A collection of more than 250 photos of Chattanooga in the late 1950s and early 1960s has been published online.
Picnooga, an online history site, has released the collection on their Flickr page. Called the Perry Mayo Collection after the donor, the photos depict a drastically changing Chattanooga in the middle of the 20th century.
Notably, the collection includes rare photos of Cameron Hill, Martin Luther King Boulevard and the Walnut Street Bridge when automobiles were allowed.
The photos document a time when downtown Chattanooga was on the decline and Cameron Hill was chosen as a way to develop the west side of the city.
Click here to view the entire collection.
BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee-which now occupies the former Cameron Hill-offers a timeline of Cameron Hill on their website.
“[The Cameron Hill removal] was controversial,” Picnooga founder David Moon said. “There were a lot of protests and people who wanted to save that area. It was a huge change that completely changed downtown, eventually not for the better. But it had become a blighted area, and their solution was to put an interstate through.”
Moon said the latest collection is remarkable, but the Cameron Hill photos-many of which haven’t been seen before-are especially interesting.
“There are some good photos in the batch,” he said. “Obviously, the pictures of Cameron Hill-not many people have seen photos of that area . They are very rare as far as public collections so far.”
Also included are photos of blighted “slum” housing near Cameron Hill. Photos also highlight the dedication of the Olgiati Bridge in 1959 and a variety of aerial and street views of Chattanooga’s downtown.
Like many collections Picnooga has acquired, this batch of photos was forgotten in a closet for many years. With the help of Sam Hall, founder of Deep Zoom Chattanooga, the box of negatives was scanned. Instead of casual photos, these photos were taken to document potential city projects, which means some blighted areas-slated for destruction-are the focus.
“This is what we do,” Moon said. “We’re always looking for more photos. This is a good example of something somebody had for a long time in a closet-hadn’t thought about it in years-before giving it to us to share.”