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Random notes from my brief visit


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The UNC Charlotte campus is nice. My daughter liked it, as did I. Some of the area around the campus is sketchy. Leaving the campus and driving down N Tryon St we did not see a light rail tr

As a lifelong Atlantan now relocated to Charlotte, I have LOTS of conversations with friends and family about the similarities/differences between the two cities. A few things stick out: Clean

Wasn't sure where else to post this, but I figured this thread would be appropriate (I hope). This past weekend, I had some family in town from ATL. For their brief 24-hour trip from noon on Satu

On 4/12/2021 at 8:23 AM, Rickybobby said:

When you left campus, did you actually drive down University City blvd and not North Tryon to start?  The line terminates on campus and turns immediately out onto North Tryon from campus.

We drove down N Tryon all the way to uptown (as best as I could tell). We paralleled the tracks for a good ways before it veered away. It is entirely possible that we wouldn't have been able to see some of the trains from our vanatge point. I just found it odd that I didn't notice any.

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3 hours ago, carolinaboy said:

We drove down N Tryon all the way to uptown (as best as I could tell). We paralleled the tracks for a good ways before it veered away. It is entirely possible that we wouldn't have been able to see some of the trains from our vanatge point. I just found it odd that I didn't notice any.

The transit schedule has been drastically reduced due to the pandemic.

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On 4/20/2021 at 9:44 PM, atl2clt said:

Wasn't sure where else to post this, but I figured this thread would be appropriate (I hope).

This past weekend, I had some family in town from ATL. For their brief 24-hour trip from noon on Saturday to noon on Sunday, here was our itinerary:

  • Walk around Southend and get lunch at a local brewery;
  • Walk into Uptown (e.g., Romare Bearden, Tryon Street) with a guided audio tour (by me) of all the cool buildings;
  • Take the light rail back home to South End; 
  • Drive into Plaza Midwood for dinner and walk around the area; 
  • Drive down Queens Road to ogle at big houses;
  • Get drinks and dessert in NoDa; and 
  • Get brunch at Suffolk Punch. 

And, wow. To say that this city impressed would be an understatement. Everywhere we went, the streets were bustling with people moving about. Uptown felt lively and vibrant. NoDa at night was absolutely roaring with people and music. (The fire department in NoDa was even outside shooting the crap with passersby). In multiple parts of town, there were pop-up stands and shops with merchants selling art and trinkets. 

I'm not quite what I'm trying to say here other than something truly special is brewing in Charlotte. This city is undoubtedly taking off right now and for us to be able to watch its growth and development will be a treat for many years to come.

My family is already planning a trip back. 

So your family was visiting from Atlanta? Did they make any comparisons or point out any differences between the two cities? It seems these are the two cities in our region that, for lack of a better word, have a rivalry, much like Houston vs Dallas. I have always enjoyed being a fly on the wall hearing residents of each metro area fight it out for which is best, cleaner, safer, more interesting, better shopping, whatever. I'd be curious to know what, if any, comments along those lines might have been made.   

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1 hour ago, atl2clt said:

As a lifelong Atlantan now relocated to Charlotte, I have LOTS of conversations with friends and family about the similarities/differences between the two cities. A few things stick out:

  • Cleanliness: The most common thing I hear from visitors, unfortunately, is that "Charlotte is so much cleaner than Atlanta." While I understand this sentiment, I really dislike this statement. It always seems to have a weird racial and socio-economic undertone. In essence, what it sounds like people are saying is, "I feel more comfortable walking around this city." While that statement may be true, I think that commenting on the "cleanliness" of a city is, in many cases, a red herring (i.e., an avoidance technique to shy away from commenting on more complex and more controversial observations). 
  • Architecture: Charlotte has some really impressive buildings and, for the most part, they actually have some character. Both BofA towers, Duke Energy Center, Hearst Tower, the Wells Fargo jukebox building, 300 South Tryon. They all have a little bit of flair and nuance. Most importantly, they are all concentrated in a central downtown hub that lights up beautifully at night. Atlanta, on the other hand, went through a glut of development in the 70s and 80s that has aged very, very poorly. I'm looking at you Peachtree Center, Georgia Pacific building, AT&T building, Mariott Marquis, Coca-Cola Building. I mean, yuck. I routinely hear Atlanta friends/family say that they really like the buildings and the skyline in Charlotte. Instagram photos with skyline backdrops are a thing in Charlotte; they are not in Atlanta. Also, rooftop bars/restaurants are a thing in Charlotte; they are not in Atlanta ("Why don't we have any of these in Atlanta?"). 
  • Food: I don't know if I'm just getting lucky, but I routinely go to amazing restaurants in Charlotte whenever I have company in town. I haven't had a single guest leave without saying "I ate too much this weekend" (which is great, because it means I did my job as a host). While Atlanta has a larger and more diverse culinary scene, Charlotte somehow seems to have a more distinct culinary identity. It's BBQ; it's fried chicken; it's craft beer. It is undeniably Southern in ways that Atlanta is not. While that might sound cheap and kitschy, it's not. In fact, it's really cool. It adds character and definition to the city. Charlotte will quickly climb the ranks as a culinary destination, if it hasn't already. 
  • Shopping: Atlanta wins this hands down and it's not even close. Atlanta has a number of world-class shopping districts (more on this here). On the other hand, Charlotte shopping is bland, maybe even exceptionally bland. I can't think of a single shopping area I would take friends and family while they're in Charlotte. South Park Mall? That's gonna a hard no from me. That said, Charlotte's identity as a destination for furniture and antiques outmatches Atlanta.
  • Which city is more interesting (i.e., culture)?Whether a city is interesting is, in my opinion, rooted in whether a city has culture. "Culture" is a complex term, though, and it's difficult to unpack all of the normative assumptions packed into that single word. In short, I think culture = history. Which city has more history? Atlanta does, by a mile.
    • Atlanta is the cradle of the Civil Rights movement. It hosted the 1996 Olympics. It was the birthplace of Outkast and Southern rap. And now, it's the Hollywood of the South. I mean, "Avengers: Infinity War" and "Avengers: Endgame" were both filmed in Atlanta--two of the top five highest grossing films of all time. If you spend enough time in Atlanta, you'll find Atlanta's cultural identity everywhere, from the Billboard Top Charts to some of the most watched Netflix shows (e.g., Ozark; Stranger Things).  Atlanta is also an intensely important political node, as the recent January 2021 runoff had the entire country focusing on how Atlanta residents were voting. Atlanta's recent upswing in cultural popularity was no overnight feat, though. It took decades of cultivating a unique image. 
    • Charlotte, in comparison, is usually greeted with the comment that "everything is so new!" This sentiment runs directly counter to the idea (or at least my idea) of culture. The buildings mostly look brand new; there is no iconic personality that defines the city; there was no major history lesson in grade school about Charlotte. Of course, I'm sure that plenty of multi-generation Charlotte residents recognize that Charlotte too has a unique culture and history. But from the outside, it does not appear that way. 
  • Walkability/Urbanism: Charlotte--all day every day. I just had in-laws in town this past weekend and we didn't get in the car once. We walked all around South End and Uptown and took the train up to NoDa. Once the street car is open, I'll even add Plaza Midwood to the itinerary. "This city is so walkable" is perhaps my favorite comment to hear from out-of-towners. 
  • Is there a rivalry between the cities?: Nope. First, from a business relocation standpoint, each of Charlotte and Atlanta have different identities in the types of businesses they attract. Second, from a sports perspective, I don't consider the Hornets or the Panthers to be, respectively, the primary rival of the Hawks or the Falcons. Overall, Charlotte and Atlanta have a symbiotic relationship as fast-growing Southern cities, separated by a mere 4 hours on I-85. Both cities are experiencing similar levels of growth and similar migration patterns. That said, I don't think most Atlantans have ever been to Charlotte, so it often comes as a surprise when they first visit and find out that Charlotte is bigger and cooler than they were expecting. 

Apologies on the essay. Slow day at work today. 

Man, that was a FANTASTIC read! No apologies required. Great stuff! :)

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On 6/8/2021 at 6:19 PM, atl2clt said:

As a lifelong Atlantan now relocated to Charlotte, I have LOTS of conversations with friends and family about the similarities/differences between the two cities. A few things stick out:

  • Cleanliness: The most common thing I hear from visitors, unfortunately, is that "Charlotte is so much cleaner than Atlanta." While I understand this sentiment, I really dislike this statement. It always seems to have a weird racial and socio-economic undertone. In essence, what it sounds like people are saying is, "I feel more comfortable walking around this city." While that statement may be true, I think that commenting on the "cleanliness" of a city is, in many cases, a red herring (i.e., an avoidance technique to shy away from commenting on more complex and more controversial observations). 
  • Architecture: Charlotte has some really impressive buildings and, for the most part, they actually have some character. Both BofA towers, Duke Energy Center, Hearst Tower, the Wells Fargo jukebox building, 300 South Tryon. They all have a little bit of flair and nuance. Most importantly, they are all concentrated in a central downtown hub that lights up beautifully at night. Atlanta, on the other hand, went through a glut of development in the 70s and 80s that has aged very, very poorly. I'm looking at you Peachtree Center, Georgia Pacific building, AT&T building, Mariott Marquis, Coca-Cola Building. I mean, yuck. I routinely hear Atlanta friends/family say that they really like the buildings and the skyline in Charlotte. Instagram photos with skyline backdrops are a thing in Charlotte; they are not in Atlanta. Also, rooftop bars/restaurants are a thing in Charlotte; they are not in Atlanta ("Why don't we have any of these in Atlanta?"). 
  • Food: I don't know if I'm just getting lucky, but I routinely go to amazing restaurants in Charlotte whenever I have company in town. I haven't had a single guest leave without saying "I ate too much this weekend" (which is great, because it means I did my job as a host). While Atlanta has a larger and more diverse culinary scene, Charlotte somehow seems to have a more distinct culinary identity. It's BBQ; it's fried chicken; it's craft beer. It is undeniably Southern in ways that Atlanta is not. While that might sound cheap and kitschy, it's not. In fact, it's really cool. It adds character and definition to the city. Charlotte will quickly climb the ranks as a culinary destination, if it hasn't already. 
  • Shopping: Atlanta wins this hands down and it's not even close. Atlanta has a number of world-class shopping districts (more on this here). On the other hand, Charlotte shopping is bland, maybe even exceptionally bland. I can't think of a single shopping area I would take friends and family while they're in Charlotte. South Park Mall? That's gonna a hard no from me. That said, Charlotte's identity as a destination for furniture and antiques outmatches Atlanta.
  • Which city is more interesting (i.e., culture)?Whether a city is interesting is, in my opinion, rooted in whether a city has culture. "Culture" is a complex term, though, and it's difficult to unpack all of the normative assumptions packed into that single word. In short, I think culture = history. Which city has more history? Atlanta does, by a mile.
    • Atlanta is the cradle of the Civil Rights movement. It hosted the 1996 Olympics. It was the birthplace of Outkast and Southern rap. And now, it's the Hollywood of the South. I mean, "Avengers: Infinity War" and "Avengers: Endgame" were both filmed in Atlanta--two of the top five highest grossing films of all time. If you spend enough time in Atlanta, you'll find Atlanta's cultural identity everywhere, from the Billboard Top Charts to some of the most watched Netflix shows (e.g., Ozark; Stranger Things).  Atlanta is also an intensely important political node, as the recent January 2021 runoff had the entire country focusing on how Atlanta residents were voting. Atlanta's recent upswing in cultural popularity was no overnight feat, though. It took decades of cultivating a unique image. 
    • Charlotte, in comparison, is usually greeted with the comment that "everything is so new!" This sentiment runs directly counter to the idea (or at least my idea) of culture. The buildings mostly look brand new; there is no iconic personality that defines the city; there was no major history lesson in grade school about Charlotte. Of course, I'm sure that plenty of multi-generation Charlotte residents recognize that Charlotte too has a unique culture and history. But from the outside, it does not appear that way. 
  • Walkability/Urbanism: Charlotte--all day every day. I just had in-laws in town this past weekend and we didn't get in the car once. We walked all around South End and Uptown and took the train up to NoDa. Once the street car is open, I'll even add Plaza Midwood to the itinerary. "This city is so walkable" is perhaps my favorite comment to hear from out-of-towners. 
  • Is there a rivalry between the cities?: Nope. First, from a business relocation standpoint, each of Charlotte and Atlanta have different identities in the types of businesses they attract. Second, from a sports perspective, I don't consider the Hornets or the Panthers to be, respectively, the primary rival of the Hawks or the Falcons. Overall, Charlotte and Atlanta have a symbiotic relationship as fast-growing Southern cities, separated by a mere 4 hours on I-85. Both cities are experiencing similar levels of growth and similar migration patterns. That said, I don't think most Atlantans have ever been to Charlotte, so it often comes as a surprise when they first visit and find out that Charlotte is bigger and cooler than they were expecting. 

Apologies on the essay. Slow day at work today. 

Thanks for sharing! Definitely awesome to hear opinions of our city from people that moved here/visited recently.

I agree with the points you made in your "culture" section. I definitely view Charlotte as a city that is approaching it's time. We don't have the deep history that ATL has or other cities on the East Coast may have... but I think we're at the very beginning of the time where the city makes its mark. The amount of growth we've seen in the past 30 years, 20 years, 10 years, 5 years.... insane. The entire city has transformed from a smaller, family friendly city to a real city that attracts a wide variety of people and businesses. 

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10 hours ago, jessediebolt said:

We don't have the deep history that ATL has or other cities on the East Coast may have... 

This is the only thing here that sticks in my craw: the general perception that Atlanta has a deeper history than Charlotte. (I'm not leveling a criticism of you, @jessediebolt, because I realize this is indeed general perception.) I accede that Atlanta's may be richer, because more people means more history, naturally, and Atlanta has nearly always been larger than Charlotte, but it's not deeper: Charlotte was officially incorporated in 1768, and for over 80 years of Charlotte's history, there was no Atlanta. Atlanta wasn't even settled until 1837, merely a quarter century before the Civil War, and wasn't incorporated officially until 1847. (I looked these numbers up on Wikipedia, natch!) In 1865 Atlanta wasn't 30 years old, but had grown to around 10,000 people--because it was a railroad depot and exchange developed only after the Cherokee had been forcibly removed from northern Georgia in the '30s.

I contend that it's one thing, and one thing only, that gives Atlanta the veneer of having some storied Southern history: Gone with the Wind.  If Peggy Mitchell from Atlanta hadn't written that book, Atlanta would be thought of no differently than Houston or Birmingham or even Charlotte, in terms of its history--20th century economic prowess and influence another thing entirely. But Gone with the Wind was such a phenomenon from the minute it was published in the '30s, and made such an indelible impression on American culture, that it forever influenced people's perception of Atlanta as a storied Southern city. Americans like to get their history from movies and t.v. mainly, and much less from actual historical works. Gone with the Wind wrote the history of the Civil War for several generations of Southerners who never actually read a book of 'dry' history, and so Atlanta became enmeshed in the popular history of the South, for both non-Southerners and Southerners alike.  

My biggest gripe, I guess, is with city of Charlotte leadership, and its failure to brand itself as a city with far deeper (although perhaps not richer) history than Atlanta or many other Sunbelt cities. Charlotte is actually part of pre-Revolutionary War American historical progression, a century or so younger than literal literal East Coast cities, but older than those farther inland. In the Charlotte Culture and History threads, there have been many discussions about potential ways the city could develop and implement cultural and historical opportunities, but of course the city's focus always has been and continues to be pure economic and specifically business development.   

So, tourists or visitors to Atlanta can excuse the absolute absence of anything preceding the last quarter of the 19th century (if I'm being generous) because "Sherman burned Atlanta," but in reality Sherman burned a small city of under 10,000 with no buildings older than 25 years, but when they come to Charlotte, a city closer to a century older, the absence of old structures--no one's fault but Charlotte's, to be sure--creates the impression that Charlotte is only as old as what they see. Atlanta should put up a golden statue 40 feet high in honor of Margaret Mitchell, because they owe a lot to her, at least in terms of people's perceptions.     

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6 hours ago, ertley said:

This is the only thing here that sticks in my craw: the general perception that Atlanta has a deeper history than Charlotte. (I'm not leveling a criticism of you, @jessediebolt, because I realize this is indeed general perception.) I accede that Atlanta's may be richer, because more people means more history, naturally, and Atlanta has nearly always been larger than Charlotte, but it's not deeper: Charlotte was officially incorporated in 1768, and for over 80 years of Charlotte's history, there was no Atlanta. Atlanta wasn't even settled until 1837, merely a quarter century before the Civil War, and wasn't incorporated officially until 1847. (I looked these numbers up on Wikipedia, natch!) In 1865 Atlanta wasn't 30 years old, but had grown to around 10,000 people--because it was a railroad depot and exchange developed only after the Cherokee had been forcibly removed from northern Georgia in the '30s.

I contend that it's one thing, and one thing only, that gives Atlanta the veneer of having some storied Southern history: Gone with the Wind.  If Peggy Mitchell from Atlanta hadn't written that book, Atlanta would be thought of no differently than Houston or Birmingham or even Charlotte, in terms of its history--20th century economic prowess and influence another thing entirely. But Gone with the Wind was such a phenomenon from the minute it was published in the '30s, and made such an indelible impression on American culture, that it forever influenced people's perception of Atlanta as a storied Southern city. Americans like to get their history from movies and t.v. mainly, and much less from actual historical works. Gone with the Wind wrote the history of the Civil War for several generations of Southerners who never actually read a book of 'dry' history, and so Atlanta became enmeshed in the popular history of the South, for both non-Southerners and Southerners alike.  

My biggest gripe, I guess, is with city of Charlotte leadership, and its failure to brand itself as a city with far deeper (although perhaps not richer) history than Atlanta or many other Sunbelt cities. Charlotte is actually part of pre-Revolutionary War American historical progression, a century or so younger than literal literal East Coast cities, but older than those farther inland. In the Charlotte Culture and History threads, there have been many discussions about potential ways the city could develop and implement cultural and historical opportunities, but of course the city's focus always has been and continues to be pure economic and specifically business development.   

So, tourists or visitors to Atlanta can excuse the absolute absence of anything preceding the last quarter of the 19th century (if I'm being generous) because "Sherman burned Atlanta," but in reality Sherman burned a small city of under 10,000 with no buildings older than 25 years, but when they come to Charlotte, a city closer to a century older, the absence of old structures--no one's fault but Charlotte's, to be sure--creates the impression that Charlotte is only as old as what they see. Atlanta should put up a golden statue 40 feet high in honor of Margaret Mitchell, because they owe a lot to her, at least in terms of people's perceptions.     

 

You're right, we do have history of course ... but it isn't relevant in the physical status of our city. You'd have to research to discover the history rather than it being common knowledge that the history exists (like ATL, NY, BOS, etc).

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