The term “gentrification” has been defined as “a process of changing the character of a neighborhood through the influence of more affluent residents and businesses.” It has also been a frequent and controversial topic in urban planning and policies.
The past, present and future of the history of Chattanooga are all included within the definition.
The ongoing series of articles on the over 1,000 residences and businesses demolished on Cameron Hill based on the appraisal photographs of Pat St.
Charles vividly demonstrated the philosophy of “raze and obliterate history mentality rather than preservation of the past.”
The 500 foot flattop haircut that allowed the earth to be used as fill dirt to build the Golden Gateway and the erection of the ugly bomb shelter apartments has now become the site of another sign of progress on the lowered level by a large insurance company that provides medical insurance benefits. (The courageous act of elderly preservationists to stand in front of bulldozers and earth moving machines were admired by some but were futile in the end as perceived progress proceeded).
Engel Stadium lies in an inert position awaiting the creeping advancement of either Erlanger Medical Center or apartment-condominium developers seeking space and profit over the ghosts of the P.T. Barnum of baseball Joe Engel, Harmon Killebrew, Don Grate and the thousands of players and fans that were fans at what could have been the minor league version of Chicago’s Wrigley Field or Boston’s Fenway Park as an additional tourist attraction in the “Gig City.”
Lincoln Park's rich history in the black community is an example of pride in a neighborhood that has been able to stay partly intact against condominiums and apartment developers because of political pressure that unfortunately may not be able to be maintained as the population of the private ownership diminishes with age and the purchase of the residences by other profiteers.
Another unanswered question is the ultimate fate of the Hotel Patten (Patten Towers), which was once considered the “finest hotel in the South” but now has been stripped of the vast majority of its historical contents by sale at a public auction, and has undergone numerous fires and infestations. While the absent foreign owners have spent large amounts to maintain the building it is still just a matter of time before this jewel of the South also faces the wrecking ball.
With an initial commitment by Congress to provide funding for a federal building to replace the outdated courthouse down the street from the Patten one has to wonder if a high rise judicial building might be in the works to solve the deficiency problems by destruction of another downtown landmark.
That will necessitate the relocation of the present tenants of the former hotel but perhaps the city of Chattanooga| Hamilton County will help replace the home of the residents of the facility with another alternative source of low rent housing.
These projects should fit nicely within the prediction by a representative of another foreign condominium developer representative that Chattanooga can be “The next Nashville or Austin Texas.”
(Sounds great if we can just get the sewers fixed so as not to stink up the future!)
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(If you have additional information about one of Mr. Summers' articles or have suggestions or ideas about a future Chattanooga area historical piece, please contact Mr. Summers at email@example.com)