From the founder of Picnooga, David Moon, Chattanooga Then elevates and shares Chattanooga’s history through photographs, postcards, and other historical artifacts.

East Lake Park and Lookout Mountain

I love Real Photo Postcards! So much so that I’ve collected hundreds from the Chattanooga area.

Real Photo Postcards (RPPs) were limited-run postcards, usually produced by amateur photographers who sent their undeveloped film in to have their photographs produced to mail to family and friends. Unless they were sent and postmarked, dating them can be difficult. But the stamp boxes on the verso of the card can provide you with some clues. There are websites that list different stamps and manufacturers to match up with the dates used.

This Real Photo Postcard of East Lake Park and its duck pond with Lookout Mountian off in the distance was taken around 1910-1916. I’m making that assumption from the woman on the bench attire. The stamp box dates from 1904-1920’s.

The park was developed by the Mission Ridge Land Company in 1885, later donated to the city, and dedicated on July 4, 1896. The naturally fed duck pond is still a feature of the park. Chattanooga’s first zoo, Oxley Zoo, opened in 1900 at East Lake Park when Colonel F. G. Oxley of Bridgeport, Alabama, donated $500 to establish the zoo. The zoo closed due to financial issues in 1911. It would not be until 1937 that Chattanooga would open another zoo at Warner Park.

East Lake was founded in 1902.

*When crediting photos, please use "Courtesy of"
No Copyright – United States

As printed in the Chattanooga Daily Times on September 22, 1904, Page 4:

There is but one spot belonging to the city, outside of the dust and smoke of the corporate limits, to which the people of Chattanooga and vicinity can resort for rest, recreation, and pleasure. That most delightful and pleasing spot is East Lake Park. And we believe that no rash or hasty action should be taken by the municipal authorities looking to its abandonment by the city. There are other parks and places of resort outside of the city limits, it is true, but none to which the citizen can feel that he has an absolute and continued right of visitation and enjoyment without let or hindrance.

Chattanooga Daily Times

East Lake Park, consisting of eleven acres of most valuable land, located in the midst of a populous and rapidly growing suburb, and including one of the finest springs of pure, cold water to be found in this section, belongs absolutely to the city of Chattanooga, so long as used for park purposes. This land has been put in ideal shape for a small suburban park and, with its lake, zoo, and greenhouses, constitutes an extremely and increasingly valuable property. Since it was first donated to the city, a considerable amount of money has been expended in putting it in proper shape. and it can now and hereafter be maintained as a free park for all the people, at a trifling annual expense. Would it not be shortsighted folly to turn loose this valuable property at this late date and let it revert to the donor after the city has spent so much to beautify and adorn it? From present indications, the entire territory between the existing corporate limits of Chattanooga and the top of Mission Ridge, from East Chattanooga to Rossville, will become thickly settled and densely populated within the next twenty years. It is not improbable that many of the present generations of Chattanoogans will have to see the corporate limits of Chattanooga extend from the Tennessee River to the foot or even to the top of Mission ridge, from East Chattanooga all along the line to Rossville. When that time comes, it will cost something to list a bathing spot for the people located like East Lake Park. That beautiful tract of eleven acres, with its cooling spring and pleasing lake and landscape, already a delight to the many who visit it, will become a blessing in the future.

Private interests which have invested lamely in other resorts, seeking to attract the people and get their money, private corporations which covet the water which comes from the East Lake goring, as well as the parties to whom this extremely valuable property would revert, would doubtless rejoice to see the city abandon and give up its park at East Lake. but a little study of the rapid growth of the population between the corporate limits and East Lake, a little consideration of the welfare of the multitudes who are to Bud homes Ire in the years to come. will convince every lover of his kind that it would be almost a crime for the city to, at this time, to throw away its valuable Interests and property in East Lake Park.

Then is already a large suburban population which reaches this park without resort to electric cars, and while the people who comprise this population do not live within the corporate limits, their business and other Interests are so interwoven with the interests of the city that they are to all practical intents and purposes a part of the population of the city.

This valuable property should be preserved for free and perpetual use and enjoyment by the public, and, if necessary, the county should be called upon to contribute a part of the required expense.

As the industrial population of the city continues to increase and become more crowded, every possible encouragement for family picnics and outings and simple and healthful open-air recreations should be afforded.

Preserve East Lake park for the people.


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