Friday, June 30, 2006

Charlotte's vexing roads, plus a history lesson

Newcomers are frequently vexed by the many road names that change without warning. I feel their pain.

A friend, a resident of Charlotte for less than a year, called me on her mobile phone the other day. She was on Providence Road near N.C. 51 and wanted to get to Phillips Place. Go north on Providence, then turn left on Fairview, I told her.

Oops. I forgot to warn her that the intersection I meant is Sardis on one side and Fairview on the other. She called again after missing the turn – and several others – and I directed her by way of Queens and Sharon roads back to the SouthPark area. It’s a scenic, if tricky, route that any newcomer would certainly enjoy.

I grew up in Charlotte and I went to high school on Sardis Road not far from that intersection, yet I still forgot to warn her. What’s your worst road-name-change driving mistake? Let me know at and I’ll follow up.


With the historical holiday of Independence Day approaching, here's a quick history lesson.

Tom Hanchett, the historian at Charlotte’s Levine Museum of the New South, has a handy way of boiling down local history: Think Queen, King, Duke and Crown.

--The Queen: Queen Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz, Germany. She’s the queen who was married to King George III when this area was part of a British colony and local leaders wanted approval to build a courthouse here. So they chose the city and county names to curry favor.

--The King: King cotton, which made the region into a textile trading center.

--The Duke: That would be Duke Energy, one of Charlotte’s Fortune 500 companies and one of our major downtown headquarters.

--The Crown: The Bank of America headquarters building, the jewel of Charlotte’s skyline.

Want to know more about the area’s history? Check out, a Web site of the Public Library of Charlotte & Mecklenburg County, and click on “history.”


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