The Tennessee Aquarium recently welcomed guest number 23 million just weeks before celebrating their 25th year as an economic driver for the Scenic City.

The aquarium has reshaped the downtown landscape.  Just 4 miles separate the ruggedness of Lookout Mountain and the modern contemporary design of the Tennessee Aquarium.

Long time Scenic City residents know,  it almost didn’t look like this. Tennessee Aquarium’s Cindy Todd said “Not everyone was on board in the beginning. In fact, a lot of people thought we were crazy to do a fresh water aquarium. We had to show that freshwater fish could be interesting.”

On May 1, 1992, the aquarium opened its doors to much fanfare and celebrity including Channel 3’s own David Carroll. Since then, the campus has grown to include a saltwater aquarium, an IMAX theatre and a freshwater research facility.

While it is an economic driver for the city, contributing more than 100 million dollars annually, there’s a larger goal than financial gain – it’s conservation and education.

Todd said, “We just want to put that conservation science out there so that everyone can make good decision, from the kids that are coming up to our local officials and the politicians in Washington.”