GEM OF THE SOUTH

August 5, 2015


In 2008 I traveled to Sweetwater, Texas to attend the 50th Rattlesnake Roundup”.  There were four of us who made the trip, each driving four hours to cover the sixteen hour journey.  Sweetwater, Texas, is not the end of the world but you can see it from there.  The town itself is flat, hot, and dusty with wind blowing thirty-six hours each day.  The population in 2010 was 10,920 people.  For a “ridge-runner” like me, not exactly paradise, although; talking with the really nice folks there, it’s the only place to live. Oil country.  Strategically located in the state.  The best home town on the planet.  I know we all feel that way about our home town and that’s a marvelous testament to growing up in the United States.

I was born in Chattanooga, Tennessee more than a few years ago and I also am very proud of my town.  Chattanooga was recently named by “Outdoor Magazine” as THE top “outdoor” city in our country.  AroundMe.com labeled Chattanooga as the second “coolest” city in the U.S.  Here are their comments:

The “coolness” of a town varies by opinion, but for us, these American small and mid-size cities have a lot going for them. Whether they boast historic downtowns, innovative local economies, stunning natural landscapes or awesome cultural diversity, these places feature some of the coolest residents in some of the best areas of the country.

CHATTANOOGA, TENNESSEE

“A truly beautiful city, Chattanooga sits along the winding Tennessee River amid the stunning cliffs of the Cumberland Plateau. It’s near the Appalachian Trail, which boasts some of the best climbing and whitewater rafting available. It’s also a great place to live economically speaking: Both home costs and property taxes are considerably low, while major companies like Volkswagen and Amazon are still opening offices there. It’s a gem of the South.”  

Well, we think so anyway.  Let’s take a quick look. By the way, all of the JPEGs were taken by me, except the one by Mr. Phil Thach, so feel free to use them as you wish.

Tennessee River Looking South

The AroundMe article mentioned the winding Tennessee River.  It does just that.  All river cities have their beauty, and the river city we call home is certainly no exception.

The Walnut Street Bridge, built in 1890, is shown spanning the Tennessee River.  This bridge was scheduled to be to be torn down due to age but the “city fathers” had another vision.  The bridge was closed to vehicle traffic, completely refurbished at the tune of several million dollars, and opened as a pedestrian bridge only.  Repairs and structural modifications were made into what is now a pedestrian walkway. The Walnut Street Bridge was added to the National Register of Historic Places on February 23, 1990. The 2,376 foot (720 m) span is one of the world’s longest pedestrian bridges and sits near the heart of a massive and recently completed urban renewal project.  On any one given weekend, you see hundreds of residents and visitors walking the bridge.

Tennessee River Looking East

This is another view of the Tennessee River with the very tip of Hunter Museum showing.

The Hunter Museum is located in an area of the city known as the Bluff View District.  I have been told by several individuals from Western Europe, Germany specifically, this area is very reminiscent of small towns and topography found dotting the landscape they grew up in.  The museum’s collections include works representing the Hudson River School, 19th century genre paintingAmerican Impressionism, the Ashcan School, early modernism, regionalism, and post World War II modern and contemporary art.

The building itself represents three distinct architectural stages: the original 1904 mansion designed by Abram Garfield which has housed the museum since its opening in 1952, an addition built in 1975, and a 2005 addition designed by Randall Stout.  The latest addition now serves as the entrance to the museum. With the 2005 expansion, the Hunter was extended towards the downtown area. The Ruth S. and A. William Holmberg Pedestrian Bridge provides a pedestrian-friendly connection to the nearby Walnut Street Bridge and riverfront attractions. The museum is named after George Hunter, who inherited the Coca-Cola Bottling empire from his uncle, Benjamin Thomas.

OLD Hunter (2)

As mentioned earlier there are three prominent buildings to the Hunter Museum but the residents consider the “old” building and the “new” building when discussing the facility.  Both house works of art, drawings, photography and sculpture. The new building is given as follows:

Hunter (New 3)

This past Sunday my wife and I visited the museum to view a Monet exhibit.  Very, very impressive and to my surprise, the facility was absolutely packed.

The picture below was taken from the grounds surrounding the new facility and again shows the Tennessee River.  Notice the condominiums to the left of the Walnut Street Bridge.  There is a great move to go “downtown”.  People are actually selling their homes in the “burbs” and moving back to the city.  This is due to the activity provided by retail and commercial establishments—not to mention the great restaurants now available to residents and visitors.  We also know that several families have purchased condos for their children when they attend the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga.

Downtown Chattanooga (3)

The digital photograph shown below gives a great view of the glass walking bridge connecting the Bluff View area with downtown Chattanooga.  You will notice a construction site to the left of the bridge.  A private concern is building a “boutique” hotel at this site, which will be completed 2017.  Also notice the triangular spires at the very end of the bridge.  This is the Chattanooga Aquarium.  Two buildings, one with freshwater exhibits and one with saltwater exhibits.  Each year there are well over one million visitors.

Glass Bridge

A much better look at downtown Chattanooga and the aquarium is given below.  You also can see Lookout Mountain in the background.  Lookout Mountain is one emblem on the Seal of Chattanooga.  It is a very prominent landmark and one with great historic significance.  The “Battle Above the Clouds” was fought on Lookout Mountain during the civil war.


TENNESSEE RIVER AND AQUEARIUM

I hope you enjoyed this very brief visit to my home town and certainly hope you will make plans to take time for a real visit.  We would love to see you.

 

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