Charlotte

In November 2014 I travelled to Charlotte, North Carolina. I think it was my first trip to Charlotte. My previous experience of North Carolina was seeing it from I-75 behind billboards reminding me how many exits were left until we reached South of the Border, a tourist trap in South Carolina that took advantage of the differences in state laws to sell fireworks. I had some free time in the evenings and managed to take in a few sights offered by this town.

One of the first things I learned is that the town is named for Queen Charlotte (Queen consort of Great Britain and Ireland, later of the United Kingdom and Hanover 5/19/1744 – 11/17/1818). So there are references to the Queen City and Our Queen everywhere. The county Mecklenburg is also named after her.

Near the airport is an office park that contains among other businesses a University of Phoenix campus. In front of one of the buildings is a metal statue of a man’s head. The piece is called Metalmorphosis by Czech sculptor David Černý. I made my detour. I had lunch from a street food vendor selling Maryland crab cakes and southern hushpuppies while sitting by this statue.

Another thing to see in Charlotte is the Mint Museum. It’s actually two museums, one downtown and one in Randolph. One admission gets you into both. The titular mint was shutdown before the civil war but the building remained and is today the museum. It features all sorts of glassware, pottery, ceramics vases, and such from all of recorded history and all over the world. It featured comparative styles of pottery from Central and South America, both pre- and post-columbian. There were also pieces from near and far east. The part that I found most interesting was the collection of North American pieces. Some of these pieces I had seen in grandparents’ homes and taken for granted. It made me look at them in a different way especially when they progressed to the late 20th century. The Uptown museum featured a very interesting traveling exhibit on the Panama Canal at 100. Pictures were not allowed so all I have is a picture of a steam shovel bucket. The focus on the exhibit was not so much about the Canal but about regional art before and after its construction, and how that art became the world view of the Canal project.

Later in the trip I wandered around downtown. I missed the Wells Fargo museum because I did not realize it closed so early. I wandered through an old cemetery in the dark on my way walking to a Sushi restaurant. I saw Marvel Universe Live at the Time Warner Cable center because it was next to my hotel. Downtown has a lot of museums and street art. I have included a couple of those pictures in the gallery below.

On the last day I made two stops on the way to the airport. The first stop was at Fort Dobbs. It was the weekend after Veterans Day so they had a event showcasing military history going back to the colonial days. These reenactors dressed up in their period garb and came out to let the tourists watch them play soldier. They featured live firing of period weapons from black powder to Viet Nam era machine guns. The juxtaposition of these different periods looked like something out of Bill and Ted. The actual fort is long gone. Its now just a historic site on a hill surrounded by suburbia. The only permanent structure was a small cabin the served as a combination museum and gift shop.

The second stop was the birthplace of President James K. Polk, 11th US President. I timed my visit to be there for their birthday party which also happened to be a big grand re-opening/re-dedication event for them. Once again their were people dressed in period costumes although this time they were only from the turn of the 19th century. Once again there was a black powder demonstration. That’s always a crowd favorite.

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