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Charlotte, NC

Charlotte, NC: The Global Evolution of a New South City

William Graves
Heather A. Smith
Copyright Date: 2010
Pages: 320
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  • Book Info
    Charlotte, NC
    Book Description:

    The rapid evolution of Charlotte, North Carolina, from "regional backwater" to globally ascendant city provides stark contrasts of then and now. Once a regional manufacturing and textile center, Charlotte stands today as one of the nation's premier banking and financial cores with interests reaching broadly into global markets. Once defined by its biracial and bicultural character, Charlotte is now an emerging immigrant gateway drawing newcomers from Latin America and across the globe. Once derided for its sleepy, nine-to-five "uptown," Charlotte's center city has been wholly transformed by residential gentrification, corporate headquarters construction, and amenity-based redevelopment. And yet, despite its rapid transformation, Charlotte remains distinctively southern-globalizing, not yet global. This book brings together an interdisciplinary team of leading scholars and local experts to examine Charlotte from multiple angles. Their topics include the banking industry, gentrification, boosterism, architecture, city planning, transit, public schools, NASCAR, and the African American and Latino communities. United in the conviction that the experience of this Sunbelt city-center of the nation's fifth-largest metropolitan area-offers new insight into today's most pressing urban and suburban issues, the contributors to Charlotte, NC: The Global Evolution of a New South City ask what happens when the external forces of globalization combine with a city's internal dynamics to reshape the local structures, landscapes, and identities of a southern place.

    eISBN: 978-0-8203-4393-8
    Subjects: Population Studies, History

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. vii-vii)
    Heather Smith and Bill Graves
  4. Maps
    (pp. viii-x)
  5. Introduction. From Mill Town to Financial Capital: Charlotte’s Global Evolution
    (pp. 1-9)
    Heather A. Smith and William Graves

    Charlotte, North Carolina, is not a “global city.”¹ It is, however, a globalizing one.

    In less than four decades, Charlotte has transformed itself from a regional backwater into a globally ascendant but still distinctively southern city. Once a regional manufacturing and textile center, Charlotte is now one of the nation’s premier banking and finance cores with tendrils reaching firmly into global markets.² This once black-and-white, distinctively bicultural city has also emerged as one of the country’s leading Hispanic hypergrowth metros and is now considered a rising immigrant gateway.³

    While a restructuring economy and changing demographics are the bedrock on which...

  6. A Place to Come To
    (pp. 10-23)
    David Goldfield

    In November 1986 the Southern Historical Association (sha) held its annual convention in Charlotte. Comprised primarily of academics who either teach southern history or teach at southern institutions, the sha brought about thirteen hundred participants to the Queen City. Most of the delegates stayed at the Adams Mark Hotel, a property that left guests a seven-block uphill walk to the heart of Uptown. Rumors of safety issues and the unseasonably frigid weather rendered the walk even more problematic. The hotel staff was pleasant though clearly overwhelmed and generally clueless about the most frequently asked questions during the four days of...

  7. Searching for Respect: From “New South” to “World Class” at the Crossroads of the Carolinas
    (pp. 24-49)
    Matthew D. Lassiter

    One way to tell that you’re from Buffalo,” the New York Times informed readers in 2000, “is that half of your friends moved to Charlotte, N.C., and the other half went to Raleigh.”¹ This gloomy joke that made the rounds in Erie County, New York, captures the iconography of Rust Belt decline and Sun Belt ascendance that has shaped the national imagination about regional trends since the 1970s. A similar script, though boastful rather than mournful, has characterized the century-long booster project to market the fast-growing cities of the New South as the antithesis of the fading industrial centers of...

  8. Red Dust and Dynamometers: Charlotte as Memory and Knowledge Community in nascar
    (pp. 50-86)
    Ronald L. Mitchelson and Derek H. Alderman

    On June 19, 1949, the Charlotte Speedway hosted nascar’s first official race of “strictly stock” cars, serving as the inaugural event for a division that ultimately grew into the prominent Sprint Cup Series operating today. Although modest by current standards, the Charlotte Speedway was larger than many other tracks in the South at the time. It was a three-quarter-mile, slightly banked dirt track. The race attracted a crowd of over twenty thousand spectators who watched thirty-three drivers compete for a then-generous $5,000 purse. Drivers included Lee Petty, the father of the famous Richard “the King” Petty and a superstar in...

  9. Blending Southern Culture and International Finance: The Construction of a Global Money Center
    (pp. 87-101)
    William Graves and Jonathan Kozar

    Two trillion dollars. The number, without additional scale, has little meaning. Two trillion dollars is roughly equal to the gnp of China and Canada combined. The number also approximates the total accumulation of bank assets in Charlotte, a metro area of 1.6 million. It is no exaggeration to say that a small group of executives in downtown Charlotte controls assets equal to one-fifth of U.S. annual economic output.

    While the rise of banking in Charlotte has been well documented,¹ no one has explored the degree to which the industry connects Charlotte to the broader world. This chapter surveys the creation...

  10. Beyond Local Markets: The Export Performance and Challenges of Charlotte Manufacturers
    (pp. 102-118)
    Ronald V. Kalafsky

    The manufacturing sector has long been viewed as a catalyst for economic growth in the southern United States. For the past several decades, states, counties, and cities have regarded the manufacturing sector as a vehicle for further regional economic development and therefore directed their recruitment efforts accordingly.¹ The impacts of production-related activities are readily evident in manufacturing-based employment numbers, wages, and in the downstream support of other industries, especially for component suppliers and across numerous facets of the service sector. To witness the sustained importance of manufacturing, one needs only to look at recent automobile assembly plant construction across the...

  11. A Place for Old Mills in a New Economy: Textile Mill Reuse in Charlotte
    (pp. 119-140)
    Tyrel G. Moore and Gerald L. Ingalls

    Textile mill reuse builds tangible bridges between Charlotte’s old nineteenth- and twentieth-century and new twenty-first-century economies. The place-defining continuity inherent in renewed functions for old mills wraps a sense of heritage, place, and community into new economic and social environments. Furthermore, mill reuse creates a mutually supportive intersection for diverse interests including developers, preservationists, and municipal and regional governments whose initiatives focus on economic revitalization to restore sagging tax bases and revitalize blighted industrial landscapes and neighborhoods. More recently, “smart growth” advocates who promote “green” planning processes that yield sustainable, vibrant communities have been added to the list. From their...

  12. Banking on the Neighborhood: Corporate Citizenship and Revitalization in Uptown Charlotte
    (pp. 141-159)
    Heather A. Smith and Emily Thomas Livingstone

    The good private or corporate citizen is imbued with [a] sense of charity—[a] sense of improving life for others while at the same time improving life for oneself.”¹ Corporate citizenship comes in many forms. Frequently it offers a way in which businesses and their leadership can “give back” to the community “in which they reside or maintain offices” and do so in a manner that enhances their own interests and image.² In the context of contemporary globalization, the scope and breadth of corporate citizenship reflects the multinational scale at which many corporations now work. Corporate citizenship may also influence...

  13. Developing a Typology of African American Neighborhoods in the American South: The Case of Charlotte
    (pp. 160-188)
    Gerald L. Ingalls and Isaac Heard Jr.

    African American neighborhoods of southern cities grew at a slower pace, from more varied spatial foundations, and under different social, economic, and historic conditions than did black neighborhoods in northern cities. While, at first glance, the present-day pattern of African American neighborhoods of southern cities such as Charlotte resembles that of their northern counterparts, beneath the surface lies a rich historical diversity. In this chapter we contend that the longer history of African American residential experience in southern cities offers a fertile research opportunity to understand how such communities are affected by the efforts of cities to position themselves within...

  14. Development and the Politics of School Desegregation and Resegregation
    (pp. 189-219)
    Stephen Samuel Smith

    These statements by two of Charlotte’s most preeminent business executives have been widely echoed by numerous other civic leaders as well as by virtually every journalist and scholar (including me) who has written about the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools (cms). cms gave rise to the Swann litigation in which a 1971 Supreme Court decision upheld the constitutionality of mandatory busing for school desegregation. That landmark decision facilitated desegregation nationwide, and cms developed one of the nation’s most successful mandatory busing plans.

    Given that contemporary Charlotte is much more of a global city than it was in the 1970s and 1980s—the heyday...

  15. Centers and Edges: The Confusion of Urban and Suburban Paradigms in Charlotte-Mecklenburg’s Development Patterns
    (pp. 220-246)
    David Walters

    The discussions in this chapter focus on two dichotomous types of urbanism within Charlotte, North Carolina, and its hinterland, and on the forces that create these distinct urban environments. These conditions are characterized in Charlotte and several other American cities by: 1) reinvigorated central areas, comprising the downtown core and older, close-in urban neighborhoods, often with revived transit options; and 2) new, fast-growing and far-flung suburbs located and laid out in ways that require an automobile for all elements of daily life.

    These two conditions are especially significant in a fast-growing metropolitan area such as Charlotte, which includes several towns...

  16. Salad-bowl Suburbs: A History of Charlotte’s East Side and South Boulevard Immigrant Corridors
    (pp. 247-262)
    Tom Hanchett

    A surprising new residential pattern seems to be taking shape in American cities. Historically, dating back to the nineteenth century, newly arrived immigrants clustered in tight-packed inner-city neighborhoods, often denoted as Little Italy, Chinatown, or the like. Today, in contrast, foreign arrivals are heading outward, scattering into post–World War II suburbs. Settlement geography seems to be dispersed and multiethnic, usually mingling the fresh arrivals among longtime residents.

    These “salad-bowl suburbs” have been most remarked upon in Chicago, New York, Los Angeles, and Atlanta. The Chicago Tribune, for instance, reported in 2005:

    For the first time, more Latinos live in...

  17. Mi Reina: Latino Landscapes in the Queen City (Charlotte, N.C.)
    (pp. 263-283)
    José L. S. Gámez

    It is late morning on a Thursday and I stop into a small convenience store to purchase an agua fresca (fruit-juice drink); I walk out with my drink in hand and a Club de Fútbol América cap. I was interested in the cap because of the logo that it carried—one that depicted a soccer ball as the globe with the North and South American continents located between the letters C and A. In my naïveté, I thought it might have been a cap for a new North American soccer team; what sold me on the item was the enthusiasm...

  18. Epilogue: Charlotte at the Globalizing Crossroads
    (pp. 284-290)
    Owen J. Furuseth

    In his 1941 landmark book, The Mind of the South, W. J. Cash probed the intellectual and sociological roots of the New South.¹ Over the course of his analysis, Cash dismissed the importance and place of urbanization and urbanism in the region’s development and its future. Cash’s perspective on contemporary city life was dark, shaped by images of crime, crowding, disease, and presided over by a self-serving economic and political leadership.² Although Cash had strong family connections to the Charlotte region and spent a portion of his newspaper career as a writer and associate editor with the Charlotte News, the...

  19. Contributors
    (pp. 291-296)
  20. Index
    (pp. 297-310)