Green Market uptown walking tours to resume this Saturday
Posted on 7 Jul 2010 by Rob Cummings
After a successful run last summer, The Center City Green Market will bring back free walking tours beginning this Saturday, July 10th. The walking tour will leave from “The Square” at Trade and Tryon at 10:30am Saturday morning and last approximately 1.5 hours. The tour starts on the North side of Trade Street (aka Bank of America territory) and weaves through Historic Fourth Ward. After a brief stop back at the Green Market for water and to pickup those wishing to opt-in for the 2nd half, the tour will continue on the South side of Trade Street (aka Wachovia territory….I mean Wells Fargo territory) through the new Cultural Campus and past the NASCAR Hall of Fame. The tour will be complete at approximately Noon and those walking the entire tour should wear comfortable shoes and plan to walk about 1.5 miles. Below is an excerpt from a Blog post I wrote last July providing some highlights of the tour.
The walking tour participants range from all ages, backgrounds, and home towns. The majority are not from Charlotte. They either heard about the tour from the Uptown hotel where they are staying for the weekend, or they are visiting friends who live in Charlotte and have asked to see what downtown Charlotte has to offer. I typically have visitors from the West coast (usually bankers that decided to extend their business trip to Charlotte for the weekend) and at least one couple from overseas. I was very surprised last year how many foreign visitors we have pass through Charlotte. And now with US Airways extending the international flights to/from Charlotte and the opening of the Cultural Campus, I expect even more visitors from the likes of Paris, Rome, and Germany. Last summer, I even had a former neighbor from South Charlotte come up from the burbs and to his surprise, the converted suburban to urban-guy was leading the tour.
People are very enthusiastic about the city and are surprised to still see so many cranes still rising in a deep recession. I get comments about how clean our city is, the diverse use of public art throughout the city, and how we intelligently use our green space (everyone thinks that our interactive park, The Green, is so cool). Visitors also comment on Charlotte’s commitment to the arts (4 new arts venues on South Tryon doesn’t hurt) and how livable they perceive the city to be. Unfortunately, I can’t avoid our one black eye along the tour path – The Park – but all in all, our city shows very well. In addition, I carry my pen and paper to pickup an occasional tidbit that I didn’t know. For example, I now know that the huge flowers in Fourth Ward Park are Canna Flowers – hey, I never claimed to be a Botanist!
During the tour, I have several morsels that I share such as the fact that both Elvis and Frank Sinatra played at the now fire-gutted Carolina Theater. Or that Bank of America corporate center may be the tallest building in Charlotte with 60 stories, but there are 24 other skyscrapers in the United States that are taller. It is hard to imagine that the World Trade Center towers were almost twice as tall as B of A – wow! Or that Eifirds, Belk, and Ivey’s Department Stores anchored Uptown’s retail from 1924 to 1990, the year when Dillards acquired Ivey’s and shut down the last of our big box department stores in the Center City. After the acquisition, a bond referendum to turn the Ivey’s building into a magnet high school was shot down, and instead the mixed use development that now boasts one of Uptowns premier residential addresses in Charlotte now anchors 5th and Tryon (by the way, some very cool condos in the Ivey’s).
Finally, I always get a few off the wall questions such as “why would I raise my children in the center city?” My response is that I actually received a Christmas card from one of our regular homeless women last December (true story, and my kids know Terri by name). I consider the city a very safe place as long as you are street smart. People always ask where our professional athletes live – the Trademark condo is a trendy spot for several Panthers. I suspect several will be making The Vue their home later this Fall. My favorite question is, “why do you do the tour for free”? My response – I love to show off Charlotte and if this is my small contribution to turning Charlotte into a world class city, then that’s what it is all about. I wouldn’t be surprised if some of the northeasterners head home to their congested city only to later decide to relocate to an ‘easier life’ in CLT. That’s what happened to me….and I will never look back. I’m even eating que, banana pudding, and Bojangles now.
Following this weekend, the next tour will be run from the Green Market on Saturday, July 24th. I will tweat the August schedule shortly. I hope you can join me. And please send me ideas, atta boys, and criticisms via this blog. You can also follow my tour tweets at @robcummingsclt.