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Urbex 2008: Battle of the hoods

Situated along Elizabeth Avenue, the neighborhood of Elizabeth blends the affluence of Myers Park with the middle-class livability of Plaza Midwood. The foundation for modern-day Elizabeth was formed in the mid-1800s when streetcars roamed up and down its streets, making the area a hotbed for people with money. And before neighboring Myers Park developed as the place of choice for many of Charlotte's elite, Elizabeth was the city's most desired suburb.

Out of all the neighborhoods in Charlotte, Elizabeth was the one most changed by improvements to public transportation, as businesses and medical centers moved from the central business district to its quiet, tree-lined streets.

Today, Elizabeth is a laid-back part of the city and is home to two of the city's three general hospitals, several smaller medical facilities and Central Piedmont Community College. It's also home to several locally owned restaurants and retail shops such as the comic book store Heroes Aren't Hard to Find and one of the best video stores in the city, VisArt Video, which specializes in independent and foreign films.

What's so great about Elizabeth?

"The neighbors are very impressive. They are very open, friendly, welcoming, and very organized in the neighborhood. The people of Elizabeth make the neighborhood," says Babak Emadi, an Elizabeth resident for 13 years. "Also, it's adjacent to other good neighborhoods -- Plaza Midwood, Eastover, Chantilly -- which makes Elizabeth very desirable. Great streets. Great trees. Great homes. And again, great neighbors."

Favorite hangouts?

"VisArt Video is a fantastic place; you meet all kinds of people and catch up on good news of any kind. Hawthorne's Pizza is a great place for singles and families. We go there a lot. And my daughter loves the Sub Station."

Hood Stats

Dimension Ratings

Social Dimension:.............................Low

Crime Dimension:.............................Low

Physical Dimension:.........................Low

Economic Dimension:......................Low

Profile NSA City

Population.........................................3,908 656,983

Youth Population...............................522 168,188

Number of Housing Units.................2,240 281,358

Area (Acres)......................................757 150,093

Median Household Income...............$55,526 $46,082

Average House Value........................$285,977 $192,844

Number of Organizations..................2 N/A

Unemployment Index........................Medium N/A

Hood Attractions

Restaurants and Bars

88 CHINA BISTRO, 1620A E 4th St., 704-335-0288. Bare bones shop offering exceptional Cantonese cuisine from the Chinese menu and well crafted items from the Americanized menu.

CAJUN QUEEN, 1800 E. 7th St., 704-377-9017 Friendly atmosphere, jazz and terrific service highlight and complete the New Orleans-style menu.

CARPE DIEM RESTAURANT, 1535 Elizabeth Ave., 704-377-7976. With art nouveau ambience, this locally owned spot is known for its warm goat cheese salad, pan seared trout, buttermilk fried chicken, and comfortable atmosphere.

CHARLESTON HOUSE ON THE PLAZA, 3128 The Plaza, 704-333-4411. Owner Ron Goodwin has transformed an older building into a bit of charming Charleston. Look for rustic low country specialties: shrimp and grits, red rice, fried oysters, and shrimp and crab cakes.

CUISINE MALAYA, Malaysian Cuisine & Japanese Sushi bar, 1411 Elizabeth Ave., 704-372-0766. Charlotte's only Malaysian restaurant serving first rate Roti, Satay, Char Kway Teow, and Beef Redang. Sultry, yet sophisticated ambience and fine service.

CUSTOMSHOP: HANDCRAFTED FOOD, 1601 Elizabeth Ave., 704-333-3396. This locally owned, independent, Roman-style trattoria offers a simple, modern menu with Italian overtones. Dishes change weekly and source local ingredients. Try the grilled calamari.

DISH, 1220 Thomas Ave., 704-344-0343. Boasts an easygoing, yet retro atmosphere and simple, but satisfying Southern including low country and Tex-Mex fare. This is the perfect neighborhood joint.

HAWTHORNE'S NY PIZZA, 1701 E. 7th St. 704-358-9339. This corner spot offers stone cooked pizzas, salads, stromboli, calzones, and fried cheesecake. It's just the kind of restaurant you want to live near with a funky bar and a friendly buzz.

JOHN'S COUNTRY KITCHEN, 1518 Central Ave., 704-333-9551. A reminder of a culinary tradition we're quickly leaving behind. Brains and eggs, country ham, grits and gravy. Open for lunch too.

LUPIE'S CAFE, 2718 Monroe Rd., 704-374-1232. This funky, semi-legendary place is home to an eclectic, down-home hip clientele and a kitchen full of some of the best burgers, chili and vegetarian chili in town.

NOFO ON LIZ, 1609 Elizabeth Ave., 704-444-9003. Relaxed, funky spot with well-crafted New Southern comfort food. Retail, too as well as deli take-out, wine shop, and a doggie deli.

PHILOSOPHER'S STONE TAVERN, 1958 E. 7th St., 704-350-1331. Not your typical bar food, Philosopher's Stone offers unique combinations with fresh ingredients.


Entertainment and Cultural Venues

GRADY COLE CENTER, 310 N. Kings Drive. 704-336-2884. A good place for acts of stature that might be a little too big for Tremont Music Hall.

CHARLOTTE COMEDY THEATER EXTREME IMPROV COMEDY, 1111-D Hawthorne Lane, 1-866-467-7681. Featuring high energy, fully improvised, audience interactive antics of extreme improve!

SK NETCAFE, 425 Elizabeth Ave., 704-334-1523. Stand up comedy. Internet coffee shop. Featuring acts and open mic.

VISART VIDEO, 1945 E. 7th St. , 704-343-3031. Best place in Charlotte to fins rare and independent films, and the only place in town where you'll find independent films organized by director.

MINT MUSEUM OF ART, 2730 Randolph Rd., 704-337-2000. The area's premier arts museum, the Mint contains collections of American art, pre-Colombian art, American and European ceramics, American decorative arts, historic costumes and accessories, African art, Asian art, historic map, contemporary art and photograph, as well as an ongoing schedule of changing exhibitions and education programs.

DOUBLE DOOR INN, 218 E. Independence Blvd., 704-376-1446. An intimate, gritty mainstay, the good ol' DD has been serving up smoking blues for over 30 years, an unbelievable track record in the fickle world of nightclubs.

MEMORIAL STADIUM, 310 N. Kings Dr. Memorial Stadium was the first major spectator sports facility erected by the city of Charlotte in 1936 and is now a designated historic structure.

Parks and Recreation

HAWTHORNE RECREATION CENTER, 345 Hawthorne Ln., 704-336-2008. Full size gymnasium, computer lab, multi-purpose rooms, and kitchen.

INDEPENDENCE PARK, 300 Hawthorne Lane. 24 acres basketball, baseball, tennis, volleyball, picnic shelters, playground, trails, and rose garden. Independence Park is over 100 years old.

THOMpSON PARK, 1129 E. 3rd St. 3.3 acres, Vietnam Vets Memorial, gazebo, a gorgeous historic chapel where many Charlotteans decide to be married.

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