I’ve been to Uptown’s four wards dozens of times. I’m not always sure which ward I’m in or what’s in each one. Until Dr. Tom Hanchett, community historian, filled me in on what the word, “ward” meant, I had no idea of its significance.
“’Ward’ is just another name for election district,” Hanchett said. “Charlotte got big enough to split into two wards in 1851, just about the time the railroads came here and started the big boom. They redrew the lines in 1869 after there had been more growth to create four wards.”
According to Hanchett, the names stuck even after the wards weren’t needed anymore.
Here’s your guide to Charlotte’s four wards Uptown:
First Ward (the green quadrant in the map, above) includes the areas east of North Tryon Street and north of East Trade Street. The UNC Charlotte Uptown campus, Carole Hoefner Community Center, Spectrum Arena and First Ward Elementary are part of the community.
An important landmark is the First United Presbyterian Church at the corner of 7th and College streets. It was built in 1896 by African Americans for African Americans in the generation after the Civil War.
“As the story is told,” Hanchett said, “the brick layers laid up the bricks at night after they were done with their day jobs and their wives held up lanterns, so they could see what they were doing.”
See: “The Writer’s Desk,” on 7th Street in front of ImaginOn, was designed by Larry Kirkland. It is a tribute to longtime Charlotte Observer publisher Rolfe Neil.
Drink and dine: Stop at 7th Street Public Market for sushi, pasta, wine, craft beer and local artisan soft goods. On weekends, listen to local singer-songwriters perform while eating and shopping.
Brunch at Sports One Charlotte on Saturdays and Sundays from 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Check out Waterbean Coffee. They carry organic coffee, roasted locally, and pastries such as muffins, pecan pie and macaroons from local bakers.
Let a wine expert guide you through grape varietals to create your own unique blend in The Ritz-Carlton, Charlotte’s Wine Blending Experience.
Second Ward (the yellow quadrant in the map, above) is east of South Tryon Street and south of East Trade Street. Second Ward is home to the NASCAR Hall of Fame, Marshall Park, Charlotte Convention Center, EpiCentre, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Government Center and the Mecklenburg County Courthouse.
Second Ward High School Gym is one of four surviving buildings from the Brooklyn neighborhood. In 1923, it opened as Charlotte’s first public high school for African American students. After a 2.5-million- dollar renovation, it will re-open this summer as a recreation center and serve as a museum and an office for the Second Ward High School Alumni Association, according to Mecklenburg County Park and Recreation.
See: Flying Shuttles, by artist Andrew Leicester, resemble spools, highlighting the Carolinas’ textile history and celebrate its craft and ceramic traditions. Look for the columns near Spectrum Arena on East Trade and North Caldwell streets.
Do: Visit Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Arts + Culture to see Romare Bearden’s works, take part in art workshops and other special events. Stroll through The Green – look for sculptures, quotes and jumping fish.
Take a water aerobics class or group fitness class such as Cardio Xpress, Total Fitness Resistance or Fusion Fitness at the Mecklenburg County Aquatic Center.
Drink and dine: Amélie’s French Bakery & Café has a beer and wine selection to go along with pastries, sandwiches and soups.
The area south of West Trade Street and west of South Tryon makes up Third Ward (the red quadrant in the map, above). Romare Bearden Park, Bank of America Stadium, Mint Museum Uptown, Bechtler Museum of Modern Art and most of the Johnson & Wales University campus are in Third Ward.
Good Samaritan Hospital was built in the 1880s and located where the Bank of America Stadium is now. It was the first privately funded African American hospital in the south. When the hospital was torn down, the small chapel was saved and is a permanent exhibit in the Levine Museum of the New South.
See: Chicago artist Richard Hunt created Spiral Odyssey, the sculpture in Romare Bearden Park. According to the artist’s statement, the work is a tribute to Romare Bearden’s series of works that references Homer’s The Odyssey.
Do: Catch a Charlotte Knights baseball game at the BB&T Ballpark. Look for promotions such as fireworks on Friday nights, theme nights, give-away days and $1 hotdog specials. Bark at the Park games are designated dog-friendly.
Don’t miss out on Green’s Lunch, open since 1926, serving loaded hot dogs. Stop at Draught Charlotte for music, food, games or one of the 40 beers on tap. Finish the day with gourmet goodies at Potts Chocolate.
This ward (the blue quadrant in the map, above) is west of North Tryon Street and north of West Trade Street. The area includes AvidXchange Music Factory, Ray’s Splash Planet, parts of Johnson & Wales University, Discovery Place Science Museum and The Dunhill Hotel, an historic landmark.
In 1976, Fourth Ward was named an historic district, the first in Charlotte with that designation, according to Tom Hanchett.
See: Look up to see Ben Long’s Continuum at the TransAmerica Building. It’s a fresco painting and depicts several faces and important symbols of North Carolina, including former Bank of America CEO Hugh McColl.
Do: Surprise your boo with a creative (and cheap) night at Coco and The Director’s “Wine ‘n Color Wednesdays.” Art materials are free, and glasses of wine are $5.
Fill a basket with your favorite foods for a picnic at Fourth Ward Park. Walk through Elmwood Cemetery, opened in 1853, Charlotte’s second oldest public cemetery and was originally designed to have a park-like atmosphere. It has a Level 1 Arboretum designation; there are more than 25 species and there’s a strategic plan in place for the property.
Drop in to open gallery hours at the McColl Center for Art + Innovation to meet artists and see their works.
Drink and dine: Located in The Morrison House, Poplar Tapas Restaurant & Bar features Peruvian-inspired food, live music on Friday nights and specially crafted cocktails. Enjoy the view from the patio.
Alexander Michael’s, or Al Mike’s to the regulars, is an Uptown staple. Stop in for the buffalo chicken sandwich, 4th Ward Stroganoff, local brew or wine.
People watch while you enjoy a Fourth Ward with Cardinal gin, Pavan liqueur, green chartreuse and lemon on The Asbury’s outdoor patio.
Photos: Laura Wolff/Charlotte Knights, Courtesy of charlottesgotalot.com, Bernie Petit