Uptown Charlotte from the Westin Hotel.

Uptown is the central business district of Charlotte. It is home to most of the city's major institutions, as well as being the historic core. It is also the geographic center of Charlotte, with the center point of the city at the intersection of Trade and Tryon Streets.



Technically part of Uptown, the four Wards were the original political divisions of the city. The axis that determines their boundaries is located along Trade and Tryon St., but few people consider the canyon of skyscrapers at the center of the city to really be identifiable as part of the Wards. Each Ward has its own distinct personality:

Get in

Almost all visitors arrive by car. Though Uptown is easily walkable and bike-friendly in most places, the I-277 loop makes travel into and out of the district difficult for anything other than auto traffic. There is also a brand new 10 mile stretch of the city's first leg of light rail. The LYNX light rail has already exceeded it's ridership expectations in its first year by thousands per day.

The largest artery in the area is I-77, which joins with I-277 to circle the city center. Most of the time these highways flow quickly; however, it is worth keeping an eye out for construction alerts. Roadwork, or even the most minor of accidents, can bring traffic to a crawl on the interstate. NC Highway 74 also forms part of the big loop; the eight-lane freeway becomes Independence Blvd. to the east and Wilkinson Blvd. to the west.

The city's Greyhound bus station is located on Trade St. near the edge of Uptown. It is a very direct, convenient walk from the center of the city.


Parking is usually abundant in the center city, though it has become something of an issue during large events that overload the area with cars. Visitors will immediately notice the large number of surface lots at the edges of Uptown, which makes finding a parking space relatively easy. However, these lots can be somewhat expensive; their prices will reflect their proximity to Tryon St. Savvy travelers can save money by parking in the cheaper lots ($3 near 277) and using a Gold Rush trolley to take a free trip to the attractions of their choice.

Parking decks are also available in most of the highrises near the center of Uptown. However, they are usually much more expensive than lots and often reserve spaces for regular visitors. If you are interested in taking panoramic photos, park on the top of the 10-story Seventh Street Station parking deck for an open-air view of the city and surrounding areas (but do it quickly, or security guards will shoo you away).

There are curbside parking meters along most streets inside the Loop, which are usually much less expensive than using a lot or deck, and are free on the weekend. However, these meters are usually deactivated during high-traffic hours. It is worth an attempt at finding a meter, especially if you are only making a brief stop.

Get around

Map of Uptown Charlotte.

By foot

Uptown Charlotte is very dense, and almost all attractions in this part of town are easily reached by walking. Remember that, as in the rest of the USA, traffic will approach from the left on a two-way street. Drivers are generally polite to pedestrians; with this in mind, remember that Charlotte does not have a long history as a large city. Stepping in front of a car is not a guarantee that it will stop.

By car

Relative to most large cities, Charlotte's central district is fairly auto-friendly. Unless there is a major event, you should have no problem making your way around the district in a car (provided you have the patience to wait at frequent stoplights). However, be aware that "cruising" (circling the district repeatedly) is against the law and is being targeted by local police in an effort to reduce other criminal activity, especially at night.

Uptown is laid out in a grid, with numbered streets running east-west with few exceptions. Streets running north-south have proper names. From any direction, it is fairly easy to know where you are relative to the central intersection of Trade & Tryon St. If you are using a paper map, you might note that the street grid is technically aligned at a 45-degree angle relative to the compass; "North" streets technically go northeast.

Taxis are fairly common in Uptown, and you can usually hail one from the curb. See "taxis" in the main Charlotte article for more information.


The LYNX Blue Line connects uptown with South End, and is a favorite among families and tourists.

By public transit

The Charlotte Area Transit System (CATS) operates buses throughout the city, including Uptown. The central bus terminal is located across Trade Street from the Bobcats Arena. Bus fare is $2 with a transfer, or $6 for a day pass. If you have not checked the departure time in advance, allow at least 30 minutes' wait for your route to arrive.

In addition, there is the LYNX Blue Line light rail service, which connects Uptown to the South End and neighborhoods further southwest. In Uptown, LYNX uses the same route and most of the same stations as the Charlotte Trolley line. Frequency varies from 7-10 minutes on weekdays to 20-30 minutes on weekends. Fares for LYNX are $2 one-way (seniors and youth receive a discount), $4 for a round trip and $6 for a day pass.



Bechtler Museum of Modern Art

Architecture in Charlotte

Charlotte's "biggest" attraction is its skyline. Dominated by the Bank of America tower (a Cesar Pelli masterpiece), the skyline is largely composed of striking modern towers. Tucked into the inner avenues are shorter, historic towers; however, only a few of these remain. The result is that Charlotte has a highly recognizable skyline that has been in a state of flux for about 30 years. Visitors to Tryon St. often note that the preponderance of huge towers makes it feel like a slice of Wall Street, though the illusion fades quickly only a few blocks away.

When visiting Tryon St. it is worth spending some time in the Bank of America lobby, which is dominated by three expansive frescoes by North Carolinian Ben Long. Another Long frescoe is inside a dome at the Transamerica building only a short walk down the street.

Another major architectural attraction is the Hearst Tower, which puts a modern spin on Art Deco. Its impressive facade and unusual profile have made it something of a cult favorite among students of architecture. It has often been said that the Hearst Building and Bank of America tower are a scaled-down version of New York City's Chrysler and Empire State Buildings.

Not all of Charlotte's architectural energy is spent on Tryon St. Most of the middle-ring neighborhoods have retained their historic styles. 1920s bungalows dominate the old mill-village neighborhoods, while large 19th-Century country estates are to be found in Myers Park. Though these are far more understated than the huge corporate towers Uptown, they are indicative of Charlotte's real architectural heritage.





Annual events

Artwork in The Green




This page uses the following price ranges for a typical meal for one, including soft drink:
Budget Under $10
Mid-range $10-$30
Splurge $31+









The city of Charlotte has mandatory 10-digit dialing, so you must include the area code even on local calls. Charlotte has two area codes: 704 and 980.

There are some public pay phones scattered around the city, but they are becoming increasingly rare with the predominance of cell phones. It is not safe to assume you will be able to find a pay phone at any given time.

All ZIP codes in the city of Charlotte begin with 282. The central district's code is 28202.


The main branch of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Public Library is located on North Tryon St, a short walk from the central Square. It is easily recognizable by its green copper roof, and the authorial quotes which adorn its columns. Among its resources is an internet cafe which offers free visitor access. On the third floor is a special library of local and regional history, including old maps and photographs of the city. The library is one of the best places to get directions if you need them.



Permanent public restrooms are relatively rare in Charlotte, though portable restrooms are usually provided for major public events. It is generally o.k. to duck into a bar or restaurant to use the restroom, though it is considered good etiquette to make at least a trivial purchase to compensate the business.


This article is issued from Wikivoyage - version of the Monday, January 19, 2015. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.