Perry Mayo generously donated a box of medium format black & white negatives. The photos were likely taken from the mid-1950s through the early 1960s. They capture some of the most active periods of infrastructure change in Chattanooga's history since the Civil War.
The iconic Union Depot dominated the scene downtown in these photos. Market Street was still a center of retail commerce.
Like many other cities, Chattanooga, was facing a growing need to revitalize infrastructure and housing neglected during the Depression and World War II. The federal government encouraged cities to demolish older, run-down neighborhoods and business areas to make way for urban development and highways.*
In November 1955, Mayor P.R. Olgiati announced the Westside Redevelopment Plan, which included 407 acres bound by the Tennessee River plus Chestnut, Carter and West Main streets. There was little opposition except to the Cameron Hill plan, which required destruction of all structures and Boynton Park.*
Despite impassioned and broad opposition to the destruction of Cameron Hill by The Cameron Hill Historical Society, led by Zella Armstrong, demolition of the homes and removal of the land began in early 1957 and continued for several years.
Beleaguered Mayor Olgiati asserted, "We cannot make progress for the betterment of the city and its residents without stepping on some people's toes."
"How much have our officials, elected on the platform to preserve our great scenery and history, appreciated this God-given heritage of great natural beauty that compels and retains the love of its citizens that they have sold our birthright for a mess of pottage?"
Mrs. Sim Perry Long November 10, 1962
From: Chattanooga’s Story by John Wilson
This view at the intersections of Frazier Ave., North Market St., and Cherokee Blvd. remains very recognizable; sans the the fondly remembered Town & Country Restaurant's sign, with animted carraige wheels and horses.