The city of Charlotte has gone from the Old South to the New South to the Newest South over the years and that is a lot of history for the locals and the visitors to remember and keep track of. While it is all important, a person really only needs to know one thing about Charlotte, and that is that is has earned the nickname of the Queen City. Everything else that people know is just icing on the cake as they say.
Charlotte’s nickname is derived from the fact that King George III was in charge when the Europeans settled in the area and created the town in 1768. They named it after the Queen and the county was named after where she was born in Germany.
There is still quite a bit of Colonial influence throughout the area to this day, which is noticeable on both Interstate 85 and Tryon Street in Uptown. Both these roads follow a diagonal and go along the old Nations Path, which was a trading route of Native American tribes. The direction of those roads is the reason why everyone says that they are heading Uptown when they are headed into the Downtown area.
A popular area of Uptown is Independence Square, where there is a statue of James Jack, a local tavern owner, on horseback. According to historical accounts, a Mecklenburg Declaration of Independence was created in May of 1775 and James Jack was the person who carried some type of important papers to the Continental Congress in Philadelphia that June. No one is certain if those documents were the Mecklenburg Declaration of Independence or something else, as there is no evidence that they ever existed. However, the locals celebrate the Meck Dec every year on May 20th.
While in Uptown, people can take a self-guided walking tour to see numerous historical landmarks as well as some artistic and architectural unique sites. One of the places that everyone will see is Green’s Lunch, which is a diner that opened in 1926 and happens to be the oldest restaurant in the city. The Fourth Ward Neighborhood might have luxury condominiums, but they blend in wonderfully with Victorian homes that are more than one hundred years old. The Overcarsh House is a must-see as it was constructed prior to the Civil War. The Dunhill Hotel was built in 1929 and is the only historic hotel in Charlotte. All ten stories are filled with neoclassical features and guests love all the elegant charming details.
Gold and the railroads were the first moneymakers for Charlotte, but the New South brought textile factories and mills. Those factories and mills are no longer in use, but the neighborhoods and buildings have been repurposed, leaving behind spectacular architecture filled with memories of the past. The NoDa neighborhood was a former mill village, but now people can walk through an eclectic arts district with retail, dining, nightlife, and music venues. Other suburban towns, like Pineville, Kannapolis, Mount Holly, and Gastonia, still have the massive brick mill buildings, but they now contain restaurants, shops, businesses, and entertainment hubs.
The Newest South of Charlotte has come a long way, because for the longest time, no outsiders ventured in. That quickly changed in the late 1990s and the population doubled, creating a phenomenal cultural scene that is adding even more character to this unique city.
Anyone who wants to learn more about the eleventh President of the United States will want to visit the President James K. Polk State Historic Site. This basic home is on the land that was once owned by the parents of the President and everyone can take a tour to see the time period furniture inside and see how life was lived during those days when he was living there on the farm.
The Historic Latta Plantation allows everyone a glimpse of what it was like to live and work on a cotton plantation during the early 19th century. Not everyone was treated as equals at the time, which is shown by the tour guides who dress in period costumes and act out the roles of the individuals who lived there. This antebellum plantation has been completely restored and is just as beautiful today as it was when it was first built.
For a true historical lesson, a visit to the oldest structure in the area is necessary. The Hezekiah Alexander Homesite was constructed in 1774 but has been restored and is open to the public. Guides dressed in period costumes share what life was like back in the Colonial days in the city.
Charlotte might be full of history, but it is also full of charm, culture, and traditions. The locals have accepted some changes over the years, but basically, they like things the way that they are. After all, all of that is what makes the city special and no one can argue with that!