Monday, 3 June 2013

Charlotte, North Carolina

All roads lead to Charlotte

Last week I was over in Charlotte, North Carolina for a quick work trip. My previous visits to the US have been to New York (a few times) and weekend each in Las Vagas and San Francisco. This was my first visit to small city America and it wasn't quite what I expected.

As we descended into Charlotte airport I got my first glimpse of the town. The small city centre was dominated by a handful of sky scrapers and the rest of the area was as flat as a pancake. I was expecting to see huge sprawling suburbs / a concrete jungle. The suburbs were there, but the density was lower than I was expecting and there were lots of trees in amongst the houses.

Sculpture outside Museum of Modern Art

I caught a taxi into the city, checked into my hotel and decided to go for a walk round. It only took an hour and I'd walked virtually every street in the uptown area. In amongst the (limited) number of skyscrapers I was expecting a shopping mall and a bit bustle. Instead I found a very sleepy city.

In between the handful of sky scrappers were parking lots, vacant blocks, a few apartment buildings and very little else. I was really surprised to see hardly any shops, there certainly wasn't the shopping mall I had been expecting. The city centre seemed to consist of offices, a few hotels, restaurants to serve the office workers and virtually nothing else.

Charlotte Court House

The city was also pretty modern. There were a couple of heritage buildings around, but not many. Charlotte has tried with its public spaces. The streets are clean streets and there are quite a few large sculptures around the place.

Speaking to my colleagues in the office, all of the facilities / shops are out in the suburbs where they live. They all drive to work, drive home again at the end of the day and seem to love the lifestyle.

One of Charlotte's heritage buildings

While I was in Charlotte I met up with the Charlotte Running Club a couple of early morning runs round the city. They were hot, humid and jet lagged runs that weren't my finest, but it was good to meet up with some fellow runners and see parts of the city I wouldn't have otherwise reached.

I enjoyed my week in Charlotte. It's a clean, calm and safe feeling city. As a holiday destination I'm not sure how long it would keep you occupied, but it was great to see a different part of the USA.


  1. We'll actually be in Charlotte later this year, so it's nice to get a little preview from you. Looks like a pretty little town.

  2. No food reviews?!?!

    The "services in the burbs" setup sounds like a mini Chicago. If you stay in central Chicago you can wander for blocks at a time in the evening before you find even a corner shop open. Alien to Europeans. Apparently the chi-chi stuff that we would expect to be in the centre is out in the nice commuter towns.