This summer we celebrate 25 years of Chattanooga Magazine. We have had the good fortune to showcase some of the city’s most exciting times and brightest achievements. It’s been an exhilarating time of great change. The advent of the Internet happened during those first few years. Websites and later social media became new and important ways to engage readers.
The original magazine was created by Anthony Smith and kept alive by Harold Williams, its original printer and second owner. Our early photographers included Max McKenzie and Clyde May of Atlanta. Later came Kevin McKenzie, Matt Dunmore and many others who have made significant visual contributions. Many of the early writers, like Jennifer Hoff and Sam Woolwine are still writing for the magazine. Just as there have been many contributors to the magazine and its content, there have been countless contributors to the
revitalization of the actual city. There has been a landslide of projects to write about, too.
Over the years the magazine has documented collaborative charrette-style public meetings, highlighting the things Chattanoogans most wanted in their city. We featured many of those projects as various groups raised the necessary funds, designed their dreams, began building, became viable, became mature, had to be updated and redirected—and the whole process started all over again. A thriving city has regenerative power.
We’ve featured amazing patrons and leaders over the years—Scottie Probasco, Ruth Holmberg, Don Brock, Bob Corker and so many others. Educators and industrialists, artists and architects, builders and bankers, doctors and lawyers, merchants and clergymen,
preservationists and conservationists—all delightful people we were lucky to have had
a conversation with during this 25 years.
The person the magazine featured in its first issue was O.D. McKee in 1990. His late-life success story in cofounding the family bakery of the same name, with his wife Ruth, has always been a popular one.
Personal stories are powerful and sensational, although since I began editing the magazine in 1993, I’ll admit I’ve been more intrigued with how people and projects are interconnected to each other and to a region. The big picture is fascinating and, while the individual stories are beautiful miniatures, the mural is stunning as it comes together.
And now there are many new characters, with the delivery of the Gig and the blossom of startups and new tech companies that bring people here from many parts of the world. These new companies are invigorating the physical center of downtown, currently being rebranded as the Innovation District.
In this issue an article on local farmers, some using permaculture techniques, is juxtaposed alongside the one about Chattanooga’s Innovation District. Do these topics fit into the same mural? We think they do. Connectivity and technology create community. Communities of all kinds need fresh food for good health. These are integrated systems.
So as our Chattanooga story continues to be an adventure, we at Chattanooga Magazine are pleased to have made even a small brushstroke in the larger mural of the region.