One of Charlotte’s best up-and-coming districts, Plaza Midwood is a fabulous emerging arts neighborhood that is on its way to becoming one the Queen City premier go-to center when it comes to exploring the arts. Located about one mile northeast of Charlotte’s Uptown area in the city’s east side, the bumbling arts neighborhood is bordered by Central Avenue to the south, Hawthorne Lane to the west, The Plaza to the north, and the Charlotte Country Club and Briar Creek Road to the east. Well-known as a very diverse, quirky and eclectic neighborhood, Plaza Midwood is definitely a rarity that has been developing quite fast to make a reputation of a hip and modern urban neighborhood.
Plaza Midwood has its origins in around 1910 when it was first established as an industrial sub-urban neighborhood in the city of Charlotte which was centered round a streetcar line. Despite being one of the few places to successfully ride out the Great Depression, Plaza Midwood began to decline since the 1950s and by 1975, had declined to a rather seedy neighborhood. The district did, however, experience a kind of “rebirth” starting the 1990s when it started to give way to an interesting transformation which, over the decades gave way to the bumbling arts neighborhood that it stands as today.
While the famous streetcar has indeed been inactive for quite a while now, the district itself has an intensity that gives it a very pleasant vibe. The historical areas of the district, namely the neighborhood’s western section, the area near The Plaza, some parts of Pecan and Clement, and Thomas Avenue were later classified as a Local Historical District and brought under the regulation of the Historic District Commission. Rapid development over the past 20 years has only served to remove the seediness and add to its burgeoning popularity.
In addition to having the 19-acre Veterans Park, Plaza Midwood has several art galleries, including the Hong Kong Vintage, Repo Records and Queen Gallery and Art Center. There are also several bookstores such as Book Buyers and quirky shops and stores such as Hong Kong Vintage and Repo Records, that will definitely satisfy those with a thirst for the vintage.
The district is also home to several top-line restaurants such Little Italy, Fuel Pizza and Luv B’s, bakeries such as Nova’s Bakery, pubs such as Elizabeth Billiards and Thomas St. Tavern. Visitors can also explore The Van Landingham Estate Inn & Conference Center, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and makes for the only place suitable for staying overnight.
Plaza Midwood has no proper hotels, making staying here a very difficult affair. The only place that qualifies – even remotely – is the Van Landingham Estate Inn & Conference Center. It is, however, quite expensive and beyond the reach of many budget-lodgers. Those on a budget can try staying at any of the hotels at Independence Boulevard, which is not very far away.
A generally safe neighborhood, the place is easily accessible through public transport. One must, however, be careful about surrounding neighborhoods and take care to not cross over, since some of them may be unsafe. Walking about the fringes of the neighborhood at odd hours should also be avoided.
The North Davidson district, popularly called the NoDa district (by blending the two names) is a very popular arts district in Charlotte. Located in the northern part of the Queen City, the district runs along North Davidson Street and between the 30th and 36th street, and continues to about one mile northeast of Uptown Charlotte. Standing as a premier entertainment district, NoDa, which was named so by the architect Russell Pound, has the same geography as that of the National Register of Historic Places-listed Historic North Charlotte.
A very popular center for the arts, NoDa is home to several well-known personalities such as Mitch Brendan (the semi-professional cyclist), John Nolan and Adam Lazzara (lead guitarist and lead singer of the band Taking Back Sunday respectively). It is also the home of some of the Queen City’s famous eateries, live music arenas, historical attractions and of course, all things art.
The NoDa District came into existence over a hundred years ago, when it was founded by a group of rich and flourishing textile manufacturers. Starting with the construction of Highland Park Mill No. 3, NoDa went on to become a flourishing mill village with several successfully-running mills and manufacturing facilities, as well as mill-workers’ residences, all of which stood independent from the city of Charlotte. With time and advancement of technology, however, the popularity of mills began to fade, and starting from the 1975, gradually gave way to what is today one of Charlotte’s renowned art centers that is perhaps most famously known for its bi-monthly gallery crawls.
There clearly much to discover in NoDa, which includes, but is most certainly not limited to the arts. In addition to being the home to several top-line art galleries such as Center of the Earth Gallery, Studio True, Hart Witzen Gallery, and The ArtHouse Center for Creative Expression, among others, NoDa holds its very famous gallery crawls on the 1st and 3rd Saturday of every month between 6pm to 9:30 pm.
NoDa is also a center for fine dining, being home to several popular and interesting eateries such as Cabo Fish Taco (known for its authentic southern food), Bordeaux’s Louisiana Kitchen (famous for its Cajun staples, and bakeries such as Amelie’s French Bakery, and taverns such as Jack Beagles and Solstice Tavern. Fans of drinks won’t be disappointed either, with coffeehouses such as The Smelly Cat and bars and pubs such as Dog Bar, Growlers Pourhouse, Crepe Cellar Kitchen and Pub, and many others.
There are also several music venues such as and historical must-see places such as mill houses and factories. A well-preserved yet open-to-innovation district, NoDa has also seen the rise of multifamily housing units being constructed in recent years, which only adds to the overall quirkiness of the place.
Shopping fans too have a lot to shop from – from Fabric Art, The Boulevard at NoDa, and Sunshine Dreams (which offer a variety of gift items), Real Eyes Bookstore (known for their eclectic collection of books), Yarnhouse (a popular fiber, crochecting and knitting community), and The Natural Voice (which is well-known for its range of wellness-related products and services).
The district is safe, and easily accessible by public transport. The district has very few hotels, however, with the nearest over a mile from Independence Blvd. The neighborhood, however, be easily accessed from Uptown hotels.