A trading post was established in 1810; by 1835, regular steamship service began there. A center first of salt- and then cotton-shipping, the city expanded with the arrival of the railroads in the 1840s and 50s. It was of strategic importance in the Civil War (see Chattanooga campaign). Northern industrialists developed the iron industry during the 1870s. Electric power, augmented by the Tennessee Valley Authority project after 1933, has played an important role in the city's development; Chickamauga Dam is nearby.
City (pop., 2000: 155,554) and port of entry, southeastern Tennessee, U.S. Lying on the Tennessee River between Missionary Ridge to the east and Lookout Mountain to the southwest, it was established as a trading post (Ross's Landing) in 1815. Renamed Chattanooga in 1838, it developed as a river port. A strategic Confederate communications point in the American Civil War, it was a major objective of the Union armies, with fighting culminating in the Battles of Chickamauga and Chattanooga (1863).
Learn more about Chattanooga with a free trial on Britannica.com.
Chattanooga, "the Scenic City", is the fourth-largest city in Tennessee (after Memphis, Nashville, and Knoxville), and the seat of Hamilton County, in the United States of America. It is located in southeast Tennessee on Chickamauga and Nickajack Lake, which are both part of the Tennessee River, near the border of Georgia, and at the junction of three interstate highways, I-24, I-75, and I-59.
The city (downtown elevation approximately 685 feet), which lies at the transition between the ridge-and-valley portion of the Appalachian Mountains and the Cumberland Plateau, is surrounded by mountains and ridges.
Chief John Ross has been quoted as stating that Chattanooga was Cherokee for 'The Big Catch' because of the fishing on the river. In the 1875 publication 'History of the Army of the Cumberland' by Thomas Budd Van Horne and Edward Ruger on page 407 this is related:"Historians have made effort to transmit to the future the significance of the names which distinguish the natural features around Chattanooga. It is no pleasant task to leave groundless the many pretty conceits which have so long passed for facts; but he who would write the truth, must not hesitate to dissipate a myth or disclose a false hypothesis. 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.'"
The earliest Cherokee occupation dates from Dragging Canoe, who in 1776 separated himself and moved downriver from the main tribe to establish Native American resistance (see Chickamauga Wars) to European settlement in the southeastern United States. Occupation of the area by members of the Cherokee Nation dates from 1816 with the establishment of Ross's Landing by later tribal chief John Ross and ended with the forced relocation of Native American Indians from southeastern U.S. states to Oklahoma in 1838. Ross's Landing was one of three large internment camps, or "emigration depots," along the Trail of Tears, the other two being Fort Payne, Alabama and the largest at Fort Cass, Tennessee.
During the American Civil War on November 23, 1863, the Third Battle of Chattanooga began when Union forces led by General Ulysses S. Grant reinforced troops at Chattanooga and counterattacked Confederate troops. The next day, the Battle of Lookout Mountain was fought near the town. These were followed the next spring by the Atlanta Campaign, beginning just over the nearby state line in Georgia and moving southeastward.
After the war ended, the city became a major railroad hub and industrial and manufacturing center. By the 1930s it was known as the "Dynamo of Dixie," and even inspired the 1941 Glenn Miller big-band swing song "Chattanooga Choo Choo." But the same mountains that provided Chattanooga's scenic backdrop became shrouded by the industrial pollutants that they trapped and held over the community. 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. Chattanooga entered the 1980s with serious socioeconomic challenges including job layoffs, a deteriorating city infrastructure, racial tensions and social division.
In recent years, private and governmental resources have been invested in transforming the city's tarnished image and to gain recognition for a metamorphosis of its downtown and riverfront areas. 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. Efforts to improve the city include the "21st Century Waterfront Plan" - a $120 million redevelopment of the Chattanooga waterfront and downtown area.
In 1935, as well as from 1993 to 1995, Chattanooga hosted the National Folk Festival.
The local economy includes a diversified mix of manufacturing and service industries.
Notable Chattanooga businesses include 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, Rock/Creek, Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA), Tricycle Inc., and Unum. The city also hosts large branch offices of Cigna, AT&T and UBS.
Companies that have manufacturing or distribution facilities in the city include DuPont, Rock-Tenn, Plantronics, Domtar Corp., Norfolk Southern, Alco Chemical, Colonial Pipeline and Buzzi Unicem. There is also a Vulcan Materials quarry in the city.
Electric power for most of the city and surrounding area is provided by the city-run Electric Power Board (EPB), which also provides telephone and high-speed internet service to businesses in the downtown area. 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.
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,, which is being sold in a public offering in 2007. Former Mayor Jon Kinsey attempts to have the city buy control 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 beginning to make inroads. A major interstate fiber optics line operated by AT&T traverses the city, making its way from Atlanta to Cincinnati.
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 Linda Bennett (District 1), Sally Robinson (District 2), Dan Page (District 3), Jack Benson (District 4), John "Duke" Franklin (District 5), Carol Berz (District 6), Manuel "Manny" Rico (District 7), Leamon Pierce (District 8) and Debbie Gaines (District 9).
Within the last ten years the city has won three national awards for outstanding "livability", and 9 Gunther Blue Ribbon Awards for excellence in housing and consolidated planning.
See also List of Mayors of Chattanooga, Tennessee.
In addition, the city is home to several well-known private and parochial secondary schools, including Baylor School, McCallie School , Girls Preparatory School, and Notre Dame High School. Chattanooga is also home to Siskin Children's Institute, as well as Chattanooga School for the Arts and Sciences magnet school. Howard was the first public school in the area and was established in 1865.
The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga is the second largest campus of the University of Tennessee System with a student population of over 9,558.. Other institutions of higher learning in the area include Chattanooga State Technical Community College, Covenant College, Lee University, the University of the South, Southern Adventist University, Tennessee Temple University and Tennessee Wesleyan College, along with local branches of Miller-Motte Technical College and Virginia College. Chattanooga is home to the Chattanooga branch of the University of Tennessee College of Medicine, which provides medical education to medical students, residents, and other medical professionals in southeast Tennessee through an affiliation with Erlanger Health System.
Parkridge Hospital is located east of downtown in the Glenwood District and is run by Tri-Star Healthcare. Tri-Star also operates East Ridge Medical Center in nearby East Ridge. Also located downtown is Memorial Hospital, operated by Catholic Health Initiatives). In 2004, Memorial was named one of the Top 100 teaching hospitals by Solucient Top Hospitals.
Chattanooga is the home to the Hunter Museum of American Art, a well known art museum. As birthplace of the tow truck, Chattanooga is now home to the International Towing and Recovery Hall of Fame and Museum, as well as another transportation icon at the Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum, the largest operating historic railroad in the south. Other notable museums include the Chattanooga Regional History Museum, the National Medal of Honor Museum, the Houston Museum, and the Chattanooga African American Museum.
Chattanooga touts its many tourist attractions, including the Tennessee Aquarium, caverns, and heavy development along and across the Tennessee River. In the downtown area are the Chattanooga Choo Choo Holiday Inn Hotel that is a renovated train station with the largest HO model train layout in the United States, 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. Along the river itself is the Tennessee Riverwalk, a handicapped accessible greenway trail Not far from the downtown area is the Chattanooga Zoo at Warner Park.
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 home to Ruby Falls, Craven's House and the Lookout Mountain Incline Railway, a steep funicular railway which rises from historic St. Elmo to the top of the mountain to drop passengers off at the National Park Service's Point Park and The Battles for Chattanooga Museum (formerly known as Confederama), 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-designated 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 from 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.
The Chattanooga Dulcimer Festival is held each June. The festival includes two and a half days of workshops for mountain dulcimer, hammered dulcimer, auto harp, and a few other instruments. The Friday and Saturday night concerts feature champion performers from across the nation. A large vending area offers visitors an opportunity to meet instrument builders and musicians. More information can be found on the website
The Chattanooga Lookouts, a Class AA Southern League baseball team affiliated with the Los Angeles Dodgers, 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.
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.
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, had an estimated population of 496,704 in 2006. The Chattanooga-Cleveland-Athens Combined Statistical Area which also includes Bradley, Polk, and McMinn Counties in Tennessee had an estimated population of 658,201 in 2006.
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 (370.8 km²), of which, 135.2 square miles (350.2 km²) of it is land and 8.0 square miles (20.6 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.
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 Chattanooga Metropolitan Airport. Rail freight is offered by CSX to Atlanta and Nashville, and Norfolk Southern to Atlanta, Birmingham, Cincinnati, Knoxville and Memphis.
|Monthly Normal and Record High and Low Temperatures|
|Rec High °F||78||79||87||93||99||104||109||105||102||94||84||78|
|Norm High °F||49||54||62||72||79||86||90||89||83||72||61||52|
|Norm Low °F||30||33||40||47||56||65||69||68||62||49||40||33|
|Rec Low °F||-10||1||8||25||34||41||51||50||36||22||4||-2|
See also List of Tennessee state highways
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 other's) 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 codes are used for the following railroads: NS for Norfolk Southern, CSXT for CSX Transportation, TNVR for Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum, and CCKY for Chattooga and Chickamauga Railway):
Also, the Incline Railway, as well as being a tourist attraction, is sometimes used for commuting by Lookout Mountain residents, particularly during wintry weather, when travelling up and down the mountain could be very dangerous.
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.
Being bisected by a major waterway, Chattanooga has several large bridges over the Tennessee River. They are, from west to east:
The following people were born, live, or have lived in Chattanooga: