NoDa | Urban Explorer's Handbook | Creative Loafing Charlotte
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Urbex 2008: Battle of the hoods

NoDa holds the title of one of Charlotte's most eclectic neighborhoods. Known as the Q.C.'s arts district, NoDa originally existed as a mill village that operated almost independently of Charlotte. After the mill closed in the 1970s, the area went downhill and became a hub for the poverty-stricken. But that all changed when artists moved into the area and began revitalizing old and dilapidated structures.

NoDa now is home to numerous art galleries such as Center of the Earth Gallery, Green Rice Designs & Studio, Hart Witzen Gallery and The ArtHouse Center for Creative Expression. But NoDa isn't just limited to the visual arts; you can also find a plethora of live music performances at The Evening Muse and Neighborhood Theatre, and weekly poetry events at the Wine-Up.

What's so great about NoDa?

"There's so much variety. You can hear live music. You can go to an independently owned bookstore. If you like ethnic restaurants, that's there. You can do something different basically every night of the week," says Amina Harvey (pictured above), who's lived in NoDa for 2 years. "I think a lot of people in Charlotte don't really know about everything that NoDa has to offer -- and that's kind of what keeps it unique and different."

Favorite hangouts?

"Smelly Cat coffeehouse has the best hot chocolate I've ever had anywhere in my entire life. I like RealEyes Bookstore. Cabo and Addie's are probably my two favorite restaurants. At Addie's, I like the fact it's independently owned and that the owner of the restaurant is actually in the kitchen."


Hood Stats


Dimension Ratings

Social Dimension:..................................Medium

Crime Dimension:..................................Medium

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

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

Profile NSA City

Population......................................... 2,834 656,983

Youth Population...............................779 168,188

Number of Housing Units.................1,275 281,358

Area (Acres)......................................576 150,093

Median Household Income...............$30,210 $46,082

Average House Value.........................$116,028 $192,844

Number of Organizations..................3 N/A

Unemployment Index........................High N/A


Hood Attractions

Restaurants and Bars

ADDIE'S JAMAICAN CUISINE, 3116 N. Davidson St., 704-331-0047. Owner and cook Addie Roman prepares savory dishes, such as jerks, curries, soups, and stews from her native Kinston, Jamaica. In addition to Red Stripe, there are bottled fruit juices and a short wine list.

BOUDREAUX'S LOUISIANA KITCHEN, 501 E. 36th St., 704-331-9898, Po' Boys and muffaleatta's at lunch, inexpensive, traditional Creole and Cajun dishes at dinner served in a spacious, artsy dining room. Sunday Brunch too.

CABO FISH TACO BAJA SEA GRILL, 3201 N. Davidson St., 704-332-8868, Set in a humble NoDa historic building, these well crafted, tasty dishes will bring you back for regular feeding forays. There are vegetarian, chicken, and steak selections.

DOLCE VITA WINE BAR, 3205 N. Davidson St., 704-334-1052. Dolce Vita carries an extensive list of wines from all over the world for you to take home or enjoy in their fun atmosphere.

MOON DOG'S BEACH SHACK, 3228 N. Davidson St., 704-377-2610. The relaxed atmosphere and variety of pizzas attract all ages.

SALVADOR DELI & Market, 3215 N. Davidson St., 704-334-2344. A place right out of a time warp, you can build your own sandwich or choose one of their signature sandwiches.

SMELLY CAT COFFEE HOUSE, 514 E. 36th St., 704-374-9656. Smelly Cat is a cozy little coffeehouse that has been an important part of the NoDa neighborhood for years. They sell coffee, tea, smoothies, ice cream, drinks, pastries, bagels, and candy.

SOLSTICE TAVERN, 3221 N. Davidson St., 704-342-2556. Offers everything from great appetizers to wraps and burgers.


Cultural and Entertainment Venues

THE ART HOUSE, 3103 Cullman Ave., 704-962-9700. A collection of studios and galleries with resident and visiting artists specializing in fine art, b&w photography, textile art, sculpture, heritage art, music and sound recording.

THE ART PRESERVE, 3200 N. Davidson St., 704-358-8882. The Art Preserve is a framing design establishment and an art gallery with a twist. The gallery displays contemporary paintings by local artists with furniture and sculptural pieces in an elegant and intimate setting.

BEET CONTEMPORARY CRAFTS AND FUNCTION ART, 2302-A N. Davidson St., 704-334-3558. As a contemporary crafts and functional art gallery, here is their mission statement: "Beet purveys beautiful functional things, celebrates fruit of hands and heart, and promotes American artists and their creations."

BLUE PONY GALLERY & PRESS, 3202 N. Davidson St., 704-334-9390. They have a roster of contemporary artists from the Carolinas and across the country. Blue Pony exhibits painting, mixed media, ceramics, and a strong collection of original prints.

CENTER OF THE EARTH GALLERY, 3204 N. Davidson St., 704-375-5756. The one that started it all in NoDa, Center of the Earth Gallery is a premiere fine art destination in it's 16th year. Hailed by critics and collectors throughout the South for it's eclectic selection of high quality contemporary art by 50 regional and national artists of stature. Featuring original prints, paintings, sculpture, and glass in all media. Recipient of a Governors Business Award in the Arts.

THE EVENING MUSE, 3227 N. Davidson St., 704-376-3737. This nice, cozy venue in the heart of NoDa features a wide range of talent with an emphasis on folk, non-music Row country, and rock. Crowds are almost always quiet and respectful of the artists. Home of CL's Crown Town Showdown Open Mic. (See our Music Section for more info.) Also has art gallery and café.

DIALECT ART GALLERY, 3204-C N. Davidson St., 704-334-3558. This studio offers 30-plus artists a year, often focusing on an innovative perspective on European architecture. A primary purpose of the studio is to allow Charlotte artists to discuss their processes, work and lives.

GREEN RICE DESIGNS & STUDIO, 451 E. 36th St., 704-344-0300. Green Rice Designs is a working artist gallery where you can find artists working in everything from oil paints to the computer arts. Catering to local talent, Green Rice Designs provides new and upcoming artists the opportunity to exhibit their work to experienced or novice art collectors in a fun and inviting environment.

HART WITZEN GALLERY, 136 E. 36th St., 704-334-1177. 17 private studios surround a 5,000 sq. ft. space that morphs into a gallery, live performance venue, movie theater, reception hall, class room, etc. It is their mission to provide an atmosphere conducive to creativity, a venue to exhibit cutting edge visual performance arts as well as an unpretentious forum for the public to experience the arts.

THE NEIGHBORHOOD THEATRE, 511 E. 36th St., 704-358-9298. Originally built as a movie theater in 1945, it's been restored and turned into a performance place with a capacity of 950 people – 700 comfortable style seats and uncommonly wide aisles. A thrust stage extends into the seating area. A sound system and theatrical lights are available.

WINE-UP, 3306-C N. Davidson St., 704-372-2633. A warm inviting atmosphere for a relaxing evening of entertainment. Featuring a first class menu with fine wines and beers along with a selection of appetizers. Four regulation pool tables are available for rent by the hour, live entertainment on the weekends.


Parks and recreation

CHARLES AVENUE PARK, 800 Charles Ave. 1 acre, basketball, hopscotch, playground, trail.

CLEMSON AVENUE PARK, 3028 Clemson Ave. 1 acre, basketball, horseshoe pit, playground.

CORDELIA PARK, 2100 N. Davidson St. 21.6 acres, basketball, baseball, tennis, playground, trails, outdoor pool.

JOHNSTON YMCA, 3025 N. Davidson St., 704-716-6300. Members have access to over 50,000 square feet of spacious facilities that include a new group exercise studio for classes, plus 4,500 square feet of fitness, cardio, and free weight equipment. An aquatic center has six lane indoor pool, and there's also a gymnasium with twin courts, available for sports, league play and pick up games. Health Center with onsite registered nurse and free child watch services for members are also available.

NORTH CHARLOTTE PARK, 901 Herrin Rd. 3.05 acres, basketball, picnic shelter, playground, trails.

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