At a birthday party not too long ago, I overheard a conversation about historic Chattanooga houses. It was not long before someone brought up Highland Park. “Oh, yes,” I heard someone say, “Highland Park has some beautiful homes, but I would never, ever want to live there.”
This is not the first time I have heard this sentiment. I always feel sorry for whoever is saying it. As a resident of this vibrant community for the past three years, I know I would never, ever want to live anywhere else.
Located just two miles east of downtown Chattanooga, you cannot beat the location of Highland Park. Convenient to both the Southside and the heart of downtown, it is removed enough to have its own place in the world. Within walking distance, you’ll find Warner Park and the Sculpture Fields. Additionally, Highland Park is home to three parks, a yoga studio, a coffee shop, a bed-and-breakfast, The Refindery, Amani ya Juu and so much more. There is also a plethora of talented small business owners living in the neighborhood who offer everything from handmade cakes to computer repair! It is a bustling place.
People of all different backgrounds and life experiences call Highland Park home. Young couples, single people, college students, roommates, and families of all shapes and sizes live side by side. Racial, religious, and economic diversity is plentiful. It was important to our family that our children grow up in an environment where they could see and know people that did not look like them, talk like them, or live like them.
Highland Park is actively working to conserve this diversity in the ever-changing landscape of a transitional neighborhood. Neighbors remind each other to remain mindful and respectful of cultural differences; to try and see things from another’s perspective. They look for ways to include those who do not speak English, have internet access, or lack transportation to the monthly neighborhood meetings. It encourages me to know that, on average, our neighborhood values the diversity found here as much as we did when we chose it as our home.
The Community Events
There is always something happening in Highland Park! There are official events for the neighborhood, along with things put on by one of the many creative and talented residents or businesses in the area. Our family always enjoys being a part of such a fun and active community. There are cultural and holiday festivals, fundraisers, porch parties, block parties, movies in the park, art shows, concerts, classes, potlucks, open houses, and pop-up shops. Every month, the neighborhood association hosts a community meeting for neighbors to come together and share their thoughts. The trick-or-treating and costume contest at Halloween are the highlight of my kids’ year. We have enjoyed Christmas caroling with neighbors every year since we moved in. The kids of the neighborhood have formed a group to encourage community activism and participation by hosting lemonade fundraisers, neighborhood clean-ups and more!
Of course, I saved the best for last. A neighborhood is really only as good as its neighbors, and the people in Highland Park are top notch. Highland Park neighbors look out for one another and offer a helping hand. Additionally, they work together to make the neighborhood an enjoyable place to live for every resident. You can ask for a cup of flour, a hand carrying in your groceries or to borrow a table saw. Someone always steps up. We have lived in a lot of neighborhoods and we have never had neighbors like we have in Highland Park.
Some of those wonderful neighbors had lovely things to add about our neighborhood:
Our number one reason for moving to HP was to find a community of people that wanted to be involved in where they live. Whether getting a group of kids to clean up a street or having a front porch wine session with adults, it’s all happening here and with each day we fall more in love with this historic community.
– Olivia Clark
Our street (Chamberlain) has many young families and you can always find children riding bikes, playing ball and hanging outside in front yards and on porches. We love HP!
– Sarah Logsdon
The diversity of the neighborhood is part of what drew us here. We go for walks often…and always see someone to say hello to while we’re out. Proximity to downtown is great…with a yard, which is not something we found in other urban neighborhoods. Something we learned after moving here is that there’s definitely a spirit of community and a willingness from neighbors to help each other and be involved in keeping HP awesome.
– Lauren Stevens
I have been in Highland Park for 25 years and raised both my children in this house. They met some great friends growing up around here, and still are really good friends with most of them. Most of the neighbors I had when I moved in are gone but Ms. Key is still across the street; she has been here 29 years. She would come over and watch my babies while I ran to the store really quick, very sweet lady! I love living in HP…I don’t get out much but I enjoy life on Chamberlain Ave.
– Cortina Barney
I am a local teacher who purchased my home through the Benwood Teacher Next door program. My young son loves to be able to ride his bike, walk to the soccer field and having other neighborhood kids over in our yard. My house is like the neighborhood rec center.
– Gidget Brady
[I] wouldn’t trade all the folks that have lived in HP over the years, the love and acceptance, progressive thought and activism, and diversity here.
– Judi Coyle
The diversity and friendliness of the residents is simply amazing. You get a few grouchy pants but for the most part a really great group of folks.
– John Burtz
Highland Park is diverse, convenient, historic, and beautiful, however, it is really so much more than anything I could put into writing. When my kids run down the block to play with their best friends, or I sit and chat with a neighbor on the porch, or we walk to the park as a family for a picnic and movie during warm summer nights, I cannot help but feel like somehow, against all the odds of this modern day life, we have discovered the quintessential American childhood for our children to grow up in and a community and home that my husband and I will be able to grow old with.
Some good points but what do you think of the public school zone and are you planning o n sending your kids to public school they are zoned for?
We choose to homeschool because of personal lifestyle choices (we are unschoolers and do not subscribe to a traditional education model). Highland Park is zoned for both Orchard Knob Elementary and East Side Elementary school. It is also zoned for Orchard Knob Middle School, Howard High School and home to CGLA. Many neighbors, as well as the neighborhood association, are active participants in many aspects of the neighborhood schools. Many neighbors send their children to these schools, others find alternative educational opportunities such as the magnet schools or private school or homeschooling. I personally feel that public education is a weak spot that Chattanooga needs to address across the city, but I am also proud of the ways our neighborhood has worked to support our zoned schools and feel that the only way for the schools to get better is through active participation of residents. When good neighbors move into the neighborhood, the schools benefit. We have learned enough about East Side Elementary in our time here that should our lifestyle have to change for any reason, we would absolutely feel confident in sending our children there.
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