1909 vs. 2022

1909 vs. 2022

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Recreating a Lost View

From the earliest days of photography, Cameron Hill was often utilized for its picturesque view of the city below. Tragically, the top and surrounding area were razed during a late-50s urban renewal program. Homes, businesses, and up to 150-feet of elevation were removed by 1961. READ MORE

In 2010, The Library of Congress scanned and released thousands of photos taken by the Detroit Publishing Company. Several are from Chattanooga, including a 1909 view spanning the city. Skilled commercial photographers used large format cameras and 8 x 10 inch glass plates to capture remarkably clear details. From four images, I created a seamless panorama.

Permission was sought and granted to access the roof at Cameron Hill's current resident, BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee. This vantage offers as similar a view as possible to the 1909 vista. Due to differences in the type of cameras, lens, optics, and position - the views vary.

View from Cameron Hill ~1909

An improved panorama created from four 8 x 10 in. Glass Negatives

How we know it was taken in 1909...

The Library of Congress notes only that it was published between 1900 and 1915. Visible clues in the photo narrow this down.

  • Hotel Patten (opened Apr. 1, 1908)
  • Hotel Theresa (opened Dec. 1, 1908)
  • Photo taken during full foliage, likely May-September, 1909
  • Terminal Station (built 1908-1909)
  • Hamilton County Courthouse (burned May 7, 1910)

From BlueCross BlueShield Building IV

Sony α7 III - 35mm full-frame / Images assembled in Photoshop.

Photos by: Sam Hall

Trolley Barn

Today: Big River Grille


Grant University

Today: UTC


A lone cow grazes on Cameron



Ross Faxon Mansion

Since 1952: Hunter Museum


Home of L. B. West

19 Prospect St.


Bijou Theatre, Hotel Theresa, Lyric Theatre

Thank you to BlueCross BlueShield!

- for providing access and safety gear for the photo shoot.
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