After a series of successful fundraising campaigns, a local history preservation organization is preparing to publish an enormous collection of historical Chattanooga photographs.
Six photos were made available to Nooga.com for this article, including an extremely rare and early photo of Market Street in the 1870s.
See photos below. Click here to view several photos from the collection already made available.
Organizers with Picnooga, the organization that purchased the original glass plate negatives, discovered more than 400 glass plate negatives as part of an online auction. They allowed the public to “adopt” the photographs for a fee, with each donor receiving a high-quality scan of a photo from the collection in return.
The campaign was funded in just a few hours with donations and support from EPB.
David Moon, founder of Picnooga, said the first batch of adopted images will be sent out by the end of February. The second batch will be made available after that.
“There are several themes that make this collection so historically significant and stand out from other local history collections,” Moon said. “For one, we are probably looking at one photographer. Also, the majority of photos show people as candid subjects . smiling and in very casual poses in everyday scenarios around town.”
Moon said many of the photos highlight areas of Chattanooga that weren’t photographed often, with many interior scenes of the white-collar lifestyle.
“There’s a great humanity in the body of this photographer’s work in contrast to the Stokes Collection that shows the industrial and commercial growth of Chattanooga,” he said.
Other photos are specifically scenic in style, featuring city and residential scenes around the Fort Wood area near UTC. The photographer also took several photos of soldiers at Camp Thomas in Chickamauga during military training for the Spanish-American War.
Moon worked closely with Sam Hall, founder of Deep Zoom Chattanooga, during the scanning process. Hall will be featuring some of the collection soon on his website.
Glass plate negatives offer the highest resolution possible. This makes them great candidates for the Deep Zoom technology.
The name of the original photographer is known, but Moon wants to conduct more research before revealing his name to the public.
“He does have relatives currently living in the Chattanooga area, and we’ll attempt to reach out,” he said. “We are just excited to have this one-of-a-kind collection and an opportunity to show it after 116-plus years.”
Moon said the originals will be preserved at a local library or archive once they are scanned.
The first image released dates to between 1873 and early 1875. The view is taken at the intersection of Ninth Street (now Martin Luther King Boulevard) and Market Street, and uses a technology called stereoscopy. It was used at the time to enhance the illusion of depth in two-dimensional images.