It could be argued that the Southside is Chattanooga’s renaissance district. Up through the post war and into the 1950s, Chattanooga became a city known for its industry, with the Southside at its core. But walk down Main Street today and you experience a neighborhood transformed. Enjoy craft coffee in the morning, chat with an artist in one of the local art galleries in the afternoon, walk two blocks from your apartment to catch an evening soccer match at Finley Stadium, eat dinner from an award-winning chef in the evening, and end your night with a cocktail inside a repurposed 19th century train station.
- We interview Southside resident, Anna S., about why she chooses to live in the Southside of Chattanooga, TN.
- What brought you to Chattanooga?
I actually grew up in Chattanooga. I went to CSAS and GPS for school and left when I headed to college. I ended up moving back couple years ago after over 10 years away. I got my Masters Degree in Mental Health Counseling and came back to explore work opportunities here at the Chattanooga Autism Center .
- When you moved back, what was the deciding factor to live in the Southside compared to other neighborhoods?
Moving back to Chattanooga from Boston (and my partner moving from NYC), we wanted to live in an area with significant urban density and walkability to downtown. Before moving to the Southside we started in the North Shore. However, we felt it didn't have the energy and ongoing development we were looking for.The Southside is exciting in a way that is unique to the area. It is a rapidly changing neighborhood where new restaurants, locally-owned shops, and community spaces pop up frequently, all within walking distance to each other. So, I can grab lunch in one of the area’s best restaurants, stroll through an art gallery, nab a book from one of Chattanooga’s only independent bookstores, sip on a fancy cocktail in a bar that recently won a national design award, and walk home in five minutes. In that way it attracts a group of community-minded residents that are attracted to urban density and rapid development, preferring bikes to big cars, and creativity to traditional thinking. Unlike many other areas, it has also blended its history with modern design in a way that honors the past while also looking towards the future. So, while enjoying dinner in the Choo Choo, browsing items in an artisan shop, or simply relaxing at home at the Garage Lofts you are adding to the rich history of the area.
- What was the Southside like when you were growing up in Chattanooga?
My awareness of the Southside as a child only extended to the occasional impromptu rendition of the famous "Chattanooga Choo Choo" song from older adults when I mentioned my hometown. Though some of the existing Southside art galleries, shops, and businesses were established on Main Street throughout my childhood, the area as a whole was not on my radar. Moving home two years ago after spending my 20s in bigger cities was like experiencing an awakening. Chattanooga as a whole is undergoing a transformation into an urban hotspot, and the Southside is the star. With so many places to eat, things to do, and people to see, the Southside is well-known to home-grown folk, out of town transplants, and tourists. With a new "entertainment district" next to the Choo Choo in the works, the area is no longer the little known quiet spot of my youth. Suffice to say, it is now the epicenter on everyone’s radar.
The Southside is exciting in a way that is unique to the area. It is a rapidly changing neighborhood where new restaurants, locally-owned shops, and community spaces pop up frequently, all within walking distance to each other.
- What might an average day look like on the Southside?
My partner and I begin our day with a cup of joe and a bite to eat at local coffee shop Niedlov’s on East Main street. With locally sourced coffee and an in-house pastry in hand, we greet local regulars and take pause before starting our day. Fully nourished, he begins his walk past the historic Chattanooga Choo Choo down Market street to the remodeled Edney building, where he works out of the Society of Work co-working office space. For lunch we may meetup to grab a bite at Two Ten Jack or Public House in Warehouse Row, an old stone fort during the Civil War. After work, we recoup at home before walking our dog Emma past artisan shops, through the Main Terrain Art Park - an outdoor art installation / outdoor exercise area - and to the local dog park at Finley Stadium. The day ends with a well-deserved cocktail on the rooftop of our home, where we watch the sun set over the Scenic city.
- Do you have any favorite restaurants/bars in the Southside?
I like the Flying Squirrel for its innovative architecture and drink selection, Aleia for its cozy, fine dining vibe and delicious Italian offerings, and Conga for its authentic El Salvadorian food in a toned down, casual dining space.
- What are some hidden gems in the Southside?
Many people point to the plethora of new restaurants in the area while overlooking some lesser known spots where you can dine well and affordably. Taqueria Jalisco, La Altena, and Conga Latin food offer authentic Mexican and Latin fare without the frills and high prices of some other restaurants in the city. Down east Main Street, you can take a quick stroll to pick up locally roasted coffee beans at Velo, which is sourced to many cafes and restaurants around the area, or hang out with your dog in their outdoor seating. Outside of food, the Southside is also a few blocks away to the Chattanooga FC soccer games. Free entrance after halftime to see the match and enjoy the rowdy, energizing hometown fans - the team has the largest group of organized supporters in the league, the Chattahooligans - makes this one of the best features of the area.
Outside of food, the Southside is also a few blocks away to the Chattanooga FC soccer games. Free entrance after halftime to see the match and enjoy the rowdy, energizing hometown fans.