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Perception of Charlotte Nationwide

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My question is, if a city is the 20 largest cities in the USA, and how can it be considered small. I hear this all the time that Charlotte is a small town but it looks large. I think it gets mixed up with the Greater metro of other cities.

Charlotte in land area is bigger than the following cities:

Chicago, Miami, Atlanta, New Orleans, Denver Co., Detroit, Michigan, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Baltimore, Maryland, Cincinnai, Ohio, Cleveland Ohio and Baton Rouge, La.. But people do not think all these cities are small due to their large MSA and CSA.

Miami, Fla. Is 55.27 sq. miles with only 35.68 sq. miles of dry land. It has a population of 404,048 and a density of 11,554 per sq. mile. I bet you anyone you will talk to that has not look up all the city data will tell you Miami is a much larger city than Charlotte.

They are only right when they compare metro areas and Miami wins hands down.

Edited by RiverwoodCLT

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^ While everything that you say is true, you also have to consider that city boundaries are arbitrary. Many parts of Charlotte -- for example, the area around 74 near Sardis -- which are inside the city limits, are not 1/10th as urban as a Chicago suburb. Someone simply took a map and drew a line around a very, very large area and called it "Charlotte"... that does not mean that Charlotte is actually larger in any respect than Miami or Philadelphia. While no longer a small city, it has definitely not become "large" yet.

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My question is, if a city is the 20 largest cities in the USA, and how can it be considered small. I hear this all the time that Charlotte is a small town but it looks large. I think it gets mixed up with the Greater metro of other cities.

That's because city population stopped being a practical gauge for the size of a place a long time ago. I still wouldn't say its small, but by any other indicator (which come much closer to accurately representing a city's size, like MSA, CSA, urbanized area, etc.), Charlotte is significantly smaller than the first and second tier cities/metro areas in the US.

Oh, and you mentioned Baton Rouge. I would imagine it's definitely considered a small city, especially since it's metro area hasn't even hit one million yet.

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As big a fan and supporter of Charlotte as I am, I still don't consider it a big city. I think the difference between big and small as far as cities goes is more of a feel than an actual number. Right now, at times and in the right place, it feels like a big city. But in many more places and much more of the time it doesn't. We are getting there, and I don't think we are very far off, but we still don't feel like the *big* cities I'm used to in a number of catagories.

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As big a fan and supporter of Charlotte as I am, I still don't consider it a big city. I think the difference between big and small as far as cities goes is more of a feel than an actual number. Right now, at times and in the right place, it feels like a big city. But in many more places and much more of the time it doesn't. We are getting there, and I don't think we are very far off, but we still don't feel like the *big* cities I'm used to in a number of catagories.

I lived in London for about one third of my life. Charlotte is not a London, nor a New York, Chicago, L.A., or many other super large cities. Charlotte is a big city. It is in the top 20 in the U.S. It isn't a super city, but big. The good thing is that Charlotte is getting bigger. The super big cities are going out to the suburbs and becoming smaller. Just sit back, relax, and say, "Charlotte is a big city but not a giant city". Now say, "Charlotte is a big city that needs to enforce anti-smoking laws in public places". I hope you feel better. Additionally, any city that has more than 10 Indian restaurants is a big city. Love Indian food. I was in St. Louis a few years ago and they only had one. London only has a couple of million.

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As big a fan and supporter of Charlotte as I am, I still don't consider it a big city. I think the difference between big and small as far as cities goes is more of a feel than an actual number.

Very true. Sure Charlotte has a larger municipal population than either Boston or DC, but generally, who's really going to argue that Charlotte is really the biggest among the three?

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You seem to me to be a somewhat self-centered person yourself. I have no negative feelings towards gays. I also have some gay friends. To me they are just friends. I think that the fact that people accept and welcome gays elliminates Charlotte from being gay hostile city. You catagorize the citizens of Charlotte based on comments or views of the mayor or whomever you have mentioned. I don't know anybody that gays, although I must admit that gayness isn't ususally the topic of conversations. I definately do not think that you are 'special'. I think that you are just like me with different sexual preferences which is totally your business. You should not be scorned for that nor awarded. We just need to be one happy community. I know a little about persecution, my family is Jewish.

AS someone born and raised in the Charlotte area, I monitor it's climate for gay issues as a barometer for whether I would like to return there one day. As others have alluded, for many, not just gays or bisexuals, the gay issue is an indicator of a city or region's progressiveness, modernity, and cultural sophistication. For many, anti-gay has become synomous with backward or unenlightened. Charlotte really needs to work overtime to eradicate its homophobic reputation, perhaps first by adopting an anti-discrimination law that includes "sexual orientation" and by adopting domestic partnership legislation. ALmost every major city in the entire county did this years ago? I can't think of one major city that has not.

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I lived in London for about one third of my life. Charlotte is not a London, nor a New York, Chicago, L.A., or many other super large cities. Charlotte is a big city. It is in the top 20 in the U.S. It isn't a super city, but big. The good thing is that Charlotte is getting bigger. The super big cities are going out to the suburbs and becoming smaller. Just sit back, relax, and say, "Charlotte is a big city but not a giant city". Now say, "Charlotte is a big city that needs to enforce anti-smoking laws in public places". I hope you feel better. Additionally, any city that has more than 10 Indian restaurants is a big city. Love Indian food. I was in St. Louis a few years ago and they only had one. London only has a couple of million.

Great points. Maybe the terms *big* need to apply to cities like Charlotte and its size, and as you've pointed out, London, LA, NYC, Toronto, Vancouver are more supersized. Its all a matter of perspective.

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AS someone born and raised in the Charlotte area, I monitor it's climate for gay issues as a barometer for whether I would like to return there one day. As others have alluded, for many, not just gays or bisexuals, the gay issue is an indicator of a city or region's progressiveness, modernity, and cultural sophistication. For many, anti-gay has become synomous with backward or unenlightened. Charlotte really needs to work overtime to eradicate its homophobic reputation, perhaps first by adopting an anti-discrimination law that includes "sexual orientation" and by adopting domestic partnership legislation. ALmost every major city in the entire county did this years ago? I can't think of one major city that has not.

I agree and disagree. I don't get a homophobic vibe anywhere in Charlotte unless I go to very particular areas (small pockets) but I think that can be said anywhere. I was chased and harrassed by a group of a**holes yelling gay slurs in Brooklyn but NYC doesn't have a reputation as being anti-gay. Other than Charleston, that is the only place I've EVER been harrassed. I'm not sure it is fair to base the reputation of the city as a whole on a single policy (or actually the lack thereof) of the city or county government. I prefer base it on the temperment of people, the city population. Gay bars and businesses here are very much in the open. I know numerous gay business leaders that are very out in the open with no apparent effect on their lives or business. Also like Atlanta we are always an island of Blue in a sea of Red when elections are held.

I have to wonder if many mis read not having whole neighborhoods with rainbow flags on every house, or tons of gay bars with the city having issues with gays. I think it is quite the opposite, the city and those in it don't care, but out gay population just doesn't choose to self-segregate. We don't have to. On a personal level I don't care about going to gay bars at all - I don't mind them, I just don't go clubbing, we go out to the restaurants, pubs, and bars near us regardless of who owns them. Isn't the point of equality partly to NOT be considered special? I just want to be know for who I am and what I do, not who I sleep with. Colorblind society...wishful thinking?

If a homophobic reputation is still there for some, I'd challenge them to try and see the city that has emerged over the recent decade or two. It isn't the same place at all.

(Edit: by the way, please keep in mind this is about Charlotte -- I still feel VERY discriminated against as a whole regarding marriage and other inequalities)

Edited by Charlotte_native

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I also think that if the Carolinas didnt have their population so spread out among the so many small to medium size cities, in ex. Raleigh, Greensboro, Winston-Salem, Asheville, Wilmington, Columbia, Greenville, Charleston, Myrlte Beach, Durham, etc. Charlotte would've been much bigger. Take Atlanta for example, which in comparison to the other cities in GA and its surroundings dont compare at all in ex. Columbus, Augusta, Savannah, Nashville, Birmingham.....is a big factor as to why ATL has gotten so big, and to such "hub standards"not to mention so many HQ have chosen it instead of the other places, and more job opportunities, more culture, more entertainment, more nightlife, more food options, more shopping etc......Same thing goes for Boston, MA, Phoenix, AZ, Denver, CO, and Chicago...those places pretty much dont have any other major competition in their states and nearby states....I guess with NC and SC things turned out differently......

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I know it's somewhat arbitrary, but to me, big means metro (CSA) greater than 5 million people, or as a substitute, an urbanized area over 2.5 million people.

Perhaps, another measure of size, is to look at developed areas >1 miles from Trade and Tryon, and determine from that if Charlotte seems large.

The last time I was there (about a month ago), I saw some signs of urban development in South End, so that's a start, but for the most part, much of the city looks like middle of the state NJ from US 1.

I don't mean to be negative, I think a good number of the projects announced within Route 4 are a step in the right direction.

I've predicted in other threads before, but I think 2012-2013 will be the years that Charlotte gains the sort of national recognition that many who live there feel it already deserves, putting it in a similar league with Minneapolis, Denver, Phoenix, San Diego, Seattle, Cleveland, Baltimore, and St. Louis.

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All of this "big" talk is so very subjective, but for those who think it doesn't feel "big" I'm curious what would convey a feeling of bigness? I'm just wondering what makes the city seem small? Is it the lack of 20 lane highways running through downtown, a la Atlanta or LA? or something else?

From my own point of view, I used to think of Charlotte as average or medium sized. In the past couple of years, though, I've started thinking of it as a big city, albeit not a supersized one such as NYC or London, obviously. It's hard to look at the population figures (city itself is almost 700,000 and the metro area is between 1.5 and 2.2 million, depending on how you want to define it), the growing skyline, the expanding variety of restaurants and other services, and come to any conclusion but that it is a big city. What clinched it for me on a personal level is the growing commute time. It used to be that I could get anywhere in the city from anywhere else in the city in about 20 minutes (that was back in the 80s, lol). Now it takes me about 40 minutes, on a good day, to go the 15 miles to work near downtown.

The people who've posted examples of outsiders coming to the city for a visit seem to almost invariably get similar responses, along the lines of "wow, I had no idea Charlotte was such a big city". For me, the fact that I've lived here for so long makes it harder for me to see the true size of the city. Almost can't see the forest for the trees kind of thing. I know the city so well that, in my mind, it's a small, intimate place. But for newcomers I'd be willing to bet they are often lost or overwhelmed just trying to get around and I'd bet they all think of Charlotte as "big".

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All of this "big" talk is so very subjective, but for those who think it doesn't feel "big" I'm curious what would convey a feeling of bigness? I'm just wondering what makes the city seem small? Is it the lack of 20 lane highways running through downtown, a la Atlanta or LA? or something else?

The people who've posted examples of outsiders coming to the city for a visit seem to almost invariably get similar responses, along the lines of "wow, I had no idea Charlotte was such a big city". For me, the fact that I've lived here for so long makes it harder for me to see the true size of the city. Almost can't see the forest for the trees kind of thing. I know the city so well that, in my mind, it's a small, intimate place. But for newcomers I'd be willing to bet they are often lost or overwhelmed just trying to get around and I'd bet they all think of Charlotte as "big".

On the first paragraph -- my personal thoughts are this: get just outside the 277 loop and you are in neighborhoods. Their main arteries are beginning to have denser development, but overall the density here is concentrated in a few areas but expanding. In cities I feel are *big* that dense core goes on for what either is, or seems like, miles. I love our core and what is there and what is coming, but you can walk from end to end in our most dense areas in less than 30 minutes. Highways, etc, don't have anything to do with it for me.

On the second paragraph -- I get the same reaction and I often am working with folks that visit here for the first time. Invariably they say they had no idea we were so big. It also depends on where they come from. I know this is common sense, but someone from a smaller city or town thinks Charlotte is big, someone from NYC thinks it is small.

I now think we are a big city but what I used to think of as big cities I now think of as supersize cities!! :)

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For me, for Charlotte to feel big, there are still some physical and social/subjective benchmarks that should be achieved. I've listed areas that I believe Charlotte still falls short.

1. It's rare to hear a wide varierty of foreign languages being spoken.

2. Few boutique hotels (though this is changing) is an indicator of the relatively vanilla population visiting Charlotte.

3. Vast amount of surface parking lots in Uptown (though this is rapidly changing) This along with the vast tree canopy (which I want to keep) make Uptown appear to be an island is a see of low density.

4. No large national or intenational service firms HQed in Charlotte...this would be ad shops, PR firms, law firms, accounting firms.

5. Rare to Charlotte to get positive (or any) national media exposure outside of sporting events and business reports. It's rarely referenced in prime time shows, and ususally when it is, it is in a negative light.

6. No large "urban" commercial district outside the CBD...

7. Relatively small population (metro still smaller than place likes KC, Pittsburgh, Portland, Orlando, Tampa, San Antonio, Cincinnati, and Sacramento)

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Charlotte has never felt like a big city to me. Our traffic problem is certainly worsening but compared to DC, LA, ATL, Boston etc etc we have it so good here! In the height of the day I can get across Uptown in no time and by 9:00 am and 6:00pm during the weekdays the surface streets are clear sailing. I spent a lot of time in Atlanta after college and day or night I constantly got stuck in massive traffic jams bumper to bumper not moving no matter what time of day :angry: (You know it's bad in Atlanta when the traffic accident updates take a half hour to go through on the radio) So I have hard time not laughing when people say Charlotte has the worst traffic they have ever seen. It's all about perception...I know ^_^

Edited by voyager12

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1. It's rare to hear a wide varierty of foreign languages being spoken.

You'd be VERY surprised regarding this one and I don't mean Spanish (though many things now have both English and Spanish and we hear Spanish everywhere). I hear lots of German, Dutch, and Indian quite often on the streets.

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For me, for Charlotte to feel big, there are still some physical and social/subjective benchmarks that should be achieved. I've listed areas that I believe Charlotte still falls short.

1. It's rare to hear a wide varierty of foreign languages being spoken.

2. Few boutique hotels (though this is changing) is an indicator of the relatively vanilla population visiting Charlotte.

3. Vast amount of surface parking lots in Uptown (though this is rapidly changing) This along with the vast tree canopy (which I want to keep) make Uptown appear to be an island is a see of low density.

4. No large national or intenational service firms HQed in Charlotte...this would be ad shops, PR firms, law firms, accounting firms.

5. Rare to Charlotte to get positive (or any) national media exposure outside of sporting events and business reports. It's rarely referenced in prime time shows, and ususally when it is, it is in a negative light.

6. No large "urban" commercial district outside the CBD...

7. Relatively small population (metro still smaller than place likes KC, Pittsburgh, Portland, Orlando, Tampa, San Antonio, Cincinnati, and Sacramento)

Re. #4: Moore & Van Allen is a local law firm with ~250 attorneys. They don't have prominent satellite offices but they do consistently lead (as in #1 or #2) other firms in rankings published in banking publications in respect of number of leveraged deals completed. They're not necessarily in the top-5 in the size of deals completed, but they have a good thing going and are well known among the true "white shoe" firms in NYC and London.

[No - I don't work there...]

Edited by Commoner

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Until MVA opens an office in NYC or London, or anywhere north of the NC state line, I'm sticking to my claim. :)

There are certainly firms in Charlotte that have good reputations, but still not a national presence. Let's face it, MVA closes large deals for BofA and Wachovia, whereas Cadwalader (with an office in Charlotte) closes deals for them as well as all the other top 10 largest banks in the world.

King & Spaulding and Alston Bird are examples of Atlanta firms that have become national in scope.

My point in all this is that Charlotte, is still mostly relavent as a regional power-house, but is still a way from being nationally significant.

Again, I see signs that Charlotte is headed there quickly.

1. More international non-stop flights.

2. National developers investing in the Charlotte real estate market.

3. National/international service firms opening Charlotte offices.

4. Growth in the number of international luxury retailers.

5. Professional sports teams.

6. Rail-based transit system.

7. And most importantly, rapid population growth that is much stronger than any of the other larger metros I previously listed.

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All of this "big" talk is so very subjective, but for those who think it doesn't feel "big" I'm curious what would convey a feeling of bigness? I'm just wondering what makes the city seem small? Is it the lack of 20 lane highways running through downtown, a la Atlanta or LA? or something else?

From my own point of view, I used to think of Charlotte as average or medium sized. In the past couple of years, though, I've started thinking of it as a big city, albeit not a supersized one such as NYC or London, obviously. It's hard to look at the population figures (city itself is almost 700,000 and the metro area is between 1.5 and 2.2 million, depending on how you want to define it), the growing skyline, the expanding variety of restaurants and other services, and come to any conclusion but that it is a big city. What clinched it for me on a personal level is the growing commute time. It used to be that I could get anywhere in the city from anywhere else in the city in about 20 minutes (that was back in the 80s, lol). Now it takes me about 40 minutes, on a good day, to go the 15 miles to work near downtown.

The people who've posted examples of outsiders coming to the city for a visit seem to almost invariably get similar responses, along the lines of "wow, I had no idea Charlotte was such a big city". For me, the fact that I've lived here for so long makes it harder for me to see the true size of the city. Almost can't see the forest for the trees kind of thing. I know the city so well that, in my mind, it's a small, intimate place. But for newcomers I'd be willing to bet they are often lost or overwhelmed just trying to get around and I'd bet they all think of Charlotte as "big".

For me, a big city is an extremely dense city for a significant geographic expanse, with a 24/7 vibe of people indulging in business and entertainment. A big city thumps with that always buzzing vibe, has an accelerated pace of life, and a cosmopolitan sophistication that says we are the center of civilization. Cities like Chicago, Boston, New York, LA, and Miami are big cities.

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For me, for Charlotte to feel big, there are still some physical and social/subjective benchmarks that should be achieved. I've listed areas that I believe Charlotte still falls short.

1. It's rare to hear a wide varierty of foreign languages being spoken.

2. Few boutique hotels (though this is changing) is an indicator of the relatively vanilla population visiting Charlotte.

3. Vast amount of surface parking lots in Uptown (though this is rapidly changing) This along with the vast tree canopy (which I want to keep) make Uptown appear to be an island is a see of low density.

4. No large national or intenational service firms HQed in Charlotte...this would be ad shops, PR firms, law firms, accounting firms.

5. Rare to Charlotte to get positive (or any) national media exposure outside of sporting events and business reports. It's rarely referenced in prime time shows, and ususally when it is, it is in a negative light.

6. No large "urban" commercial district outside the CBD...

7. Relatively small population (metro still smaller than place likes KC, Pittsburgh, Portland, Orlando, Tampa, San Antonio, Cincinnati, and Sacramento)

I agree with you on most of them except #1.....I hear Greek, Indian, Russian, Arabic, German, etc all the time....the ethnic population in Charlotte is definately increasing constantly. I myself am Greek and I remember when they were saying the Greek population was like around 8,000-10,000 and now its like around 14,000-15,000, There was only one main Greek Orthodox church in CLT, and now there is a 2nd one that was just finished off Providence Rd.(although they had the congregation for 10 years), and also a 3rd congregation in Lake Norman area has been started last year. Not to mention the Armenian church on Park Rd. that is fairly new too. And I was suprised at how many Persians there are in CLT after my friend introduced me to so many. So there is a lot of ethnic population growth, maybe not like NYC, Boston or Miami, but compared to the other cities in the Carolinas trust me! Go to Columbia, everyone is either White, Black or Mexican! Rarely anything else. You also have to think, Charlotte didnt and still doesnt have the industries that Boston, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Chicago, Detroit etc. had/has. Ethnic people, especially European immigrants back in the 50's, 60's, 70's and 80's found jobs easily in those places because of those industries. But now the Rust Belt is getting more and more Rusty, and so Charlotte(and Atlanta, and others) is somehow gaining attention from those immigrants because of oppurtunity situations.

Edited by Temeteron

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I don't think Atlvr was saying that Charlotte is devoid of multiple cultures and languages. We do have a growing mix of accents and languages on the streets that I hear quite often. But we certainly do not have a constant presence that is so pervasive to be the norm as is the case in top tier cities. Saying this is not bashing Charlotte or being negative. It's just the truth.

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.....and a cosmopolitan sophistication that says we are the center of civilization. Cities like Chicago, Boston, New York, LA, and Miami are big cities.
In terms of human civilization, only New York & LA would matter. (and LA only because Southern Calif has had such an influence on modern western civilization) The rest, from that perspective, are just regional places and really are not that different from Charlotte in that regard.

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