Have you ever wondered why Charlotte is unique in referring to their downtown as ‘Uptown’, or how it earned its nickname as the Queen City? Charlotte is a modern concrete jungle that’s characterized by its charm, culture and deeply rooted historical beginnings. Uncover why living in Charlotte is an unparalleled experience.
The city of Charlotte is older than the United States itself. In 1768, King George III ruled the thirteen colonies and sent settlers to charter the land. The region was named after the King’s wife, Queen Charlotte, the very same year and was then officially incorporated. In addition, the neighboring county of Mecklenburg was named after the Queen’s birthplace in Germany.
However, the establishment of the new settlement didn’t go as smoothly as Charlotteans might think. The Queen City is said to be the first region to express dissatisfaction with Great Britain and requested their independence in May 1775, over a year before the signing of the Declaration of Independence. Even with a rocky beginning, city dwellers still celebrate ‘Meck Dec Day’ every year on May 20.
When looking at a map of Charlotte, you can’t help but notice the inclusion of deeply-rooted historical origins, with Tyron Street as the reason behind Charlotte’s ‘Uptown’ city center. For those avid history buffs, you’ll know that William Tyron was the name of North Carolina’s colonial governor, giving inspiration for the name. Whether you’re heading into the city from the north or the south side, you’re slowly moving upward, given that this historic sector sits at a higher elevation than the rest of the city.
Charlotte’s continuously expanding their public transit system to help Charlotteans navigate the city. The Charlotte Area Transit System, otherwise known as CATS, hopes to connect its light-rail Lynx line to all major areas of the city by 2030, which will provide easy access to the airport. Luckily for Charlotte residents, the area is home to the Charlotte Douglas International Airport which is the second largest airport on the East Coast and the largest American Airline hub in the country, creating easy access to domestic and international flights.
After the American Revolution took place, an unexpected happenstance put Charlotte on the map as the home of America’s first gold rush. The event took place in 1799 when a young boy named Conrad Reed picked up a 17-pound rock that shimmered in the water out of a creek on his family’s property. Unbenounsted to the Reed family, they used this rock as a door stopper, until a merchant recognized that it was in fact much more than an average stone from the creek. The merchant purchased it from the family for $3.50 and propelled North Carolina into the epicenter of the first American gold rush. By 1820, almost 100 gold mines were operational in a 20-mile area around Charlotte, and by 1836, a branch of the U.S. Mint opened in the town. Up until the beginning of the Civil War in 1860, it was the Charlotte mint location that produced the majority of gold coins for the government.
Charlotte’s historical beginnings are still rooted in money today, however, banking has become their new endeavour. The city’s reputation as a financial hub began in the early 1980’s when a banker named Hugh McColl figured out how he could purchase a small out-of-state bank as part of a plan to consolidate a series of Southern banks into a single institution. McColl’s innovation subsequently sparked an overhaul of banking laws nationwide, and a few years later in 1998, McColl purchased the then San Francisco-based bank of America, moving its headquarters to the Queen City and effectively securing Charlotte’s place as a banking hub.
Charlotte’s also earned the title of The Hornet’s Nest, which came near the end of the American Revolution when British General Cornwallis tried to take the town, but was instead met with angry locals who fought back and forced the general’s retreat. Soon after, Cornwallis described his experience in Charlotte as being met with “a hornet’s nest of rebellion.” Locals loved it, embracing it as a civic symbol that has since influenced everything from police officer uniforms to the name of the local NBA team.
The city’s captivating energy is still present to this day even though you’ll most likely only hear Charlotteans screaming when they’re attending their favorite sporting match. The city is home to a host of sports teams, and in the Queen City, NASCAR is something to be reckoned with. The Charlotte Motor Speedway holds three of racing’s biggest events — including the Coca-Cola 600, Bank of America 500 and NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race — which is no surprise, given that approximately 75% of all NASCAR teams in the world are headquartered in and around the Charlotte area. Sports enthusiasts also have their choice of teams to cheer for, with the Carolina Panthers, Charlotte Hornets and Charlotte Knights all calling the city home.
Images courtesy of: Carissa Rogers (First Banner); Aaron Burden (Local Pride & Southern Charm); Anna Gru (Making Your Way Uptown); Sharon McCutcheon (Charlotte’s Golden Moments); Charlotte Sports (A Dedication to Local Teams).