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cityboi

A very different Charlotte

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The Independence Building built in 1909. It was North Carolina first steel framed skyscraper. It was designed by Frank P. Milburn and reflects the influences of the new architectural style developed in Chicago. Located on Trade and Tryon Streets it was in the heart of downtown and was imploded in 1981.

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Independence Building gone forever

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The Old Southern Railway Station (torn down in the 1960s)

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The Hotel Charlotte (another historic tower that was imploded)

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historic building in the process of being demolished

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Another gone building

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Here is the old masonic temple that was demolished in 1987

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Here is the Masonic Temple in downtown Greensboro. I notice that the scale of the two building are similar.

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Here is an old Charlotte building that was demolished in 1991. It would have made a great building for lofts or some sort of design studio.

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art deco building that was demolished in 1997

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These building would have made great nightclubs and restaurants today

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Mayfair Hotel (now the Dunhill Hotel) This tower managed to escape the wrecking ball and is one of the very few examples of "the old Charlotte"

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WoW look at what happened within 9 years!

1966

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1975

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Those historic buildings are now green grass and parking lots. This is the beginning era of Charlotte becoming a city of the new south.

More buildings that were demolished or destroyed

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The Wilder Building was torn down in 1983 (would have made a great tower for condos)

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more long gone buildings

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this scene looks alot like South Elm Street in downtown Greensboro today

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This is really the dark side of Charlotte. While everything couldnt have been preserved there should have been a greater effort to save much of the downtown history. Everyone likes the new Charlotte but it would have been nice to have some of the old. Downtown could have had a new south skyline combined with a little bit of historic culture like many of the Northeastern major cities such as Cleveland and Boston.

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This is a sad commentary of so many large southern cities.

When it's old, knock it down and build anew.

Thank you for showing us some of Charlotte's rich architectural history. Look at the big difference between the 1975 picture and today. Wow!!!

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I thought the lost of the old Southern Railway Station was a big lost. This was a beautiful station!

Imagine what a treasure this could have been today as part of Charlotte's multimodal hub. It would have been Charlotte's version of "Grand Central Station" in New York. Greensboro still has both of its downtown Southern Railway Stations (the one built in 1895 and the other 1926) The 1926 station is a part of Greensboro's multi-modal hub. However while Greensboro has preseved much of its downtown past, the gate city has had its share of imploding historc buildings such as the origional O'Henry Hotel and the 13-story King Cotton Hotel. But I do love the new Charlotte and the Queen City wanted to project its image as "the new South". its help Charlotte go along way but some of these historic treasure could have been saved.

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Cityboi, GREAT thread. I often hear about how Charlotte demolished many historic buildings in order to build newer ones, but now I see exactly what's being talked about. And I agree, I don't think that ALL buildings need to be preserved simply for history's sake. But imagine how much cooler of a city Charlotte would be had about 50% of those wonderful buildings were still standing today.

I agree with you about the Railroad Station, totally. I think Charleston remodeled their's into a Harris Teeter (the coolest one I've ever seen, by the way). Hotel Charlotte and the Independence Building (which reminds me of the Palmetto building in Columbia) were big losses. They would have complemented the modernity of Charlotte's current skyline quite well.

It's interesting, because the temporary walls blocking off the new Wachovia project under construction on Tryon from the street actually depict some historic buildings that were demolished in the name of "progress." Good stuff gone forever.

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Dont get me wrong, Charlotte has a cool downtown. But just think what this skyline picture would look like with a little history as well. I love this perspective by the way. Its one of the best of seen of Charlotte.

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You are also right about how the old compliments the new. Just look at the Independence building in the background in contrast with the modern glass building in the foreground. Now thats truely cosmopolitan!

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This is a great thread. This makes it easier to understand what people mean when they say that so mcuh has been torn down.

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cityboi this is truly my greatest disappointment in Charlotte. I actually love the old architecture. It is a real loss for the city. I agree I love the New shiny skrapers, but have a hard time with the fact that the city tore down basically all of its history. You can still capture some old south charm in cities like Birmingham, Memphis and yes even Atlanta. Out of those three Birmingham has some of the best. I think it is simply because they did not have such a strong position on Urban Renewal though. Again very sad indeed. :cry:

A2

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I agree, Atlanta is often looked at as "capital of the New South" But most forget that ther is quite a bit of historic architecture in downtown Atlanta. Atlanta has actually preserved more than Charlotte has. A city's history is its soul. We see it in Memphis, we see it in Birmingham and we see it in Richmond. What Charlotte did in the late 60's even unto to this day would be alot like Cleveland or Boston demolshing all of its historic downtown architecture to make way for newer towers. Charlotte is a very different city from what it was 40 years ago and the old Charlotte is very foreign to the younger generation. Like you said, I love all the great towers that are popping up and al the development thats going up. I just wish alot of that history could have been a part of it. The pictures I posted above only just scratches the surface of all the downtown history that has been lost. Its one thing to knock down important historic buildings for a new modern tower but its another thing to tear down these buildings for parking lots or grass lots. I'm sure you can find alot of photos of what Charlotte use to look like from the archives at the Charlotte Observer and at the Charlotte public library.

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I created a link to the Charlotte section because alot of the Charlotte peeps don't venture into other parts of UrbanPlanet. :silly:

Very nice thread cityboi. I actually witnessed the destruction of the Independence Bldg in 1981. I really didn't like what NationsBank (aka BofA) did as a replacement. The Masonic Temple was another monumental loss.

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Thanks! It would be interesting to see some sort of 3d model of the city as it was before the urban renewal on the 1960s.

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Indeed! I vaguely remember 1960s Charlotte as a kid. My Mom & Dad always remark when they come for visits that Charlotte is no longer recognizable to them. They lived here in the early 60s.

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Although I'm not old enough to remember 1960's Charlotte, I can remember riding with my family down I-77 in the late 1970's, looking at all the abandoned homes and schools (with broken windows and crumbling chimneys)... and thinking it looked pretty rough.

If the city wasn't willing to preserve what was there, it may as well have started over. At least the "new" is a 2nd chance at tomorrow's history.

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I live far away from Charlotte, but having been there quite a few times...I think it's a shame to have imploded some of those buildings. Charlotte downtown is really nice...But I think it could have been better with all those old buildings. Anyway, that's just my own opinion :(

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I agree, Atlanta is often looked at as "capital of the New South" But most forget that ther is quite a bit of historic architecture in downtown Atlanta. Atlanta has actually preserved more than Charlotte has. A city's history is its soul. We see it in Memphis, we see it in Birmingham and we see it in Richmond. What Charlotte did in the late 60's even unto to this day would be alot like Cleveland or Boston demolshing all of its historic downtown architecture to make way for newer towers. Charlotte is a very different city from what it was 40 years ago and the old Charlotte is very foreign to the younger generation. Like you said, I love all the great towers that are popping up and al the development thats going up. I just wish alot of that history could have been a part of it. The pictures I posted above only just scratches the surface of all the downtown history that has been lost. Its one thing to knock down important historic buildings for a new modern tower but its another thing to tear down these buildings for parking lots or grass lots. I'm sure you can find alot of photos of what Charlotte use to look like from the archives at the Charlotte Observer and at the Charlotte public library.

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Not a fair comparison, cityboi. In 1930, both Birmingham and Atlanta were around 250,000 people, Charlotte had about 50,000. My point is that Atlanta has torn town PLENTY, it's just they had a larger stock of buildings to tear down than Charlotte, so you don't notice it as much.

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Yea i'm sure Atlanta did tear down alot of buildings. I think it was a trend throughought the southeast during the late 60s and early 70s to tear down the old. Some cities just tore down more than others. It just depended on how fast the cities were growing. The cities that were growing more slowly preserved more while cities that were growing more rapidly tore down more buildings.

I believe that it wasnt possible for Charlotte and other cities to preserve everything. You just cant save everything but Charlotte could have save alot. Its mind boggling why they would tear down the old rail station. It was such a beautiful piece of architecture.

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I also think that the city should have preserved many of these buildings. But in all honesty, let's say all of those buildings were spared the wrecking ball--how many would actually be standing today. Look at the 1976 picture compared to what is there today--most of that greenery and a lot of those surface lots are (or will be soon) non existant. The new south charlotte that we love so much would inevitably have consumed a lot of that history anyway right? How many developers will revamp an old building and add on to it rather than just save money and tear it down. I think although we lament the old charlotte, a lot of it would have been gobbled up anyway during the past 20 years. There are obvious exceptions though, especially the train station.

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I also think that the city should have preserved many of these buildings. But in all honesty, let's say all of those buildings were spared the wrecking ball--how many would actually be standing today. Look at the 1976 picture compared to what is there today--most of that greenery and a lot of those surface lots are (or will be soon) non existant. The new south charlotte that we love so much would inevitably have consumed a lot of that history anyway right? How many developers will revamp an old building and add on to it rather than just save money and tear it down. I think although we lament the old charlotte, a lot of it would have been gobbled up anyway during the past 20 years.  There are obvious exceptions though, especially the train station.

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Developers would have just built around them. Charlotte was never a dense city, so there would have still been room for them. I knew the city had lost some old buildings, but from looking at this thread, I didn't realize the beauty of many of them. Hopefully what's left in town can still be saved.

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Though I dont agree with some of Charlotte's destruction of historic buildings, many of them are not as architecturally significant as some of those in Birmingham and Atlanta. Part of this is because of the large size descrepancy between Atlanta and Birmingham vs Charlotte in the 1920s-1930s. Birmingham has had its fair share of stupid mistakes though (like tearing down the magnificent old train terminal as seen in some pictures on the Alabama forum). When I went to Charlotte some time back, I was expecting alot more historic architecture simply because of the age of the city, but was surprised not to find very much. I'm sure yall lost a few gems in all of this destruction, but Charlotte probably would not be as widely known as it is today without the progress gained through some of that destruction. It is a challenge trying to preserve the past while still remaining progressive.

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