Chattanooga Reinvents Its Downtown

In 1969, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency declared Chattanooga, Tenn., the most polluted city in America, thanks in part to smog that had drivers turning their lights on at midday. Manufacturing was the primary industry, with more than a third of residents working at companies like Whelen Engineering making auto brakes, and at U.S. Pipe. By 2000 the portion fell to 16%, mirroring the trend seen across the Rust Belt and South. Chattanooga's heavy manufacturing plants and foundries shed 70% of their workers in the first half of this decade. Textile mills that had turned out clothing for a century cut more than half their jobs, while paper manufacturing lost a fifth of its labor force.

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