Book review: Charlotte North Carolina: A Brief History | CLT Blog

Book review: Charlotte North Carolina: A Brief History

Posted on 8 Jul 2009 by Rhi Bowman


Do you ever look around the Queen City and wonder what came before? How did College Street get its name? Have the various neighborhoods always battled for attention? What “nation” does Nations Ford Road refer to? What’s a “ford”? (Hint: It doesn’t have anything to do with cars.) Why do some NoDa houses have such big back yards? And, what’s up with all of the references to hornets?

Local author and historian Mary Kratt knows the answers to all of those questions and more. She should. She’s the author of more than a dozen books about our region’s history.


Mary Kratt at the Mountain Island Lake Library in June

Her most recent book, Charlotte North Carolina: A Brief History will open your eyes to Charlotte’s amazing past.

For instance: The frequent reference to hornets dates back to pre-Revolutionary War days when the citizens of our fair town were compared to a hornet’s nest.

That shouldn’t be a surprise since the city is credited with being the first to give England the finger by way of the Mecklenburg Declaration of Independence. Until about a hundred years ago, the date that document was signed garnered more fanfare than the 4th of July. It’s still embroidered on our state flag today.

Did you know the first female doctor in the South lived and worked in Charlotte? She sure did.

How about this: NoDa was a mill village. The backyards are big so they can accommodate a pig pen, chickens and a garden.

Ever wonder about Charlotte’s thick red mud? It may be what saved the city from being burned by General Sherman during the Civil War. He didn’t want to deal with it.

How did Charlotte handle the Civil Right’s Movement? Relatively well, all considered. You’ll have to read the book to find how how well, though.

Mrs. Kratt’s latest book is a quick, delightful read full of black and white photos to help you visualize life in one of the South’s oldest cities.

Published this year, it even includes Bank of America’s purchase of Merrill Lynch and Wachovia’s sale to Wells Fargo. Though, it doesn’t delve into the crisis that led up to it.

That’s how the book works: It gives you enough information to spark your interest and encourage you to seek more knowledge about this place we call home. So, don’t expect a boring walk through every second of the city’s history. There’s simply not enough room in the 180 pages for that much detail.

In my opinion, Charlotte North Carolina: A Brief History is a must read for newcomers and natives alike.

Available for $22-$25 at local bookstores and online, this is one title you’ll want to keep around for future reference.

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