Settled in the heart of Chattanooga’s Northshore neighborhood is Coolidge Park’s antique carousel. For $1, those of all ages can ride the carousel, taking in its unique design.
The carousel’s journey to Coolidge park began in Pennsylvania where it was constructed in 1894. Shortly after, it was transported to New York state. Many years later, following an unclear path of transportation, the carousel pieces were brought to Chattanooga by Bud Ellis to be restored.
The Coolidge carousel is a Dentzel model, thus it follows much of the vintage designs of the famous German carousel builder, Gustav Dentzel.
Bud Ellis was the owner of Chattanooga’s Horsin’ Around woodcarving school, which is now owned and operated by Larry Ridge. Ridge carves many animals himself, and also has a team and students that he teaches at the school.
Natives of Michoacan, Mexico, Carmen Torres and Valdemar Ibarra have been living their American Dream cooped up inside their small orange-painted restaurant nestled within the busy Amnicola Highway.
“All the people from Chattanooga, from Hixson, Redbank, Dunlap, Dayton who are all customers, many of them friends because we were eager to have family, eager to have friends, so we have many friendships now,” Ibarra said.
He was a businessman from his days in Mexico, but left that behind when he arrived in the U.S. as an immigrant in 1992. Ibarra began working in California but found no steady income, so he moved to the Chattanooga area, where his cousin resided, not long after.
On an unsettling pursuit for the supernatural, guests of Chattanooga’s Ghost Tours are provided all the necessary ghost hunting equipment for a chilling haunt. Parapsychological Field investigator Alice Stephens educates their visitors on Chattanooga’s rich and eerie history while providing an interactive spiritual experience.
“I’m kind of a skeptical believer. So I believe in it, obviously [otherwise], I wouldn’t be doing it, but, I’m always like, was that a ghost? Did I actually see that, so I questioned myself too,” stated Stephens.
For kids, adults and seniors alike, there’s no substitute for the wonder and delight of winding through a model railroad’s path of track and town. The Tennessee Valley Model Railroaders, inc, hand-painted eight real settlements along their custom-made track, which runs passengers and cargo from the rolling hills of eastern Kentucky to its riverside stop near Lookout Mountain.
The group’s president, Nick Giordano, personally connected miles of wires and assembled dozens of houses.
“Well, like most kids, as a little boy I was into model trains,” Giordano joked. “And then you get a little older, and you discover girls and cars and model trains go away.”
Lisa Baker’s guitar is an extension of her own body. From the decorative swirls running along its length to the initial “L” sewn on the strap, it’s a tangible display of her love of jazz. And she’s rarely found without it.
“It kind of goes everywhere with me, period,” she laughed. “Going to the beach, take my guitar.”
Baker, a jazz performer and adjunct professor of music at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, has had a heart for jazz music ever since she can remember.
Walking through the door of Zarzour’s Cafe on Chattanooga’s Southside feels a bit like walking into a time capsule containing four generations of Zarzour family history, owners of the small brick building for over 100 years. The shelves and walls are adorned with an array of heirlooms and memorabilia, from family photos, celebrity autographs and newspaper clippings to Charles Zarzour’s naturalization papers from 1946, signed in Arabic.
The skeletal remains of the Standard-Coosa-Thatcher mill complex glow as if they were on fire. Inside, the Pop-up Project is going through the final rehearsal for If These Walls Could Talk, an immersive dance performance that seeks to tell the history of the mill before it is lost to the collective memory of Chattanooga.
“It’s just such a beautiful space,” says Jules Downum, director and co-founder of the Pop-up Project. “It didn’t take a lot of work on our part to make the space impactful. And the stories were already here.”
The Southeastern Climbers Coalition (SCC) is a grassroots non-profit coalition with only three employees. Although, throughout the past 29 years they have had hundreds of helping hands working to conserve and preserve publicly accessible climbing areas in Tennessee, Georgia and Alabama.
Caleb Timmerman recently became that third employee in the form of marketing director for the SCC. Here he helps tell the story of climbers and conservationists who have fought to keep public land accessible to all.
“Access to outdoor rock climbing in the southeast is never guaranteed,” Timmerman says. “It takes a community of people who care deeply about this outdoor resource to come together and form a coalition to protect that access.”
Lincoln Park used to be a safe space for the African American community to enjoy themselves. In fact, before integration in the 60s, it was the only park in Chattanooga they were allowed in. The property is currently owned by Erlanger, who have built parking lots over most of the park, reducing it down to just five acres. Compared to the original twenty acre plot, it’s now a mere skeleton.
Tiffany Rankin grew up in the area and remains a resident in the neighborhood adjacent to the park. She has always been a community leader, but she started to get heavily involved and raise awareness for the park when she heard the City of Chattanooga was planning to extend Central Avenue. The road would cut into a boundary of the park, sizing it down further. The plan was to “urbanize” the area, which, to Tiffany and many others in the community, meant displacement and gentrification.
What was once a thriving advocacy group for Native American preservation work in Chattanooga has slowly fizzled over time, but it’s cause still stands. The Chattanooga Intertribal Association (CITA) has existed for twenty years, and Tom Kunesh, the former Public Relations Chairman, tries to maintain the spirit of their work to this day.