Apr 6, 2009

Charlotte, NC: The Queen City

Charlotte, NC, was named the Queen City in honor of the German Princess Charlotte of Mecklenburg, who had become queen consort of British King George III the year before the city's founding. According to Wikipedia, "A second nickname derives from later in the 18th century. During the American Revolutionary War, British commander General Cornwallis occupied the city but was driven out soon afterwards by hostile residents, prompting him to write that Charlotte was "a hornet's nest of rebellion," leading to another city nickname: The Hornet's Nest."

I recently took my friend, Heather, on a tour of Charlotte. First, we climbed atop Crowder's Mtn to get a birds-eye view of the city:

Then we drove down into the city, parked, and began our afternoon stroll. I parked in an expensive parking garage to save time, called Cousin David who works nearby, and headed off in the direction of Fuel Pizza, across from the Convention Center. Our hike made us hungry.

After a sweet lunch at Fuel's, David went home to the little woman while Heather & I walked 10 blocks around downtown Charlotte, the 20th largest city in the U.S. It has always bothered me that most of the skyscrapers in Charlotte look like they're still under construction. To me, the tops just look incomplete. Look at this picture and maybe you can see what I mean. Now, for your brief virtual tour of Charlotte:

This first skyscraper has the joy of being called 201 North Tryon. At 447 feet tall, it contains 30 floors and was completed in '97. There is a cute & adorable little birdhouse next to it that looks exactly like the skyrise. The top, as I said, looks incomplete, see?

There is a lot of public art around Charlotte's City Center and there are several museums and galleries in the area. I read about this art, below, but forgot everything. I think it symbolizes Charlotte's diversity or expansion or is maybe a map to the secret treasure.

That's probably a Bank of America building behind, but I'm not sure. Ever since 9/11, Charlotte's a bit touchy about people photographing their banks. David warned us we might be chased down and asked to delete our pictures.
I can't name this next building, but I like it, it's probably the Bank of America Plaza.

Next is the Bank of America World Headquarters, 871' tall, 60 floors, finished in '92. It was & hopefully still is the tallest building in the Carolinas, as well as the tallest building between Philadelphia & Atlanta. It's "crown" which I think gives it the "still under construction" look is made of 384 aluminum rods, each ranging from 12 - 62 feet in length and each weighing between 800 and 4,500 pounds.

This next high-rise, on the right, is One Wachovia Center, rising to 588', offering 42 floors. It was completed in '88 and was the tallest building until Bank America rose above. It suffered some damage when Hurricane Hugo marched through the Carolinas a few years ago. The elderly building to the left, poor thing, is probably either Two Wachovia or 400 South Tryon, both remnants from the '70s, yawn.

There is a lot of interesting architecture that I don't have pictured -- the newer Hearst Tower, Carillon Tower, the TradeMark, or the funky one simply called "Avenue" at N. Church and W. Fifth. There are a few construction projects that have been put on hold due to permit debates or building code disagreements. Then there are a few more projects moving right along, the city's noisy.

When we rounded back to College Street, we happened upon a construction accident in which a worker fell about 40', I think, and was impaled upon landing. He had survived the fall and was in critical condition the next morning. I can't find any more information about him, though. The buzz is that construction accidents are too frequent. A worker died in December and there were three other accidents recently prior to that one that did not result in death.
I paid my hefty parking fee and we headed out of town via the area where Queens meets Queens at Queens. Charlotte has a penchant for naming streets with identical names. I think at some point we were on Providence and then crossed Providence. The old, restored houses in the Myers Park area are fantastic. But that's not why we were there. We were lost. I phoned mom & dad for directions just as I passed a Starbucks. I screeched into the left lane, cutting off a drycleaner dude, Uturned through a parking lot and went the wrong way through a one-way Starbucks parking lot. But..... we got the beverage. A great way to end a great afternoon.

a one-way Starbucks parking lot? What's up with that?


Heather Francis said...

love your starbucks paragraph! haha

Poof said...

I'm just glad you have nerves of steel. It was so good to see you!

Anonymous said...

Great report on our fair city Val, well 'cept the part about the guy being impaled, I don't know what happened to him either and I live here.

Cousin David's little woman! said...

You crack me up--"the little woman"--glad I'm not the "BIG Woman!!" ha ha!!!

Jay said...

If you want more accurate details on your next visit, you should take Charlotte's Longest-Running(tm) Daily City Tour http://www.queencitytours.com/DailyCityTour.htm. You won't get lost at Queens and Queens either!

Poof said...

Jay - "more accurate details?" Which details were inaccurate? Maybe my tallest building scenario is outdated?
Thanks for the link to your site, that'll help future travelers to your fine city.