What’s in a ward? A guide to Charlotte’s uptown quadrants

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Uptown Charlotte, N.C. aerials taken June 8, 2012.____Davie Hinshaw - dhinshaw@charlotteobserver.com - from WCNC's AirStar 36

We have several Queens Roads, downtown is called “uptown,” and street names change on a dime. Welcome to our city, newcomers. We are thoroughly delighted to begin confusing you.

Many of Charlotte’s quirks have become things that we complain about, sure, but I like to think it’s all good-natured. Those that can laugh along are true Charlotteans.

Let’s crack the code on one of these mysteries: uptown’s wards. What’s a ward?

Here’s the answer, with some help from this article by historian Tom Hanchett on the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Historic Landmarks Commission website.

First, some history

Back in the day, Trade and Tryon were major trade routes intersecting at the same point that they do today. Charlotte settled around this crossroad.

(Related: Ever wonder why Charlotte’s uptown grid is set on a diagonal?) 

The intersection is also responsible for our wards: The boundaries follow Trade and Tryon, dividing uptown into four quadrants. Why? For political purposes, so that each area had its own representative. Charlotte abandoned the ward system in 1945, but the names stuck uptown.

Today, uptown and its wards are contained by the I-277 loop.

What’s the difference between the wards?

The wards aren’t something that you immediately notice. Anyone that frequents uptown probably criss-crosses the city and bounces from ward to ward without knowing it.

Each area has its own character and charm, though.

First Ward – Up and coming

– The east quadrant.

– What you’ll find here: UNCC Center City campus, Time Warner Cable Arena, ImaginOn and the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Main Library.

– Neighborhood favorites: Mert’s Heart and Soul, 7th Street Public Market (get the BLT at Local Loaf).

– Coming soon: First Ward Park. Think Bearden, Part Deux. Yes.

Second Ward – Government

– The south quadrant.

– What you’ll find: County courthouse, city hall, Marshall Park, NASCAR Hall of Fame, Charlotte Convention Center, EpiCenter and The Green.

– Neighborhood favorites: Fahrenheit for the view and a drink, Fuel Pizza for the garlic knots.

– Coming soon: Amelie’s. Having salted caramel brownies this close to my condo is going to be a problem. I welcome you to uptown with open arms, sister.

Third Ward – All you need in one ward

– The west quadrant.

– What you’ll find: Mint Museum, Bechtler Museum of Modern Art, (most of) Johnson and Wales, Bank of America Stadium, Latta Arcade, BB&T Ballpark and Romare Bearden Park.

– Neighborhood favorites: Draught (food by two Johnson & Wales alumnae) for the blackened scallop salad, Green’s Lunch for the hot dogs.

– Coming soon: More apartments (shocker, I know). Childress Klein is building a 42-story apartment tower above the Mint Museum. 

Fourth Ward – Fancy-schmancy residential

– The north quadrant.

– What you’ll find: Beautiful Victorian homes, Discovery Place and the McColl Center for Art + Innovation.

– Neighborhood favorites: Alexander Michael’s for the fried pickles, Corner Pub for the funnel cake fries, Crave Dessert Bar for the s’mores platter.

– Coming soon: Not much, but we like it that way. This is a designated historic district, so preservation rather than commerce is king in this hood.

Now you know! Go spread your Charlotte smarts.

Photo: Davie Hinshaw/Charlotte Observer


Nicole BrantleyNicole Brantley is a native Charlottean who is equal parts do-gooder, beer snob  and exercise enthusiast. Follow her on Twitter @NikkiBrantley.

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