Charlotte General Information
Charlotte is the demure Southern belle who wants to be taken seriously. She's a
financial whiz with a penchant for the arts and a business-oriented lass
rebounding from urban blight and flight that's both modern and traditional.
After naming the city for the wife of King George III, residents quickly
chafed under British rule; they signed the Mecklenburg Declaration of
Independence in May 1775 - well before that more famous document was signed
in Philadelphia - at the crossroads of Trade and Tryon streets, henceforth
known as Independence Square.
||Once a sleepy Southern town, Charlotte had
something to prove. Often mistaken for Charlottesville, Va., (home of the
University of Virginia) or Charleston, S.C., (the port where the Civil War
began), Charlotte, the largest city between D.C. and Atlanta, had an
identity problem. Or, more accurately, many identities.
Now, the Queen City of the South has come into her own. With a median age
under 33, Charlotte saw the nation's third-largest increase in the number of
young professionals under 40 between 1995 and 2000. More than 2 million
people call Metrolina home, growing at a 37% clip since 1990. The top travel
and tourism destination in the state, half of Charlotte's visitors come for
business, and seven Fortune 500 companies are headquartered here.
Yet much of Charlotte's personality has roots in her history. Located near
the junction of interstates I-85 and I-77, she is a bustling hub in the New
South's economy that grew in 1768 along an established Indian trading route
(now Trade Street) and its intersection with Tryon Street.
The location of most landmarks is still given in relation to The Square at
Trade and Tryon. It remains the heart of "uptown" - as civic leaders dubbed
the central business district (there's no downtown here).
Charlotte is the nation's second-largest financial center, thanks in no small
part to patron saint (now retired Bank of America chairman) Hugh McColl, who
transformed a modest regional bank (NCNB) into the world's largest bank holding
company (Wachovia, also based in Charlotte, isn't far behind at No. 4). But
Charlotte's role in finance can be traced to 1799, when a 12-year-old found a
17-pound gold nugget and turned Charlotte into the epicenter of American mining
until the California Gold Rush 50 years later.
Now Charlotte's uptown streets are lively with renewed residential development,
restaurants and the arts. Traditional neighborhoods such as Myers Park,
Dilworth, Elizabeth and South End flow easily into modern developments like
SouthPark. Historic trolleys clang with commuters and visitors; Panthers and
Bobcats prowl the sidelines of professional sports; and NASCAR growls with its
dominance of the nation's sponsorship dollars.
Yet Charlotte's livability makes her so pleasant. She combines a moderate
four-season climate, gracious magnolia-perfumed neighborhoods within 10 minutes
of uptown office towers, a reasonable cost of living, vibrant cultural scene and
a central location with easy access to spectacular Blue Ridge mountain vistas
and coastal surf. So take a few days to take in all Charlotte has to offer and
enjoy her Carolina Southern hospitality. You'll see why a native Charlottean is
increasingly hard to find.
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