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Old October 20th, 2010, 12:38 AM   #1
simms3
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The Queen of the Carolinas...Part 1

Went to Charlotte this past weekend and made a small trip out of it by exploring the city as thoroughly as possible on Monday from about 11-4 before heading back to Atl.

Overall I had a good impression of Uptown and the citizenry. I was underwhelmed by the metro area as a whole because everyone keeps trying to compare Charlotte to Atlanta. I was expecting a little more out of the metro as whole (like a larger Southpark and 20 lane highways, LoL). Uptown, however, has quite a bit to teach larger cities like Atlanta and peer cities like Nashville and Jacksonville. I was surprised how close the mountains were to the metro. I was also impressed by “metro” amenities like the Lowes Motor Speedway (not called that anymore?), Paramount Carowinds, Charlotte Douglas Int’l Airport, and UNCC.

Here is a recap of some of my favorite pictures. 2 areas I got to see but didn’t get to photograph were Dilworth and Myers Park. These are the two coolest areas of the city outside of Uptown. Southpark wasn’t quite as much as it has been made out to be. Don’t get me wrong, some developers have the right ideas and some creative projects in the area, but Southpark is not “huge”, nor is it the next Buckhead. It is also difficult to get to because no one major road leads directly to it from Uptown or the beltway and no highways go by it.

A couple things to note about Charlotte:
-Uptown has a security presence like none I have seen outside of D.C. or Lower Manhattan.

-Uptown has more people on the streets walking about than any other downtown I have been to bar New York, Chicago, Philly, Boston, and D.C. It also has more restaurants on any given block in Uptown than any other downtown I have ever seen.

-Charlotte has some beautiful old buildings and homes, but not that many. It is a very new city. Atlanta and Jacksonville (in the words of a poster on MetroJacksonville) are like Savannah compared to Charlotte. The newness helps Charlotte in many ways, but because Charlotte was planned and built after the automobile it has less to work with in terms of a grid and general character.

-All new developments in the inner neighborhoods and in Uptown address the street and are meant to act as a component in a walkable urban environment. The rest of the city is still a complete unplanned mess. I think city leaders/MPO let whatever happens outside of a 5 mile radius from downtown to happen and they incentivize and control what happens within that boundary.

-Charlotte’s light rail is impressive. I wouldn’t say it’s a crowd getting on the train, but it gets used. There is also an impressive amount of TOD development along the first 4-5 miles of the rail line and park and rides beyond that.

Pictures are in order of how they were taken.


Starting off at the Hearst Tower.


This place filled up by lunch.






Tryon Street (the backbone of Uptown) had these nice phone booths, easy parking, benches every 20 ft, lots of trash recepticles, and nicely done bus stations, as well as good tree coverage, plazas, and public art. It should serve as a model for Peachtree St as well as Laura/Bay St in Jax.


This is a hotel.






Charlotte’s tallest. Caesar Pelli design from 1992.


1 hour later this scene would have included 200+ workers. The sidewalks in Uptown get super crowded, even though they are wide on Tryon.




Lots of plazas in Charlotte. Normally the same amount of plazas is what separates a suburban office district from a downtown, but in Charlotte’s case it just makes downtown more user friendly.




Seamless connection.












One of the only pieces of public art I actually liked. All of the public art adds a bit of unreality to the city. I don’t even want to venture a guess as to why and where they are getting all of these sculptures and putting them up everywhere. Every building has its own piece of art.
































The Bechtler Museum of Contemporary Art


The Knight Theater






Mint Museum








Large gap to be filled between the Gant AA Cutural Center and the rest of Uptown. In fact, Duke Energy Center as a whole seems kind of isolated and on its own.








Parking Lots that need to be filled.


Convention center is in the center of town.


Towards the start of Dilworth. Lots of Green Space in the “1st” ward.






New Nascar HQ and exhibition center, connected to the convention center.


Lynx runs right in front of the Westin in this photo.




There’s a Wild Wing Café in this photo.


Towards Government Center.


Charlotte’s “Berkman”. It looks like work has stopped on these dorms.








Lots of garages beneath buildings.












Looking at Epicenter for which the next few photos are taken. The final component, a ~600 ft. residential tower never was built.






Our Blackfinn is in the suburbs at Markets at Town Center. Go figure.




Our Whiskey River is in the suburbs at Markets at Town Center. Go figure.












New crosswalk from buildings in preceding photo to Epicenter.


New crosswalk from BofA Plaza to the new BofA building not yet opened.


Suite which is opening at Markets at Town Center in the suburbs. Go figure.
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