A new pedestrian corridor public officials predict will be a walkable, climbable and Instagrammable attraction in downtown Chattanooga is officially ready for action.
"This public space is a remarkable gift to our built environment and to the residents of Chattanooga," said Emily Mack, president and CEO of the downtown development group River City, during the official opening of the Scramble on Wednesday.
The makeover of the First Street walkway between Market and Cherry streets was loosely based on Las Ramblas, the popular boulevard in Barcelona, Spain. The $1.5 million installation replaced a chronically malfunctioning people-mover called a funicular installed on the steep stretch in 2005.
The city gave $800,000 for the project, with River City putting up the remainder with contributions from the Lyndhurst and Benwood foundations, officials said.
Chattanooga Mayor Andy Berke said the imaginative and interactive public space is an example of one that will draw people together after a year of crisis and isolation.
"The last year has been tough on everybody," he said.
Erskine Oglesby, who represents downtown on the City Council, said the new installation is a major improvement over the ill-fated funicular that had been in its place.
"Where it was to where it is now shows how innovative we are as a community and how great we are when we come together to solve problems," Oglesby said.
The corridor strengthens the connection between the Tennessee Aquarium to the Bluff View Art District, and makes vibrant use of what had been "a largely lifeless and obsolete space in our downtown," Mack said.
Developed by artist Michael Singer, who has studios in Vermont and Florida, the Scramble uses local cut stone from Sequatchie County and has swirl patterns referencing the movement of water and the Tennessee River.
The sculptures, which are illuminated at night, reference angular rock outcroppings in the region and the nature themes of the Aquarium Plaza.
Contact Mary Fortune at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter at @maryfortune.