The name “Chattanooga” came from Muskogean language and referred to a dwelling place at or near a rock. The area of present-day city was inhabited by Cherokee between 1776 and 1838. Cherokee Nation traveled down the river to establish their presence in the southeastern United States. One of their major settlements in the area, Ross’s Landing, was located along what is now Broad Street in Chattanooga. Cherokee, along with other Native Americans from that part of the USA were forced to relocate to Oklahoma in 1838, traveling along what is now called the “Trail of Tears.”
Ross’s Landing was incorporated as the city of Chattanooga in 1838. Its location on the river was already favorable for commerce but the real boom came, of course, with the arrival of the railroad in 1850. It was then known as a place “where cotton meets corn,” referring to its position between the cotton-dominated South and the rural mountain communities of the Appalachia.
Chattanooga saw a lot of war activities and battles during the Civil War. It was bombarded and occupied by Union troops in September,1963. The Battles of Chattanooga started in November that same year, the city was taken over by the Confederates and other battles ensued in and around the city, including the Battle of Missionary Bridge.
The city managed to recover quickly after the war and established itself as an important industrial center and a major railroad hub.
In 1867, Chattanooga suffered the worst flooding in its history. It was only in 1930s that the real efforts towards flood prevention were initiated.
In 1906, the city made the national headlines during a U.S. Supreme Court case against a local sheriff who let the mob enter the jail and lynch a black man accused of rape.
Further growth came with the American involvement in World War I. During that time the city suffered from a major influenza epidemic. In the 1930s Chattanooga had a vibrant music scene and was dubbed the “Dynamo of Dixie.”
As an industrial town surrounded by mountains, Chattanooga always had serious pollution problems. In 1969 the federal government declared it the city with the dirtiest air in the nation. At the same time, and also during the following decades, the city was struggling with racial tensions, urban decay, deteriorating public infrastructure, great social divisions and a significant drop in the population.
The city has undergone several major redevelopment projects, including the Waterfront Plan, opening of the Tennessee Aquarium and the reconstruction of the historic Walnut Street Bridge. In 2008, Chattanooga ranked 8th at the Forbes’ list of America’s 100 largest “Bang For Your Buck” cities.
Chattanooga today occupies an area of 143.2 square miles, of which 5.56% is water. It sits between the Ridge-and-valley Appalachians and the Walden’s Ridge. Major geographic features in the city are the Tennessee River and the Missionary Ridge, which bisects the city. The Chickamauga Dam on the Tennessee River is located north of the downtown Chattanooga.
The city has three historic neighborhoods recognized by the National Registry of Historic Places: Fort Wood, St. Elmo and Ferger Place, and also ten local historic districts.
Chattanooga has a humid subtropical climate, with four distinct seasons. Winters are mild, with rare snowfall, and summers are hot and humid.
At the 2010 Census, Chattanooga had a population of 167,674 and the racial makeup was 55.9% non-Hispanic Whites, 34.9% Black or African American, 5.5% Hispanic or Latino of any race, 2% Asian, 0.4% Native American, 0.1% Pacific Islander, 1.9% some other race, 1.3% two or more races.
The median household income was $35,817 and the per capita income for the city was $23,756.
Chattanooga is home to many prominent companies, including Access America Transport, Chattem, Krystal, Litespeed, BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee, Unum, Miller & Martin, Rock/Creek, Republic Parking System and many others.
In addition, many major companies, such as Amazon.com, BASF, DuPont, Norfolk Southern, Alstom and Plantronics have distribution or manufacturing facilities in the city. The Volkswagen Group of America in 2011 opened its Chattanooga Assembly Plant, which serves as the group’s North American manufacturing headquarters.
Notable museums in Chattanooga include Hunter Museum of American Art, International Towing and Recovery Hall of Fame and Museum, Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum, Creative Discovery Museum, National Medal of Honor Museum and Chattanooga Regional History Museum.
The city’s historic Tivoli Theatre is home to the Chattanooga Symphony and Opera. Other significant performing venues include the Chattanooga Theatre Centre and Memorial Auditorium.
Some of the popular attractions in the city include the Tennessee Aquarium, Chattanooga Choo Choo Hotel, Tennessee Riverwalk trail, Chattanooga Zoo at Warner Park, See Rock City Barns, Ruby Falls, the Lookout Mountain Incline Railway, Point Park and the Battles of Chattanooga Museum.
Chattanooga hosts the annual nine-day music festival called Riverbend Festival. Other popular events include a sci-fi and fantasy convention Chattacon, Southern Brewer’s Festival and the Chattanooga Dulcimer Festival.
Institutions of higher education in the city include University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, Chattanooga State Community College, Tennessee Temple University and a branch of the University of Tennessee College of Medicine.
Major highways in Chattanooga include I-24, I-59, I-75, US-27 and State Route 153. The city has a number of bridges on the Tennessee River, including Walnut Street Bridge, Market Street Bridge, P.R. Olgiati Bridge, Veterans Memorial Bridge and others.
Public transit in the city is operated by the Chattanooga Area Regional Transportation Authority and consists of 17 routes and free electric shuttle in the downtown area.
Chattanooga is still today a major railroad hub, served by two major Class I railroads: Norfolk Southern and CSX. Railroad service is also provided by Chattooga and Chickamauga Railway. On the other hand, the city does not have a passenger rail service for commuters or long-distance travelers.
The primary airport for the city is Chattanooga Metropolitan Airport, served by American Eagle Airlines, Delta Connection, Allegiant Airlines and US Airways Express.