When I was younger—much, much younger—I used to wonder when I heard my older relatives talking about my dad being born in Alton Park, my maternal grandfather being from East Chattanooga, my paternal grandmother being born in East Lake and going to church in Ridgedale, and my cousins living in Tiftonia.
After I returned from the Philippines near the end of 1991, I began researching local history, first focusing on East Brainerd, with my best source being Becky Eaves. For Native American history, my primary human source was ethnohistorian Raymond Evans. For other than for East Brainerd, I have found the local history section on the 3rd floor of the Chattanooga-Hamilton County Bicentennial Library to be an incredible source.
The following is based on research from the large collection of historic maps, newspaper clippings, and books on local affairs that section offers. The suburbs here are those directly dependent on Chattanooga and founded in the city’s “Dynamo of Dixie” era. Most, but not all, were annexed before or in 1930. The boundaries listed are not from scientific surveys, and many suburbs were not exactly square.
In the beginning of what would become the City of Chattanooga, there was Ross’ Landing trading post. There was a ferry too, which crossed the Tennessee River to Lower Ferry Road to link up with the county seat at Dallas. Contrary to common belief, the Landing was named for Lewis Ross, not his brother John. Lewis, who lived in what became Charleston, Tennessee, was the businessman of the family while John was the politician.
John never lived in Rossville’s Chief John Ross House either. His grandfather, John McDonald, who sold the land that became Brainerd Mission did, however, and so later did John’s daughter and son-in-law, Nicholas Scales.
When the little town first incorporated, it adopted the name of a Cherokee town abandoned by the Removal that was a few miles distant, Tsatanugi, or Chattanooga. No one knows why that name was chosen rather than that of the closer Cherokee town of Citico (at the mouth of Citico Creek), but it may have been because of the farm and tannery of Daniel Ross located near Tsatanugi, in the area that became St. Elmo.
In the area of the later town of St. Elmo and former town of Tsatanugi, another village grew up called Kirklen, named after one of the original post-Removal settlers.
The original borders of the town were the river in the north, James St. (9th, or MLK, between Chestnut and Market Sts.) in the south, Georgia Avenue on the side of Brabson Hill in the east, and Cypress St. at the foot of Cameron Hill in the west. Its main street has always been Market St., its second street, now Broad, at first named Mulberry St., became Railroad Ave. in 1850.
In 1851, the city annexed territory out to what are now Baldwin St. in the east and W. 23rd St. (then Missionary Ave.) in the west; these were the city boundaries in the Civil War. After the war in 1869, the city expanded to Central Ave. (then East End Ave.) in the east and W. 28th St. (then Chattanooga Ave.) in the West.
Chattanooga’s “official” Downtown has always been the same as the original town, of which four streets to the west of Pine St. (Poplar, Cedar, Cypress, and Pleasant) were obliterated by the construction of the freeway. Also lost from downtown to the freeway was Stillhouse Hollow between Cameron and Reservoir (Kirkman) Hill.
Irish Hill once sat between Cherry, Lindsay, 8th, and 9th Sts. Many do not realize that the first railroads into Chattanooga (Western & Atlantic and East Tennessee & Virginia) were built by the same workforce that did so elsewhere in the country: immigrant Irish. Most accounts tell that this population disappeared with the arrival of the Civil War. However, that leaves unexplained how the Irish of Chattanooga contributed a regiment to the Fenian Brotherhood’s Army of Irish Liberation’s invasion of Canada in 1867. Sts. Peter and Paul Church is all that remains today of that community.
Bluff View was once the premier place for the wealthy to live in downtown Chattanooga. At the end of High St., it survives as Hunter Art Museum, Houston Museum, and Mary Portero’s Bluff View Arts District, which preserves the great majority of the former homes.
Cameron Hill was a prestigious West Side neighborhood in its own right, with two houses along its crest and others on Cameron Dr., with slightly less prestigious homes along its southern end on East Terrace and West Terrace. A spacious Boynton Park once adorned its peak, only to become fill dirt for the freeway. In its place, the Cameron Hill Apartments were constructed, now replaced by offices for Blue Cross/Blue Shield.
The upper ends of Cherry, Walnut, Lookout, and High Sts. and Georgia Avenue were also once affluent residential areas.
The West Side included the area beyond Cameron Hill and the residential area between W. MLK (once W. 9th St.) Blvd. and W. Main St. (once Montgomery Ave.), from the river in the west to Carter Street in the east. The north-south cross streets included Pine, College, Poplar, Cedar, Cypress, and Grove Sts. Nearly all the West Side fell to the freeway and to the Golden Gateway “urban renewal”. All that remained were two small streets of row houses, but these too fell to the bulldozers when Findley Stadium was built.
Until the Golden Gateway came, W. 9th St. passed south of Cameron Hill and the one which crossed it where W. MLK Blvd. now does was W. 6th St.
College Hill is actually a lower hill west of Cameron Hill, as one can see from the large panoramic photo behind the desk of the library’s local history section. It remains as the College Hill Courts, or Westside projects.
Tannery Flats was a tenement that was originally company housing for the workers of the Chattanooga Tannery, which once stood along the river west of Cameron Hill. It lay south of where W. 6th St. (now W. MLK Blvd.) came over the hill. Of its four or five small blocks, only Ash St. remains.
Blue Goose Hollow was a slum north of where W. 6th St. (W. MLK Blvd.) came over Cameron Hill. It began as a company housing for workers at Roane Iron Works and is famous for being the birthplace of the Empress of the Blues, Bessie Smith. Fulton St. is all that remains.
The public wharf was along the river at the end of W. Montgomery Ave. (W. Main St.).
The East Side runs between E. MLK Blvd. (formerly E. 9th St.) and the river, from Georgia Ave. to Baldwin St., and at one time included some of the most posh neighborhoods in the city, along with some of its worst slum areas. Some of the East Side has been taken over by buildings and parking lots for Provident, but most of the East Side that has disappeared has been swallowed up by the growing campus of the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga (UTC).
Battery Place lies along the street of the same name between the river and Riverfront Parkway, formerly the site of a Civil War battery. It was, and still is, one of the more prestigious areas in which to live downtown.
The Big Nine is the nickname for the stretch of E. 9th St. (E. MLK Blvd.), particularly between Houston and Magnolia Sts., that was the paramount cultural and commercial center of the African-American community in Chattanooga. Amongst the barber shops, retail stores, and numerous clubs, its center-piece until 1985 was the Martin Hotel. It once stood where the Bessie Smith Hall is now.
Tadetown was the residential area for African-Americans that sprang up after the Civil War along the north side of E. 9th St.
Scruggstown was the residential area for African-Americans that sprang up after the War along the south side of E. 9th St.
The University of Chattanooga (UC) in the late 19th and early 20th centuries occupied only the block bound by McCallie Ave. and Douglas, Oak, and Baldwin Sts., and it shared the block with one of the public elementary schools. It did, however, also own the block between Douglas and Baldwin to Vine Street.
The Whiteside Flats were cheaper rental housing in the vicinity of UC.
Fort Wood, currently occupying the area between Palmetto and 5th Sts. and McCallie and Central Aves., at one time extended west to the line of the East Tennessee, Virginia, & Georgia Railroad, which is now barely discernible on the UTC campus.
Park Place originally lay Park and East End (now Central) Aves. And 10th and Flynn Sts., the south side of the latter, which in the late 19th century was called St. Charles St. It can now be said to take in the territory to Magnolia St.
E. 8th St. from Palmetto St. to Central Ave., once part of the subdivision called McCallie Addition, is still a neighborhood in its own right.
Onion Bottom lies between 11th St., Central Ave., and the East End switchyards. If you doubt it is bottom land, wait for the next gullywasher. In the early 20th century, it contained the city workhouse, a dump, a coal processing plant, and one of the largest and most notorious slums in the city, with a mixed population.
South Chattanooga is not simply a geographic designation, it was a land company that developed the area for residential housing. Everything south of Main Street to W. 23rd St. (or the freeway since its construction) and west of Market St. is South Chattanooga.
Hooterville lies south of the freeway to Chattanooga Creek. That’s the name the locals have given it and those who know them.
Fort Negley, built around the site of the Civil War fort, stands east of Market St. to Rossville Ave. and Washington St., between Main and W. 20th Sts.
Though Chattanooga has always had satellite communities since even before the Civil War, its real historic suburbs did not come into existence until its speedy and broad industrial expansion during its “Dynamo of Dixie” years in the latter 19th century.
Until the late 1880’s, the primary suburbs for Chattanooga were St. Elmo (originally named Kirklen) and Hill City on the north side of the river. Beginning with the economic boom of 1887, however, numerous suburbs spread across the Chattanooga Valley beyond the city limits, which for decades rested at East End (Central) Ave. and Chattanooga Ave. (28th St.). Each of these suburbs had at least minimal self-government, some of which were incorporated towns. These differed from subdivisions, generally called “additions” at this time.
The opening of the Walnut Street Bridge paved the way for explosive growth north of the river and spurred development south of it as well.
This system of suburbs was bound together by one of the country’s best trolley systems, the Chattanooga Union Belt Railway.
Alton Park lies south of W. 37th St., east of Alton Park Blvd., and north of W. 47th St., and is bordered on the west by Forest Hills Cemetery and St. Elmo. It began life as Oak Hills. It was annexed in 1930.
Amnicola was the large farm of first the Crutchfield family and later the Montagues along the Tennessee River, south and west of South Chickamauga Creek and northwest of the railroad.
Avondale sits between the railroad and Missionary Ridge, north of Citico Ave. and south of Ocoee St. It was annexed in 1923.
Belvoir was the residential area around the large home of Col. W.R. Crabtree that became part of the larger community of Brainerd.
Billy Goat Hill lies at the end of Chamberlain Ave., which at one time was Sherman Blvd. beyond Wilcox Blvd. It was occupied by Union troops under Sherman’s command during the Battle of Missionary Ridge. Gun emplacements and rifle pits from the battle still exist.
Black Bottom got its name from the coal sludge dumped into Chattanooga Creek from the factories lining its path through the valley. Now the site of Piney Woods housing complex, in the late 19th and early 20th centuries its population was nearly all white. It was annexed in 1930.
Boulevard Park was a suburb in its own right that lay west of Rossville Blvd. below E. 40th St. opposite Cedar Hills, and is now that suburb’s western half. It was annexed in 1925.
Boyce was an organized town west of Boyce Station on the Cincinnati & Southern Railroad and the Citico yards between Elmendorf and Cushman Sts. And Dodson Ave. It became part of the greater town of East Chattanooga.
Bozentown came into being around 1910 within what was originally supposed to be East Chattanooga, between the railroad and the river. It lies between the much later subdivisions of Sherwood Forest and Riverside Park. Its “main street” was and is Wood Ave., upon which the First Baptist Church of Bozentown sat until recently (it now occupies the former Ridgedale Methodist, where my grandmother attended church). It (along with its neighbors) was annexed in 1968.
Brainerd came into being in 1926 when the smaller communities of Olde Towne, Sunnyside, Dutchtown, Belvoir, and the Mission merged by popular vote under that name. It was annexed in 1930.
Bushtown was the first black-governed municipality in the State of Tennessee. The suburb lays between the railroad, Citico Ave., E. 3rd St., and Orchard Knob Ave. It was annexed in 1923.
Cedar Hills lies at the foot of Missionary Ridge south of E. 40th St. and east of Rossville Blvd., though it is now considered to take in the former Boulevard Park west of the boulevard (in fact, Cedar Hills Schools is there). It was annexed in 1925.
Churchville is Bushtown’s nextdoor neighbor, and lies within Citico Ave., E. 3rd St., Orchard Knob Ave., and Dodson Ave. Like Bushtown, Churchville originated as a black-governed municipality in the late 19th century. It was annexed in 1923.
Citico City lies west of the railroad and north of E. 3rd St., and originally extended west to Wiehl St. Erlanger Hospital used to occupy just the block immediately to the west of this suburb but now takes up everything to Central Ave. Lincoln Park, the park for which the neighborhood gets its modern name, once lay between East End Ave. and Wiehl St. It was annexed in 1886.
Clifton Hills straddles Rossville Blvd. below E. 28th St. down to E. 32nd St. east of Rossville Blvd. and to E. 33rd St. west of it. It was annexed in 1925.
Dutchtown once stood in the area of the Lerch St. and Glendon Place neighborhoods and was the residential area around the dairy of Jacob Kellerhalls that later became part of the greater community of Brainerd.
East Chattanooga comprises everything north of Ocoee St. between the railroad and the Ridge until Campbell St. passes east thru Lime Kiln Hollow. As it now stands, this suburb came largely as the merger of the former town of Boyce with the suburb of Sherman Heights. Originally, East Chattanooga was going to be a planned town between the Cincinnati & Southern Railroad and the Tennessee later known as East Chattanooga (West Section). The only part of that actually inhabited was the African-American community of Bozentown. East Chattanooga (East Section) was developed east of the tracks and later merged with the town of Boyce under the former’s name. The station on the Southern Railway for Sherman Heights was East Chattanooga, and Sherman Heights merged into the town of East Chattanooga around 1910. East Chattanooga was annexed in 1923.
Eastdale came together as Hornville in the 1890’s, changing its name to Eastdale in 1909 in hopes of soon being annexed. The former Eastdale Baptist Church moved to Ooltewah-Ringgold Rd. and became Eastwood Baptist. It was annexed in 1957.
East End, a name which has largely disappeared from usage except maybe by longer term residents, was for a long time one of Chattanooga’s largest suburbs. Currently it lies south of e. 34th St. between Jerome Ave., Hamill Rd., and 4th Ave., though many people refer to the area as part of East Lake. It was annexed in 1930.
East Lake lies along the foot of Missionary Ridge between E. 28th and E. 40th Sts. and 4th Ave., its central attraction being the still beautiful East Lake Park. It was annexed in 1925.
East Ridge is a town that was organized in 1921 to prevent annexation from the earlier communities of Penny Row, Nickel Street, and Smokey Row, later taking in the Spring Creek and Scruggs Bridge communities. It is still independent.
East St. Elmo (see Poeville)
Eden Park was one of the more prominent subdivisions in Highland Park suburb, from Willow St. to Lyerly St., between Main St. and Anderson Ave.
Ferger Place was a very posh subdivision in Oak Grove suburb on Morningside and Eveningside Drives. It remains quite attractive.
Fort Cheatham, once the site of the headquarters of the Confederate general of that name during the Army of Tennessee’s siege of Chattanooga, is at the foot of Missionary Ridge between the freeway, E. 28th St. and 4th Ave. It was, ironically (given its namesake), one of the oldest historically black suburbs. It was annexed in 1925.
Foust Place, south of the freeway between S. Hickory St. and 4th Ave. and north of e. 28th St. It began life as the suburb of New England Park, but came to be called by the name of the housing development that covered its entire territory. It was annexed in 1925.
Gamble Town is the section of St. Elmo at the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries centered around Harris Ave. that was populated by African-Americans.
Glenwood lies north of McCallie Ave. next to Missionary Ridge, west to Derby St. and north to E. 3rd St., taking in Derby Cir. It was annexed in 1923.
Gobbler’s Peak is a knoll just south of Bozentown.
Hell’s Half Acre was one of the most interestingly-named areas of Chattanooga. Or I should say “three”, since there were three areas so-nicknamed. The “main” neighborhood so-called was between 16th St. and the railroad to the south, taking in Doris, Fillmore, Fagan, and Polk Sts. within those bounds. There was another Hell’s Half Acre next to Tannery Flats and yet one more Hell’s Half Acre near Moses St., which once ran near 19th St. beyond Riverside Drive.
Highland Park lies between McCallie and Holtzclaw Aves. and Main and Willow Sts. The elevated part of the suburb is the Civil War-era Indian Hill. Highland Park Baptist still stands in its original location. The suburb was annexed in 1905.
Hill City originated as Camp Contraband during the Civil War. Its boundaries are Manning St., Stringer’s Ridge, and the backside of North Market St. At one time, it was a mixed municipality which stretched to Forest (later Forrest, now Forest again) Ave. It merged with the town of North Chattanooga in the 1920’s.
Hornville (see East Dale)
Lime Kiln Hollow is the gap between Trueblood Hill and Billy Goat Hill.
Lincoln Park (see Citico City)
Lookout Mountain incorporated in 1891, the same year Crawfish Springs, Georgia, changed its name to Chickamauga in honor of the soon-to-be national military park. It’s still independent.
Lookout Valley is the community in the valley west of Lookout Mountain from the stateline to the Tennessee River. The Cherokee town of Tuskegee was there before the Removal, and for a long time the area was called Wauhatchie. It acquired the name Tiftonia from a late 19th century housing development. However, to locals this name meant just the middle section straddling Cummings Highway; the northern section was Brown’s Ferry and the southern section near the railroad station was still Wauhatchie. It was annexed in three stages in 1972, 1995, and 2003.
Lupton City is on the south end of Lupton Drive below Hixon Pike. It was founded as a company town for workers at Dixie Spinning Mills finishing plant. It was annexed in 1968.
Mindell Park was a fashionable, though less prestigious than Ferger Place, neighborhood of the suburb of Oak Grove. It lay along Orchard Knob Ave. and Hawthorne St.
The Mission was the loosely-defined area in the vicinity of the former Brainerd Mission to the Cherokee across the creek from Old Chickamauga Town. It became part of Brainerd.
Missionary Ridge lies along the crest of the ridge of the same name and was incorporated in 1891, the same year as Lookout Mountain, Tennessee, and Chickamauga, Georgia.
Mountain Junction, also known as South St. Elmo, lies between Forest Hills and Lookout Mountain from 47th St. to the stateline. It was annexed in 1930.
New England Park (see Foust Place)
North Chattanooga began as a planned town in 1913 and was incorporated the same year. Its boundary was originally Forest Ave. In 1915, the town forbade African-Americans from living in its limits, an ordinance made practically null and void by its later annexation of Hill City, which was a majority black town. North Chattanooga was annexed in 1930.
Oak Grove sits north of the freeway between Holtzclaw and Orchard Knob Aves. North to Main St. Among others, it contains the subdivisions of Ferger Place and Mindell Park. It was annexed to the city in 1913.
Oak Hills (see Alton Park)
Olde Towne was the business section and immediate neighborhood of what became Brainerd by popular vote in 1926, east of Tunnel Blvd.
Orange Grove borders the Chattanooga National Cemetery on the south and sits north of the railroads tracks between Central and Holtzclaw Aves. Orange Grove School was originally here, which is how it got its name. It was annexed in 1913.
Orchard Knob is north of McCallie Ave. and south of E. 3rd St., between Holtzclaw Ave. and
Park City, one of the smaller suburbs, is north of Doyle St., along Cannon Ave., all of its east of Rossville Blvd. It was annexed in 1930.
Piney Woods (see Black Bottom)
Poeville, also called East St. Elmo or South Alton Park, lies along both sides of Central Ave. east of Mountain Junction and Forest Hills south of Piney Woods. It was annexed in 1930.
Ridgedale lies adjacent to the Ridge between the freeway and McCallie Ave., west to Willow St. Its former Methodist Church which my grandmother attended is now First Baptist of Bozentown. Ridgedale Baptist is now on Hickory Valley Rd. It was annexed in 1913.
Ridgeside is that part of Sunnyside which self-incorporated rather than be annexed into Chattanooga along with the rest of Brainerd. It includes the subdivisions of Shepherd Hills and Crescent Circle. It is still independent.
Riverview is separated from North Chattanooga by Hixon Pike. Once centered around the 30-room Lyndhurst mansion of John T. Lupton and still taking in the Chattanooga Golf and Country Club, this suburb was annexed in 1930.
Rosstown once lay north of McCallie Ave. between Derby and Kelly Sts. up to E. 3rd St. At one time it was populous and prosperous enough to sponsor a baseball team in the city’s local Negro League. Parkridge Hospital now occupies a good deal of the former suburb, and only two small of its original blocks remain. It was annexed in 1923.
Rustville was not in South Chattanooga as the current real estate designation has it. It was south of Chattanooga Creek and west of Alton Park Blvd. above W. 37th St. It was annexed to Chattanooga in 1930.
St. Elmo (Kirklen) lies between Forest Hills and Lookout Mountain north of 47th St. The oldest suburb of Chattanooga, it began life as Kirklen before the Civil War and was renamed because of a novel based there. It was annexed in 1930.
Sherman Heights was a prestigious suburb of the late 1890’s that sprang up north of Crutchfield St. and east of Dodson Ave., extending up onto the foot of Missionary Ridge to the east. It was more or less the same area as the currently-designated Glass Farm District. It merged with East Chattanooga after 1905.
South Alton Park (see Poeville)
South St. Elmo (see Mountain Junction)
Sunnyside was the residential area east of Tunnel Blvd. that grew up around the home of Judge R.B. Cooke and later became part of the greater community of Brainerd.
Trueblood Hill is the northernmost hill of Missionary Ridge, called Tunnel Hill by Confederate Maj. Gen. Patrick Cleburne as well as his opponent Maj. Gen. William T. Sherman. It is separated from Billy Goat Hill by Lime Kiln Hollow.
White City sits west of Jerome Ave., south of E. 32nd St., and includes everything to Chattanooga Creek. It was annexed in 1930.