History of three Chattanooga, TN Street Names

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Did you know that Main Street used to be called Montgomery Avenue? | Photo via NOOGAtoday

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Chattanooga is no stranger to odd street names; in fact, the top of Lookout Mountain has a whole Fairyland neighborhood, with street names like “Cinderella Road” and “Gnome Trail.”

But what about the less outlandish street names in town? Sometimes, the history of these names can be more interesting than the ones that stand out. We’re diving into some of Chattanooga’s most ordinary-sounding streets, to shed light on their less-than-ordinary backgrounds.

Fun facts

  • Duplicate street names are not allowed in Hamilton County.
  • New street names must be unique + can’t reference existing street name suffixes
  • County street names can’t be over 13 characters, and private street names in Chattanooga can’t be over 10 characters.
  • Streets in the City of Chattanooga can’t be named after a living person.

Bonny Oaks Drive | Bonny Oaks Drive shares a name with the school that once stood on its street. The school was a children’s home for orphaned children who were usually deemed neglected or dependent by the court, and ran from 1895-1985. Another property on the street, the historic Dent House (now inhabited by Polly Claire’s), was owned by Captain C.C. Peak in 1867, who named it “Bonnie Oaks” for the oak trees that surrounded the homestead.

MLK Boulevard | This downtown street once went by another nameNinth Street — before becoming MLK Boulevard in the 1980s. The street’s original name gave way to the surrounding community’s nickname of “The Big Nine,” the center of a nightclub district that rivaled Memphis’ Beale Street. The street was later named after the Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. when local citizens + the Black Coalition of Chattanooga campaigned for the rename.

Main Street | Now a street home to various Southside businesses — and this past weekend’s MAINx24 festival — Main Street was once Montgomery Avenue, named after trial lawyer and early settler of Chattanooga, Rush Montgomery. One of Southside’s newest restaurants, Hello Monty, was even named after Montgomery + the original street name on which the restaurant resides.