Chattanooga, the fourth-largest city in Tennessee with a population of 155,554 is located at the transition between the ridge-and-valley portion of the Appalachian Mountains and the Cumberland Plateau. The first inhabitants of the Chattanooga area date back to the Upper Paleolithic period. Artifacts and other historical evidence show continuous occupation through the Archaic, Woodland, Mississippian, Muskogean and Cherokee periods. The name 'Chattanooga' is the Muskogean term for rock, "chatta" which refers to Lookout Mountain from Mocassin Point.
The city is widely known for the 1941 big-band swing song "Chattanooga Choo Choo" by Glenn Miller because of the location of several railroad routes intersecting in the area. Chattanooga has gone through boom and bust over the years. The most recent came with the decline of major manufacturing as trade agreements sent many jobs off-shore. Coming off this economic downturn, private and government investment has centered on diversifying business with a mix of manufacturing and service industries. The first steps centered on the restoration of the city's historic Walnut Street Bridge and the waterfront area.
The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, Chattanooga State Technical Community College, Tennessee Temple University, Miller-Motte Technical College, Southern Adventist University, Lee University and Covenant College all are located in the immediate area.
Chattanooga is the home to many galleries and museums celebrating the diverse history of the area. These include the Hunter Museum of American Art, International Towing and Recovery Hall of Fame and Museum, Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum, the Chattanooga Regional History Museum, the National Medal of Honor Museum, the Houston Museum, and the Chattanooga African American Museum. Along with museums, the city is houses such performing arts venues as the Chattanooga Symphony & Opera and The Chattanooga Theatre Centre. Other attractions include the Tennessee Aquarium, the Creative Discovery Museum, an IMAX 3D Theatre and the newly expanded Hunter Museum of American Art.
Outdoor enthusiasts can find opportunities for hiking, biking and rafting in the area attractions of nearby Ocoee River, trails at Lookout Mountain, Georgia, and Ruby Falls. The Raccoon Mountain Reservoir, Raccoon Mountain Caverns and Reflection Riding Arboretum & Botanical Garden boast a number of outdoor and family fun activities as well.