Boston may lay claim to revolutionary heritage that includes Paul Revere, but the Queen City of Charlotte has its own midnight rider in Captain Jack. There are many folks around these parts who believe that independence from the redcoats was born here in Charlotte on May 20, 1775. A local group named the May 20th Society, has developed Charlotte’s Liberty Walk. The walk, complete with 104 red granite Captain Jack pavers, stretches along a 3/4 mile loop from South Tryon to Independence Square then down West Trade Street, Church Street, and finally West 5th Street.
The walk is an interactive walking tour of Charlotte’s Uptown Revolutionary War sites. Modeled on Boston’s Freedom Trail, Charlotte's Liberty Walk links 15 sites that made Charlotte what British General, and Lord of the Realm, Cornwallis called a “hornets’ nest” of rebellion.
BTW, for many years Charlotte's professional baseball, and later basketball, teams proudly wore the nickname "Hornets," until George Shinn, one of Charlottean's least favorite residents, absconded with our basketball team and nickname and moved them to New Orleans where the New Orleans Hornets make about as much sense as the Utah Jazz. Now that Shinn has sold the Hornets team, why doesn't one of those NBA executives champion the great idea of renaming the Utah Jazz, who play in the SALT Palace in SALT Lake City, as the Utah Salt, move the name Jazz back to where it originated in New Orleans, and let Charlotte have the Hornets name back.
Everyone loves a break from the hustle and grind of walking or driving urban streets, so why not try an eco-friendly way to see and learn all about Charlotte. How about a three-hour guided cycling tour of the city, including at least three signature Southern tastings at favorite local restaurants and potential stops at Price's Chicken Coop, Mac's Speedshop, Mert's Restaurant, Olde Mecklenburg Brewery, Common Market, and more.
Meet at Charlotte NC Tours where their team of urban navigators will be on hand to distribute helmets, bikes, and locks for this breezy, eight-mile excursion through beautiful uptown Charlotte. Your guide will be an experienced cyclist and city historian, who will point out the historic homes, postmodern architectural marvels, and take you up close to the regal details that earned this town the moniker "Queen City," other than the fact that it is named after a queen.
While getting in your recommended dose of local culture, with ten to 20 of your new best friends, you will make pit stops at culinary gems and sate your palates with three tastings from some to-be-determined gourmet hubs. And to quench your curiosity about local drink, we'll stop at local watering holes like Olde Mecklenburg Brewery, which is home of German craft beers like the Düsseldorf-style Altbier; or Common Market, an eclectic South End modern general store. Finally, you will cycle back to where you started with a thorough knowledge of our fair city.
Am I the only one who thinks that it is rather ironic, perhaps even prosaic, that a building which was initiated by a bank which has since failed is in the process of becoming the corporate headquarters for an energy company which should be amassing great profits but has been mired in the NYSE doldrums for several years and that this new building has been awarded platinum-level LEED certification under the sustainability standards established by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC).
Wachovia Corp., before it was acquired by Wells Fargo & Co. developed the office tower under USGBC's LEED for Core & Shell rating system Version 2.0.
At this time, they are not regularly scheduled, but from time to time tours of the building, emphasizing the features which won them the award, are given. They take about an hour and are usually given in the late afternoon, presumably to avoid interrupting the very important which is done there every day. If you are interested in a tour, check with the receptionist on the first floor, in person, or by calling (704) 382-5365, and you do have to dial all ten digits in the Charlotte area.
This Duke Energy Center is a 786 foot (240 m) tall, 48-floor (54 floors including mechanical floors) skyscraper in Charlotte. When completed in 2010, it was the largest building in Charlotte (in square footage), second tallest building in Charlotte, and the tallest in the world to use precast double tees built by Prestress of the Carolinas. The building and adjacent cultural arts campus are owned by Wells Fargo Bank.
Sonnenschein will use 35,000 square feet (3,300 square meters) on the 34th and 35th floors and Deloitte will use 82,000 square feet (7,600 square meters).
Originally, the building was to be known as the Wachovia Corporate Center. It was to replace One Wachovia Center as the headquarters of Wachovia Bank. Wachovia was to occupy 450,000 square feet (42,000 square meters) of the 1,500,000 square foot (139,000 square meter) tower. Wells Fargo plans to use five of its 14 floors.
The moment that we drove into sight of the Royal Center in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, I could not help but notice the similarity between the two buildings, particularly the inverted triangles which top both of them.
For the gourmets, Emeril Lagasse is supposed to open a restaurant on the ground floor later this year. This will be his first venture in Charlotte.
The final point of irony which I must share with you is that, although Duke Power has been the energy giant of the Carolinas for nearly 100 years and only entered the Southern Ohio market a few years ago, there is already a Duke Energy Center in Cincinnati.
The IJL Financial Center is the seventh tallest building in Charlotte at 30 stories, but most people don't know that this birdhouse predates the building itself. Legend has it that the birdhouse actually inspired the building. It's located right in front of Bijoux, a restaurant on the ground level of the building facing Tryon.
Banks have a tendency to change hands via mergers and acquisitions so as of right now this is the Wachovia Atrium (formerly the First Union). In fact, my former employer Bank of America has been through a number of mergers most notably in the late 90s when Nationsbank merged with Bank of America and when Bank of America merged with Fleet Bank of Boston and most recently when BofA purchased MBNA.
Charlotte's skyline is impressive. This is the Bank of America Tower, which is the highest building in the city at 61 storeys.
I also used to work for Bank of America, so I've spent some time in this building. On the very top is the Corporate Dining Room. Only Senior Executives can make reservations there so it's not open to the public. I've been twice by "special invitation" and it's awesome. Great food and what a view!
As you can see, I'm big on fountains, but at this plaza, the atrium is what stands out over the fountains. If you enlarge the photo, you may see Mark in the process of tying his shoe. At the time this photo was taken, it was called First Union Plaza, but since then (March, 2003), Wachovia merged with First Union and, thus the name of the building changed.
This is the home of Charlotte's main newspaper. Those who disagree with its editorial staff nickname it "The Charlotte Disturber". That nickname is quite popular as the editorial board frequently goes against local political opinion.
To avoid the wait and sometimes hazard of crossing the street, not to mention temperature extremes and inclement weather, skyways are a comfortable and convenient way to get from building to building. On this street alone, there are 3 of them.
Many modern high-rise buildings make up the Charlotte skyline, but the 3 which stand out are those I call "the trinity". The Wachovia building (leftmost), The tallest (871 feet, 266 m.) is The Bank of America building (centre), and the Transamerica building (rightmost) which appears to be rather short and squatty. From some angles, not this particular one, these three buildings appear to be closer together, but on touring Charlotte up close and personally, one can see they are each a good distance apart.
In most large cities, the central business district is known as downtown. In Charlotte, it is called "uptown". From this distance, you can see how the 3 main buildings appear closer together than they really are.
I found 3 things impressive about this park. First, I was impressed by the fountains. Second, I like clocks probably because my late Grandpa Terry built and repaired watches and clocks. Third, I am struck by this old style clock's proximity to the ultra modern Hilton Hotel.
This relatively new building is more architecturally inventive than its predecessor some blocks away (still a vacant building). Mark tells me that is most noteworthy feature is the oculus (for those in Roxboro, North Carolina, "oculus" is the Latin word for "eye"). The sun shines through it and forms a ball of light on the floor. All sorts of trade groups and political organisations rent out the use of the convention centre.
In a stunning contrast to the two older houses I captured on film in the fourth ward, new flats are springing up everywhere. If you enlarge the photo, pay careful attention to the garden terrace on the penthouse in the upper right. As you think of the difference in architectural style, consider the difference in monthly rent in that building versus the monthly mortgage payment the original owners of those older houses have to pay.
...but it took one of my distant kinfolks to get it back for the "good guys". Nathanael Greene married Nancy Terry (my grandfather Nathaniel Green Terry was a descendant of Nancy Terry- for whom my mama was named). Nathanael Greene and Nancy Terry Greene lived on a piece of land between South Boston and Halifax, Virginia which is today a public golf course known as Greene's Folly. Enlarge the photo and read the sign.