Chattanooga (chătˌənōˈgə) [key], city (1990 pop. 152,466), seat of Hamilton co., E Tenn., on both sides of the Tennessee River near the Georgia line; inc. 1839. It is an important industrial and marketing center. Foremost among its many manufactures are automobiles, metal and wood products, chemicals, machinery, and primary metals. It is also a resort destination, almost entirely surrounded by mountains, with many historical and tourist attractions on or near Lookout Mt., Missionary Ridge, and Signal Mt. To the west of the city, the Tennessee River cuts through the Cumberland Plateau in a magnificent gorge, c.1,000 ft (300 m) deep. South of the city lies Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park (est. 1890; see National Parks and Monuments, table), part of which is in Georgia. Also of interest are Rock City Gardens, the Tennessee Aquarium, a wildlife sanctuary, historic cemeteries, and many old buildings. Cultural institutions include an opera, symphony orchestra, community theater, and art gallery. The city is the seat of the Univ. of Tennessee at Chattanooga.
A trading post was established in 1810; by 1835, regular steamship service began there. A center first of salt- and then cotton-shipping, the city expanded with the arrival of the railroads in the 1840s and 50s. It was of strategic importance in the Civil War (see Chattanooga campaign). Northern industrialists developed the iron industry during the 1870s. Electric power, augmented by the Tennessee Valley Authority project after 1933, has played an important role in the city's development; Chickamauga Dam is nearby.