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Please wear a mask, limit any non-essential activities and refrain from gathering with anyone outside of your household. Its roots run deep in the Old South, way back before the American Revolution. As the New South dawned after the Civil War, Charlotte took off—first as a railroad junction and then as a cotton mill hub.
Newcomers roll in daily from across the United States and around the globe. Charlotte is a place that asks you to dig in, to find connections and to make history here yourself. Charlotte calls itself the Queen City. But why? The nickname offers a hint that this community is older than the U. Interestingly enough, Tryon Street does not align to the compass, as in many Colonial towns. Instead, it runs along a low ridgeline with a diagonal slant.
Independence Square got its name during the American Revolution. In May ofmore than a year before Patriot leaders ed the Declaration of Independence, Charlotte made its own statement of defiance against Britain. Tradition holds that there was even a full-blown Mecklenburg Declaration of Independence created on May 20, However, no copies exist, and the document never appeared in any Colonial newspapers or other records.
In Junea local tavern-keeper named James Jack served as a messenger carrying important papers to the Continental Congress in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Local sharpshooters peppered his men mercilessly in the Battle of Charlotte and the Battle of Kings Mountain nearby.
After the Revolution, a totally unexpected event put Charlotte on the money map. Ina boy named Conrad Reed, playing in a creek 25 miles east of the city, picked up a pound rock that glittered. It was the first piece of gold ever discovered in North America. Inwith the intention of opening an art museum, a group of citizens purchased a building that had served as the original branch of the U. It had been constructed in Uptown to handle gold ore. During the Civil War, the Mint had been converted into a Confederate and headquarters and hospital. Today, the museum, which remains in the same spot, is known simply as the Mint Museum.
Meanwhile, old mine shafts still lurk beneath Uptown. Inlocal investors in Charlotte and upstate South Carolina succeeded at completing the first rail line to enter the heart of the Carolinas. It connected Charlotte with Columbia, South Carolina, where existing tracks transported goods to the port of Charleston, South Carolina. The North Carolina state legislature immediately authorized construction of a second line to link Charlotte with Raleigh, North Carolina.
That railroad crossro made tiny Charlotte a hot spot in the Civil War from to The Confederates manufactured cannon and ironwork for their ships here, and when Richmond, Virginia, fell in the last days of battle, Confederate President Jefferson Davis fled south along the rail lines, holding a final full meeting of his cabinet in a house on Tryon Street. Though the hardships of war touched most families, Charlotte came out of the Civil War stronger than ever. Troops had cut the railroad to Columbia, but it was quickly restored. African Americans, who comprised 40 percent of Mecklenburg population, were now free.
Leaders in Charlotte and across the post-war South talked avidly of creating a New South. The region would no longer rely on slavery and farming; like the North, it would embrace factories and urbanization.
That New South spirit of reinvention still defines Charlotte. Local promoters began building textile factories, starting with the Charlotte Cotton Mill that still stands at Graham and 5th streets. Charlotte blossomed as the trading city for the region.
Or look further to the now-suburban towns of Pineville, Cornelius, Kannapolis, Belmont, Mount Holly and Gastonia, where big brick mill buildings have been reimagined into restaurants, entertainment hubs, businesses and shops.
The glass-roofed Latta Arcade and ading Brevard Court in Uptown—where employees of Center City businesses now flock to restaurants and retail during the lunch hour—housed offices of cotton brokers. Myers Park, with its gracious greenways and curving, oak-shaded streets added by renowned Boston, Massachusetts, landscape planner John Nolen, was laid out in the s for mill owners, bankers and utility executives.
Across the street, W. Harris operated a food market that blossomed into the regional grocer Harris Teeter. Charlotte food salesman Philip L. New South prosperity aided educational opportunities. Johnson C. North of the city, elite Davidson College opened its doors to provide a liberal arts education to young white men. These specialized colleges were ed by what is now the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, launched by Bonnie Cone in Colleges possessed no monopoly on culture.
WBT, the first radio station d in the South, attracted a remarkable array of country music and gospel performers who sang live over the airwaves. RCA Victor and other record companies visited often. A South Tryon sidewalk plaque marks where Bill Monroe, the Father of bluegrass music, cut his first discs in During the late s, more records were made here than in Nashville, Tennessee. A city that had once been a backcountry farm community before the Civil War and a regional textile center in the early decades of the New South, had now begun to take a place on the national stage.
The new era began with the civil rights movement. Their demonstrations led to the opening of lunch counters to all. But upscale restaurants still barred African Americans—until a remarkable series of events unfolded in May of Crusading dentist Dr. Cities elsewhere in the South were meeting such requests with police dogs and firehoses. Then-Mayor Stan Brookshire determined that Charlotte would be different. He phoned Chamber of Commerce leaders and quietly arranged for white-black pairs to eat lunch, integrating each restaurant. The action, coming a year before the Civil rights Act, required integration in all public places and gained national notice.
In an era when national businesses were looking to expand south, a welcoming image paid dividends. The city already had robust local banks, thanks to a North Carolina law that allowed branches statewide. The innovation sparked a massive rewriting of banking laws across the nation. A new skyline sprang into being along Tryon Street, the heart of Uptown. Or should it be called downtown? Longtime merchants insisted it had always been Uptown, and in a Sept. A few years later, local leaders again chose a history-savvy name for another area being transformed by new construction.
As Charlotte broke into the ranks of top U. Among his innovations were selling personal seat s PSLswhich guaranteed availability of season tickets. But now, as the sport became increasingly sophisticated, the high-tech engineering operations of most race teams clustered near mammoth Charlotte Motor Speedway. While most newcomers arrived from across the nation, a growing came from around the globe.
The influx took many longtime Charlotteans by surprise; earlier immigration had largely bypassed this part of the South. A subsequent study by Neilsen ranked Charlotte the fastest-growing major Latino metropolis in the entire U. But Latinos made up only about half of immigrants.
s written in Vietnamese, Arabic and Spanish dotted older suburban corridors, including Central Avenue and South Boulevard, where many newcomers launched businesses. Foreign-born families did not cluster in distinct neighborhoods, though, as in the Chinatowns and Little Italys of older U. He recently retired after 16 years as the staff historian for Levine Museum of the New South.
Learn more at historysouth. This version of your browser is not supported. Please update your browser for the best user experience. Site Search. The First U. Gold Rush After the Revolution, a totally unexpected event put Charlotte on the money map. Campus Life New South prosperity aided educational opportunities.
A Music Mecca Colleges possessed no monopoly on culture. An African-American railroad worker stands for transportation. A woman and child in textile mill worker uniforms represent industry. A gold miner symbolizes commerce. Banking surely he that category in present-day Charlotte. And the fourth statue?
It is a mother holding a baby—aptly pointing to the future. Each of the other statues is facing the future. Tom Hanchett. Rooftop Restaurants and Bars in Charlotte. Things to Do. Neighborhood Explorer: Wesley Heights. How to Plan the Perfect Tailgate in Charlotte.Charlotte looking for a new slave
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Black History of Charlotte: Slavery and Revolution