Johnson City Press to release book celebrating city's history Tuesday

Jonathan Roberts • Updated Nov 4, 2019 at 5:35 PM

As part of Johnson City for 85 years, the Johnson City Press is in the perfect position to lead projects that celebrate the city’s history.

Since Dec. 1, 2018, the Press has celebrated and examined that history through a series of stories on the Heritage Page for the city’s sesquicentennial. And on Tuesday, the community is invited to be a part of the next chapter of the Press’ dedication to highlighting the city’s history, when it launches its “Johnson City 150 Years Book.” 

The 224-page book will be released at a special event at the Johnson City Public Library, 100 West Millard St., Tuesday, Nov. 5, at 4 p.m. The book can also be ordered online at book.johnsoncity150.com at $24.95 plus shipping and applicable taxes.

“The Johnson City Press, with its deep roots and consistent gathering of the city’s history, is positioned better than any other organization to lead projects such as these,” said Publisher Rick Thomason. “A concise, focused compilation like this gives both natives and newcomers a quick, yet comprehensive glance at the foundation of Johnson City.”

Press Content Director Sam J. Watson said the book covers history from the early railroads that built this town to the modern developments residents enjoy today. The staff’s goal was to provide snapshots of that rich life in a keepsake families can enjoy for years to come.

“We were lucky to have a vast collection of photographs already on hand when we set out to develop the book,” Watson said. “Over the years, Archives of Appalachia staff members have been incredibly generous with their time in helping us compile images for our weekly Heritage page.

“Readers and the Johnson’s Depot website also have contributed to that effort considerably. Our challenge was in choosing from that wealth of material. The number of incredible images was overwhelming.”

The book will be divided into five sections: History, people, places, East Tennessee State University and progress.

“There was no way to comprehensively cover 150 years in a single book, but we think we’ve been able to highlight many of the major developments that made Johnson City what it is today,” Watson said. “While we wanted to show how the city looked in various points of history, we also made sure there were plenty of faces and personal stories included. After all, a city’s history is not made by buildings.

“Johnson City was made by the people who have lived here, some of whom have called this place home for generations,” Watson added.

Watson said ETSU has its own section because its “stamp is all over our way of life.”

The book is the culmination of months and countless hours of work put in by the Press’ staff, with designer Sabrina Arbona and Senior Staff Writer Robert Houk leading the way, Watson said, adding that the paper also had “invaluable contributions” from its sister digital media agency, The Net360.

“Johnson City has much to celebrate in its history,” Thomason said. “People, places and milestone events give a city its backbone — that’s something that should never be lost nor taken for granted.”