Charlotte is best known as the second-largest banking center in the United States and the birthplace of racing, but there is much more to the Queen City than the NASDAQ and NASCAR. The city has a rich and diverse history and is highly regarded for retaining its small-town charm even as the city continues to grow. The essence of the city is best summed up in the title of a permanent exhibit at the Levine Museum of the New South: “Cotton Fields to Skyscrapers.”
Tucked between the skyscrapers and luxury condos in Uptown are historic buildings and important monuments like Old Settlers Cemetery, the oldest burial ground in Mecklenburg County with headstones dating back to 1776. The city center is also home to Victorian houses and historic churches; even the skyscrapers have interesting stories.
Over the past decade Charlotte has continued to evolve, but always with an eye toward preservation. Many of the historic textile mills have been given new life as apartments and retail centers, monuments have been preserved, and historic homes are celebrated.
There is no one neighborhood where the sights are more impressive than the next. It’s the nature of your interests that will dictate the neighborhoods to visit. Dilworth and Myers Park feature a hotbed of classic architecture, like the stunning Tudor home known as the Earle Sumner Draper House and the streetcar waiting stations that were built in 1912. NoDa offers a glimpse into Charlotte’s once-thriving textile industry with sights like Johnston Mill and Charlotte Fire Department Engine #7, which used to double as a jail for rowdy textile workers.
Uptown, the first neighborhood in the city to undergo development, is home to the highest concentration of sights both old and new, including NASCAR Hall of Fame, Independence Square, Bank of America Building, City Hall, and Mecklenburg Investment Company Building.
Visitors can check out all of the museums in Uptown without spending a bundle, thanks to the Uptown Museum Pass. In 2008, Levine Museum of the New South, Discovery Place, and the Mint Museum of Craft + Design introduced the pass to offer a discount on admission to the museums. The pass is $18 adults, $12 children 15 and under. It’s valid for four days and can be purchased at any of the three museums.
The pass also offers discounts for other area attractions, restaurants, museums, and performing-arts groups, including North Carolina Dance Theater, Charlotte Museum of History, and Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden. More information is available at 704/333-1887.
- Best Collection of Modern Art: Bechtler Museum of Modern Art
- Best Children’s Museum: Discovery Place
- The Best Place for a Picnic Lunch: The Green
- Most Iconic Landmark: Independence Square
- Best History Museum: Levine Museum of the New South
- Most Historic Cemetery: Old Settlers Cemetery
- Best Slice of History: Costner House
- Best Architecture: Earle Sumner Draper House
- Best Place to Find Peace: Myers Park Baptist Church
- Most Interesting Library: Billy Graham Library
© Jodi Helmer from Moon Charlotte, 1st Edition