When I first learned my family would be relocating to Tennessee, I was horrified. Like most upscale/educated/major market urbanites, I assumed the worst about the South. I’d seen enough movies and read enough HuffPo to know the South was full of racist, homophobic, obese people. And while that very may well be true of most Southern cities, I was pleasantly surprised to discover that my adopted hometown of Chattanooga had no negative history. In fact, Chattanooga doesn’t have much history at all.
And trust me, when it comes to the South, that is a very good thing! Just say the names Selma, Birmingham, Montgomery, or Fergusson. It evokes a legacy of brutality, oppression and poverty. But not here. Say “Chattanooga” and what’s the first thing that comes to mind? That’s right… artisanal cocktails and pop-up shops in urban lofts!
Sure, there are panhandlers here and there, but it’s nothing like the epidemic afflicting America’s flagship cities. In fact, very few traces of poverty can be seen in the city. From the boutique hot dog diner on the Northshore to the farm-to-table concepts of the Southside, poverty isn’t something one really encounters here. I’m sure poverty exists somewhere, but it’s all been neatly swept from the edges of the city proper, ensuring Chattanooga itself is a bastion of safety, prosperity and elegance for everyone.