51 Reasons Why We Love Charlotte

By Carrie Campbell, Sarah Crosland, Blake Miller, Amy Rainey, and Richard Thurmond
Photographs by Chris Edwards

OK, we lied. There are probably a hundred more reasons why we love this city, but we've highlighted the ones that make Charlotte Charlotte. While we love Price's Chicken for its hush puppies, we love it more for the line of devotees who stand in line on Camden Road every afternoon. While we love the Coca-Cola 600, what we really love are the colorful tailgaters. Because while we love Charlotte’s unique events, great food, and semi-celebs, we love more what those things mean: that we're a pretty darn cool city. And we could use a little love right now.

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1. The skyline views from all over the city



Charlotte Skyline
A favorite skyline view? The loop around the city on I-277 just as you're coming off Independence Boulevard into the city.
2. The Construction Cranes
The seemingly always-present construction cranes certainly junk up our view of that pretty skyline. We don't care. Because every time another crane pops up, we know that another building’s being built. And that means this city’s booming. And as much as we hate the construction and the temporary turning lanes or the "Road Closed" signs, we crush on the cranes.

3. Rodney Monroe Chief of Police, CMPD




Rodney Monroe
Because, for once, there's no drama with the thin blue line. Monroe is all about fighting crime and not about letting the other crap get in his way. He's focused on reducing crime by putting more officers on the streets -- a tactic we think is the smartest thing CMPD's done since, well, hiring Monroe. And Monroe loves him some local comfort food at Mert's Heart and Soul, which he frequents every Sunday after church. How could you not love a police chief who loves the local eats?

4. The Intersection at Providence/Providence and Queens/Queens


Newcomers who come to this infamous intersection often wonder what genius laid out the four-way stop. We do, too.

Tom Hanchett, staff historian at the Levine Museum of the New South, enlightened us. Said genius was John Nolen of Cambridge, Massachusetts, one of the best-known planners of the time. Nolen designed Myers Park's streets in 1911, but he didn't name them (nice). What is now Queens Road was intended to be the neighborhood's spine, with trolley tracks running down the landscaped median. It was created in a big loop so the streetcar could swing back toward town. In 1912, after a naming contest, the boulevard was named Queens Road to commemorate Queen Charlotte of England. Back when the trolley and median defined Queens Road, the intersections with other streets were easy to understand. But after trolley service ended in 1938, traffic engineers began tinkering with the intersections. The result: a road that turns abruptly without explanation, guarantees confusion for newcomers, and is one of those quirks that you hate until you love.

5. The Traffic (or Lack of It)
As much as we complain about it, the traffic in Charlotte just isn't comparable to that of other major cities (hello, Atlanta). In the Charlotte metropolitan area, commute times averaged 25.1 minutes in 2007. Compare that to 30.7 minutes in Atlanta, 31 in Chicago, 28.9 in Boston, and 28.3 in Houston. Of course, the Big Apple had one of the highest commute times -- 34.8 minutes.
Source: U.S. Census America Community Survey 2007 estimates
6. Yes, there are alternate routes into and out of town.
Providence, Wilkinson, Statesville, Beatties Ford, and a few others.
7. The smell of Doughnuts, Sticky Buns, Bear Claws, and Whatever Else is Baking in South End.
If you catch the right breeze in South End, you're bound to breathe in the intoxicating scent of baked goods. Carolina Foods, a plant at West Boulevard and Tryon Street, bakes honey buns, doughnuts, and mini-pies. The plant produces baked goods for other labels (though they won't disclose who -- we like to think it's Little Debbie), which are sent all over North America, but also for its own Duchess brand, which is sold at Sam's Club and local grocery stores. Sadly, while you can smell the yummy goodness all day long, you'll have to find another way to satisfy your sweet tooth. You can't buy these baked goodies at the plant.
8. The Courthouse
While the people watching there is, dare we say, the best in the city (we're talking real drama, people), there are plenty of other cool things, such as the mini movie theater in the juror waiting room, to see at the $148 million, nine-story Mecklenburg County Courthouse. One piece of public art always grabs our attention. Persistence of Vision, a kinetic sculpture suspended from the atrium ceiling, is made up of 3,200 sculpted heads based on actual Mecklenburg residents. Controlled by more than a thousand motors and a computer system, the heads move around each week to form a new image of a larger face.

9. Price's Chicken



Price's Chicken

You've gotta love the devotees who stand in line outside the South End institution in 95-degree heat, rain, and, yes, sometimes snow.

Tamara Neely
"I've been coming here for fifteen years. I always get the sweet tea and chicken sandwich with a side of potato salad."

George Soler
"I come as often as I can when I'm in town with my friend. I'm from Georgia, and the chicken tastes real good here."

Jimmy Brown
"Been coming here for eleven years, and I always get the quarter white, tater tots, slaw, pups, and a gallon of sweet tea."

10. Barbecue
It's not beef and it's definitely not a verb. In North Carolina, when you say barbecue, you're talking about tender pork with a vinegar- or tomato-based sauce. And lucky for us some of the top 'cue joints around are just a quick drive outside the city.
11. Matt Carroll, Guard, Charlotte Bobcats
When His Airness Michael Jordan came to Charlotte, he saw something in guard Matt Carroll that he'd seen somewhere before. Maybe it was John Paxson. Maybe it was Steve Kerr. Or maybe…it was both. "His accuracy is something that every championship team needs," Jordan said of Carroll. "We had Steve Kerr. We had John Paxson. To me, he's more like that." And ever since, Jordan's been one of Carroll's biggest supporters, helping to orchestrate the twenty-eight-year-old's $27 million, six-year contract with the team. But we don't just love the guy because Jordan does -- we love him because he's classy on and off the court and is one of the few NBA players who actually plays a little D.

More Reasons: 1-11 | 12-23 | 24-41 | 42-51