Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Featured Neighborhood: Highland Park

Highland Park is a neighborhood with a history of bringing people together. In the early 1900s, it was a new middle class suburb safe from the floods and malaria that cleared out riverside Chattanooga. In the 1980s and early 90s, Highland Park residents banded together to drive out crime and revitalize the area. Today, Highland Park is comprised of the long-time African American and Baptist communities, but also a growing number of university and hospital employees attracted to a short commute, as well as an emerging Latino community.
Athletes play on the new fields at the Commons
Nowhere is Highland Park's culture of community more evident than the new Highland Park Commons. From the day it opened in November 2011, the fotsol courts have been filled with laughing kids and adults. Located in the heart of Highland Park with space for a farmers market and a pavilion for hosting events, the Commons is a major hub of the neighborhood. The Commons was made possible by an impressive coordination of support, combining funding from two major Chattanooga foundations (a first for local development projects) and input from both the Highland Park Neighborhood Association and Tennessee Temple University.
The neighborhood brings equal diversity with its architectural styles. There is different building style represented for almost any decade since Highland Park was founded. Queen Annes, four squares, bungalows, a rambling mansion that once belonged to a Chattanooga mayor, ranch duplexes, a funeral home-turned-single family home, all are part of the neighborhood's long history. There is even a 1930s apartment building that was once home to actor Hugh Beaumont, better known as Ward Cleaver on classic series Leave It To Beaver. Throughout the variety of homes are parks, playgrounds, and community spaces. Tatum Park is host to National Night Out and other major neighborhood cookouts, fundraisers, and events. Tennessee Temple University's campus is a centerstone of the area, and provides plenty of pedestrian areas, greenways, and fountains.
Along McCallie Avenue, local shops have earned the loyalty of Highland Parkers and Chattanoogans alike, including Aunt Sue's Dog Bakery, Gino's Salon, Architectural Exchange, Joy's Flowers, and the much-beloved Wally's, a classic Southern diner that has become an institution since its founding in the 1930s. These businesses harken back to almost a century ago, when Highland Park's corners were studded with mom and pop businesses and the grandest homes. Today, the mom and pops exist mostly on the perimeter, but many of the beautiful showplaces remain on the corners. Each block truly has its crown jewels. Modern restoration and renovation throughout Highland Park has brought together the best of old and new. Interiors have been featured in national magazines and investors who once focused on Lookout and Signal Mountains have turned their eye to untapped design wealth in the valley.
If you are looking for affordable urban living, friendly neighbors, a sense of community, and historic charm, there is no where better in Chattanooga than Highland Park. Unlike other Chattanooga neighborhoods that harken back to yesteryear, Highland Park's revival wasn't pushed forward by boutique galleries, restaurants, or tourist attractions.  Instead, it has remained a middle class family neighborhood with a firm emphasis on a short commute and a high quality residential experience.