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What Is Charlotte, North Carolina Known For

When it comes to cities in North Carolina, Charlotte is usually associated with banking, finance, and commerce. While the banking industry makes up an important part of the city’s economy, it is certainly not the whole picture. The Queen City is known for much more than just its role in the financial world. 


Charlotte, North Carolina, is known for its powerful banking center, its world-class sports teams and venues, museums celebrating the city’s arts and history, as well as many cool, up-and-coming neighborhoods. From NFL stadiums to picturesque lakes, Charlotte has something for everyone. 


In the rest of this article, I will explore what makes Charlotte the well-loved Southern city it is today. I will trace back its history to understand its power as a financial giant and take a look at its trendy, modern neighborhoods. By the end of this article, you will be ready to explore Charlotte, no matter what your interests may be. 



Charlotte Is a Powerful Financial Hub

It’s no secret that Charlotte is known for its importance in the financial world. It is often considered the second most important financial capital in the United States, next to New York City. It is home to the headquarters of banking giants like Bank of America and Wells Fargo.


How Charlotte came to be an important center of financial commerce started back in the 1800s with the gold rush. When gold was discovered in and around Charlotte, gold mines were rushed to be built in order to get rich quickly. Because of the discovery of this highly-valued natural resource, a branch of the US Mint was opened in Charlotte. The city’s gold was used at the mint to press coins throughout the first half of the 1800s. 


However, the gold boom didn’t last. As gold dried up and the Civil War devastated the region, Charlotte became in need of stability and assistance. In response, the Federal Reserve Bank established a new branch in Charlotte that became the go-to branch for the region. 


People would travel all the way to Charlotte from other smaller cities just to take care of their banking business. This branch laid the foundation for Charlotte to be an important financial center for the South and the nation.


Although the last few decades have seen specific banks come and go with the ups and downs in the market, Charlotte has maintained its position as an important financial center. Tens of thousands of people are employed by banking headquarters located in the city today. 


This industry makes up an important part of Charlotte’s economy, and you can see its influence as you wander through its city center. From banking professionals hurrying to the office during the day to the state-of-the-art Bank of America Stadium for football fans, finance is at the core of this city’s identity. 



The City Has Several Specialty Museums 

Charlotte is not all about the financial world. In the early 21st Century, Charlotte started investing more energy and resources in its cultural offerings. 


A few decades ago, it would be hard to find unique museums in Charlotte. However, the city now has an interesting collection of museums that aren’t found anywhere else in the country. Let’s take a look at some of the most appealing cultural offerings for residents and visitors alike. 


The Mint Museum 

The Mint Museum is a well-loved Charlotte institution. This art museum has taken the old US Mint Building and turned it into the very first art museum found in North Carolina. Opened in 1936, this museum is one of the biggest and best places in the region for an immersive day in the arts. The museum has expanded to two different buildings, and this original location is now known as the Mint Museum Randolph. 


The newer location, Mint Museum Uptown, was opened in 2010. Both locations are home to impressive exhibits that cover a variety of continents and time periods. Ancient American Art can be found here, as well as more modern paintings. You can also find many paintings from famed, local Charlotte artist Romare Bearden in this museum.


Bechtler Museum of Modern Art

A stunning building located in Charlotte’s Uptown neighborhood, this modern art museum opened in 2010 to bring Mid-20th Century works of art to the public. The building itself was designed by the famed Swiss architect Mario Botta. It is easily recognized by its terracotta exterior and open atrium, bringing natural light through the museum. 


Inside the building, you can find original works by many well-known and well-loved artists. As you explore this museum, you will run into works by Pablo Picasso, Andy Warhol, Max Ernst, and Alberto Giacometti. 


Additionally, outside the museum stands the impressive Firebird statue. This piece, standing over 17 feet (5.18 m) tall, is a staple of the Charlotte Uptown neighborhood. It absolutely glitters in the sun with its many mirror mosaic pieces.  


Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Arts

This stunning museum was established in order to celebrate and honor the important legacy of African American artists in the United States. The origins of this museum can be traced back to the student protests in the 1960s, where students at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte sought to better acknowledge the history and culture of African Americans in the United States. 


In 1974, through collaboration between students, professors, and other community members, the Afro-American Cultural Center was established. This center was an early version of the museum that created space for visual and performing arts in the community. As the Cultural Center continued to grow, it slowly transformed into the Harvey B. Gantt Center that tourists and residents can visit today.


Harvey B. Gantt was an important figure, as he was the first African-American to be accepted to Clemson University and Charlotte’s first African-American mayor. The museum honors his legacy and the legacy of many other community trailblazers inside the walls of the beautiful 46,500 square foot (4,319.99 sq m.) Uptown museum. 


Inside the museum, you can find a mix of art, history, and cultural exhibits. The museum hosts a permanent collection of African American artwork as well as special exhibits featuring important art and artifacts from important historical and cultural moments in the African American community. 



Charlotte Is Home to Many Unique Neighborhoods

Charlotte is a fast-growing city that is known for its ever-increasing size and sprawling layout. However, within these city limits are a plethora of cool and unique neighborhoods. 


In recent years, Charlotte has put a great deal of energy and resources into green urban planning and neighborhood development to make the city an even more interesting place to live and visit. Let’s take a look at some of the city’s most well-known neighborhoods. 


The South End

If you’re looking for local breweries, live music, and interesting eats, you’re going to love the South End. This neighborhood is well-known as a trendy and youthful spot where you can find one-of-a-kind boutiques, perfect lattes, and craft beer to be enjoyed in one of the many outdoor beer gardens. 


This neighborhood is the place to open new and innovative restaurants and is also a hot spot for many of the city’s food trucks. When walking the streets of the South End, you will see countless murals painted by residents and local artists. If you’re looking for a cool and delicious night out, the South End is for you. 



If you’re looking for the city’s art hotspot, look no further than the trendy NoDa neighborhood. This is the go-to place for arts and entertainment in Charlotte. This neighborhood is full of performance venues, galleries, and artists and is the ultimate place for creative inspiration in the city. The shops and restaurants reflect this focus on imagination, with innovative cocktails and even a self-proclaimed metaphysical supply store


Wandering the streets of NoDa will leave you breathlessly looking at the stunning murals and curiously wandering into the unique shopping options. There is no shortage of breweries or tasty eats in this neighborhood either. If you’re looking for a night out that involves a comedy club, open mic, poetry slam, or gallery opening, NoDa is the place to be. 



Don’t let the name fool you– the Uptown neighborhood functions as Charlotte’s center. By day, this central neighborhood is full of people on their way to work at one of the city’s many banking centers. 


However, this neighborhood is not all about business. Many of the city’s important art museums are located here, and iconic and innovative statues can be seen celebrating important intersections. 


Furthermore, if you’re interested in Charlotte’s professional sports teams, Uptown is the right place to be. Here, you can find the Bank of America Stadium that is home to the NFL Panthers and the Spectrum Center that is home to the NBA Hornets. This neighborhood also houses Epicenter, Charlotte’s outdoor mall that is a go-to spot for food, entertainment, and shopping. 



The City Is Perfect for NASCAR Enthusiasts

Charlotte is undeniably an important place for NASCAR enthusiasts. In 2010, the NASCAR Hall of Fame officially opened in the Queen City. This new institution celebrates the best and brightest from the world of car racing and aims to please die-hard fans as well as visitors who may be new to the sport.


With high-tech theaters and thrilling simulators, visitors can get an adrenaline-pumping feel of what it’s like to be behind the wheel in a NASCAR race. The museum also has plenty of history and artifacts for those interested in the stories of their favorite racers. 


The excitement doesn’t end at the museum, either. The Charlotte Motor Speedway is located just outside of the city and is a great place to watch a NASCAR race. 


No matter when you’re in town, there is likely something going on at the Speedway. This venue hosts up to 380 events a year, from races to car shows to community events. For the auto-enthusiast, this is a must-see attraction in the Charlotte area. 



It Offers a Plethora of Professional Sports Teams

Charlotte is home to several well-loved professional sports teams. When it comes to the NFL, the Carolina Panthers call this city home. The city also has its own team in the NBA– The Charlotte Hornets. Baseball fans won’t be disappointed either, as the city is home to the Charlotte Knights. 


For those interested in catching a game, these teams all have venues located in the Uptown neighborhood of the city. The Spectrum Center hosts NBA games as well as college basketball. This center also hosts musical events and other sports-related spectacles. The Bank of America Stadium is a massive football stadium that famously hosts the Panthers as well as other sports teams. 


Beyond these two world-class venues, Charlotte also holds several smaller venues that host a variety of other sporting events. No matter what sport you’re interested in, you’re likely to find it in Charlotte. 



Charlotte Has Stunning, Picturesque Nature

A discussion of what Charlotte has to offer is not complete without mentioning Lake Wylie. This outdoor attraction is much more than just the lake itself. A day at the lake can include a bite to eat at one of the numerous restaurants, a hike through the nature preserve, and a variety of water sports. You can easily swim or rent a paddleboard to enjoy your time at this famous man-made lake.


If you’re looking to entertain the family after a long day of swimming, you might enjoy the bowling lanes and arcade situated by the lakeshore. There are also a variety of camping options for those looking to spend the night. Summer is an ideal time to visit Lake Wylie, as is the fall when the leaves change color, and the foliage is stunning. However, no matter the season, sunset is always fantastic at this lake. 


For all the best hiking trails check out this hiking guide on Amazon.



Final Thoughts

This Southern Queen City is a fast-growing American city with plenty to offer. A stroll around its Uptown will give you a sense of its financial power, love of sports, and celebration of arts and culture. 


Venturing out further into its unique neighborhoods will show you the innovative and creative spirit that has been fostering in Charlotte over the last few decades. This is truly a city with something for everyone.