Snowfall has been light so far this year in the Chattanooga area, with just a dusting or two.
Not so 55 years ago this month, when 8.4 inches of snow fell on downtown Chattanooga on Jan. 29, 1966, as seen in this Chattanooga Free Press photo taken along Georgia Avenue.
The businesses along this snowy sidewalk populated the 900 block of Georgia Avenue. The buildings were later leveled and the land converted into Miller Park in the city's central business district.
Visible in the photo are a loan office, the Post Office Grill restaurant and a man pushing a cart, possibly a postal worker making deliveries given the proximity to the main downtown post office across the street.
The vantage point in this photo is just across Georgia Avenue from the Joel W. Solomon Federal Building, a historic courthouse and post office built in 1932, which remains today.
Miller Park, named for Chattanooga attorney and philanthropist Burkett Miller, would open in 1976, a decade after this photo was taken. The park was redesigned and relandscaped into its present configuration in 2018.
The January 1966 snowfall is remembered not only for its inch count, which was more than twice the city's average yearly snowfall of 3.9 inches, but also for the blast of cold air that engulfed the city afterward. According to weather records, the mercury in Chattanooga dropped to -7 degrees on Jan. 30, 1966, and -10 on Jan. 31 that year.
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 non‐digital prints taken in the Chattanooga area, contact Sam Hall for information on how they may qualify to be digitized and preserved at no charge.
The January 1966 8-inch snowfall, while rare, is not nearly the city record. That came in 1993, when 18.5 inches of snow fell in the so-called "Blizzard of '93."
The light-colored office building at the center of this photo would later become the home of the Chattanooga Times newspaper in the mid 1990s. That paper was purchased and merged with the Chattanooga Free Press on East 11th Street at the end of the 1990s to form the Chattanooga Times Free Press.
The tall building down the block in the photo is the historic Hotel Patten — now the Patten Towers — which was built in 1908. In the early 20th century it was billed as the city's "first skyscraper hotel." By the 1970s, the hotel had been converted to apartments for the elderly, and it now provides government-subsidized housing for seniors and the disabled.
This photo is part of a collection of Chattanooga Free Press images at the website ChattanoogaHistory.com, curated by history buff Sam Hall.
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