NCNB and First Union Help Restore Fourth Ward


You think Charlotte is bad about preserving its history these days? We've come a long since the 1970s.

Then, even more so than now, the shinier the better. If in doubt, knock it down. Some of the historic in-town neighborhoods we take for granted now, such as Dilworth, were still collections of broken-down mill houses. Fourth Ward, the charming enclave of Victorian-style homes just north of our towering financial center, was just as derelict.

In 1975, people began to recognize the potential and allure of Fourth Ward. The two big banks -- at that time NCNB and First Union (to later become Bank of America and Wachovia) -- saw it, too. They started offering low-interest loans to anyone willing to be "urban pioneers." A few hardy souls took them up on their offer, and today Fourth Ward is one of the most sought-after and attractive neighborhoods in the city.

But those loans carried added significance. The success in Fourth Ward started the trend of restoring close-in neighborhoods, such as Dilworth, Elizabeth, NoDa, Plaza-Midwood, and others. It was also the first real step toward the revitalization of our downtown, which continues to this day and has transformed our entire city in the past ten years. The banks could build all the towers they wanted, but until people actually started living in the center city, it would still be a ghost town after 5 p.m.

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