The City of Charlotte

A Brief History of Charlotte, NC

 

The city of Charlotte in North Carolina is an interesting place. Popularly known as the Queen City, Charlotte has a rich and interesting history behind its current existence.

The earliest known occupants of the area now known as Charlotte were the Catawban Indians, who had populated the place by the 1600s. True to their name (Catawban literally means “people of the river”), these people dwelled in the areas along the river, after fleeing their enemies in their original hometown of the Sioux Indian Nation in the great western Plains. A Catawban Chief, Chief Hagler began to try to improve the relations between the Indians and the new white settlers in the 1750s, but was met with severe criticism and finally killed by the close-by Shawnee war party, themselves opposed to any sort of peace between the two parties. Finally In 1763, a deal was made between the British and the Catawban for land, whereby an area 144,000 acres across the Catawba River was to be placed aside for the latter.



Foundations Of The Queen City

 

The foundation of what is now Charlotte began to be laid down by people of European descent around 1755, when Thomas Spratt & family began to came to settle near what is today called the Elizabeth neighborhood. Charlotte was officially established in 1768 as “Charlotte Town,” when Thomas Polk (granduncle of U.S. President James K. Polk and husband of the daughter of Thomas Pratt), constructed his house by a crossing of two prominent Native American paths for trading in between the Catawba and Yadkin rivers. The path that ran north–south went on to become Tyron Street, while the one that ran east–west is today called Trade Street. The intersection of these two streets is today known as “The Square” or alternatively “Independence Square.”

Named after German princess Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz, the Queen Consort of Great Britain and Ireland, Charlotte earned several distinctive nicknames in a short span of time. One of these was “Queen City,” after the fact that it was named after the queen. It also has a second nickname, “The Hornet’s Nest,” on account of its role in the American Revolution War.

Embattled Throughout History

 

Charlotte had a very important role in play in the American Revolutionary War, both in its beginning and its end. The first important incident was the signing of the Mecklenburg Resolves or the Mecklenburg Declaration of Independence on May 20, 1775. While this did not hold any actual value, it was the first among many similar declarations which finally sparked the American Revolution. Even today, May 20, marks Charlotte annual “MecDec” day, and is celebrated with cannon and musket fire by re-enactors in the Independence Square. The state seal and flag of North Carolina also bear this date.

Another important event was the Battle of King’s Mountain, which was fought by frontiersmen from both the Carolinas, Virginia and Georgia, who gained a mighty victory over the British in a very significant skirmish on October 7, 1780. This battle was marked by the British sustaining very heavy casualties, and is regarded as the beginning of the end of the War of Independence.

The Gold Rush & The Banking Industry

 

Charlotte also had a significant role in the gold rush, with the first verified finding of gold being located here. Said gold was discovered in 1799 in the form of a 17-pound nugget, and triggered a city-wide boom, with prospectors flooding the city. Charlotte. America’s first gold mine was discovered here, and continued to be operated by Reed Gold Mine till 1914.

During the Civil War, Charlotte acted as the new site of the Confederate Navy Yard, wherein 1,500 boys and men from the Mecklenburg county manufactured gunpowder and munitions. Originally located in Richmond, Virginia, the Yard was moved to Charlotte in 1862 in order to keep it close to the iron works, and to create more distance between it and Union sailors and soldiers and sailors.

In the 1970s, the new banking industry reached prominence in the Charlotte area, brought about by visionary and financier Hugh McColl, who managed to transform the North Carolina National Bank into a major competitor that stayed strong and grew to become part of the popular Bank of America Corporation. Additionally, what was originally known as the First Union Bank also continued on to become what we now refer to as Wachovia Bank; Ironically, major competition for Bank of America.

Charlotte mainly maintained a low profile during the earlier half of the 20th Century, other than having suffered severe loss of population due to US engagement in the World Wars (especially the Second).

Charlotte re-emerged in the news in the 1970s, when eminent financier Hugh McColl began to re-shape the banking industry in the city. McColl developed the North Carolina National Bank (NCNB) into a major national player. Renamed later as NationsBank, this bank finally merged with BankAmerica to create Bank of America. Another bank that experienced a similar growth pattern was First Union, later renamed as Wachovia in 2001, which was finally acquired by Wells Fargo in 2008. All of these developments made Charlotte the second largest banking headquarters of the US, right after New York City.

The City Of Churches

 

Once known as the “City of Churches,” due to a high percentage of places of worship, Charlotte is the hometown of Billy Graham, the world-famous evangelist. Resilient in character, Charlotte has survived several mishaps, including (but not limited to) a direct hit from Hurricane Hugo in 1989, severe ice storms in 2002, and days of protest in 2015 and 2016, among others.

A Enduring Legacy

 

The 20th largest city in the US and the 2nd largest in the Southeast, Charlotte is home to the Bank of America’s corporate headquarters, an important part of the motorsports industry, and host to not one but two professional sports teams – the Carolina Panthers in the NFL and the Charlotte Hornets in the NBA. Listed as the 60th fastest growing city in the US, Charlotte has a vibrant and lively atmosphere that is populated by great people who love their food, sports and arts.

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