CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. — From the highway, people blew by this polluted, industrial wasteland of a city on their way to Lookout Mountain or the Smoky Mountains. It was the early 1980s, and Chattanooga was anything but the "Dynamo of Dixie." Residents knew the city would fade away if they didn't do something.
The focus landed on the neglected waterfront. Residents thought if they had better public access to the water's edge it could be a game-changer for the city and help rebuild a half-abandoned downtown.
During the next 20 years, the growth came in spurts — an aquarium, a minor league ballpark and reinvented park space. Mostly private but some public money paid for the development. Out of it grew a movement to revitalize downtown.
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