Coolidge Park

Between Market Street and the Walnut Street Bridge
Chattanooga, TN

Submitted by: Kelley Walters

A city park on the banks of the Tennessee River that was once a brownfield.

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Why It Works

This park sits on the banks of the Tennessee River. It features a mile-long walking bridge, a carousel with hand-carved and painted horses, picnic facilities and walking trails. Its proximity to local theater, restaurants and shops has turned this once brownfield into a green space that brings tourists and locals together.

What Makes Coolidge Park a Great Place?

The park is accessible by car, foot, bike or public transportation. It is surrounded by historic neighborhoods (Hill City, North Chattanooga, and Fort Wood) and is near the local university. Students, residents and tourists all mingle in the park, as well as the adjacent shopping district, Frazier Avenue, which is home to locally-owned shops and restaurants. The walking paths are wide and smooth; the park is well-tended; signage and entries to the park are well marked. In addition to walkers and skaters, kayakers and canoers use the staircase boat put-in to drop directly into the river. The city took a part of town that was either ignored or used as a pass-through to get to the suburbs, and created a lively haven for public art, local theater, shopping, and outdoor recreational activities.

The park is clean, with beautiful, well-tended plantings. It is extremely family oriented, and on the weekends people hold birthday parties and reunions in the picnic facilities. The 4th of July concert is held here, as is the Four Bridges Art Festival and many other types of events. Park benches and low walls offer seating. Vehicles are kept out of the space by parking lots and roads along the edges. The area feels very safe; many women jog the paths or the Walnut Street Bridge alone.

The space is used every day, with heavier use during evenings and weekends. Activities range from pick-up frisbee games to events as large as the community-wide 4th of July Pops Concert. Users range from small children to the elderly, and there is a mix of races and age ranges. There is a rock-climbing wall that captures the attention of the younger crowd, and a fountain with circus animals (to mimic the carousel) that everyone enjoys. The park feeds onto the back doors of Frazier Street restaurants, all of which have built decks and outdoor patios that are thriving. The spillover from the bridge to the shops to the park flows easily.

We often run into friends here or meet in one of the restaurants and walk in the park. Families, school groups, and seniors all use the park regularly. Because we live nearby, this has become our shopping district. People are friendly and easy to talk to. Locals are happy to give directions or answer questions. This is one of the places residents take guests; we're proud of its beauty, both natural and manufactured, and it's one of the city's major attractions.

Contact Info:

Chattanooga Parks, Recreation, Arts & Culture Department
Park reservations: 423-757-2143

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