If you don’t visit “that side of the river” very often, you are probably a little confused. Really, still? Chattanooga’s Southside, particularly the area off Main Street, both is and isn’t what it used to be. (A chorus of “Duh” is now heard from the Southside.)
Let’s recap: In the nineteenth century, when Chattanooga was a fledgling city, the Southside was one of the city’s main hubs. Its streets boomed with industrialism and factories. In addition, it also had a healthy residential area. Howard High School, the neighborhood’s zone school, is Chattanooga’s oldest public school. All things considered, it wasn’t at all a bad place to live.
However, as the rest of the city grew, the Southside was neglected. Many of its businesses failed or moved, and its buildings demolished to accommodate the needs of Chattanooga proper as it continued to thrive (barring, of course, our brief stint as the country’s dirtiest city). The once-charming neighborhood fell into disrepair.
The Southside’s downfall lasted for a couple of decades, until it made the radar of several philanthropic community organizations who knew what the neighborhood could be and wanted to restore it to its original state. Now, the Southside’s streets are again teeming with people. Main Street is lined with coffee shops, art galleries, local restaurants and bars, and alternative health clinics.
OK…and the Southside Stroll, now renamed to cover all the activity, instead of just art, is BACK. Every last Friday of each month through September, many Southside businesses, galleries, et al open their doors and extend their hours from 5 and 8 p.m. to participate in the Southside Stroll. Strolling begins this Friday, June 28, so if all of the above is news to you, time to find out what you’ve been missing.