Remember When, Chattanooga? Which Market Street building exploded in 1977?

Chattanooga News-Free Press File Photo via ChattanoogaHistory.com / This mid-century photo of Market Street shows a variety of businesses opposite the Terminal Station, now the Chattanooga Choo Choo.
Chattanooga News-Free Press File Photo via ChattanoogaHistory.com / This mid-century photo of Market Street shows a variety of businesses opposite the Terminal Station, now the Chattanooga Choo Choo.

In the mid-20th century, the 1400 block of Market Street was part of a major traffic corridor filled with stores, hotels and a major transportation landmark.

The accompanying photo, an undated image from the archives of the Chattanooga News-Free Press preserved at ChattanoogaHistory.com, shows, on the left, the Terminal Station, a historic railroad terminal and the precursor of the Chattanooga Choo Choo hotel and retail property we know today.

In a local history column published in the Chattanooga Times Free Press last year, author and educator Jennifer Ley Crutchfield wrote: "Designed by a New York architect, the Terminal Station's exterior design won a prestigious award from the Beaux Arts Institute in Paris. The interior was modeled after the National Park Bank in New York City.

"When the railroad's passenger trains began running on Dec. 1, 1909, tourists were mesmerized by the station's 85-foot brick arch," Crutchfield wrote. "The Southern Railway Terminal with its classical style was a constant reminder of the key role that railroads played in the development of Chattanooga."

(READ MORE: Chattanooga Choo Choo terminal building sold)

Meanwhile, at mid-century, the west side of Market Street was home to a variety of hotel and retail properties. Although not dated, the vehicles in the photo suggest it was shot in the 1940s or 1950s.

ChattanoogaHistory.com

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

According to a 1950s-era Chattanooga City Directory, some of the businesses in the block included the Grand Hotel, Signal Commission and Finishing Co., Bush's Spaghetti House, Stuchberry Manufacturing Co., the State Hotel, Chattanooga Goodwill Industries and the Terminal Loan Office (pawnbrokers).

Meanwhile, near the Terminal Station, and visible in the photo, is a branch of the Hamilton National Bank at the corner of Main and Market streets. According to the Digital Public Library of America, the Main Street branch bank was designed by architect R.H. Hunt and opened in 1929. It later became the Siskin Transportation Building and "was destroyed by an explosion from a gas leak in 1977," according to the digital library.

(READ MORE: Remember When, Chattanooga? Hamilton National Bank in North Chattanooga in 1960)

On April 19, 1977, writer Porter Binks of The Chattanooga Times reported: "A pre-dawn explosion, which left damage more characteristic of an earthquake, destroyed the old Siskin Transportation building (yesterday)." There were no fatalities connected to the explosion, according to news reports.

To read more articles in this series visit ChattanoogaHistory.com or join the "Remember When, Chattanooga?" public group on Facebook.

Remember When, Chattanooga? is published on Saturdays. Contact Mark Kennedy at mkennedy@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6645.

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