Once known as Elizabeth Heights, the Elizabeth neighborhood on Charlotte's east side followed Dilworth as the city's second streetcar suburb in 1904. The neighborhood grew up around Elizabeth College, and took its name from it. The rural farmland around Elizabeth was purchased and developed by a group of local outside investors who extended East Trade Street out and renamed part of it Elizabeth Avenue. In 1903 trolley service was extended out to Elizabeth College, and the area quickly became an upper-income residential area that businessmen could commute from via streetcar. By 1915 Charlotte's suburban development continued with the addition of several subdivisions within Elizabeth itself, and the population spread out past present-day Hawthorne and Central avenues. This shot from the 1950s (above) is of McDowell Street and its intersection with East Avenue, which has since been renamed Elizabeth Avenue and is generally seen as the entrance to the neighborhood. In the center of the shot is the East Avenue Tabernacle ARP Church, built in 1914.
The Visulite Theatre on Elizabeth Avenue in 1937. The theater still remains an important part of the neighborhood today as a live music venue.
This shot of Fourth Street and Elizabeth Avenue dates from around 1955 and shows the newly built Independence Boulevard.
Elizabeth remained an enclave of mostly upper- and middle-class suburbanites in the early twentieth century, but perhaps more than any other Charlotte suburb it has felt the effects of the automobile. By the 1950s, all of Charlotte's main east-west traffic routes cut through the neighborhoods. By the 1960s, various shopping centers and offices had cropped up on the east side, and Myers Park had replaced Elizabeth as the most fashionable residential area in the city. Charlotte's major hospitals left the central uptown district and relocated to Elizabeth in the early 1900s, and today two of the city's main general hospitals are still situated here. In 2010 the neighborhood once again saw new development as the result of the new streetcar, as trolley tracks were laid along Elizabeth Avenue as part of the new electric line in the neighborhood. The East Avenue Tabernacle Church building became the Great Aunt Stella Center in 1997, and hosts performances, meetings and non-denominational weddings.
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Information taken from:
Charlotte Then and Now, Brandon Lunsford, 2013.
“We have to do with the past only as we can make it useful to the present and the future.” – Frederick Douglass