Once known as America's dirtiest cities, Chattanooga is now known as one of its prettiest.

The revitalization of Chattanooga over the past 30 years has won the city a slew of awards and turned it into a popular travel destination and relocation site. Outside Magazine has named it to its "Top 10 Cities in which to Live Big, Play Hard, and Work (If You Must);" FamilyFun Magazine lists it as one of America's "Top Five Family Vacation Cities;" and National Public Radio's Morning Edition ranks it as one of its Great Cities.

Even before this turnaround, Chattanooga has had an interesting history, with landmark events in many eras. In 1838, thousands of Cherokees began their journey along the Trail of Tears from here. Later during the Civil War, the city was the site of the bloody Campaign for Chattanooga, considered a turning point in the War Between the States. During this campaign, the bloodiest two-day battle of the entire war took place, the Battle of Chickamauga. President Lincoln said at the time, "Chattanooga is as important as Richmond," and history proved him right with Sherman's famous March to the Sea occurring after the Confederates lost Chattanooga.

Chattanooga has also been an important travel and industrial city. During the Civil War, the railroad was of vital importance for bringing in not only supplies to the troops stationed within the city, but also for transporting reinforcements. Four major railways met in Chattanooga: the Western & Atlantic, Memphis & Charleston, Louisville & Nashville, and the Virginia & Tennessee Railroads. In 1908, the Chattanooga Choo Choo Terminal Station was built. It still stands today as a testament of the golden age of railroad with its 85-foot freestanding dome.

Culture and the arts have also long played an important role in the city. Bessie Smith started her blues singing career on the streets of Chattanooga and is now recognized at the African-American Museum and Bessie Smith Hall, where a special permanent exhibit commemorates her life. In addition, the city hosts the Hunter Museum of American Art, the Houston Museum of Decorative Arts and more. The annual Riverbend Festival music festival attracts more than 500,000 people during its nine-day run.

Also downtown is the popular Tennessee Aquarium and IMAX theater. This venue has been a magnet in bringing other attractions to the area and helping launch its renaissance.

Compiled from Chattanooga Area
Convention and Visitors Bureau information