As I recently closed out my 2 year anniversary living in the Charlotte area – full disclosure we live south of the border in Indian Land, SC and I work in Ballantyne – I’ve learned a few things about our new home. In no particular order, here are my top nine.
I’ll never be a “Charlottean.” According to the Urban Dictionary, a Charlottean is someone that is “born and raised in Charlotte, NC.” Seeing as I was born in NY, I can never lay claim to the label.
Downtown is Uptown. Most will quickly correct any transplant or tourist referring to the urban center of Charlotte as being downtown. However, how many know why? Research shows two distinct reasons. First, the geographic reality is that Tryon and Trade St are at the highest elevation point of the city. So it is literally “Uptown.” The second reason is more recent. On September 23, 1974, a city council proclamation declared that the shopping and business district in the center city be officially named ‘Uptown Charlotte.’ The push for this came from local merchant and booster, Jack Wood. Wood argued that Uptown name was in use in the 50s and needed to be restored. Additionally, Wood felt the term “Downtown” was downbeat and depressing. So, Uptown it is.
Yes, Virginia, there is a Spring. Much like stories of Santa Claus, there was what many believed to be a myth circulating in Upstate NY. Rumors of a 4th season existing in addition to summer (construction), fall (blink and you’ll miss it), and winter (no comment necessary). Those of us born and raised in the region scoffed at the notion. We had all seen pictures of this supposed spring – flowers blooming, bright sun, crisp yet warm days, and the occasional rain that turned the grass green and vibrant. But we tried and true skeptics knew that winter slowly and begrudgingly released its hold sometime in mid-May, melting snow slowly under grey skies until finally, one morning, summer had arrived going from 40 degrees one day, to 80 the next. My first March here I felt like yelling, “You do! You do exist!” as spring blossomed in every direction. It is now my favorite season.
Humidity. Charlotteans love to go on and on about just how humid things get during the summer. Having grown up along the Great Lakes – Erie and Ontario – I can tell you that upstate NY easily gives Charlotte a run for its money in terms of humidity. Additionally, we have experienced warm days here without high humidity, whereas in Rochester or Buffalo, any warm day is always accompanied by it. Regardless, a little damp heat is a small price to pay for the added sunshine and moderate climate year round.
Craft beer and breweries.
Charlotte loves her some craft beer. Venture to any Charlotte area bar or restaurant and I promise the majority of the draft beer featured is local. According to Yelp, you can find a list of the top 10 craft breweries in Charlotte, HERE
. But with names like the Wooden Robot Brewery
, and staples like the Sugar Creek Brewing Company
, you really can’t go wrong. Being originally from Rochester, NY
, my only point of reference is an ice cold Genny Lite
from my formative years, so I’m not the greatest judge of suds, but Charlotte definitely has the beer thing going on!
6. Traffic. Live here for a minute and you’ll be warned. The only thing worse than the humidity is the traffic. This one may have some truth to it simply as a result of growth outpacing infrastructure. Again, given sitting in traffic in the sun, versus white knuckling my way home, 2 mph along Rte 490 in February, I’ll take it.
BBQ and Gas Stations.
If you’re in need of a fill-up of gas or pulled pork, neither is too far away. And sometimes, both at the same stop! Locals will tell you which BBQ is “the real deal
” and you’ll soon learn SC gas is the way to go if you’re close to border. A short trip across the state lines may save you a few bucks.
Snakes and Spiders. Browse through any local Facebook Group and you’ll soon be traumatized by photos taken, begging members to categorize, “What kind of snake/spider is this???” The answer for the snakes are often split down the middle between poisonous and deadly, and “That’s a good one. King snakes are good to have around!!” As for the spiders, the answer is always, “Brown Recluse, stay away.”
You don’t have to tell me twice.
Southern Hospitality. It really does exist. Natives in our neighborhoods have been so pleasant, welcoming, and hospitable in the face of northern migration. That said, there have been a few that may have had their fill of us. Comments like, “Stores closed, we’re full,” jokingly make the rounds when we mention friends and family may be moving down to join us. I’m sure they’re just kidding. Maybe.