Wednesday, March 19, 2014

The Truth About Charlotte

Charlotte, NC
{Image from here}

I don't know why I keep finding myself having to defend the honor of this place I call home.  I don't really even understand why so many people feel the need to talk negatively about a city.  I think it is because it has become an increasingly more noticed city in the country in recent years due to its presence as a large banking and financial district like NYC.  However, it makes me angry that people would try to put down a city that is trying to be built up.  I mean, you don't hear people talking about Atlanta this way even with Atlanta's more serious traffic and crime problems.  Since I found so much error in this silly Huff Post article, I thought I would just clear a few things up for everyone (or just the two or three who happen to read this blog): 

1.  Downtown is called Uptown. – Totally true!  We do call our “downtown” area uptown.  In our defense, our downtown area isn’t like most cities where it is run down and dirty.  Our uptown area is the true center of our city.  It is a really nice place to hang out with your friends or your family.  It still boasts the usual tall office buildings, but it has a ton of other fun things to do.  It has an NBA team arena, an NFL football stadium, and now our minor league baseball stadium all within walking distance of each other.  It has some great museums like The Mint Museum of Art, Nascar Hall of Fame, Levine Museum of the New South, Discovery Place (a children’s exploration museum), and many others.  It has lots of great restaurants, both local and chain establishments.  In short, uptown just seems to capture more of the feel for the center of our city. 

2.  No One is Actually from Charlotte.  – I really don’t think the writer of this post knows a whole lot about Charlotte and can’t figure out why he or she wrote the piece.  While Charlotte does have a lot of northern transplants (because it is a great city to move to), it also has a rich history that many of us “locals” are aware of.  Charlotte’s rich history dates back to the 1700’s when it was first chartered as a city although its history goes much farther back to the first European settlers.   The first Declaration of Independence from Britain was actually signed here because its people have a long history of standing up against tyranny.  The only reason Charlotte wasn’t chosen as our state capital was because it is not located in the center of the state.  Yes, that is the only reason.  Raleigh isn’t a very big city at all.  The fact that the writer of this article had the gall to say Charlotte lacks both character and culture just makes me angry because it is most definitely a lie!  Sounds like he needs to visit a few of the museums mentioned above.  

3.  Charlotte only has 3 celebrities? – Really?  Um, I’ve seen that many actual nationally known celebrities at my church (and no, it is not Elevation church, but I will leave that discussion for another time). 

4.  Everything is Oddly Evangelical – Well, we all know the South has a reputation of being a bit religious, don’t we?  Charlotte is no exception.  Billy Graham, the well-known evangelist, is headquartered here.  Elevation is a newer church phenomenon that I would rather not discuss.  I think religion is just another part of the “culture” that has shaped this great city.  As mentioned in the article, Charlotte is also “artsy” with its center of art and music being a little community just outside of “uptown” called NoDa (short for North Davidson). 

5.  Everyone Works for the Big 3 – Well, if you had a couple of big mega banks headquartered in your city, a lot of people would work for them too. Charlotte is actually the headquarters of 6 Fortune500 companies, including Bank of America, Lowe’s, and Duke Energy, making it 10th in the nation for number of Fortune 500 companies.  We also have several Fortune 500 companies that are headquartered here but don’t count in the ranking because they are incorporated outside the U.S., like Carolinas Healthcare System and Hendrick Automotive Group.  Of course, my husband and I don’t work for Fortune 500 companies, which is okay with us. 

6.  Buzz City Bobcats – I admit that our NBA team hasn’t had a great history, but we still show our support for them.  We are looking forward to brighter days ahead when we go back to being the Charlotte Hornets.  But yes, North Carolina does show a lot more interest in college basketball as a whole because we have such great college basketball history from both UNC and Duke.  Of course, I don’t see either of them winning the NCAA tournament later this month, but we will see.

7.  BofA is Trying to Tell You Something – Ha!  I have actually never seen the art this article described.  The Bank of America building is the tallest in the city and is always under visitor restrictions for security purposes so you don’t just walk into that building to browse.  I haven't stepped foot inside it in several years.  
8.  The Streets are Always Empty – Really?  When did you visit?  In the middle of the night on Christmas Eve when everyone was at home asleep?  Or maybe during one of our recent snow days?  Uptown Charlotte and other bustling areas of the city like Southpark, Dilworth, and Myers Park are very busy places although the surrounding “suburbs” are actually quite nice and quiet. 

9.  If You Ain’t First, You’re Last – While NASCAR does have a big history in the Charlotte area (the race mentioned is actually in neighboring Concord, NC), it definitely isn’t all or everything the city has to offer.  I am not a race fan and have never been to a race, and I don’t feel I am missing out on anything in this city. 

10.  Public Transportation is Hilarious – Our primary modes of public transit are the CATS bus system, a little trolley system called the Gold Rush (an allusion to Charlotte's history as having the first gold rush in the nation) that just goes around the uptown area, and a very new light rail train system called the Lynx.  Like most southern cities, most people in Charlotte still rely heavily on private automobiles although that has been changing in the last few years.  The light rail system is only in its first stage so it only goes one direction from the southern part of the city into uptown.  As the system grows and expands, it will most likely grow in popularity. 

11.  Rafting and Rapids? – Yes, I agree that it may be weird to have a place like the U.S. National Whitewater Center here, but we aren’t complaining.  People love it! 

12.  Graveyards are EVERYWHERE – I don’t actually notice a ton of graveyards in the city although I suspect that there are some very old ones attached to some of our city’s oldest churches.  This is a very old city with a very old heritage after all.  I think that is a good thing!

13.  BBQ is an Issue – While I think there are some good barbecue places in Charlotte, Charlotte is right that it doesn’t actually boast the exclusive right to call its barbecue the greatest.  Charlotte restaurants actually serve a variety of the types of barbecue that you can find in other parts of the state, i.e., eastern style chopped vinegar based (the best in my humble opinion), western style tomato based, and SC style mustard based.  However, after recently discovering the wonderful smoky flavor of the barbecue at Midwood Smokehouse in Plaza Midwood, I do have to say Charlotte is a contender! 

14.  Amelie’s > America – I’m not sure what that means, but the only time I have tried anything from Amelie’s French Bakery was at my nieces’ Paris themed birthday party.  The treats were pretty yummy. 

15.  Charlotte is Kind of Like Purgatory – I am of the really happy to have settled in the Charlotte area kind.  It has been such a great place for my family for the last 7 years.  I think this writer just means that when northerners and other transplants move here, they quickly become surprised at how much they actually like it.  I know that many of our pro sports players continue to call Charlotte home even after they retire or move to another team.  I also know some celebrities who love calling Charlotte home and appreciate it as an escape from some more dangerous and less family friendly places like Southern California.  Charlotte is not a kind of purgatory; it is a great place to call HOME!

16 comments:

  1. Thank you. Im from just south of there and every date night we park in Pineville and ride the light rail. There is always something to do or see. I love our little slice of the south.

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    1. Awe, you're welcome! I live close to Pineville too! :-)

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  2. I hated the Huffington Post article! Your represented Charlotte more accurately. I'm a transplant and I love living in Charlotte.

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    1. Thanks, Shelley! Welcome and glad you are happy here!

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  3. I think Charlotte sounds like a great city to live in. My older sister lives in Houton and most people she knows (including her) are transplants. I think that's rather common in big cities. I read the article too. It sounded to me like the writer was looking for things not to like. It just sounds petty when they complained that an area of town is called Uptown rather than Downtown. Now, I'm super curious about other styles of BBQ. I guess I've only had western style. =)

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    Replies
    1. Well, I suspect you've had a style of BBQ more commonly known to the southwestern U.S. which I also love. I believe they mostly use beef for BBQ (brisket). Our main meat choice is pork here although I live Texas style brisket. One of my favorite places is actually a chain place called Remington Grill, but we don't have one in Charlotte. :-)

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  4. I love this Sherry... although, I am not a fan of Charlotte....ONLY because I live in Smalltown USA , less than an hour from Charlotte. We do go there from time to time....but I am not a fan of traffic, nor crowds....lol!
    If you head our way...you won't have to worry about an article in Huff post, the author would never think of even driving through the Foothills of NC. :)

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  5. In more than 25 years of traveling across this country for a "certain" airline you might be familiar with(I was once based in Charlotte), I can honestly say that the most terrified I have ever been was in downtown(uptown) Charlotte. After 2 very scary forays out into the streets to go to a restaurant(one including being caught in the crossfire of a gunfight between two cop cars an another vehicle), I never left my hotel again when I laid over there. And I have done many crazy things in my younger days, like ride NYC subways at 4am before Giuliani cleaned up the town. I certainly hope it has improved!
    However, my major objection to Charlotte is the same one that compelled me to leave my hometown of Houston years ago. It just doesn't seem to have a soul. It's all freeways and mirror glass buildings. I HATE that. Atlanta is the same way. Not for me. If I lived in the Carolinas, it would definitely have to be Charleston. The city I chose to live in is Memphis. Run down. Dirty. Brimming with culture and character... "soul".

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  6. I would like to add though... before you consider me a terrible person... I really like the people from North Carolina that I met! Two nights in uptown notwithstanding.

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  7. Obviously, Clay, you are in a different "demographic" than I am. I am a thirty something wife, mother, and working professional. If you are looking for a dingy and dirty town to meet your definition of soul and culture, then Charlotte isn't the place for you. I don't know where you were hanging out, but "uptown" is a clean, trendy, artsy place and great place for a nice night out. Like any large cities, Charlotte has its rough areas, but it isn't in the center city area now! If you like dirty, Charleston may not be your cup of tea either unless you go to the "wrong side of the tracks" parts. Thanks for your input!

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  8. This is funny because I just had a conversation with a friend about how you can insult your own hometown but it is off limits for anybody else. I was saying some stuff about Tucson that was totally true, but that if anybody else said I would totally disagree with them. Ha ha!

    I found this to be really interesting for a number of reasons. And now I totally want BBQ- of any variety!

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  9. Thank you for taking time to write this. I moved from California 4 years ago, and I don't think I would go back.

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  10. Ugh! Welcome to the heat, the youth with a terrible sense of entitlement, and prejudices. Museums don't give your city culture... NASCAR does!

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  11. Way to represent, my family is native to Charlotte and proud of it! Every city and state has its issues, but we have so much to offer, plus you just have to be willing to venture out and try new things.

    Great article you wrote, thank you.

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  12. I read the original article and was completely unimpressed with it. We have Uptown Waterloo and no one thinks twice about it. Seriously, that's what she found to be irritated by?!?! I really liked hearing your take on the real Charlotte as opposed to what the author of the Huffington Post article thought.

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  13. I try not to watch the news too often, but when I do I don't know why they call someone getting gunned down in SouthWest Atlanta as "news." It is really just a weekly occurrence.

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