Thursday, August 31, 2006

Uptown or Downtown?

Is it uptown or downtown Charlotte? What about center city?

When I wrote a recent column about the terminology debate, I got heated responses. People didn’t like my suggestion of using center city as a compromise. Some think “uptown” is confusing, or snobbish.

But central Charlotte originally got the designation “uptown” because you have to go uphill to get there. The majority of readers I heard from favor using uptown.

Watch Saturday’s New Home section of the paper for more comments on this issue. Meanwhile, here is an excerpt from one of the most passionate responses, from Joe O’Neill Jr. of southeast Charlotte:

“OK. For the last time. Uptown Charlotte is ‘uptown,’ not ‘downtown,’ not ‘center city,’ not ‘in the loop,’ none of those pitifully lame adjectives. My ancestors came to Charlotte, two of whom started St.Peter's Catholic Church – uptown. Then my father was born here in '07, went to Central High School... (and he) went ‘uptown’ to the ‘Square’ (where Trade amd Tryon streets intersect), around which all the business offices, full service clothing stores, cemeteries, the YMCA, the theatre, and some early turn of the century homes were located. Neither the area nor the structures or inhabitants were looked upon as ‘upscale.’ They were just ‘uphill’ for anyone coming to Charlotte from east, west, north or south to see them....

I have been to New York City and understand their ‘uptown and downtown’ designations. Charlotte AIN'T the same. So... newcomers, especially from up North, just have to learn to say two words to survive in Charlotte –‘y’all’ and ‘uptown.’ You'll have to say ‘y’all’ when you invite more than one friend to come ‘uptown’ to visit you at the Charlotte Observer or Bank of America or Spirit Square, or other of the many ‘uptown’ locations!
As a Queen City native and a Southern gentleman, I welcome y’all to my Charlotte.”

Thanks for the comments, Joe!


Anonymous Anonymous said...

How can there be an uptown without a downtown? And there is definately no midtown.

Who cares. It should be downtown though. Uptown sounds stupid. And I'm not saying ya'll.

9:02 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'll call it uptown, but I'm not saying ya'll either. I just can't - it won't come out.

9:08 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

In Charlotte, NC you go UPtown - it is uphill from all directions - similarly in Asheville NC you go DOWNtown - you have to come down off the mountain(s) to get there.

It is really a matter of where you were raised, as I have friends in the Low Country of SC who don't say up or down when speaking of going into Charleston they simply say they are going to Town.

9:58 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm sticking with downtown anyway. :)

7:48 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Downtown it is. Downtown sounds more urban, fun and vibrant. I'm glad "downtown" is starting to become a "real" downtown. Yes, more condos, parking, brand name shopping and family entertainment!

8:32 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sorry Joe, you're wrong! My family has also lived in Charlotte for several generations. My mother and grandmother lived on McDowell Street before their houses were torn down (along with everything else in Charlotte worth saving). My grandfather was one of the original streetcar conductors/drivers. My great uncle was one of the original motorcycle cops for the Charlotte Police Department. My mother also attended Central High. They always called it "DOWNTOWN" and that's what I'm calling it. Uptown sounds so snobby. And who started the center city thing? I don't like that either.

8:54 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

First of all, newcomers should respect local history. I didn't move to the lowcountry of South Carolina and try and change the local pronouciations of certain words. I simply learned to say them the way the locals do. It's called manners.

And I don't know Mike, how does Atlanta have a downtown and midtown, but no uptown? Why does Chicago not have a downtown, but instead has a "Loop"? Why does Philadelphia have a "Center City" but no downtown or uptown?

For the record, my grandmother took the bus UPtown from her house in Plaza-Midwood. My great aunt rode the streetcar from Elizabeth UPtown.

It's logic y'all. Tryon Street sits on a ridge between two creeks. You go UP to get there. Period.

And for those of you who won't say "y'all", that's fine. Just please don't butcher our language with "yous" or "yuns" or "guys".

9:57 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The was a Midtown. Midtown Square and Midtown Sundries were right off Kennilworth and Stonwall just outside the 277 loop. I don't think anyone ever really called it midtown though

10:58 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why do we HAVE to say ya'll? When you grow up not saying it, it just doesn't COME out. Excuse me, but that has nothing to do with manners.

And how is it "butchering" (ahahahaha) your language with saying "you guys" or "you all"? It's AMERICAN ENGLISH. I don't see ya'll in the dictionary...

11:07 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I could care less if someone says ya'll, but don't tell me I have no manners because I don't say it...

Get a life.

11:09 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't see any hills going UPtown, atleast ones large enough to call it going UPtown.

11:10 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Buckhead would be Atlanta's "uptown".

11:11 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Uh, nobody is trying to change the local pronunciations of words. If anything, you and people like you are the ones trying to change the way we say things because we apparently have "no manners" (yeah, OK) because we don't say ya'll. I don't care who says it, just don't tell me I have no manners because I don't say it.


11:14 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Youse guys is no better than ya'll. Neither of them are proper english.

11:17 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

UH OH, here we go again!

11:36 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The word is y'all. It is not ya'll. It's a familiar second-person-plural, a contraction of "you all," similar to the Spanish "vosotros." It is not a contraction of "ya all." We didn't say "ya" in the South in which I grew up (we were too lazy to say "ya", y'know?). So there is a logic to our Southern colloquialisms. For those who say they won't use y'all, that's fine, but I'm told by folks who've been here a while that it can sneak up on you, so never say never!

11:45 AM  
Blogger Michael said...

Maybe it's just me, but I find myself going "to Charlotte." I'm not going uptown, downtown or to center city. I'm simply leaving the outskirts (North Meck, University, Matthews, etc.) and headed into the area where all the big buildings are.

All this up/down/center stuff is nuts. NYC can get away with boroughs because it’s one of the biggest cities on the face of the planet. Charlotte? You’re either there or not. To me, it’s pretty obvious that once you get past John Belk/Brookshire, you’re not there anymore.

And this “y’all” stuff? Give it a rest. It’s part of the Southern culture. There’s not a geographic region in the country that doesn’t have its idioms, colloquialisms, or just out-right weird sayings. You want a real Philly cheese stake, you gotta go to Philly. A Chicago dog? Um….

I guess being a military brat, I learned early on that the best way to get along was to adapt.

2:16 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Y Aaaa huh HHhhHH A ' LL ??

I can't do it !!!!

I won't !!!!

6:40 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Can we get a new Newcomers columnist? You know, someone who embraces the diversity here, not someone who tries to stir up fights between different people?

8:37 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree with Nick. Quit trying to start fights.

This is a Newcomers Blog, right?

This column ought to try catering to newcomers rather than trying to "learn them the way we do it around here."

Is it Southern Hospitality to tell people they have to call Charlotte "uptown"?

Is it Southern Hospitality to make people feel like second-class citizens because they might not eat grits, say y'all, bless everyone's hearts and say sir and ma'am?

I'm American. Does it matter if I'm from the North, South, East or West?

Perhaps it only matters in the South...

Anyway, please do a blog for newcomers. I'm getting tired of this trying to stir up debates between different people.

7:50 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If you start at Elmwood Cemetery or Presbyterian Hospital and walk toward the Square, it will quickly become obvious why you go UPtown. The hills might not seem like much from the comfort of a car, but on foot (which is how people traveled when this terminology was born) it's enough to put you short of breath.

9:13 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I would write this in spanish if all of the above would understand,(which I doubt very much ).Try moving to South America, or Mexico and see how well you deal with language,directions, etc; Get A Life! Glenn (a American born individual)

10:06 PM  

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