One of the fun things about Chattanooga is that it happens to be home to the only US-based Volkswagen manufacturing facility. This is a pretty big coup for Chattanooga. It’s interesting how much a single event like attracting a company to open a new manufacturing plant in a town impacts that town.
While there were probably other things that contributed, there was quite a growth spurt in housing development concurrent with the kickoff of building the plant. That peak in activity precedes when I arrived in Chattanooga, and the housing market crash. Development kind of stopped for a while of the various condominiums and housing developments around town, but things seem to be starting to pick up again. Although, I think more multi-tenant rental units are being built than condos or single-family homes. But, I’m just guessing.
In any case, the presence of Volkswagen doesn’t just provide several hundred jobs at their facility and construction jobs for people in housing and infrastructure, it also brings funding into the area for community projects and education. VW happens to be pretty environmentally conscious as well, preserving a wetland on their property and occasionally allowing the Chattanooga Audubon Society to host bird walks there.
Most importantly, the presence of VW has created huge demand for the local VW club (unrelated to the company) for events around town. And, of course, the Mainx24 parade included a long line of vintage VWs. The VW bus with the pop-up top is my favorite, but the “Thing” is a close second. For many years of my childhood, I had it confused with a comic book superhero–they look pretty similar.
The Mainx24 parade once again demonstrated the breadth of character of Chattanooga when the VWs were followed by bicycle art.
I am a cyclist. Maybe not a Lance Armstrong kind of cyclist, but I like to ride and I do it as often as possible. I have seen downhill mountain bikes that look like off-road motorcycles without the motor, tandems, unicycles, electric bikes, bikes pulling dogs in carriers, you name it. I really thought I had seen every possible type of bike there was to see.
But, the clever artists of Chattanooga managed to surprise me (and the rest of the crowd) with amazing sculptures on wheels they rode in the parade. I particularly like the swing on the bike. I imagine it had to be pretty terrifying the swing above the pavement on a bike as it moved forward.
I can’t say I saw a model I wanted to trade my bike in for, but if I did, there would certainly be plenty of places to hang shopping bags when I ride to the market. I’m thinking maybe I should see if I can commission them to come up with a photographer’s bike, incorporating portable lighting solutions, lens storage, and a tripod holder into the design. Then form and function would really come together.