The colorfully named Chattanooga is a transportation and historic gateway to the Deep South. It was a zone of contention in the latter stages of the Civil War, and history plays a big role in the city’s conscience. For years it marched on as a non-descript old-South city with areas of urban decay in the old city center, environmental and crime issues. An ambitious downtown redevelopment initiative, just completed with public and private support, has brought a lot of life back into the downtown area, both as a commercial and recreation destination.
The 22-mile Tennessee River waterfront is now a park and features several museums and a nationally noted aquarium. These improvements, the attractive mountain setting, favorable tax climate, and proximity of Atlanta services promise a stronger future. The area is still a bit weak on performing arts and some services, like air service, and there are still some lingering economic and crime issues.
Chattanooga and the Tennessee Valley are located between the Cumberland Mountains to the west and the Appalachian Mountains to the east. Local topography is complex with a number of minor valleys and ridges rising as much as 500 feet in the city and 1,200 feet to the north and southwest. The climate is moderate characterized by cool winters and very warm summers. The topography causes weather variations within short distances. The Cumberland Mountains retard the flow of cold air from the north and west, moderating winter temperatures and precipitation. Winter weather is changeable with highly variable snowfall and occasional freezing rain. Spring and fall weather are particularly pleasant. First freeze is early November, last is late March.