What if I told you there was once a time when finding a local Charlottean wasn’t like a Nessie spotting off the coast of Scotland? I cannot begin to tell you how many questions I get when people find out I am a native Charlottean.
No, I do not know who Sharon is and why all the roads are named after her. Yes, I also feel weird calling it “Uptown.” No, I don’t work for a bank. And no, my parents don’t work for a bank either.
Growing up in Charlotte, I never imagined what this city would mean to me now or what it could become. As a child I would love taking trips to the Children’s Theatre of Charlotte when it was still on Morehead Street, to the Mint Museum when there was only a Randolph location, and to Lake Norman when times were simpler and the one lane roads didn’t cause serious bottlenecked traffic.
I remember a time when I-485 wasn’t a circle, Park Road didn’t extend into South Carolina, the Hornets were the original Hornets, and the Panthers were first being born.
When I left for college I could not wait to escape this seemingly dying city. I wanted to leave and go somewhere new and fun because to an airhead 18 year-old, Charlotte seemed to have nothing. Boy was I wrong. In the four years I was away, the city exploded.
It seemed almost overnight the tiny little downtown that was exclusively for bankers had transformed into what Uptown is today. With the creation of the EpiCentre, the opening of the Whitewater Center, the completion of the Duke Energy skyscraper, and the massive expansion of the ‘hip’ neighborhoods that border center city, coming home felt like entering into a brand new city I had never been to before.
I found myself hungry to explore the new city that is Charlotte.
When I ran away to Asheville for college, I found everything I was looking for and then some. I will admit to becoming an Asheville snob. Nothing could compare to my little hippie city. However, when Charlotte changed it started to grow heavy on my heart. With neighborhoods like NoDa, Plaza Midwood, and South End, I had everything I ever loved about Asheville and then some. Dare I say I have now become a Charlotte snob?
I’m not saying I’ll never leave Charlotte, but I’m also not going to hate my time living here. Our perfect (not so little anymore) city has become a great spot for individuals of all generations to learn and grow and enjoy living. Hats off to you, Charlotte, for the great city you have become.