City Journal chronicles Chattanooga from its days as the “Dynamo of Dixie” through Cronkite snub to today

It’s a lengthy article from a publication named City Journal, but one that chronicles the evolution of Chattanooga over decades . . . from the moniker of the “Dynamo of Dixie” to the the less flattering term that the late Walter Cronkite bestowed on it as “the dirtiest city in America.”

Today, Chattanooga is known nationally and internationally as the “Gig City,” thanks to an investment made in the EPB infrastructure to build a gigabit network. As Oliver Wiseman writes, “Chattanooga was into remote work before it was cool—or at least, before it became a public-health necessity. Pre-pandemic, this midsize city in the southeast corner of Tennessee had already shown impressive hustle when it came to persuading remote workers and tech startups to rethink their relationship with America’s big, expensive cities and relocate to the lush foothills of the Appalachians.”

Here’s a concluding summary from the article, titled “How Chattanooga Reinvented Itself,” that provides a good deal of context from a person living nearly 100 miles north, but who has watched that evolution unfold. Again, quoting Wiseman: “Chattanooga’s recipe for success doesn’t appear to be the headline-grabbing ‘Gig City’ branding or hipster accoutrements of most aspiring tech hubs—street art, exposed brick, co-working spaces, and so on. Instead, its virtues seem more rooted to the past, and more conservative: an entrepreneurial spirit; business-friendly instincts; a local business elite committed to the town’s success; a philanthropic tradition that started with Coca-Cola and continues with today’s tech investors; and a vibrant civic culture, one in which Chattanooga’s little platoons all seem to be pulling in the same direction.”

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