Growing up with uptown
Posted on 12 Aug 2013 by ashleykaufman
I never thought much about the Charlotte skyline when I lived uptown from 2003–2006. I occasionally gazed up at the crown-capped Bank of America building when walking down the main drag of Tryon Street, or admired the view when driving into town on the I-277 loop. The most visible landmark in center city, the Bank of America tower lights up for special occasions, such as glowing “Carolina Panther” blue during football season. The Duke Energy building joined the light show in 2010, hundreds of color changing LED bulbs covering the 2nd tallest tower in town.
On a recent night out, I met up with friends at the Metropolitan complex just outside of uptown. From the deck at a friend’s condo building, we snapped photos while admiring the sunset hues behind the skyline. I don’t spend as much time uptown after moving closer to the South Park area of Charlotte, but am always amazed by its transformation. In the last decade, center city debuted a new NBA team and arena, the light rail system, the NASCAR Hall of Fame, cultural spots such as the Bechtler Museum of Modern Art, the Ritz-Carlton Hotel, high rise condo buildings and many new bars and restaurants. Next up, a new minor league baseball stadium – the Charlotte Knights will move from Fort Mill, SC to play their first game uptown in Spring 2014.
Even with its expanding skyline, center city still reminds me of the bliss and confusion of my twenty-something years. When I moved to Charlotte in 2003, I lived in a townhouse in the 3rd Ward neighborhood of uptown near the Panthers Stadium. With a group of friends including other Davidson College grads and many new faces, we went out on the town late and often. I met my husband on one of these club hopping nights, as we shared drinks in the smoky haze at Grand Central Deli.
Many of us have married and had kids, moved out of uptown and even departed Charlotte. But I still count many of my closest friends among this crew who started and ended many nights on West 1st Street porches. Somehow in a decade – uptown grew up and so did we.
Even with stiff competition from new restaurants and bars, several of my favorite uptown spots remain popular, including:
- Alexander Michael’s – The cozy neighborhood spot is famous for its nachos, fried pickles and 4th Ward Stroganoff.
- Connolly’s on 5th – The Irish pub added a patio and still packs in late night crowds
- Cosmos Cafe – 1/2 price off their fabulous martinis on Wednesdays
- The French Quarter – Popular weekday lunch spot with excellent Greek and American food and a happening scene on Panthers game days
- Capital Grille – Even though it’s a chain, the Capital Grille bar feels local with its friendly bartenders and tasty cocktails
Ashley Kaufman writes about travel, culture and cuisine in North Carolina and the South at: pointssouth.wordpress.com/