1 Charlotteans don’t take kindly to imperiousness.
In 1780, just weeks before the tide turned in the
Revolutionary War, Lord Cornwallis, frustrated by his
troops’ lack of progress in Charlotte, called the city a “hornet’s nest of
rebellion.” Residents adopted the hornet’s nest as a civic
Photograph courtesy of the Library of Congress.
2 We were Americans before you were.
1775, 13 months before the rest of the country, county officials whipped
up a document declaring independence from the king. A man named James Jack
was dispatched to deliver the so-called Mecklenburg Declaration of
Independence to the Continental Congress in Philadelphia. Charlotte
celebrates Meck Dec Day every May 20.
3 Charlotte’s two primary food groups are fried pickles
and pimiento cheese.
You’ll find one or the other on almost every
menu, from upscale restaurant to dive. The fried pickles at the Diamond,
in the Plaza Midwood neighborhood, are the city’s best. As for pimiento
cheese, some opt for the spicy, three-cheese version plied by Common
Market in South End. Or head to Bad Daddy’s Burger Bar in Dilworth and
order it atop your all-beef patty.
4 The banking crisis started in Charlotte.
Well, sort of. In 1982, a team led by Hugh
McColl at the Charlotte bank NCNB found a loophole in the laws
that kept banks from crossing state lines. NCNB bought a Florida bank, the
first acquisition of many by what became too-big-to-fail Bank of America.
This history, along with many other stories of the South since the Civil
War, is told in Charlotte’s Levine Museum of the New South, a few blocks
from Time Warner Cable Arena, the site of the convention.
5 We’re the original NASCAR dads.
sport’s hall of fame is here—as are most NASCAR teams—and 140,000 people
can pack the Charlotte Motor Speedway. The course speed record is a
sprightly 155 miles an hour over 600 miles, set by Kasey
Kahne in May.
Artwork by Stephen Pitkin/Pitkin Studio.
6 Uptown means downtown, which means good
The Levine Center for the Arts, which anchors the
southern end of uptown (that’s what Charlotte calls its downtown),
consists of two art museums, a performing-arts facility, and the
Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Arts &
Culture. The Mint Museum Uptown is hosting a show by outsider artist
Thornton Dial (and don’t miss the gallery devoted to
native son Romare Bearden), and the Gantt Center—named
for the city’s first black mayor— will be consumed by “America I AM: The
African American Imprint,” presented by Tavis Smiley. The
Bechtler Museum of Modern Art is an architectural standout with a
collection to match.
Charlotte is playing its part in the
craft-brewery craze, boasting at least seven breweries by convention time.
Visit the Olde Mecklenburg Brewery for traditional German-style brews, or
hit NoDa Brewing Company for wild American concoctions.
8 Charlotte doesn’t let geography get in the way of
getting the things it wants.
About 25 minutes from uptown, the US
National Whitewater Center, where members of the US Olympic team train,
has almost a mile of self-sustaining rapids, using a recirculating system
of city and well water. Sign up for 90 minutes and experience a ride
almost as thrilling—and bumpy—as Barack Obama’s next few
months promise to be.
Want to know what’s happening down at the Republican National Convention in Tampa? Check out our guide to Tampa.
Richard Thurmond, editor of Charlotte Magazine, likes to dip
fried pickles in pimiento cheese.
This article appears in the August 2012 issue of The Washingtonian.