborhoods: Fort Wood, Ferger Place, and St. Elmo. Additionally, Chattanooga has four local historic districts—St. Elmo, Fort Wood, Battery Place and Ferger Place. The neighborhoods of Highland Park and Glenwood also are being considered for designation.[66]

  • Alton Park
  • Avondale
  • Brainerd
  • Bonny Oaks
  • Bushtown
  • Clifton Hills
  • East Brainerd
  • East Chattanooga
  • East Lake
  • Eastdale
  • Ferger Place
  • Fort Wood
  • Glenwood
  • Highland Park
  • Hill City
  • Hixson
  • Hwy 58
  • Jefferson Heights
  • Lookout Valley (also known as Tiftonia and Wauhatchie)
  • Lupton City
  • Missionary Ridge
  • North Chattanooga
  • Orchard Knob
  • Pineville
  • Ridgedale
  • Riverview
  • Rossville (not to be confused with the nearby city of Rossville, Georgia)
  • Southside
  • Stuart Heights
  • Tyner
  • St. Elmo

Important suburbs


Chattanooga, as with much of Tennessee, has a four-season humid subtropical climate (Koppen Cfa). Winter days are usually mild but there are several days per annum where conditions stay at or below freezing all day.[67] Snow is not common and the 1971–2000 snowfall seasonal median has been 0.6 inches (1.5 cm).but in the winter of 2011, 11 inches was recorded between January 9–10, 2011.[67] Summer are hot and humid, with a July daily mean of 79.6 °F (26.4 °C) and 46 days annually with 90 °F (32 °C) or greater temperatures.[67]

Climate data for Chattanooga, Tennessee
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °F (°C) 78
Average high °F (°C) 48.8
Average low °F (°C) 29.9
Record low °F (°C) −10
Precipitation inches (mm) 5.40
Snowfall inches (cm) 2.0
Avg. precipitation days (≥ 0.01 in) 11.8 10.0 12.2 9.4 10.6 10.6 11.2 9.6 8.7 7.1 9.8 11.2 122.2
Avg. snowy days (≥ 0.1 in) 1.4 1.1 0.4 0.1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0.3 3.3
Sunshine hours 145.7 158.2 201.5 240.0 275.9 276.0 266.6 257.3 228.0 220.1 159.0 139.5 2,567.8
Source no. 1: NOAA (1971–2000)[67]
Source no. 2: HKO (sun, 1961–1990)[68]


Considered to be the gateway to the Deep South, Chattanooga's transportation infrastructure has developed into a complex and intricate system of railroads, streets, airports and waterways.

Principal highways

See also List of Tennessee state highways

Major surface routes

  • Brainerd Road/Lee Highway (U.S. 11)/(U.S. 64)
  • Broad Street
  • Cummings Highway (US 41)/(US 72)
  • Dayton Blvd (U.S. 27 North)
  • East Brainerd Road
  • Georgia Avenue
  • Hixson Pike
  • Main Street (U.S. 76)
  • McCallie Avenue
  • Ringgold Road
  • Rossville Boulevard (U.S. 27)
  • Signal Mountain Boulevard (U.S. 127)


  • Bachmann Tubes, (also unofficially known as The East Ridge Tunnels), which carry Ringgold Road into the neighboring city of East Ridge.
  • Missionary Ridge Tunnels (also unofficially known as McCallie or Brainerd Tunnels), which carry McCallie and Bailey Avenues through Missionary Ridge where the route continues as Brainerd Road.
  • Stringer's Ridge Tunnel, which carries Cherokee Boulevard through Stringer's Ridge where the route continues as Dayton Boulevard.
  • Wilcox Tunnel, which carries Wilcox Boulevard through Missionary Ridge and connects to Shallowford Road.

Public transit

The city is served by a publicly run bus company, the Chattanooga Area Regional Transportation Authority. CARTA operates 17 routes, including a free electric shuttle service in the downtown area, and free wireless Internet on certain "smartbuses".[69]

Railroad lines

Chattanooga Choo Choo
Chattanooga Choo Choo

Despite a new emphasis on the technology and service sectors, Chattanooga maintains ties to the past and still serves as a major freight hub with Norfolk Southern (NS) and CSX running trains on their own (and each others) lines. The Norfolk Southern Railway's enormous deButts Yard is just east of downtown, Shipp's Yard and CSX's Wauhatchie Yard are southwest of the city. Indeed, the two railroad companies are among the largest individual landowners in the city (the Federal Government is another). The Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum, the largest historic operating railroad in the South, and the Chattooga and Chickamauga Railway also provides railroad service in Chattanooga.

Since both NS and CSX both run through Chattanooga, here are the lines that run through the town (the AAR reporting marks are used for the following railroads: NS for Norfolk Southern, CSXT for CSX Transportation, TVRM for the Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum, and CCKY for Chattooga and Chickamauga Railway):

  • CSXT – Western & Atlantic Subdivision (Chattanooga to Atlanta, Georgia)
  • NS – Cincinnati, New Orleans and Texas Pacific, aka the Queen and Crescent Route (Chattanooga to Cincinnati, Ohio via Lexington, Kentucky)
  • TVRM – East Chattanooga to Grand Junction (3 miles)
    • East Chattanooga Belt Line Railroad (from near 23rd Street, across to Holtzclaw Avenue and East Chattanooga around North Chamberlain Ave., used by TVRM)
    • Tyner Terminal Railroad (Enterprise South Industrial Park railroad operations)
  • CCKY – formerly the Tennessee Alabama & Georgia line (Chattanooga to Hedges, Georgia, now abandoned since 2009)

Also, the Lookout Mountain Incline Railway, often referred to as the Incline Railway by locals, as well as being a tourist attraction, is sometimes used for commuting by Lookout Mountain residents, particularly during wintry weather, when traveling up and down the mountain could be very dangerous.

Chattanooga's most notable connection to the railroad industry is the song Chattanooga Choo Choo, made famous by Glenn Miller & His Orchestra.

Despite the relatively high level of freight rail activity, there is no passenger rail service in the city for either commuters or long-distance travelers.


Bridges in Chattanooga

Being bisected by a major waterway, Chattanooga has several large bridges that allow people to traverse the Tennessee River. They are, from west to east:

  • P.R. Olgiati Bridge – Named for a former mayor, P.R. Olgiati, this bridge, which was dedicated in 1959, carries "27" from downtown to Dayton, Tennessee and points northward.[11]
  • Market Street Bridge – Officially called the John Ross Bridge. It is a bascule span, which is a type of drawbridge. The bridge was completed in 1917 for the then-astronomical sum of USD $1,000,000. Having stood for decades since its last major overhaul, the Tennessee Department of Transportation declared it unsafe in late 2004. The bridge was closed in 2005 for a long-overdue renovation and reopened on August 4, 2007.[70]
  • Walnut Street Bridge – Also known as "The Walking Bridge", it is one of the centerpieces of Chattanooga's urban renewal, and is the second longest pedestrian bridge in the nation. Constructed in 1891, the bridge was declared unsafe and closed to traffic in 1978. It was on the verge of being demolished in the late 1980s when public demand led to it being restored as a pedestrian-only span that opened in 1993.[11][15]
  • Veterans Memorial Bridge – Completed in 1984, this structure has helped commuters from Hixson, Lupton City and other northern areas reach downtown quickly.[11]
  • C.B. Robinson Bridge – Opened in 1981, this bridge carries Dupont Parkway from Amnicola Highway to Hixson Pike and Route 153.[11]

Air travel

The Chattanooga Metropolitan Airport offers non-stop service to various domestic destinations via regional and national airlines, including Allegiant Airlines, American Eagle, Delta Connection, and US Airways Express.[72]

Media and communications

The city of Chattanooga is served by numerous local, regional and national media outlets which reach approximately one million people in four states: Tennessee, Alabama, Georgia and North Carolina.


The Chattanooga Times Free Press headquarters

The Chattanooga Times Free Press, the area's only daily newspaper, is published every morning. It was effectively formed in 1999 from two papers that had been bitter rivals for half a century, the Times and the News-Free Press. The Times was once owned by Adolph Ochs, who later bought the New York Times. The Times had been the morning paper and had a generally more liberal editorial page. The News-Free Press, whose name was the result of an earlier merger, was an afternoon daily and its editorials were more conservative than those in the Times. In 1999, the Free Press was bought by an Arkansas company, WEHCO Media, publisher of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, which then bought The Times from the Ochs heirs. The Times Free Press is the only known newspaper in the United States to have 2 editorial pages, each reflecting opposite ends of the political spectrum. The Times' editorial page, which is liberal, is on the left page and the Free Press' editorial page, which is conservative, is on the right page.[73]

The "Chattanooga Pulse" is a weekly alternative newspaper, published every Thursday. It was formed in 2003 by Zachary Cooper and Michael Kull, running independently until 2008, when the paper was purchased by local broadcast radio and website development firm Brewer Media Group. The newspaper shares news gathering resources with Brewer Media Group's WPLZ Pulse News 95.3FM news talk radio station, and the news website.

Online media

The Chattanoogan and its website "" is an online media outlet that concentrates on news from Chattanooga. The publisher is John Wilson, previously a staff writer for the Chattanooga Free Press.[74][75], purchased in November 2010 by local entrepreneur Barry Large, will relaunch in 2011 as a local news website offering “quality daily content focusing on local business, politics and entertainment in the Chattanooga area.”[76] is a community news website founded in 2008 that covers politics, education, business and culture. The site also includes several neighborhood-specific blogs.


Chattanooga has the following radio stations:

  • WUUS 980 AM – broadcasts WDYN – Southern Gospel / WDYN Radio [2] Operated By Tennessee Temple University. (Licensed to Rossville, GA)
  • WFLI 1070 AM – Southern gospel (Licensed to Lookout Mountain, TN)
  • WGOW 1150 AM – News/talk / NewsRadio 1150 [3]
  • WNOO 1260 AM – Urban gospel and Motown
  • WDEF-AM 1370 AM – Sports/1370 Fox Sports Radio
  • WLMR 1450 AM – Christian Talk
  • WJOC 1490 AM – Southern gospel
  • WUTC 88.1 FM – NPR [4]/Mixed music / Music 88. Operated by UTC. First and only station in Chattanooga to be broadcasting in HD Radio. (Licensed to Chattanooga, TN)
  • W203AZ 88.5 FM – Religious/CSN international [5]
  • WMBW 88.9 FM – Christian / Moody Radio For The Heart Of The Southeast. Owned and operated by Moody Bible Institute. (Licensed to Chattanooga, TN)
  • WYBK 89.7 FM – Christian. Operated By Bible Broadcasting Network. (Licensed to Chattanooga, TN)
  • W211BG 90.1 FM – Religious [6] (Licensed to Walden, TN)
  • WSMC 90.5 FM – Classical/NPR/PRI [7] Operated by Southern Adventist University. (Licensed to Collegedale, TN)
  • WJBP-FM 91.5 FM – Christian / Family Life Radio [8] (Licensed to Red Bank, TN)
  • WAWL – College Alternative / The Wawl (web only / Formerly broadcasting on 91.5) Chattanooga State Community College
  • WDEF-FM 92.3 FM – Adult contemporary / Sunny 92.3 [9] (Licensed to Chattanooga, TN)
  • WSAA 93.1 FM – Christian Rock / Air_1 [10] (Licensed to Benton, TN)
  • WMPZ 93.5 FM – Urban oldies / Groove 93 [11] (Licensed to Harrison, TN)
  • WQMT 93.9 FM – Variety Rock / Jack FM [12] (Licensed to Decatur, TN)
  • WJTT 94.3 FM – Urban contemporary / Power 94 [13] (Licensed to Red Bank, TN)
  • WAAK-LP 94.7 FM – Variety [14] (Low power station licensed to Boynton/Ringgold, GA)
  • WPLZ 95.3 FM – News/Talk [15] (Licensed to Ooltewah, TN)
  • WPLZ HD-2 95.3 HD-2 FM, Oldies / Hippie Radio 106.9 [16] (Licensed to Ooltewah, TN)
  • WDOD 96.5 FM – 96.5 The Mountain—Chattanooga's No. 1 Hit Music Station [17] (Licensed to Chattanooga, TN)
  • WUUQ 97.3, & 99.3 FM – Classic Country Q Country 97.3/99.3 (Licensed to South Pittsburg, TN)
  • WLND 98.1 FM – Hot AC / 98.1 The Lake [18] (Licensed to Signal Mountain, TN)
  • WOOP-LP 99.9 FM, Classic country, old-time gospel, bluegrass and mountain music. [19] Operated by the Traditional Music Resource Center, (Licensed to Cleveland, TN)
  • WUSY 100.7 FM, Contemporary country / US101 [20] (Licensed to Cleveland, TN)
  • WJSQ 101.7 FM, Contemporary, and Classic country / 101.7 WLAR [21] (Licensed to Athens, TN)
  • WOCE 101.9 FM, Spanish (Licensed to Ringgold, GA)
  • WGOW 102.3 FM, [22] News/talk (Licensed to Soddy-Daisy, TN)
  • WBDX 102.7 FM, [23] Contemporary Christian (Licensed to Trenton, GA)
  • WLLJ 103.1 FM, [24] Contemporary Christian (Simulcast with WBDX 102.7) (Licensed to Etowah, TN)
  • WKXJ 103.7 FM, Top 40 / 103.7 Kiss FM [25] (Licensed to Walden, TN)
  • WALV 105.1 FM, [26] ESPN Sports Talk
  • WRXR 105.5 FM, [27] Active rock (Licensed to Rossville, GA)
  • WSKZ 106.5 FM, [28] Classic rock
  • W295BI 106.9 FM, Oldies / Hippie Radio 106.9 [29] (Licensed to Chattanooga, TN)
  • WOGT 107.9 FM, [30] Oldies / 107.9 Big FM (Licensed to East Ridge, TN)


Chattanooga's television stations include:

  • WRCB channel 3, NBC affiliate – [31] (DT 13 / cable 4)
  • WOOT-LP channel 6, independent (formerly UPN) (silent)
  • WTVC channel 9, ABC affiliate – [32] (DT35 / cable 10)
  • WDEF channel 12, CBS affiliate – [33] (DT47 / cable 13)
  • WNGH channel 18, GPB affiliate – [34] (DT 33 / cable 12)
  • WELF channel 23, TBN affiliate – [35] (DT 16 / cable 9)
  • W26BE channel 26, 3ABN affiliate – [36] (Not on cable in Chattanooga)
  • WYHB-CA channel 39, America One affiliate – [37] (DT 44 / Not on Cable in Chattanooga)
  • WTCI channel 45, PBS member station [38] (DT29 / cable 5)
  • WFLI-TV channel 53, The CW Television Network affiliate [39] (Formerly UPN and The WB) (DT 42 / cable 6)
  • WDSI channel 61, Fox affiliate – [40] (DT 40 / cable 11)

See also List of television stations in Tennessee, List of television stations in Georgia

Sister cities

Chattanooga has six sister cities, as designated by Sister Cities International: [77][78][79]

Chattanooga also has two twinning cities: Italy Ascoli Piceno, Italy, and United Kingdom Swindon, United Kingdom.

See also


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  4. ^ Forbe's December 2009,
  5. ^ A Dictionary of Creek/Muskogee, Margaret McKane Mauldin
  6. ^ folk etymology. source?
  7. ^ Thomas Budd Van Horne and Edward Ruger, History of the Army of the Cumberland, 1875, p.407
  8. ^ a b Timothy Ezzell, Chattanooga. Tennessee Encyclopedia of History and Culture, 2002. Retrieved 2009-08-14.
  9. ^ Vicki Rozema, Voices from the Trail of Tears. Voices from the Trail of Tears, 2003. Retrieved 2009-08-19.
  10. ^ "Chattanooga, Tennessee (1815 through the Civil War)". June 5, 2007. Retrieved November 13, 2011. 
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  18. ^ Volkswagen wants slice of American pie
  19. ^ Holusha, John (1987-11-21). "Volkswagen to Shut U.S. Plant". The New York Times. Retrieved 2010-03-27. 
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  21. ^ "Electricity meets the Internet with smart meters |". Retrieved November 13, 2011. 
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  26. ^ "3HD is now ND&P". Retrieved November 13, 2011. 
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  29. ^ Library Website
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  37. ^ index.html
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  41. ^ The previous conductor was Robert Bernhardt, who retired in 2011 after 19 seasons. Chattanooga Theatre Centre
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  43. ^ "Festival of Writers". Retrieved November 13, 2011. 
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  66. ^ "City looking at preserving historic areas". Retrieved November 13, 2011. 
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  72. ^ [1][dead link]
  73. ^ "Our unique editorial variety". Retrieved November 13, 2011. 
  74. ^ "The Chattanoogan". Retrieved 2009-07-21. " was launched Sept. 1, 1999, as one of the first full-service web-only daily newspapers in the country. Since that date, it has proven to be a pace-setter in the rapidly-developing field of Internet news publishing and has drawn a wide following and readership. It currently gets about 50,000–80,000 visits per day." 
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  76. ^ Flessner, Dave (2011). "Group plans news website as Igou sells nooga domain". Chattanooga Time/Free Press. Retrieved 2011-02-17. "Barry Large, who co-founded Access America Transport Inc., says the new site could “transform the way people in our area gather their news, express their opinions and plan their weekends.” Large said Tuesday he is the majority owner in a group that acquired the Internet domain name in November from Chattanooga businessman Rick Igou. Although the site is inactive, Large said in an e-mailed statement Tuesday that he plans to launch a news site “that will provide quality daily content focusing on local business, politics and entertainment in the Chattanooga area.” “ will go live in the near future, featuring an impressive array of writers and contributors from around the Scenic City,”" 
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  78. ^ "HOME". Chattanooga Sister Cities. Retrieved November 13, 2011. 
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