Urban Forestry and Your Home - Article :: Networx:
In 1969, Walter Cronkite announced on the CBS Evening News that Chattanooga, TN was the most polluted city in the United States. It was a harsh national indictment of a city already plagued by a faltering economy and racial tension, but it ultimately prompted the newly-founded EPA to allocate billions of dollars into downtown redevelopment. Part of the urban renaissance that followed over the next 30 years involved planting some 10,000 trees in the downtown area.
'Air pollution was so bad that cars had to drive with their headlights on in the middle of the day, and men who worked downtown had to bring a change of shirt to wear after going out to lunch because their shirts would become gray from walking outside mid-day. After 5 PM, downtown was a ghost town,' said Gene Hyde, the chief arborist of the city of Chattanooga and the president of the Society of Municipal Arborists, who has spent the past 20 years reforesting the city. In a phone call with him Monday, he said, 'Now there's new life, new businesses, new apartments, and street life. We built an arts district and we revegetated the oldest bridge in Chattanooga and turned it into a walking bridge and a river park. Trees were part of the overall plan to rebuild the downtown area.'