Once home to Cherokee Indians, Chattanooga is now the fourth largest city in Tennessee. Dubbed "America's Scenic City," it is located just north of the Georgia border and is the county seat of Hamilton County, comprising almost half of the county's population. Its moderate climate gives it an annual average temperature of 60-degrees Fahrenheit.
ECONOMY AND INDUSTRIES
Chattanooga has a thriving tourism economy, giving the city an unemployment rate lower than the state average. Other major local industries include manufacturing, education and a variety of service industries. Major employers include Pilgrim's Pride Corporation, BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee, Hamilton County Department of Education, Tennessee Valley Authority and the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. The Chattanooga Area Chamber of Commerce provides resources for entrepreneurs who want to start their own businesses.
NEIGHBORHOODS AND DISTRICTS
Chattanooga has won nine Gunther Blue Ribbon Awards for excellence in housing and planning, and it is considered to be one of the most progressive and "livable" mid-size cities in the United States. It is community-oriented, providing numerous neighborhood recreation centers for its residents, and homes are affordable. Chattanooga has several distinct districts within it:
- Brainerd: One of Chattanooga's oldest districts, Brainerd is located on the east side of town.
- Downtown District: This is the main tourist area of the city and has more than 100 shops, restaurants and hotels.
- Hamilton Place: Once farmland, this area on the east side of the city has been built into an entertainment and shopping hub.
- North Shore: This district boasts many activities and is in close proximity to the Downtown District.
- Lookout Mountain: Located to the southwest, this area is known for its expansive tourist attractions.
Chattanooga is conveniently located near Interstates 24, 59 and 75, and because it is home to two major railroad lines, it has developed into a central hub for southeastern commerce. There are two ports within the city, as well as the Chattanooga Metropolitan Airport. There are several options for transportation around town. Electric buses carry both commuters and visitors around the downtown area. Rides are free and run from the Chattanooga Choo Choo to the Tennessee River area. There are also traditional buses servicing 28 routes citywide. For motor vehicles, the Riverfront Parkway runs alongside the Tennessee River, further enhancing the transportation system.
In an effort to revamp the downtown area, the City of Chattanooga has recently completed a $180 million project to enhance the banks of the Tennessee River. This has resulted in improvements to existing attractions as well as the addition of new ones, all located along the River:
- Tennessee Aquarium: This is the world's largest, freshwater aquarium, with more than 12,000 animals. It has recently added a saltwater aquarium and offers excursions on its catamaran, the Tennessee Aquarium River Gorge Explorer.
- Maclellan Island: Owned by the Chattanooga Audubon Society, this wildlife sanctuary is located in the middle of the Tennessee River. It is a nice retreat, featuring walking trails, camping and a great blue heron rookery. Admission donations go to the Chattanooga Audubon Society.
- Tennessee Riverwalk: This walking path runs adjacent to the Tennessee River. It is paved, making it accessible for strollers and wheelchairs.
Other attractions include:
- Chattanooga Choo Choo: A sprawling, 24-acre complex, the Choo Choo offers shopping, dining and convention facilities in the downtown area. It is also a hotel where visitors can sleep in authentic train cars (traditional rooms are also available).
- Sir Goony's Family Fun Center: This complex is home to mini-golf courses, go-cart tracks, batting cages, bumper boats, laser tag, paintball and a virtual-reality game room.
Lookout Mountain is a plateau in the Appalachian Mountains and is home to the sites of several Civil War battles. It is a major attraction for visitors who want to explore nature and history.
- Incline Railway: This railroad, built on the steepest section of Lookout Mountain, opened in 1895 and is still in operation today. Toward the top of the incline, the car must go up a 72.7 percent grade, making it the steepest passenger railroad in the world. The railway car features windows along its sides as well as its roof, giving passengers one-of-a-kind views of the mountain. There are two train stations, one at the bottom and one at the top, both offering gift shops. The top station has an observation deck and is just a short walk from Civil War battle sites.
- Ruby Falls: This 145-foot, underground waterfall is located more than 1,100 feet below the surface of Lookout Mountain. It was discovered in 1928 and is now one of Chattanooga's most popular attractions. There are restaurants and gift shops on the premises, as well as a playground and a 70-foot tower from which to view the Tennessee River Valley.
- Battles for Chattanooga Electric Map and Museum: Civil War buffs are attracted to this museum, which offers a three-dimensional, electronic map of the major battles fought in the area. Five major Civil War battles were fought in Chattanooga, and this attraction is dedicated to the memory of them.
ARTS AND ENTERTAINMENT
Aside from its natural and historic offerings, Chattanooga is home to numerous cultural attractions for residents and visitors:
- Bluff View Art District: This historic neighborhood is home to restaurants, art galleries and picturesque views of the Tennessee River and Downtown Chattanooga.
- Chattanooga Symphony and Opera: Events are hosted year-round at the Tivoli Theatre, located near the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga.
- Hunter Museum of American Art: This art museum is located on the banks of the Tennessee River and showcases American art of all kinds. In addition to its permanent collection, the museum displays temporary exhibits and offers workshops for all age groups.