Last month I had the privilege of visiting one of Chattanooga’s historic African American neighborhoods, Lincoln Park. Nestled between the historic Norfolk and Western rail yards and Erlanger Hospital and the university of Tennessee, Chattanooga, the neighbors has a range of late 19th to mid-20th century homes.
As we work with the neighborhood on its history, we will undoubtedly learn more about the homes and residents.
The centerpiece is Lincoln Park built as a segregated-black public park in 1918. Here is where Negro League games were played well into the mid-20th century.
This place is important to Chattanooga’s history as well as the history of pro sports in Tennessee. I can’t wait to learn more.
During the 1950s, I remember Lincoln Park having about 3 amusement rides, swimming pool, 5 concession stands, recreation center, 2 softball fields, tennis court, and a photo shop. Buses from Atlanta and Birmingham would come to park on Sundays. Blacks were not allow entrance to Warner Park. I remember living in the Citico Ave area and we would walk to Lincoln Park via the 3rd St railroad viaduct. I don’t recall Booker T Washington Park during that time. If I remember correctly, there was 2 or 3 Black cops assigned to Lincoln Park. During those days, It was Lincoln Park, Little League Baseball, YMCA and the Boy Scouts and that was just about it. Not sure if everything was open during the week.
My family lived on 5th Street in Chattanooga in the 50’s and my father and my brother took the short cut down the railroad to Lincoln Park. I taught myself to swim in the pool there and saw this place as heaven on earth while surrounded by Jim Crow.