Uptown | Urban Explorer's Handbook | Creative Loafing Charlotte
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Uptown 

Urbex 2008: Battle of the hoods

There was a time when people only came to Uptown to go to the courthouse and pay their water bill ... and the only folks walking the streets were bank employees and homeless people. But after a major effort to revamp the area, Uptown has become one of the hottest spots in Charlotte, attracting a mixed group of people from young professionals to married couples to families to empty-nesters.

And Uptown offers something that many other areas of Charlotte don't: variety. If you're into the arts, visit the Blumenthal Performing Arts Center or the McColl Center for Visual Art. If you're into music, check out the Charlotte Philharmonic Orchestra or Opera Carolina. If you're into sports, catch the Panthers at the Bank of America Stadium or the Bobcats and Checkers at the Bobcats Arena. If you're into drinking, get toasted at Cans or Buckhead Saloon. And if you're into strippers, you can hit up Uptown Cabaret. Basically, there's a little bit of something for everybody.

Two major downsides of Uptown are parking, which totally sucks especially during major events, and the cost of living. Although developers continue to build luxury condos, the average working person can't afford to live in Uptown unless they sell one of their kidneys on the black market. (And I don't know about you, but I need both my kidneys.)

What's so great about Uptown?

"I feel like a lot of neighborhoods in Charlotte are up-and-coming. Uptown's already up-and-came; it's here," says Bailie Thompson, who's lived in Uptown for 3 years. "Yes it is growing more, but it's established. People are moving here. People want to live here; there are so many amenities. I feel like in other areas, you're driving to Uptown for everything. You have more at your fingertips here. Just in the past three years, I have just been so impressed with the growth and quality of bars and restaurants that are in Uptown. You're kind of in the core."

Favorite hangouts?

"The Green (the little park by the Ratcliffe) -- in the winter they have the ice-skating rink and in the summer they have movies in the park! Also, Alexander Michael's restaurant in 4th Ward, Actor's Theatre/Spirit Square. Zink's patio when it's nice outside for a nice glass of wine."

 

Hood Stats


Dimension Ratings

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

Crime Dimension: ............................................High

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

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

Profile NSA City

Population.........................................................1,891 656,983

Youth Population...............................................490 168,188

Number of Housing Units.................................992 281,358

Area (Acres)......................................................283 150,093

Median Household Income.............................. $32,909 $46,082

Average House Value........................................$266,264 $192,844

Number of Organizations..................................1 N/A

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

 

Hood Attractions


Restaurants and Bars

ALEXANDER MICHAEL'S, 401 W. 9th St., 704-332-6789. A neighborhood pub in Fourth Ward with domestic and imported beers, burgers, blackened chicken breast sandwiches and an unflappable staff.

AUSTIN'S CARIBBEAN CUISINE, 345 S. Kings Dr., 704-331-8778. Family recipes are used by this Kingston family to produce exceptional jerk chicken, coco bread, goat curry, ackee and saltfish, sweet potato pudding and other Jamaican specialties. Take-out only.

The CAPITAL GRILLE, 201 N. Tryon St., 704-348-1400. An upper end, luxuriously appointed, dark wood, clubby steak house with a national reputation for dry-aged porterhouse, sirloin steaks and large portions.

COSMOS CAFE, 300 N. College St., Suite 101, 704-372-3553. Popular spot, great for late-night, with a comfortably hip ambience, serving a wide variety of cuisine styles.

GREEN'S LUNCH, 309 W. 4th St., 704-332-1786. Longtime Uptown favorite for one main reason: Carolina-styled hotdogs with chili and slaw.

LATORRE'S, 118 W. 5th St., 704-377-4448. Featuring upscale Nuevo Latino dishes that are innovative, well-executed and served in large portions.

THE GRADUATE, 123 W. Trade St., 704-358-3024. Popular hangout with college crowd, offering good variety of dishes, subs, sandwiches, calzones and pizza. Try the cheese fries.

MCNINCH HOUSE, 511 N. Church St., 704-332-6159. Owner-chef Ellen Davis offers a prix fixe dinner in a renovated Fourth Ward Victorian mansion with nine wood-burning fireplaces.

MERT'S HEART AND SOUL, 214 N. College St., 704-342-4222. Owners James and Renee Bazzelle create delectable Low Country and Southern country dishes. Service is solicitous, art provocative, food down-home and honest, and prices incredibly low. Open late weekends.

MORTON'S THE STEAKHOUSE, 227 W. Trade St. (Carillon Building), 704-333-2602. Well-known for steaks and elegance.

PALOMINO RESTAURANT, 525 N. Tryon St., 704-373-9499. A Seattle-based chain which serves uncomplicated dishes in a warm, vibrant and inviting atmosphere. Delightful patio fountain.

REID'S FINE FOODS, 225 E. 7th St., 704-377-1312. An upscale grocery with a prepared-food section, including hot meals, sandwiches, sushi, salads and more. Also has wine tasting and cooking classes.

SOHO BISTRO CHINESE CUISINE, 214 N. Tryon St., Suite 100, Hearst Tower, 704-333-5189. Delightful appetizers please those looking for varying degrees of authenticity in an upscale Asian setting.

SONOMA MODERN AMERICAN CUISINE, 100 N. Tryon St., 704-377-1333. Innovated New American cuisine with locally grown produce in an urban atmosphere.

 

Entertainment and Cultural Venues


BAR CHARLOTTE, 300 N. College St., 704-342-2454. Place where hot, red-blooded young men and women go to drink, party, get rowdy, shake their groove thing and check out the opposite sex.

BLUMENTHAL PERFORMING ARTS CENTER, 130 N. Tryon St., 704-372-1000, www.blumenthalcenter.org. Great venue to see an array of performing and cultural arts, including first-class touring Broadway productions, and a variety of dance, music, family and educational programs. Includes the 2,100-seat Belk Theater and the 434-seat Booth Playhouse.

BREAKFAST CLUB, 225 N. Caldwell St., 704-374-1982. Three level nightclub that features mix of '80s music and videos from the early days of MTV and clips from your favorite "Brat Pack" movies.

CANS BAR AND CANTEEN, 500 W. 5 St., 704-940-0200. True to its name Cans offers 34 canned beers in addition to great liquor. Shoot pool, play Tetris or watch any sport on one of the 12 plasma TV's around the bar. Plenty of space to chill, except on Saturdays when it can get a little crowded.

DISCOVERY PLACE, 301 N. Tryon St., 704-372-6261, www.discoverplace.org. From the frontiers of space to the depths of the sea; Discovery Place is an ever-changing, ever-growing, hands-on science and technology center. Permanent exhibits include three-story rain forest, Dinosaurs, aquarium and an IMAX theater.

HOM, 116 W. 5 St., 704-375-3737. Charlotte's home of non-smoking nightlife. 3,500 square feet; the building hosts a restaurant, a lounge, a patio, and even a study! Get your groove on that Charlotte's new hotspot!

IMAGINON, 300 E. 7th St., 704-973-2700. Joint project of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg library and Children's Theatre. The 106,00 square feet facility includes youth library, classrooms, technology center, early childhood reading center, performance stages and a craft shop.

MCCOLL CENTER FOR VISUAL ART, 721 N. Tryon St., 704-332-5535. www.mccollcenter.org. Built in 1926, the McColl Center for Visual Art is located in a former ARP church, now is host to an urban artists' community. In addition to providing a state-of-the-art facility for national and local artists, the Center also features exhibits and community outreach projects.

MINT MUSEUM OF CRAFT & DESIGN, 220 N. Tryon St., 704-337-2000. www.mintmuseum.org. Features works in ceramics, metal, fabrics and woods from international artists.

TILT CHARLOTTE, 127 W. Trade St., 704-347-4870. Charlotte party scene personified, good music, good booze, pretty people. What more could you ask for?

THE FORUM, 300 N. College St., 704-375-8765. The gold standard in Charlotte nightlife. DJ Supa Skip keeps the party jumpin' while guys and girls are dressed to impress. Great drink prices, private seating, and rooftop oasis over looks 7th St. Alley.

 

Park and Recreation


AQUATIC CENTER, 800 East Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., 704-336-3483. Indoor Olympic pool for recreation and competitions, fitness center.

FIRST WARD RECREATION CENTER, 610 E. 7th St., 704-336-3375. Full-size gymnasium, fitness, indoor playroom, six basketball goals, volleyball courts, 600 seating capacity, open play volleyball and basketball, adult leagues. Park has eight acres, horseshoe pits, picnic shelter, playground and trails.

FOURTH WARD PARK, 301. N. Poplar St. Three acres, playground, fountains and gardens, trails, urban greenspace.

FRAZIER PARK, 1200 W. 4th St. Extension. Three acres, basketball, softball, tennis, picnic shelters, playground, trails.

RAY'S SPLASH PLANET, 215 N. Sycamore St., 704-432-4RAY. A joint venture between Mecklenburg County Park and Recreation Department and Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools, Ray's place is home to an amazing indoor water park with giant slides, "Moon Beach" and "Saturation Station." The Planet is also home to a fitness center with aerobic and dance room, cardiovascular theater, free weights, resistance equipment and play field outside.

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