On the way home from a recent trip to Chapel Hill, my GPS guided me on a helpful detour around I-85 traffic near Concord, North Carolina. As we’ve (the GPS and I) had trust issues in the past, the move renewed my confidence in her navigational insight. I then followed instructions to take an earlier exit into Charlotte, hoping the Garmin would reveal a new shortcut home. Heading towards uptown on an industrial stretch of Graham Street, I realized staying on the highway would have been quicker. I decided to enjoy the view rather than bemoan the longer route, as the skyline loomed closer against the waning daylight.
Though the Bank of America building still anchors the Charlotte skyline, additions such as condo towers, museums, hotels and the light rail have transformed center city in recent years. I called uptown home after moving to Charlotte in 2003, living in the 3rd Ward neighborhood near the Carolina Panthers practice fields. The main drag of Tryon Street once felt like a college town, our group of friends bouncing between a handful of bars, clubs and restaurants. Now new culinary and night spots mix with old standbys such as Connolly’s Pub on 5th Street, where I could once bump into almost everyone I knew on a Friday or Saturday night.
In just over a month, politicos, media pundits and VIP’s will flood uptown Charlotte during the Democratic National Convention. While we’ve hosted NFL playoff games and NASCAR festivals, the DNC surely ranks as the biggest event to hit the Queen City. As we live several miles outside of uptown, I will likely see more of the festivities on TV than in person. But it’s exciting to know our city will take center stage while the world is watching.