When Mark moved here in 1993, the area that is now Ballantyne was pastureland. However, as the affluence spread southward, gated communities and snooty shopping centres spread like kudzu into the countryside. This is definitely not a place either acemj or b1bob should want to live even if we had the means.
If you end up in the Southern end of town (Ballantyne and surrounding area), you may run into Rea Road. The correct pronunciation is "RAY" (as in "ray of light"), not "REE-AH".
Locals get very upset if you mispronounce the name of this road!
Unlike many southern cities, Charlotte is more focused on the future than stuck in the past. This picture shows the old (a historic cemetery) and the new (the skyscrapers behind it), but in the eleven years that I lived in Charlotte, the local buzz was always centered on what's happening now and what's going to happen in the future.
I don't know if this was an attempt to make the Charlotte area seem more upscale, but the people here do not call the downtown area "downtown." Instead, it's "uptown." So its uptown Charlotte, not downtown Charlotte.
Being a town lacking deep roots and full of come-heres, one would not expect much cohesiveness around a hometown sporting team. As I allude to in the sports tip, the Carolina Panthers American football team was bloody awful at the 2001 season. They had a middling transitional 2002 season with a new coach and some new players. In the 2003 season, they not only made postseason play, the earned the right to go to the Super Bowl. In January, 2004, some fans went to the extreme to show their support at a Panthers rallye at the famous Charlotte intersection of Trade and Tryon. For full disclosure, the Carolina Panthers are my team. In fact, I went to the Meadowlands in East Rutherford, New Jersey to watch the last regular season Panthers game against the New York Giants, having the audacity to wear my Panthers sweatshirt and to cheer at the top of my lungs (in the midst of a bunch of Giants fans) to cheer on my team.
Charlotte is a unique blend of southern culture and northern big-business influence.
You're likely to run into plenty of friendly people down here. Some will have thick southern accents and others will sound like they just stepped off of a New York City subway car. You'll notice a lot of transplants from the north, but that won't take away from the southern feel of the city.
If someone says, 'Wuchyou no good'
they're simply greeting you!
If you want to check out the latest happenings in Charlotte, pick up the FREE weekly publication Creative Loafing at practically any restaurant or newsstand (they're found in bins usually near the front door). It leans a bit to the left, but it usually has good restaurant reviews (just in case this page doesn't give you enough choices) and has some interesting live music reviews. The movie reviews, however, usually suck!!
The Queen's City: the city's nickname.
Shawlet: How natives pronounce that fine city.
The Square: the official centre of the city at Trade and Tryon.
cookout: backyard barbecue.
skew: How natives pronounce "school".
U.N.C.C.: University of North Carolina at Charlotte. In terms of sports, referred to simply as Charlotte.
Sun Drop: a citrus flavoured local soft drink.
Cheerwine: a cherry flavoured local soft drink.
hose pop: most call it a garden hose.
Char-Meck: The combined jurisdiction of Charlotte and Mecklenburg County, North Carolina.
Charlotte Disturber: What many locals call the primary newspaper The Charlotte Observer.
When an outsider thinks of Charlotte, they think of NASCAR, American football, basketball, barbecue, and being part of the Bible belt. (Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker ran their PTL club from a Charlotte suburb in South Carolina.) Protestant churches still dominate, but with the growth of the banking industry, the community has become more diverse (as witnessed in the restaurant tips). With that comes religious diversity as well. From top to bottom, I took a picture of a Catholic church, the Greek Orthodox church across the street is in the middle, and a synagogue not far from Mark's house. Click to enlarge the photo to get everything in.
Sorry, Atlanta, Charlotte edged y'all out as the banking capital of the South. As I alluded to in the intro, only New York is a larger banking centre than Charlotte in the USA. Wachovia and Bank of America are headquartered here and many more have a presence.
Charlotteans are very friendly, so don't be afraid to strike up a conversation. Some of the natives will probably sound a little funny to you, but just remember, "Shawlet" means Charlotte and "yella" means yellow.
A barber shop is one of the best places to talk to people and get a glimpse into the local culture. This is a picture of my barber Mike and his wife Trish at the British Barber Shop in Matthews.
Charlotte is full of corporate types. You know, the kind of folks that will do whatever the big boss tells them to do if it means that it might advance their careers. There is a lot of money in this town and a lot of networks are being developed at all times. People are, for the most part, genuinely friendly, but don't be surprised if someone introduces himself under the guise of friendship and then tries to get you to invest in something.
Charlotte is a bit on the conservative side. Hard work is respected and people aren't too flashy with their money. You won't see a lot of eccentrics. Not too much purple hair and nose rings. Not too many Ferraris and Lamborghinis driving around. However, there is a lot of money in this town and most people earned it by traditional means like a big inheritance or the banking industry.
This house is located off of Dotger Street behind the Mint Museum of Art.
The one thing that you'll notice about Charlotte is that no one is actually from Charlotte. As previously stated the city is made up of folks from all over the U.S. A great question to start a conversation may be 'So... where are you from?' I bet Charlotte won't be the answer.
Even though Charlotte is part of the bible belt, a stronger cultural trait might be that we consider ourselves 'ACC Country'. College basketball is huge here! Most everyone puts on the brakes during the playoffs. The Carolinas have so many well known college basketball teams that it really is a big deal! So... are you a Duke or a Tar Heel fan?