Remember when, Chattanooga? Who remembers when Cameron Hill lost its top?

This photo shows Cameron Hill after the top was cleared for urban development starting in the late 1950s./Photo from the Perry Mayo collection at

Before it was a neighborhood, and before it was home to a generation of downtown apartment dwellers, and long before it was reimagined as the home of BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee, Cameron Hill was an observation point for American Indians, historians tell us.

Seen in this photograph from the late 1950s or early 1960s, Cameron Hill was in one of its transformational periods.

The hill on the west side of Chattanooga had been home to a grand neighborhood dating back to the 19th century. But by the middle of the 20th century, many of the stately houses had fallen into disrepair and the hill's top was removed to allow for a controversial urban redevelopment and highway construction plan that started here in the 1950s.

This photo is contributed for publication by, a website curated by history buff Sam Hall and devoted to preserving vintage images of the Chattanooga area.

For reference, the area where two boulevards come together at a right angle in the foreground of the photo is the present-day home of the Kelly Subaru auto dealership.

"That intersection is the corner of West 9th (later renamed M.L. King Boulevard) and Riverfront Parkway," Hall explained. "Its completion required the removal of Boynton Hill, the lesser known victim of the Golden Gateway Urban Renewal project."

More Info

Launched by history enthusiast Sam Hall in 2014, is designed to preserve historical images in the highest resolution available. If you have photo old negatives, glass plate negatives, or original nondigital prints taken in the Chattanooga area, contact Sam Hall at for information on how they may qualify to be digitized and preserved at no charge.

In the photo, Cameron Hill is bracketed by Fabtech, Inc. on the left and Kirkman Technical High School on the right.

Chattanooga's three downtown bridges, the Olgiati, Market Street and Walnut Street spans, can be seen leading to the North Chattanooga and Red Bank areas. Walden's Ridge is visible in the distance.

After remaining in this topless state for years, Cameron Hill became home in the 1970s to the 254-unit Cameron Hill Apartments, which remained a popular spot for for downtown renters for about 30 years.

In the early years of the 21st century, the property was transformed again with the leveling of the apartments and the building of the BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee complex, which was completed in 2007 and remains home to thousands of insurance company workers.

Follow the "Remember when, Chattanooga" series on Facebook here.

Contact Mark Kennedy at