Chattanooga Surges Back with
[Des Moines Register,
June 26, 2005; The Washington Times, May 28, 2005]
May 26, 2005
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CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. -- Back
in the 1960s and '70s, Chattanooga had a deserted downtown on the Tennessee
River and was smothered by soot from its foundries. In recent years, the
riverfront city has transformed its skyline along with its reputation.
the city known for America's dirtiest air, Chattanooga has been reborn
as the Scenic City.
symbolizes that change better than the grand openings the city is celebrating
this spring as part of a three-year, $120 million redevelopment of the
Tennessee River waterfront.
Aquarium, which pioneered the downtown revival and has attracted more than
1 million customers a year since 1992, added a new saltwater wing.
also includes a sculpture garden with a walkway linking it to an expanded
Hunter Museum of American Art on an 80-foot-high bluff over the river.
An incline transporter -- a wheelchair-accessible cable car on a track
-- also runs along the walkway's steep path.
museum, Creative Discovery Museum, has just added a new rooftop exhibit
on simple machines and is opening a new arts-themed exhibit this summer.
also a new 160-foot pier, with lights designed to create a prism effect
during the day and a top-to-bottom glow after dark, providing closer access
to the river.
13, the city dedicated a pedestrian passage beneath Riverfront Parkway
that commemorates Cherokee culture and the tribe's forced removal on the
Trail of Tears. A team of American Indian artists from Locust Grove, Okla.,
designed huge clay medallions for the passage.
Smith, principal chief of the Cherokee Nation in Tahlequah, Okla., said
the ceremonies and project should boost public awareness about real American
Indian history, instead of what people "see in sports mascots and old John
said Chattanooga's birthplace by the river, Ross' Landing, was a "central
point of dispatch" for Cherokees forced to leave the region in 1838 on
the Trail of Tears.
a gate from our homeland to Indian territory," Mr. Smith said. "This is
still our homeland, and we are coming back through that gate."
Mayor Bob Corker, who coordinated the city's 21st Century Riverfront project
and fundraising, described it as a true partnership between public and
tax provided $56 million for the project, and private donors contributed
$51 million. The state provided some additional funding and gave the city
Riverfront Parkway, the street that runs along the waterfront.
know of a community in America that could come together the way ours has,"
Mr. Corker said. "We have this vital urban area that has been transformed,
and all these God-given amenities around us.
feels very different than even a few years ago, despite all the success
we have had in the past," he said.
federal government report identified Chattanooga as the most polluted city
in the United States because of the smoke, ash and dust that was trapped
by a perimeter of mountains.
foundries and smokestacks gave way to high-tech industries. Changes in
emission standards and the use of unleaded gasoline were also major contributors
to the cleanup, said Kelley Walters, a Chattanooga-Hamilton County Air
Pollution Control Bureau official. Coal-burning power plants in the region
also are "slowly cleaning themselves up," she said.
Outside Magazine rates Chattanooga as one of America's Top 10 Dream Towns,
with an outdoor recreation lineup that includes hiking, camping, hang gliding,
rock climbing and nearby whitewater rafting.
City, though, has been getting ready for some new competition. About one-quarter
of the Tennessee Aquarium's customers travel from the Atlanta area, 120
miles away, and now that city plans to open the larger Georgia Aquarium
later this year.
Robins, Ga., teacher, Stacy Odoms, said last week while visiting Chattanooga
as a chaperone with seventh-graders that she first visited the Tennessee
Aquarium as an 11th-grader.
how they have it fixed it, so you can walk through yourself," said Miss
Odoms. She said an aquarium in Atlanta would not be the same.
don't have the water. They don't have the riverboats. They don't have the
mountains or the scenery," Miss Odoms said. "That makes a difference."
Riverfront: New parks and recreation facilities, including a new pier,
along the Tennessee River between the Olgiati Bridge and the Market Street
Bridge; www.chattanoogariverfront.com or www.downtownchattanooga.org.
Aquarium: 1 Broad St.; www.tnaqua.org or 800/262-0695. Open 10 a.m. to
6 p.m. daily; open until 8 p.m. weekends from June through Labor Day. Adults,
$17.95; children 3 to 12, $9.50.
Public art project to honor Cherokee Indians, located next to the aquarium.
Museum of American Art: 10 Bluff View; www.huntermuseum.org or 423/267-0968.
New sculpture garden and connecting walkway. Adults, $7; children, 3 to
12, $3.50. Open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday and Tuesday; noon to 5 p.m. Wednesday;
Thursday, 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.; 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday and Saturday; noon
to 5 p.m. Sunday.
Discovery Museum: 321 Chestnut St.; www.cdmfun.org or 423/756-2738. Adults,
$7.95; children 2 to 12, $5.95. Open 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily Memorial Day
to Labor Day; before Memorial Day, closes at 5 p.m. and opens at noon on