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My Chattanooga

Chattanooga is a city defined by its own storied rebirth—rising from a “dirtiest city in America” moniker (thank you, Walter Cronkite) to a twentieth-century alchemy of art, architecture, adventure, technology, and culture.  Once known as a Victorian-era industrial “gateway to the South,” Chattanooga is lauded now as a “Gig City,” meaning that it has one of the fastest internet connections in the United States.

But more than commerce drives this dynamo. The natural beauty of the Tennessee River Valley’s mountains and waterways (and accompanying outdoor activities), a burgeoning arts community, and three James Beard Award–nominated chefs all contribute to Chattanooga’s compelling and optimistic allure.

More than two decades ago, my partner, Billy Woodall, and I witnessed the incredible start of Chattanooga’s revitalization with the opening of the Tennessee Aquarium— a fantastic experience tracing mist and dew and rain from the peaks of the Great Smoky Mountains, down the Tennessee and Mississippi rivers, and on into the wide Gulf of Mexico. Once we felt that expansive energy, we knew that Chattanooga’s possibilities would define our own future here in the city.


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This story appeared in the Winter 2021 issue of MILIEU.