Chattanooga History

The Technology

The Old Technology

The majority of images found here utilized wet or dry glass photographic plates. The wet plate was the most popular photographic process in the mid to late 1800's, but it had its drawbacks. Primarily there was the fact that a wet plate had to be used within ten minutes of preparing and secondly because of its slow photographic speed. If the photographer was planning on photographing away from the studio, the preparation of wet plates required numerous chemicals, beakers and liquids, all mixed in the darkness of a portable tent.

Developed in 1871, the dry plate process was the first economically successful, durable photographic medium. Unlike the wet plate variety gelatin dry plates were more easily transported, usable when dry, and needed less exposure to light than the wet plates.

Much more info on this, and other early photographic processes can be found at


The photographic process in the mid-late 1880's was exacting and tedious. The photographer essentially traveled with their own chemistry lab and darkroom.
The New Technology

Deep Zoom OpenSeadragon
is an Open Source solution. All images on this site utilize OpenSeadragon, a framework agnostic and completely open source version of Seadragon that can be hosted from your own site.

'Deep Zoom' provides the ability to interactively view high-resolution images. You can zoom in and out of images rapidly without affecting the performance of your application. Deep Zoom enables smooth loading and panning by serving up multi-resolution images and using spring animations.
READ MORE about OpenSeadragon.

Many of the surviving glass plate negatives are damanged and many contain numerous specs, scratches, breaks, etc.

With a little patience and Photoshop, visual improvements can be made without losing details.

Working with the Images
Image Gallery