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Guide to Charlotte

Updated on December 24, 2014

Guide to Charlotte

This is the first update of this lens since Hubpages took over platform management. If you are the only person who followed the lens over from Squidoo, then send me a message. Praise or criticism, I don't care. I just want to know if I should bother to continue maintaining this lens, er, hub.

Hubpages does not have the range of widgets and gadget that Squidoo had and so half the content is gone (feeds from local blogs). Us writers have no control over that. Just for grins I may experiment with the few tools HubPages has. Let me know if you like the experiments.


Charlotte made list of:

top 10 Spring Break Destinations for Families

10 fastest growing U.S. cities (not an honor a sane city wants)

Top 10 when it comes to finding IT jobs

top 10 least-hipster cities in America

According to the source, a "hipster city" has young people, walkability, bikeability, vintage stores, dive bars, vegetarian restaurants, artsy jobs and vinyl stores. This means Charlotte is scaring away young people who are fleeing to other cities. It also means I suppose that Charlotte needs more stores with old stuff on North Davidson. I have no clue where the vegetarian restaurants are in Charlotte (but I am sure that they are there) and perhaps the people who made this list of least hipster could not find vegan eateries either. Of course, I am not a vegetable so I was not looking to date any veggies. Or tell any VeggieTales. The art scene in Charlotte must be at a disadvantage compared with other cities to get low marks. Lastly, I know of (rumor) that Charlotte had two vinyl stores -- In the Mix (which was off Harris) and The Wax Museum (which moved several times and probably lost more customers with each move). I guess Charlotteans have moved on to MP3 and beyond. Which is not surprising because my contacts in Charlotte say that apart from the Museum of the New South, Charlotte has amnesia and no memory of its past which usually goes under the wrecking ball.

Oddly enough, Charlotte despite its suburban sprawl does get top ten marks for green space policies and revitalization. Probably the whole tree city and tree planting tendency of Charlotte helped.

Charlotte is in the bottom ten of transport. It ranks as third worst US city according to the Natural Resources Defense Council in so far as things such as mass transit, bicycle, and walking. I can personally testify that Charlotte is pedestrian hostile because I have been in cities that were pedestrian friendly and were built for humans rather than cars. Charlotte has bike lanes but a cyclist would be taking their life in their hands in Charlotte traffic and get run over. In a recent visit, I did not see any cyclists using those painted lanes. The mass transit situation will cure itself as Lynx adds more lines.

Relax everyone. The NRDC study dates back to 2011.


After I added to the airport section, the sequester started to affect the air traffic control system. Some towers and some airports are likely to be closed. How will this affect the Charlotte Airport Authority?


What got me initially interested in Charlotte was going to the Democratic National Convention and hearing locals talk about how Charlotte was different. Well I want to see different. Different from other cities. What makes Charlotte distinct from every other city. And, most importantly, what can you only get in Charlotte?

To illustrate:

Above ground tombs. The causeway over Lake Pontchartrain. The French Quarter with Preservation Hall Jazz Band. That's New Orleans. [Okay so Charleston has a French Quarter but they don't have Preservation Hall). Rainbow Row, Fort Sumter, and Ashley Cooper. That's Charleston. Rockefeller Center, Statue of Liberty, United Nations, NYSE, Central Park, and Empire State Building. I won't insult your intelligence by identifying the city. You already know. Which is my point. Wooden walks and gravel instead of cars & pavement, cliffs, the sound of the ocean crashing against rocks, artist's colony, no high heels, no ice cream, and hizzoner the mayor was once Clint Eastwood. Carmel-by-the-Sea. A town does not have to be a huge megalopolis to have a distinct identity. Emmett's Fix-it Shop, nearby Mount Pilot, and Sheriff Andy Taylor. Even fictional towns like Mayberry are instantly recognizable. So Charlotte, work on that identity.


How to reach me? Either leave a note in the comments at the bottom or use the Squidoo contact form if you prefer privacy. I have a link to contact me at the bottom of this lens also.


photo credit: Charlotte_Pano and James Willamor

Queen Charlotte - the one married to George III

If you arrive by airline, then you should gawk at the big statue of Queen Charlotte at Douglas International. She was not the wind-blown character that the imaginative sculptor portrays. Her husband, on the other hand, was crazy.

Queen Charlotte

The founder of Chicago was a black man named Jean Baptiste Point du Sable. The first non-Native American families in Los Angeles were black. Queen Charlotte or Princess Charlotte was merely the namesake for which the city was named in honor.

Here is a thought: invite the British and Portuguese royal families to visit.

The Hornet's Nest

During the Revolutionary War, after a bitter skirmish, Cornwallis and his forces occupied the village of Charlotte, but the British commander would shortly discover that his expected push through the Carolinas was to end in Charlotte. Though there were few colonials to oppose him, his troops were harried on both sides and soon, the British were running short of provisions. When Cornwallis sent out patrols to obtain supplies, they were fired upon. Cornwallis wrote in a letter: "There's a rebel behind every bush. It's a veritable nest of hornets." The name stuck because during one skirmish at a farm, the retreating British soldiers tripped over bee hives and probably thought they were hornets. Remember this was centuries before African bees invaded the continent. If they had been stung by hornets, then they might have died. Wild hornets are considerably more dangerous than domesticated bees.

Shiloh occurred during the Civil War long after Charlotte had the name of Hornet's Nest.


They Can Get This Big !!!

the dark side of Earth from orbit

The night sky is no longer dark. I knew of a local who moved to the Southwest USA to get away from the light pollution.


credit: Johnnymartyns89

Etiquette & Protocol - Regarding the Name of the City

Locals laugh at the stupidity of outsiders (never to their face) who insist upon calling the city "Charlotte North Carolina" as if there was another city named Charlotte somewhere else in the universe. There isn't. There is a Queen Charlotte, British Columbia and Charlottesville, Virginia and Port Charlotte, Florida and Charlotte Amalie, US Virgin Islands and several fly specks of little towns named Charlotte but no other major cities. This is not like Springfield. There are Springfields (all of more or less equal size) in thirty-one states. Wisconsin alone has no less than five towns named Springfield. There is a Charleston, West Virginia (the state capital) and a Charleston, South Carolina but there is only one city (as opposed to little town, village or hamlet) on planet Earth named Charlotte. So insistence on calling the city "Charlotte North Carolina" smacks of New York snobbery made more obvious when Charlotte competes with New York New York as a financial capital. You have to say either City of New York or New York City or New York, New York so that people will not think you are talking about the state. Some New Yorkers will instead say Manhattan, The Bronx, Brooklyn, Queens, Staten Island, and Yonkers (the so-called sixth borough). This only matters because half the population of Charlotte is expatriate New Yorkers. Or seen another way, Charlotte is the seventh or eighth borough of New York City. Some wags even call the city "New York South". There are lots of Buckeyes (Ohioans) passing through on Interstate 77 (known locally as "the parking lot"). Few stay. The international population is very diverse. To summarize, Charlotte is the seventeenth largest city in the USA. So when I am talking to someone on the phone about Tampa or Charlotte or wherever and the person asks: "Charlotte? North Carolina?" I have to bite my tongue to stop saying something sarcastic like: "No. Charlotte Amalie. Where else would you have skyscrapers, a NASCAR speedway, two million people in the metro area and interstate highways but on a tiny Caribbean island barely above sea level?" or something impish like: "No. Charlotte, South Carolina. There is no Charlotte, North Carolina." (Charlotte sits near the state line.)

The Center of the Known World

credit: Ernie & Katy Newton Lawley

Luke Skywalker:"If there's a bright center of the universe, you're on the planet that it's farthest from."

Southpark: - people shop here because it is a hassle to shop uptown, downtown, midtown, center city.

photo credit: Bz3rk

Tall Buildings

Although the Bank of America Corporate Center (known locally as the B of A tower) and the headquarters operations of Bank of America is in Charlotte, Bank of America's tallest building is its Bank of America Tower in New York CIty. So perhaps BofA is more emotionally and financially invested in New York.

Bank of America's next tallest building is the Bank of America Plaza in Atlanta. No doubt this building is in Peachtree Plaza since nearly every important street, boulevard, avenue, parkway, square and complex in Atlanta is named Peachtree. The next tallest building owned by Bank of America is the Bank of America Plaza in Dallas. This is followed by the headquarters in Charlotte. So maybe B of A simply wants to make its presence known in certain regions and markets and is not overly concerned with gilding its home. Besides, even though tall buildings have been built in Charlotte after the Bank of America Corporate Center, it remains the tallest in town. Approaching Charlotte by car from a distance, it used to be the first thing that stuck above the horizon. Now the second tallest building also appears above the horizon around the same time.

The Bank of America tower in Charlotte is only the 158th tallest building in the world as of September 3rd, 2012. Compared to Dubai which has seven of the tallest buildings in the world and Hong Kong which has three of the tallest skyscrapers, Charlotte is not even in the running. And Chicago still has the Sears Tower (why should I call it the Bruce Willis?) and New York still has the venerable Empire State Building.

The Empire State Building does not need fame in fiction as a perch for large gorillas (King Kong). Its fame is based on fact. It used to be a place to commit suicide but between security, God and some things I will not divulge, the building is no longer a place to end it all. [On December 2nd, 1979, Elvita Adams jumped from the 86th floor, only to be blown back onto the 85th floor. Take that Windy City!] The Emp was hit by a B-25 bomber in 1945 and the damage was repaired. They really built skyscrapers in those days. Not the crap they throw up now. The Empire State Building is still in the news. It is the tallest LEED certified building in the USA. However, the media incorrectly reported the recent shooting on August 24, 2012 as workplace violence. It occurred outside the building on Fifth Avenue so perhaps Fifth Avenue should get the opprobrium and not pick on the Empire which happened to be standing nearby. Speaking of bystanders: What were cops thinking shooting into a crowd and wounding nine bystanders? I thought the Big Apple had SWAT teams. Shoot down from a height and no collateral damage instead of across. Or practice marksmanship at a range. The PD does have those. Or use non-lethal weapons. Dumb.

Meandering back to Charlotte . . . What do locals call their collection of tall buildings toward the middle of town? Uptown, downtown, midtown, center city, or central business district? All of these actually plus a few more.

Next question: Now that people outside the Carolinas are getting a good look at Charlotte (many for the first time), when will local buildings acquire the personality that Empire State Building possesses for New York or that Big Ben possesses for London or that the Eiffel Tower possesses for Paris?

I have tried to begin this process of making Charlotte familiar and homey elsewhere in this lens and when I refer to the building with the handle on top, the building with the greenhouse on top, the building with the church on top, the building with the pigeon spikes on top, the building with the kaleidoscope/prism on the side, the building with sails on top, et cetera.

Elsewhere in the world, there are octagonal buildings and three-sided buildings and round buildings instead of the usual unimaginative four-sided buildings. There are buildings shaped like eggs (London's Swiss Re & Barcelona's Torre Agbar) and Mumbai plans a building that instead of a few square feet of turf on top for putt-putt golf, will have a whole park on top with trees (the Kohinoor Skyscraper). The Linked Hybrid in Beijing has eight pedestrian bridges connecting eight buildings -- and not at the second floor but near the tops! The Cira Centre, Philadelphia begins with four sides at the base but further up has five and even six sides. Its silvery glass and sides makes it appear to be a shape shifter. Some new buildings incorporate windmills such as The Bahrain World Trade Center. Hopefully, any new buildings in the center city will show more imagination. And incorporate solar or wind or hydro or geothermal right into their design. After all, Charlotte bills itself as the new energy capital. So practice what you preach Charlotte!


This is the View: - just like that show on ABC

(actually it is spelled Vue)


photo credit: Brick177


credit: Justin Cozart

Chiquita headquarters: - It's official. America is now a banana republic.

Or perhaps Republicans have gone bananas if they think tropical weather in Canada from climate change is good because we'll then be able to grow citrus there.


photo credit: Billy Hathorn

notable institutions - The Charlotte Observer has won Pulitzer Prizes both as an organization as well as employing Prize winners on its staff.

photo credit: Billy Hathorn


photo credit: Billy Hathorn

my impressions of Charlotte

I am in and out of the city to cover the Democratic Convention. I had been here many years before and the skyline has changed dramatically. Not just the Bank of America tower but several buildings almost as tall that I still have not identified as to who is the owner and main corporate tenant. I think that the building that has the handle on top is Duke Energy. Even locals don't know what I am talking about when I ask about the building that has a church on top. The architecture is standard skyscraper until you get to the top and then it changes and looks like they took a crane helicopter and placed a church on top. It would be cool if it actually was a church though if you ran out the door to catch Sunday sports on television and did not stop at the railing outside, it would be a long way down. The building with the greenhouse on top used to be First Union One or First Union Two or First Union Three or First Union Four or whatever number they reached before the music stopped and they turned into Wachovia and then Wells Fargo. I heard a rumor that Wells Fargo is selling the skyscrapers since Wells Fargo is headquartered in San Francisco and does not care what happens to Charlotte. Charlotte is repeating the mistake of the recent past.

When interstate branch banking was all the rage, the city leadership was so enthralled by having two of the biggest US banks headquartered here that it did not try to get the five or six largest banks on Earth to relocate their world headquarters to Charlotte -- in case one of those major banks got acquired or moved away for other reasons. The predictable result is that Charlotte is now a one bank town and an also ran.

Now Charlotte is supposed to be an "energy capital" -- except that all the noise is about Duke and a few small companies in allied industries. Whenever some talking head on TV speaks of fission (nuclear, fusion has not arrived yet) and fossil fuel as "alternative energy", I have to laugh. Solar, wind, geothermal, tidal, and wave power were created as alternatives to fission and fossil. Fission and fossil are dying industries even if the people in those industries are still in denial. Fission kills. That is a fact. Plutonium is the deadliest element and the deadliest chemical. It kills at concentrations that put nerve gas to shame. Sooner or later some terrorist will use it to kill a city. Why breed this poison in breeder reactors? (To dump it in South Carolina that's why.) Coal can never be clean. Breathing soot leads to black lung. The best thing you can say about natural gas is that it is not as bad as the other fossils when you burn it. The worst things you can say about natural gas is fracking and that it contributes to greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. And then there is petroleum. Don't get me started on Big Oil.

The Charlotte Chamber of Chamber should be aggressively romancing every solar company, every wind company, every geothermal company, every tidal company, every wave power company and every other alternative to fission and fossil -- but in their arrogant blindness the civic boosters will repeat the mistake that they made with the banking industry. Mark my word. And I will return to Charlotte to rub their canine noses in it.

Note: The US Chamber of Commerce is officially in the climate change denial business. God help the USA.

the colors on the Bank of America tower - serve the same function as the colors on the Empire State building

photo credit: Alex Drake and UNCCTF

Behind The Scenes of "Hush Hush Sweet Charlotte" 1964

"Hush...Hush, Sweet Charlotte" - official movie of Charlotte




Hush Hush...Sweet Charlotte movie trailer.

Bette Davis Sings "hush, Hush Sweet Charlotte" on "i've Got a Secret"

"Hush...Hush, Sweet Charlotte" lyrics by Mack David

official song of Charlotte

Hush hush, sweet Charlotte

Charlotte, don't you cry

Hush hush, sweet Charlotte

He'll love you till he dies

Oh, hold him darling please hold him tight

And brush the tear from your eyes

You weep because you had a dream last night

You dreamed that he said goodbye

He held two roses within his hand

Two roses he gave to you

The red rose tells you of his passion

The white rose his love so true

Hush hush, sweet Charlotte

Charlotte, don't you cry

Hush hush, sweet Charlotte

He'll love you till he dies

And every night after he shall die

Yes every night when he's gone

The wind will sing to you this lullaby

Sweet Charlotte was loved by John

Hush hush, sweet Charlotte

Charlotte, don't you cry

Hush hush, sweet Charlotte

He'll love you till he dies

[The John referred to in the song is John F. Kennedy]


Editor's Note -- You're not going to find these in the Wax Museum (a local record shop back in the days when there were record shops).

There are modern formats like MP3 and Apple iTunes but I decided to go Old School since Hush Hush Sweet Charlotte itself is Old School. I don't apologize for being quirky and often non-commercial.



The movie Hush Hush Sweet Charlotte is set on the River Road near New Orleans but Charlotteans like the song and the movie so much that they adopted it anyway. New Orleans has scores of movies and songs written about it. Charlotte has zero movies and zero songs written about it.

I expect that someone will correct me on this shortly (probably by making some boring movie or writing some boring song sung by some boring singer). In the meantime, you really can't beat Hush Hush Sweet Charlotte as an official movie since Charlotte was once the murder capital of the nation (that dubious honor could go back to New Orleans). And you really can't beat Hush Hush Sweet Charlotte as a city anthem.

1. How many cities even have an anthem? I left my heart in San Francisco (Tony Bennett) , Chicago that toddlin' town (Frank Sinatra) and New York. That's about it.

2. You can't dance to it any more than you can dance to the national anthem so it passes the test of: "Does it make you stand at attention?"

3. After a tragedy, there will not be a dry eye. People will say: Yes, I see why they chose this song. I hope that Charlotte does not suffer another Hugo or any other type of tragedy but I am being practical. People use music to unite and pick themselves up after suffering a body blow. I know that this makes no sense to any reader now. But it will.

4. In addition to being sung in a somber manner, Hush Hush Sweet Charlotte can also be sung in a celebratory mood. See what I mean? The perfect city song.

Too bad songwriters like Hal David and Burt Bacharach are dead because they understood the Great American Songbook. And we can't dig up Irving Berlin, Ira Gershwin or Cole Porter. They dig up the dead in Hush Hush Sweet Charlotte which might explain why this song resonates.

Making of "Hush...Hush, Sweet Charlotte" (AMC Backstory)

Good Charlotte - official punk band of Charlotte

(but the Japanese punk band Charlotte is a lot more fun)


Japanese pop group Charlotte

Charlotte - official dessert -- A charlotte is also known as an "ice-box cake"

photo credit: Antoinel

Charlotte / Tipsy Ice Box Cake - recipe by Mrs. Frank W. Klingberg

from The Junior Service League's Chapel Hill cook book : tried and tested recipes.

However, if you are a stickler for loyalty to Charlotte, then you could seek a recipe from The Charlotte Cookbook.

[Charlotte: Junior League of Charlotte, 1969]

or the 1977 prirnting.

easiest way to get ostracized in Charlotte

express disinterest in watching sports

easiest way to get murdered in Charlotte

express dislike of sports


Very well, here is a sports link --

The Official Site of the Charlotte Stone Crabs

You have to copy and paste since I see no reason to make it easy by posting an enabled hyperlink. I start making it easy the day someone crosses my palm with silver. I will give the Charlotte Roller Girls a free plug though. That was it.


the area between Appalachian Mountains and Atlantic Coastal low country. Germans who come here mention that it reminds them a little of home. It is a major reason why so many move here. The other reason might be that some of the first white settlers here had German ancestry (among others).

official mascot: Charlotte Church - Who else?

photo credit: Keven Law

forget panthers (no such creature has ever been in the Piedmont) and forget hornets (quite a few of these still around), the official mascot is Charlotte Church frozen in time when she was a little girl. Before there was Jackie Evancho, there was Charlotte Church.

There actually are bobcats out in the rural country.

Grim footnote: As for the mascot of the Knights minor league baseball . . . indeed the Knights of the Ku Klux Klan were made famous by Thomas F. Dixon, Jr. from nearby Shelby NC in his novel The Clansman and in D. W. Griffith's film, The Birth of a Nation. Both glorified the revision of history to make slave-owners look like freedom fighters and to make injustice look like justice. They took Republicans to task for being fair to blacks. Back in those days, the Democrats were the racists and the Republicans were the party of Lincoln.

Charlotte Church

It is rumored that there are people alive today who remember when Charlotte Church was a little girl, the first remarkable child singer (other than Michael Jackson) and no one had yet heard of that other wunderkind Jackie Evancho because Ms. Evancho's birth was still decades in the future. Yes, I know this rumor is unfounded. No one could live that long. And certainly no one could possibly remember back beyond say two days ago.

All kidding aside, little Charlotte Church has grown up as this video proves. When is she going to be in concert in Charlotte?

Fact Check

The 2012 Democratic National Convention was not the biggest event ever held in Charlotte. A Confederate reunion in 1929 was supposedly bigger.

The Central Intelligence Agency also (CIAA) holds conferences and tournaments in Charlotte. Curiously, for such an agency given to bloody torture prisons, there is no jousting. They are called "black prisons" in reference to the fact that the inmates are seldom white. They are historically black institutions. Oh, and they also shoot a few hoops. Sometimes with guns.

Charlotte Church, the church in Charlotte

The actual church named Charlotte Church is at 1200 South Graham Street. Strange but true, Graham Street is not named for Billy Graham. [However Billy Graham Parkway is named for Billy Graham.]

official novelist - Charlotte Bronte

Secret Handshake

There is no official handshake for Charlotte, just shake hands like normal people for goodness sake.

What you call a person from Charlotte?

a Charlottean.


photo source: may be but I could not validate that nor could I determine if these people are Charlotteans or the staff of a city magazine titled the Charlottean. There is a Charlotte magazine but that is different.

famous Charlotteans

famous Charlotteans -- Romare Bearden, Billy Graham (he never really spent much time here since he was always on crusades), Ric Flair, Michael Jordan (he spent more time in Wilmington, Chapel Hill and Chicago but Charlotte claims him), Kathy Reichs (the real life Bones of Fox TV fame), Randolph Scott, Ben Browder (Farscape and Stargate SG-1), Wilbur Joseph Cash (author of The Mind of the South, needless to say he went insane), Sharon Lawrence (NYPD Blue), Carson McCullers, Maureen O'Boyle (unlike other local anchors who went national, she moved in the other direction and is now a local anchor), Skeet Ulrich (CBS show "Jericho"), Erskine Bowles, (former White House Chief of Staff), K-Ci and JoJo (members of the group Jodeci), Hugh McColl, Muggsy Bogues, LL Cool J (used to have a house here), and Susan J. Helms (Brigadier General-select in the United States Air Force and former NASA astronaut). I omitted NASCAR people because that is a given. Ditto Carolina Panthers and Charlotte Hornets players. Someone told me to include Stephanie Mills and Fantasia Barrino.

Mandy Patinkin, one of the newest Charlotteans

He began singing by age 9.

He attended Juilliard School.

When he heard Cheers was auditioning for the role of Dr. Frasier Crane, he put Kelsey Grammer's name into consideration.

He left "Criminal Minds" because he felt it "was destroying my heart and soul. It was very, very destructive to me and made me very sad." . . . "I began to feel ill about being a part of a world - now it is a world - bedtime story which - the last thing that people watch before they go to bed." . . . "I thought it was something very different. I never thought they were going to kill and rape all these women every night, every day, week after week, year after year. It was very destructive to my soul and my personality. After that, I didn't think I would get to work in television again." [The last sentence is a reference to the way he left the show. He thought that he would never be hired again.]

Charities he supports include: PAX, Doctors Without Borders, Americans for Peace Now, The September 11th Fund, Crohn's and Colitis Foundation of America and Gilda's Club. Doctors Without Borders is a group that provides medical relief in violence-torn areas such as Darfur, Lebanon, and many other developing countries.

The same character, Dr. Jeffrey Geiger, was played by him on three different series: "Picket Fences" (1992), "Homicide: Life on the Street" (1993) and "Chicago Hope" (1994). Will we ever see Doctor Geiger again?

Twenty-five years after The Princess Bride, he's still not tired of that line.

Awards and nominations include: Tony (Broadway, Evita), ACE (Cable, Sunday in the Park with George), Emmy (television, Chicago Hope), Golden Globe (motion pictures, Yentl), Saturn (science fiction, Alien Nation), Golden Globe (television, Chicago Hope), SAG (actors guild, Chicago Hope), Emmy (television, The Larry Sanders Show), and DVD Exclusive Award (song, "How High the Mountain").

not just any Buddhists in Charlotte - these are from Bhutan

Mike Collins - host of WFAE's Charlotte Talks

the one indisputable nugget of gold in Charlotte -- This man, all by himself, makes it worth living in the Charlotte broadcast area. He is intelligent, articulate, well-informed and soft-spoken in an age of screaming shock jocks and Rush Limbaughs.

Addendum: If you are a guest on his radio talk show, answer his question or he will tell you that you did not answer the question. He is polite but he also tries to be precise in wording his questions and expects the same from his guests. I mention this because when I managed to finally hear a recent show, he had to go through a whole panel of guests before someone would answer his question.

Charlotte Talks

notable lacks in Charlotte

Charlotteans are always using the term "world class" to describe things they want.



Charlotte media people constantly talk about Noda, Noda, Noda until you want to throttle them. Who is it? What is it? When is it? Where is it? Why is it? How is it no one calls the media people on this mystery? I got the answers to these questions not from a local but from an out-of-towner like myself. Who? Noda is not one person but it is a certain type of person. Mostly young. Mostly not rich. What? Noda is a neighborhood in Charlotte. A film crew could pass it off as a small rural town or town center and there are many such neighborhoods in Charlotte. When? Noda mostly comes alive at night. Where? Noda is a contraction of the first two letters of North Davidson, a street in Charlotte. As such, there are arguably three or four Noda's. The notable Noda is the one centered on the 3200 block of Davidson which has shops, bars, restaurants. and The Neighborhood Theatre (Johnny Winter, Bootsy Collins, and Lindsey Buckingham have played here). There is a bar for dogs (Dog Bar) and a coffeehouse full of smelly cats. This neighborhood also has at least two tattoo parlors that prey upon young drunk gentiles. Fast forward two or three decades and if flesh-eating disease does not make the issue moot then they may be considering dermabrasion or laser to remove graffiti. Another Noda node is around East 15th Street (Area 15). Why? These places are humble so lower your expectations. But big bucks and clean sidewalks is not what makes these places special. A small business person cannot afford the arm and leg expected in downtown rent so funky lofts and storefronts are an affordable alternative. How? People like to be in on an in-joke or inside knowledge and so they use local in-speak.


photo credit: Escapists606

Street People

Downtown has street people too. And one can smell urine in the air near the waterfall fountain in front of Charlotte-Mecklenburg Main Public Library 310 North Tryon Street at the intersection with East Sixth Street and across Tryon from Discovery Place. New Yorkers will take in stride this talk of the smell of urine but for everyone else, let me explain. There are three reasons why:

1. the mentally ill have been deinstitutionalized by budget cuts -- if you have ever had to care for a baby, an elder or any sick person; then no further explanation is necessary

2. the homeless late at night after the bars close cannot find a public restroom open or even a porta-potty -- some cities have solutions to this, Charlotte is not one of them. If you have seen the movie The Pursuit of Happyness starring Will Smith (or simply have two eyes and use them), then you know that even middle-class people can become homeless. For that matter, even rich heiresses can become homeless bag ladies with stone pillows.

3. some guys come out of bars at closing time and realize that they should have used the restroom -- drunks do not always understand concepts like modesty or appropriate places to relieve oneself (a restroom) and their over full bladders may have other ideas. In Singapore, the police take you to a judge who orders a caning. Naked. Singapore is an extremely clean city.

Not everyone you see on the streets below the skyscrapers is a quote "street person" unquote. The men and women wearing suits are often executives, lawyers, bankers, and other ne'er do wells and rascals. The guys without ties but wearing ID badges are often engineers, office workers, information techs, and other middle types. The gals in mannish black uniforms and ties are of course waitresses (hard to believe that you are in the South where you would expect pink dresses and white aprons and Flo "kiss my grits" Castleberry). Scrubs are a reminder that one is mere blocks away from the hospital district. There are students from Johnson C. Smith University (historically black), Johnson & Wales (deliberately named to confuse with JCSU), Central Piedmont Community College (very impressive), and Queens University (low profile) which all have campuses within walking distance of center city. There are several senior retirement communities (both private and City Housing Department) in the center city. There are also tourists like me. You have to get your photo taken beneath the Firebird sculpture in front of the Bechtler Museum of Art or when you return home people will accost you and demand to know why you did not undergo this grueling rite of passage. Sort of like kissing the Blarney Stone without the kissing.

Charlotte has a wide diversity of ethnic groups evident. CharMeck main library even has a room that displays not only the Spanish language local paper that you would expect but I think I saw a Russian language and several Asian language local newspapers. The big city dailies may be dying under the assault of the internet but ethnic newspapers seem to be holding their own. There is a free trolley service that utilizes buses made up to look like old-fashioned trolleys. One line runs east-west from Presbyterian Hospital to Johnson C. Smith University with the government district, Bobcat Arena, and Johnson & Wales along the way. The other line runs north-south basically sticking to Tryon from near the dance center then off Tryon to the Fourth Ward residential neighborhoods then back to Tryon and then on the south end of the route leaving Tryon to swing past an upscale retirement condominium complex before returning to Tryon to do it all again. For the convenience of those not wanting a single family home and lawn in the suburbs, center city -- which includes everything within the loop formed by I-77 and I-277; there are many condominium complexes. Come to think of it, even the captains of industry are street people. If you walk on the sidewalks or cross any streets, then by definition, you are a street person.

Editor's Note -- The main branch of the Char-Meck Library is cleaning up around the fountain. I will let you know if it smells better.

Independence Square

On the day I scoped the city prior to the Democratic invasion, I visited Thomas Polk Park at Trade & Tryon. The park is behind the sculpture in the foreground and has The Rousso Clock (four faces). I saw artist types playing cards and an odd couple of guys playing chess. One guy seemed well-heeled and the other guy looked pauper-poor. Hare Krishnas used to proselytize alone or playing their music in groups but always young adult recent converts. I saw a family of ISKCON's (husband, wife with baby, and two subteen daughters). Some people were meeting for lunch and others were coming down from the skyscrapers to eat their lunch or pass their lunch hour reading a book. The pigeons and other birds' droppings ruin some spots where you might otherwise sit and enjoy the waterfall fountain. But no urine smell here. A word about the birds. Pigeons are flying rats but I saw some little song birds that behaved like squirrels. Most song birds are skittish like chickens and fly away at the least movement. But these little birds hopped along the ground where I was sitting at a table outside The Interstate Tower near a restaurant and approached me in the hopes that I would toss them some bits of sandwich. If you come to Thomas Polk Park diagonally across from the Bank of America tower, then bring a small amount (the smaller the better) of bird feed from a garden shop and feed the songbirds but not the pigeons.

photo credit:

Independence Square - this is the Bank of America Plaza across the street from the B of A tower

photo credit:

The Wards

Take the center city and slice it pie style into four (more or less) equal parts using Tryon and Trade as the dividing lines. First Ward is the eastern quadrant. Second ward is the southern quadrant. Third Ward is the western quadrant. Fourth Ward is the northern quadrant. And yes I know Third Ward is the monkey-wrench in the works and the fly in the ointment of this way of understanding the history and layout of Charlotte. But this explanation that I just made makes it understandable to me, an outsider. The wards have no analogy in New York's, London's or Montreal's boroughs which cover considerably more acres and square miles.


Charlotte Transportation Center light rail station

rail - CATS, Lynx, Bobcats, Panthers. For a Queen City, they're awfully obsessed with pussycats.

For anyone who does not know, light rail is neither an underground subway nor an elevated el. It is at grade level, meaning street traffic has to stop to let it pass. This is a consequence of rail done on the cheap. Decades from now it will cost the city, county, state and federal taxpayers billions to elevate or bury the rails to prevent collisions and deaths. In the context here, it also means within Charlotte city limits. Talk of extending Lynx to Rock Hill was broached years before Lynx ever had the name Lynx.

Do not expect Charlotte's train station to ever be more than a bus stop until four things happen:

1. Nationally, interstate passenger service gets back on its feet again after neglect since the 1930s. This means a huge investment in infrastructure that will never happen under Republicans. That said, the Interstate Highway System was born under Dwight David Eisenhower, a Republican president, so I could be wrong.

2. People start comparing the train station to Union Station in Los Angeles, Union Station in DC, Union Station in Chicago, Grand Central Terminal in the Big Apple, Penn Station in the Big Apple (why does New York always get more than one of anything?), King's Cross Station in London, Berlin's Hauptbahnhof, Nordpark Cable Railway in Innsbruck Austria, Kanazawa Station in Ishikawa Prefecture Japan, and Southern Cross Station in Melbourne Australia. I do not care for the look of Saint Pancras Station in London but Paul Day's statue of a couple is striking. [John Betjeman's statue of a windblown passenger in St. Pancras reminds me of Queen Charlotte in front of Charlotte airport. Queen Charlotte in my opinion is the better of the two metal sculptures. Or at least more dramatic.]

3. People start talking about high-speed rail coming to Charlotte, Acela, China's maglev (a technology they got from the USA), Japan's bullet trains and France's TGV.

4. A cost-no-object trust fund consisting of one anonymous donation to get the ball rolling, private money, foundation grants, city tax on use of the station by passengers, money partially diverted from Lynx, municipal bond, county money (to be had if the county can see the benefit), state money (the state of North Carolina owns a rail corridor extending from Morehead City to Charlotte), regional money (through deals with the state of South Carolina, a long shot but possible), Amtrak funds, federal money earmarked for infrastructure, corporate money (concessions and suppliers), and sale of naming rights a la stadiums and arenas. I personally think naming rights is inconsiderate of citizen loyalty and therefore a bad idea but if this is a get-money-however-you-can sort of battle, then you cannot be choosy. I probably have overlooked some obvious sources of funding for the trust fund but hey no one is paying me a consulting fee so screw it.

As for the Lynx lobby screaming bloody murder over even the thought of diverting money from them when they are hard-pressed for expansion funds as it is, here is my solution: It is politically do-able if the Lynx lobby can be convinced of how it will benefit Lynx. For example, integrating it into a total system whereby the train station is a source of incoming passengers (arrivals) for Lynx and a source of outgoing passengers (departures). After all, passengers need to get to the train station before they can use it and what better way than riding Lynx to the station?

Charlotte and growth

The locals in towns like Huntersville, Mint Hill, Matthews, and Pineville might be horrified at the prospect of being annexed by Charlotte. Population aside, for Charlotte to be the physical size of Jacksonville Florida, Oklahoma City or Houston, it would have to grow across county lines and even across state lines to annex Fort Mill, Tega Cay and Rock Hill. As far as I know, no city has ever successfully annexed across state lines, county line yes, stateline no. That is why we have a Kansas City Missouri and a Kansas City Kansas as separate entities. Now having told you that Charlotte is both small in population and small in acreage, consider this. New York City is 302.6 square miles in land area. Charlotte is 297.7 square miles in land area. They are almost the same in size! Now the other shoe drops. The difference is that the Big Apple has water area that increases its size to 468.5 square miles while the Queen City's total area including water surface is 299.7 square miles. I am not making a case for annexation or growth. I hate suburban sprawl. I am merely pointing out that New York has navigable rivers that are fairly clean of pollution (not counting all the mob victims tossed in with cement overshoes or the guns involved in crimes) and is a major seaport. Charlotte would have to dredge rivers to make them navigable and build locks and canals. Do-able but I do not see the political will in South Carolina (which is down river) nor the funding unless there is some sort of Carolina Compact.

"I'm pretty sure Charlotte looked at ATL and mimicked some of their moves and when people talk about Charlotte and growth they don't reference Raleigh or Columbia... They look to ATL and they are wise to do so given the growth patterns, new energy and airport hub." -- quote from Feltdesigner

Atlanta as a model for growth? Atlanta is practically the northern half of the state of Georgia. That's not a city. That's a tumour that has metastasized. Yes I know that there is this 14-county plan but unless they plan to remove the toxic Superfund sites (and not put cancer cluster neighbourhoods on top of them) and restrict growth to already urbanized land, what will result is doubling population to four million in the metro area and loss of more trees. If the fate of the natural woodlands is clear-cutting like in the Amazon, then save time and nuke the area. Don't stretch out the agony. Any city can sprawl. It has been done. And it is just more damage to the environment.

But if someone were smart enough to look at my lenses on Urban Agriculture and De-constructing Destruction, you just might have a livable future and maybe other cities would follow Charlotte's lead instead of Charlotte repeating _ALL_ the mistakes of urban planners elsewhere.


photo credit: Vote David Howard

editor's note -- you might find the Vimeo video interview about regional planning interesting

Charlotte's vision for the future

Charlotte does not really convey what it wants to be other than have a healthy economy. Big deal. Every city wants that. So what. Does Charlotte want to be Atlanta? Most Charlotteans would probably say no. So that probably rules out being New York South despite the huge population of expatriate New Yorkers. Or does it? It is unlikely Charlotte -- in the Bible Belt -- will have any interest in population control or even understanding of the concept of NPG (negative population growth) or sustainability -- a charge that could be leveled at nearly every city. So success at population control is unlikely. It is only a matter of time until Charlotte is as densely populated as Manhattan but Charlotte is not hemmed in by water on islands the way geography has forced New York to build taller -- until terrorism slowed down that architectural tendency to scrape the sky. Does Charlotte want to be a research city or a Silicon Valley city like San Jose? Charlotte has little in the way of research infrastructure. Most large cities and small towns have a clear idea of what they want. Beverly Hills wants to be exclusive so it has resisted annexation by the city of Los Angeles that completely surrounds it. Carmel-by-the-Sea, California wants to be a small art colony. Boston wants to be a snob and to finance high tech companies. And they succeed. As a national capital, Washington is a town of temporaries, tourist visitors and nomadic itinerants who care nothing about the permanent residents who are mostly black. DC will never solve its identity problem because it is a political football of the duopoly parties. Houston and Phoenix are basically real estate developments. Nashville is a music capital. Los Angeles, like New York City, looks down its nose at the rest of America -- literally as well as figuratively when bicoastals look out the plane window at "flyover country". Being a media capital makes them arrogant and has led to local filmmakers avoiding LA and NYC as much as possible. It would take an encyclopedia to look at the self-identities of foreign cities. But I repeat the question: What does Charlotte want to be? Civic boosters want Charlotte to be "world-class" but seem unwilling to define that or to do what is necessary to achieve that status.

Charlotte's vision for the future

"Charlotte's Future Technologies" is a tricky hyperlink to reach a PDF so if my hyperlink won't work, then type "Charlotte's Future Technologies" into Yahoo and it is likely to be the only thing that pops up.

Bill Lee and Billy interchange

One of the few times when The Parking Lot is moving. In other words, not at one of the rush hours.



The Beltway - four bridges seems overkill

The loop is not to be confused with the beltway I-485 which radio and TV people insist on calling "forty-five".


As for highways, the same shortsightedness as with rail grade crossings applies. Coming from South Carolina, the number of lanes on Interstate 77 actually shrinks instead of increasing. I am told that when they last worked on I-77 in Charlotte that they could have added one or two more northbound lanes and one or two more southbound lanes. Obviously budgeted money was an issue and property owners on either side probably pushed back but I think that there was a lack of political will to do what should have been done. Hence, I-77 is known as The Parking Lot. Design plays a part as traffic slows on curves. And design plays a part as exit on-ramps and off-ramps slow down the highway.

For perspective, here are some world records that Charlotte would not want to imitate. The 2002 edition of the Guinness World Records book cites The Orange Crush Interchange in Orange, California as the most complex road interchange in the world with thirty-four routes passing through the interchange. This interchange has to handle close nearby Disneyland, outlet stores, several hospitals, and two stadiums. Oddly, Wikipedia does not include The Orange Crush with other spaghetti bowls and mixmasters -- as superhighway and freeway junctions are sometimes called. As far as stack interchanges go, Texas takes top honors with five-level stacks. Five-level stacks outside Texas include: The Big I in Albuquerque, New Mexico; the Judge Harry Pregerson Interchange in Los Angeles; and the Tom Moreland Interchange in DeKalb County, Georgia. Boston has the right idea with freeways (put these land gobbling monsters underground) but the wrong management that led to massive cost overruns. I have been on the top level of an interchange in Houston and it was memorable. In traffic jams, you do not care to be stuck if you are in a hurry but you can turn off your engine to save juice if you drive an electric or save gas and you can look around three hundred sixty degrees at the view if you are on the top stack. When traffic is moving, forget about sightseeing or you might go over the guard rail. I would not care to be up there during a windstorm or an ice storm because cars can be swept over the side even when the driver is careful. The top stack over the junction of I-485 and I-77 in Charlotte offers for passengers (not drivers) a view of the skyscrapers and Carowinds and perhaps a glimpse of the water tower painted like a baseball.

near Douglas Charlotte - Or whatever they call that airport of theirs.

According to the sign, it is in Greensboro.

Who is Charlotte Douglas? - -

photo credit: Bocanegra.carlos

The answer to the first question is that locals cannot bring themselves to call their airport by its proper name of Douglas International since Charlotteans have an inferiority complex when comparing this little airport with the big four airports serving the Big Apple: LaGuardia, JFK, Newark Liberty, and MacArthur (Islip, Long Island). Stewart International is sixteen miles farther from New York City than MacArthur.


With the change in airport commissioner, Charlotte has discovered that the state has more power over its primary airport than they realized. People in surrounding rural areas have probably always hated the noise underneath glide paths but could never get a word in until now. With the counties surrounding Mecklenburg County (half of which is Charlotte) now given a voice in the airport and the state capital weighing in on the matter of the airport authority, one can fairly ask if Charlotte will evolve toward a model like New York City with four named airports -- two of which are known around the world through popular culture and the entertainment media. I don't expect that to happen to the airports in the Charlotte metropolitan area but these airports for anyone who cares to know are :

Concord Regional, McCachren Field (Harrisburg), Gastonia Municipal, Bryant Field (Rock Hill), York Airport, Sloop Airport (Rockwell), and Laneys Airport (Maiden). China Grove has Ervin Airfield and Broadway Airfield. Kannapolis has Enochville Airport and Goodnight's Airport. Monroe has Charlotte-Monroe Executive, McGee Field, Edwards Airport, and Arant Airport. Mooresville has Lake Norman Airport and Johnston Airport. Mount Pleasant has West Airport and Willow Creek Airport. Waxhaw has Hawk's Knoll, Aero Plantation, and Hawks Meadow Airport. Please note that I have not seen any of these airports except Charlotte Airport and most may be abandoned or decommissioned. But when the Airport Authority closes Douglas or decides that Charlotte is throwing away money lost to Columbia the Triad and Greenville-Spartanburg over steep ticket prices, it may then decide that Douglas needs nearby competitition both to drive down prices and to attract more air traffic from other major cities in the Carolinas -- along the New York Port Authority model. When this decision is made, the authority might dust off one of these abandoned airstrips for the plentiful land with few neighbors that Douglas lacks. Please note that Bryant Field and York are across the state line in South Carolina. And please note that besides Concord Regional, the city of Concord also has Buffalo Creek Airport, Spencer Airport, and Chalfant Airport. This means that Concord is in for the same shocks that Douglas is about to receive. Or similar adjustments.

they do it to themselves - either call it Charlotte airport or Douglas International

not both (sounds indecisive)

photo credit: Xnatedawgx


Just as people are dropping the "North Carolina" or the NC when they refer to Charlotte, people may next start calling the airport "Douglas International". However, a fair bet is that "Charlotte Airport" will be used a lot until the name Douglas International starts to stick.

That is the name. Douglas' problems are far from over with getting rid of that stupid Douglas-Charlotte, Charlotte slash Douglas nonsense. The airport is noisy but that is a problem endemic to lack of noise abatement equipment on older airliners. The airport is hemmed in on all sides but eminent domain can take care of that. The real problem is that the airport is forgettable. Let me illustrate. Kansai International Airport of Osaka, Japan is a man-made island which trumps Hong Kong International's reclaiming land from the sea to merge two tiny natural islands. Kansai also trumps Macau International which has a runway on a man-made island whereas the entire airport is on a man-made island in the case of Kansai. Don Mueang International Airport of Bangkok, Thailand has a golf course between two runways -- which trumps Hong Kong's golf course which is nearby within walking distance but not between runways. Svalbard Airport is the northernmost airport for regular passengers and has melting permafrost under the runways. Antarctica tops this as it uses ice for runways (planes use skis). Barra Airport on that island off the west coast of Scotland uses a sandy beach as a runway. King Fahd International Airport of Dammam, Saudi Arabia is the largest airport in the world in terms of acreage measured in three hundred square miles -- bigger than many nations. It has a terminal that serves just the royal family. Denver International is the largest airport in North America (bigger than DFW?) and therefore its construction gobbled up acreage better used for wildlife and trees. I make no apology for my pro-environmental views [See: Guide to Deconstructing Destruction for a better airport design. Just scroll down until you find it.]. On the compliment side, Denver International has its own conspiracy theories (I know of no other airport that can top this) and it has a solar farm that almost makes up for the acreage gobbling. LAX has the futuristic theme building known the world over from being seen in so many movies and television programs. Heathrow is famous for being famous and for being in the top five busiest airports in the world. Kuala Lumpur International has a rain forest. The cleanest airport in the world? As far as washrooms (restrooms) goes, studies show this to be a toss-up between Kansai International of Osaka (you expect the Japanese to be clean) and Beijing Capital International Airport. For overall cleanliness, Changi International of Singapore (one imagines the death penalty for littering or spitting) and Incheon International of Seoul are at the top. Inchon additionally has a cultural museum on the premises. So what is memorable about the airport in Charlotte?

The Main Atrium

photo credit: MaverickHunter40245


There are still more problems. I know of people who are headed for Charlotte but land at Smith-Reynolds (Winston-Salem), Piedmont Triad (High Point), Greenville-Spartanburg or Columbia Metropolitan. This is because of lower ticket price, lower parking fees, less hassle, and some people simply hate Charlotte airport because of other factors.

To add another layer of complexity, within a thirty mile radius of Charlotte are about thirty small airports for Cessnas and Learjets and such. Thirty within thirty. Remember that catchphrase because it does not take a rocket scientist to realize that with the new Airport Authority charged with air traffic using one of the busiest airports in the USA and with Charlotte's ambition to be . . . it still does not know what; this is a recipe for closing some airports and greatly expanding others. Mark my word. Concord Regional is going to rival Charlotte Airport because air travelers will realize that it is less than twenty-nine kilometers from Charlotte. By comparison, Stewart International is ninety-seven kilometers (60 miles) from New York but serves it as part of the Port Authority of New York. Stewart has Delta Connection, JetBlue and US AIrways Express and seasonally flies direct to Cancún. In other wotds, little airports are breathing down Charlotte Airport's neck. In New York City, Flushing was put out of business by LaGuardia -- only one mile away. What killed Flushing? A fatal crash. Neighborhoods beware. On the other hand, when for safety they put an airport further out from the city that they serve, invariably this means rapid transit. This could be good news for Lynx.

Another problem of Douglas is that it is dominated by one airline. How healthy can that be? Charlotte will get another major airport. Perhaps one airport will concentrate on national and southeast traffic and the other airport will concentrate on international flights. Mark my word.

Former Mayor Anthony Foxx

photo credit: Bz3rk


William F. Davidson (1850-1857)

David Parks (1857-1859)

Jennings B. Kerr (1859-1861)

William A. Owens (1861-1862)

Robert F. Davidson (1862-1863)

Samuel A. Harris (1864-1865)

H.M. Pritchard (1865-1866)

Samuel A. Harris (1866-1867)

F.W. Ahrens (1867-1868)

H.M. Pritchard (1868-1869)

Clement Dowd (1869-1871) (Democrat)

John A. Young (1871-1873)

William F. Davidson (1873-1875)

William Johnston (1875-1878)

B.R. Smith (1878-1879)

Frank I. Osborne (1879-1880) (Democrat)

F.S. DeWolfe (1880-1883)

W.C. Maxwell (1883-1884

William Johnston (1884-1887)

F.B. McDowell (1887-1891)

R.J. Brevard (1891-1895)

J.H. Weddington (1895-1897)

E.B. Spring (1897-1899)

J.D. McCall (1899-1901)

Peter Marshall Brown (1901-1905)

S.S. McNinch (1905-1907)

T.S. Franklin (1907-1909)

T.W. Hawkins (1909-1911)

Charles A. Bland (1911-1915)

T.L. Kirkpatrick (1915-1917)

Frank R. McNinch (1917-1920)

John M. Wilson (1920-1921)

James O. Walker (1921-1924)

Harvey W. Moore (1924-1926)

David M. Abernathy (1926-1927)

F. Marion Redd (1927-1929)

George E. Wilson, Jr. (1929-1931)

Charles E. Lambeth (1931-1933)

Arthur E. Wearn (1933-1935)

Ben Elbert Douglas, Sr. (1935-1941) (Democrat)

E. McA. Currie (1941-1943)

H.H. Baxter (1943-1949)

Victor Shaw (1949-1953)

Philip Van Every (1953-1957)

James Saxon Smith (1957-1961)

Stanford R. Brookshire (1961-1969)

John M. Belk (1969-1977) (Democrat)

Kenneth R. Harris (1977-1979) (Republican)

H. Edward Knox (1979-1983) (Democrat)

Harvey Gantt (1983-1987) (Democrat)

Sue Myrick (1987-1991) (Republican)

Richard Vinroot (1991-1995) (Republican)

Pat McCrory (1995-2009) (Republican)

Anthony Foxx (2009-2013) (Democratic)

??? (2013-- ) (?)

Now you know how certain streets and places got their name.


Hizzoner Anthony Foxx. He has degrees in history and law.

It Is Big News in This Gas Guzzling City When Someone Recharges Their Car

Why can't NASCAR race electric cars? - Answer: They are a subsidiary of the oil industry.

fine print: That's me being snarky because America is addicted to oil. Besides, one would think Duke Energy, Progress and the other electric power utilities headquartered here would be pushing electric cars and making a ton of money but that makes too much sense as Tavis Smiley might say.

City of Trees

On September 22, 1989, Charlotte sustained winds of 69 mph and gusts of 87 mph from hurricane Hugo. There is no clarity on loss of human life in Charlotte directly caused by Hugo. Most loss of life from Hugo occurred in the Caribbean not the mainland. Property damage in the US and Puerto Rico was about seven billion dollars.

In Charlotte, property damage was massive -- including the destruction of 80,000 trees -- and knocked out electrical power to most of the population. Residents were without power for weeks and cleanup took months. The city was caught unprepared because Charlotte is 200 miles inland, and residents from coastal areas in both Carolinas often wait out hurricanes in Charlotte. Until Hugo, hurricanes had never been a problem far inland. Hurricanes are supposed to weaken over land. Hugo apparently did not know that and released its accumulated power on Charlotte before drifting northward on its storm track.

In December 2002, Charlotte and central North Carolina were hit by an ice storm (that some christened "Hugo on Ice") which resulted in more than one million people losing power. During an abnormally cold December, many were without power for weeks. Again, trees took the brunt of the storm with Bradford pear trees more affected than many other species. They split under the weight of the ice.

To understand what loss of trees means to a home owner in Charlotte, you have to realize that they have a Southerner's love for old things that big business people (often from other places) frequently lack. An owner of an old house or an old mansion in Charlotte can fix a roof with no problem but a centuries-old tree cannot be replaced. Moreover, some trees are historic liberty trees. Some are famous for other reasons. Some are rare species not found outside the Carolinas. Some are scenic such as oaks. Most add to property value.

It is common practice among "developers" to clear cut and bulldoze flat new subdivisions. This results in a heat island and it takes decades for trees to grow back and provide arboreal cover to keep heating and cooling bills low.

Some trees have personal meaning as the places where families found shade during the summer, held parties, saw the baby take their first steps, officiated outdoor weddings, and formed other memories. Charlotteans can be seen as the original tree huggers. And Billy Graham would point out the Biblical references.

Coming from a treeless place like the Great American Desert, a traveler looks out the window during a daytime flight and indeed Charlotte is very green. But as suburban sprawl scrapes away the old-growth forest and virgin forests surrounding Charlotte, all this will be lost. The future is either green skyscrapers or more destruction. And by green skyscrapers, I am not talking about mere LEED certification. [I refer you to the green skyscraper section of my lens Guide to Urban Agriculture.] Charlotte has environmentalists but not nearly enough for a City of Trees. The Museum of Life and Environment is a case study of how developers win and the ecology loses. Or as Gary Williams said: "the people, not the building,"

What is Charlotte's future? Paving over paradise to put up a parking garage? Or putting more clutter underground as other cities have learned to do?

"They paved paradise / And put up a parking lot" -- Joni Mitchell


In addition to the trees mentioned above, other trees of note impacted by hurricane Hugo include:

1. Native American Indian trail trees -- there is a national database for these

2. witness trees

3. National Register of Big Trees, American Forestry Association

4. oldest trees -- these are generally found in stands of old growth forest and virgin forest but isolated specimens may exist elsewhere

5. liberty trees -- places where Revolutionary War patriots plotted against the Crown or Continental Army soldiers mustered

6. lynching trees -- very endangered due to latter day shame but they are of historic importance and need to be protected (but never again used for murder)

7. other trees of emotional value -- where couples met or trees with a reputation for romance, trysting place for example

8. notable trees on the Underground Railroad

9. species going extinct -- certain species of native pine for example

10. trees planted by historical figures -- sometimes for commemorative purposes

Forgive me. I am sure that I have overlooked trees that have importance other than for the above reasons.

It should not be thought that all Charlotteans are enlightened about trees. There is no arboretum in "The Arboretum" area which includes the newly clear cut and bulldozed subdivisions of Providence Plantation, Hembstead, Beverly Crest, Raintree, Candlewyck and Piper Glen. Southern developers often call a new "development" a "plantation" when there may not ever have been an antebellum plantation on the site. The trees are often scraped away to make way for golf courses such as the Raintree Country Club and Cedarwood Country Club. Golf courses have a bad odor with environmentalists not only because they destroy habitats of native flora but because the turf is sometimes dosed with toxic compounds in fertilizer and pesticides including mercury, lead, and chromium.



photo credit: AlexiusHoratius

WBT broadcast tower after Hugo

Old Charlotte - Is there any of that left?

The city was founded in 1762, the year after its namesake, Princess Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz, became queen consort of George III. The oldest house in Charlotte that I have found (so far) was built circa 1792. As you might guess it is an antebellum plantation, before the Civil War but post-Revolutionary War.

The oldest Native American family in the area is not known (at present) but that would be in the thousands of years if it were traced. There are still Catawba Indians in South Carolina and Cherokee Indians in North Carolina. I do not know of any other notable tribes in the Charlotte metro yet.

[Editor's note: If I am able to document the oldest African-American family in the Charlotte metro, then I will add it in a future update of this lens.]

The oldest family of European descent is the Spratt family that settled near what is now the Elizabeth neighborhood. A daughter of patriarch Thomas Spratt, Susannah Spratt, married a man named Thomas Polk.

The original home of the couple was built by the intersection of two Native American trading paths: One path ran north-south and was part of the Great Wagon Road and became today's Tryon Street. The other path ran east-west along what is now Trade Street. Within decades of Polk's settling, the area grew to become "Charlotte Town"and was incorporated in 1768.

In 1775, Polk called the meeting which adopted the Mecklenburg Declaration of Independence, which he read from the courthouse steps. Some claim this as the pattern for the Declaration of Independence of the Continental Congress. Polk served with distinction in the Revolutionary War, After the war, it was natural for The Polks to capitalize on their location at the crossroads of Charlotte and the family became wealthy. Thomas and Susannah Polk are buried together in old Settlers Cemetery in uptown Charlotte, surrounded by their children and grandchildren.

The grandnephew of Polk was US President James K. Polk whose homestead is preserved in the town of Pineville in Mecklenburg county. The original crossroads became the center of Charlotte.

In a future update, I hope to add Old Charlotte City Hall and information about the original Courthouse.

White Oak Plantation

older than Latta

The City of Aspirations

Now that the city has a major "get" under its belt, civic boosters are thinking about the next big thing. The Republican National Convention in four years? The Super Bowl? The Summer Olympics? The Winter Olympics? First contact with an extraterrestrial civilization?

Okay, let's field these one by one.

RNC. Do-able.

The Super Bowl. Charlotte has already filed an application to host with the NFL commission.

The Summer Olympics. A really stupid idea. Here is why. Sarajevo was shredded by war and genocide mere years after the Olympics. I am not positing cause and effect but hey, read on. Most host cities fade back into obscurity or suffer bankruptcy in the aftermath of being loaded down by debt. The Athens Games are blamed for bringing down all of Greece. Face it. Charlotte only wants the Olympics because Atlanta had them. And Atlanta had a terrorist incident and people coming from other places laughed at the whole pickup truck, guns and beer theme of the opening and closing ceremonies. A terrible oversimplification but there you have it. When will Charlotte stop measuring itself against Atlanta? Atlanta metro is spread out over 45 counties. That is not a city. That is a contagious disease. New York builds up. Houston spreads out (like Jacksonville, Oklahoma City and Phoenix). Going up and going out has been done. How about underground? Montreal, SubTropolis/Kansas City, and Crystal City, Virginia are some examples. The U.S. National Whitewater Center in Charlotte was built partly to further the Olympic ambitions of Charlotte. Go ahead. Waste your money. It is still a stupid idea. And I can imagine the NASCAR, moonshine and murder capital theme for the opening and closing ceremonies.

The Winter Olympics. Climate change. That said, if we get global cooling after global warming like in that movie The Day After Tomorrow, then hosting The Winter Olympics could help the economy. Not that people undergoing an ice age will necessarily enjoy winter sports. But Charlotte is within range of Mount Mitchell.

First Contact. I was just joking. New York City as the hometown of the United Nations will probably get this one. Besides, Charlotte is populated by very conventional (no pun intended) people who do not think outside the box. The very architecture of the town is proof. The only interesting building is the one that looks like a Rubik's cube. You want to go to a city whose building code encourages innovation and whose architects win a lot of AIA awards like Dubai, Boston and Mexico City.

Sports and politics. Is that all a city aspires to? That is the very definition of lack of imagination. When I think of great cities, sports and politics are not even on the list of criteria. All politics does is either enable or interfere with the real life of a city. Corrupt politics can kill a city.

Green Bay has a great team but they will never host the Super Bowl because Lambeau Field has no roof and the sissies in the NFL would never hold a Super Bowl in the bitter cold. If it gets cold in Charlotte, that city could be ruled out. So the event goes to indoor stadiums and deep south locations safe from blizzards.

Sports is nothing distinctive. If you have seen one team, then you have seen them all. When a team moves from one city to another, you learn the truth: it is about money. A team name and mascot is not even symbolic of one city and one city only. Baltimore Orioles not in Baltimore? Knickerbockers not in New York? Unthinkable. But fans go along with it. Sports is supposed to be all about vicarious victories that drain away testosterone (and perhaps estrogen too) away from war. But we still have wars. Greece, the birthplace of the Olympics, was conquered by the Roman Empire.

Why can't more cities be like Austin, El Paso, Louisville KY, Tucson, Albuquerque, and Portland OR?

The Election: Before and After - in other words, skip this section if you don't care for abrasive politics

I took swipes at the Democrats a few months back. Now it is the Republicans' turn to be run over.

The first four links are before, the last four links are after.


Charlotte has a fashion industry? - (next Charlotte will be claiming to have a stock exchange)

Sure, there are still a few textile mills and mill workers. But surely not haute couture and designers.

This must be a false alarm. Fashionistas take your meds.

Snarky joking aside, most of the local dressmakers are seamstresses for bridezillas but there are rumors of those with greater ambition.

editor's note -- You have to admire a town that takes body blows and criticism and keeps picking itself up. But a banking town with no stock exhange? Des Moines had a stock exchange for goodness sake.

Lauren Lee Smith wearing Ines Di Santo

photo credit: Jason Hargrove

editor's note -- I regret to say that the image was not taken in Charlotte. I don't live in Charlotte and so it is hard to get either info or images.

Interview with a Bampire

Interviewer: What was that British musical duo formed by George Michael and Andrew Ridgeley in the early 1980s?


What is that rotating thing in mechanics that is part of a shaft?


How do you stop floods, create reservoirs and generate hydroelectricity?


So you're knowledgeable about NASCAR and Duke Power. We'd better get back to food since you are a chef. Who do you call if millions are starving?


What do you serve at Easter?


What do you serve people on a budget?


What snack is appropriate in heavy traffic?


What's another word for sheep?


What's the male sheep called?


You're in the capital of the New South, Chef. You'd better learn to say yes sir and yes --


What's that stuff you're spraying on your skillet?


What's that vegetable confused with the sweet potato?


Who is your assistant here?


What kind of chowder is that?


How are you going to get all that stuffing into that turkey?


Please put down that gun --


Oh thank God. It's just a gag gun.


The "Emeril Empire" of media, products, and restaurants generates an estimated $150 million annually in revenues.

finally some good news, a Charlottean is NC Governor-Elect - Pat McCrory

photo credit: Vitocmarda

Charlotteans feel that the state capital routinely overlooks them when it comes to help, budget allocations, infrastructure, promotion and so forth.

Correction: now sworn in.

Correction to the correction: not necessarily good news for Charlotte.


Charlotte From A Tour Guide's Perspective Update Dec. 2012 (Part I Book 2)
Charlotte From A Tour Guide's Perspective Update Dec. 2012 (Part I Book 2)

There are 8 million tales in the naked city; this is one of the best and most historically accurate!

Editor's Note -- I have not seen any flashers or streakers or nudists in Charlotte so take the description with a grain of salt.

Charlotte Cooks Again
Charlotte Cooks Again

Cookbook from the Junior League of Charlotte, NC. 10/1982 3rd printing. Plastic comb spine with paperboard covers. 426 pages chock full of recipes from appetizers to desserts, and everything in-between! Yummy goodness from the finest cooks of Charlotte, North Carolina!



The Charlotte Cookbook
The Charlotte Cookbook

"Entertaining is made easy using these timeless recipes! Celebrating its 30th anniversary with over 100,000 copies in print, The Charlotte Cookbook presents over 800 triple-tested recipes, including a little-known recipe for Mrs. Stonewall Jackson."

Editor's Note -- I'd steer clear of that recipe for Mrs. Stonewall Jackson as it entails digging up a corpse and rendering it for human dried meat. Pepper and marinating in salt brine will not make it more palatable. On the other hand, you may be in hot water yourself for disturbing a grave. Bon Appétit for whoever munches on you. If you like rotten food, stick to kimchi.

Charlotte (Then and Now: North Carolina)
Charlotte (Then and Now: North Carolina)

Don Schick presents Charlotte, not as a town, nor a city, but as a function of time.

Charlotte Then and Now (Then & Now Thunder Bay)
Charlotte Then and Now (Then & Now Thunder Bay)

from this book -- Before the California Gold Rush, Charlotte was a major gold town and even had its own mint. The Charlotte Mint was active until Confederate soldiers seized it; today the U.S. Mint building is one of Charlotte's most popular museums.




What occupation in Charlotte has the greatest turnover or unemployment?

See results

Guestbook Comments

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    • hungry-deer profile image


      5 years ago

      Wonderful and extensive lens. Lot of interesting reading!

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      hahaha this lens is awesome. No in Charlotte, NC the "NC" should NOT be necessary!


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