Historic Markers Across Tennessee

The Birth of the City of Oak Ridge, Tennessee

Marker ID:  
Location: City of Oak Ridge Municipal Building, 200 South Tulane Avenue, Oak Ridge, TN
County: Anderson
Coordinates: N 36° 0.742    W 084° 15.478
  36.01236666    -84.25796666
Style: Mounted **
Waymark: None


The Birth of the City of Oak Ridge, Tennessee
Transformation of Municipal Services

In 1948, the Atomic Energy Commission (AEC) assigned the task of transforming the “Secret City” into an incorporated city to Frederick W. “Fred” Ford, the AEC’s new Community Affairs Director. In addition to managing the city’s day-to-day operations, Fred was responsible for the “steps involved in the eventual transfer of Oak Ridge from a government-owned to a normal, self-governed municipality”. To develop a Master Plan he contracted with the Corps of Engineers, Skidmore, Owings, & Merrill, and the Tennessee Valley Authority. Over the next 12 years, he and his staff sponsored 48 consulting contracts for planning the various municipal services and functions of the future city. In 1948, the utility departments initiated programs to annually upgrade the wartime electrical, water, and sewer systems. Street lighting, automatic fire-alarm circuits, and sprinkler systems for major buildings were installed. Gas and heating oil were brought in to eliminate the sooty, soft-coal inversion layers that hung over the town on winter mornings. Despite some protests from renters, water and electric meters were installed in each home. Perhaps most welcome to residents tired of all the mud, were the annual improvements of paving and widening the streets and roads, and adding curbs, gutters, and sidewalks. The first new road project, in 1950, called for by the Master Plan was Lafayette Drive, a divided highway linking the Turnpike and Kerr Hollow Road. The second was South Illinois Avenue connecting the Turnpike to Scarboro Road. The third and fourth were new Tulane and Rutgers Avenues. In 1958, the AEC completed its last building project – the Municipal Building, to house all new city departments. These farsighted actions spanning 13 years provided the municipal services that together with new housing, schools, and the hospital, paved the way for the new City of Oak Ridge.

This fourth marker was produced, in part,
with funding from the City of Oak Ridge and the Preserve American Grant Program, National Park Service.


More information:
Wikipedia - Oak Ridge, Tennessee
Wikipedia - Manhattan Project
Wikipedia - Manhattan Project National Historical Park
US History for Kids - Manhattan Project Timeline
Secret City Commemorative Walk