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Chattanooga span provides a scenic link to city's past

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CNY/NNY/S. Tier: Chattanooga span provides a scenic link to city's past
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In Chattanooga, a pedestrian bridge not only spans the Tennessee River, but takes a page out of history. Valarie D'Elia filed the following report.

The Walnut Street Bridge in downtown Chattanooga has been a fixture over the Tennessee River for more than a hundred years. Most of its life, it supported the thump-thump of motor vehicle traffic, but eventually fell into decay.

In 1993, the community gathered its resources, turning it into what is today considered by some accounts to be the longest pedestrian bridge in the world. It is a popular place for Chattanoogans to come to enjoy the scenery.

"The view is very beautiful, it’s a nice quiet serene place to walk," says one local.

"It’s brightened up the downtown area a lot," says another local.

"Walking on history when you are walking on the bridge and looking at your surroundings and you're looking at the bridge yourself," says a third local.

After the Civil War, the half-mile long span connected white downtown Chattanooga with the black community in "Hill City" on the north side of the river.

Today the bridge is the centerpiece of one of the south’s most dynamic stories of rebirth, connecting the Hunter Museum of American Art & other attractions with the North Shore’s Coolidge Park.

"It’s probably one of the nicest, cleanest family friendly areas in town," says one local.

There are also several places to grab a bite, which for some, is all the incentive needed to cross the span.

Annually, the bridge lights up with a spectacular waterfall of fireworks during the summer Riverbend festival.

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