Take a walk down Chattanooga's Riverfront to meet a city that dared to dream big. Fountains meander around buildings like streams. Outdoor art enlivens every step from the aquarium to the art museum. Families gather on the banks of the Tennessee River, where live music spills from a floating stage. People are walking, talking, smiling at strangers, crossing the river on a sky blue footbridge. This is what every city strives to be: a safe haven, a vibrant gathering spot, a place where people want to bring their kids and dogs and friends. This is the new Chattanooga.
Unveiled in May 2005, Chattanooga's Riverfront has been heralded as a model of urban renewal. Its scenic network of parks and pathways links restaurants, shops, and family attractions along the river. Where slabs of concrete once lined the bank, grassy terraces cascade toward the water, a soft and scenic gathering spot for sunsets and special events. During concerts, this serves as an amphitheater. Kayakers paddle to the best seat in the house while boats tie up to the pier.
Visitors kick off their shoes and splash barefoot down the waterfall stairs that meet six fountains arcing into the river. This is The Passage, a special place that honors those who gathered here before embarking on the Trail of Tears. Cherokee symbols engraved in seven bronze discs tell their story.
Left: This stunning steel-and-glass bridge links the Hunter Museum of American Art with the waterfront.