I hope you’re easing into the New Year nicely and staying warm! I’m not very used to the cold weather and am (impatiently) awaiting the spring. If you don’t mind getting a little cold, today’s Fact Friday will encourage you to get out and explore the history that remains in the Brooklyn neighborhood. Today’s feature is written by Makayla, one of the Museum’s new associates and a student at Queens University.
In the heart of what is now Charlotte’s Second Ward existed a thriving Black community named Brooklyn. (You can read a more in-depth history in this 2020 Fact Friday) The town was quickly populated by Black residents during the nineteenth century and Black churches, businesses, and offshoot neighborhoods formed and flourished. Brooklyn would even have its own Black-owned investment company, which was financed by Black professionals in 1921. Residents who remember Brooklyn argue that community was the crux of Charlotte’s Black main street after 1900.
This photo depicts the Brooklyn neighborhood before it was razed in the Urban Renewal Project from 1960-1970. Photo: Charlotte-Mecklenburg Library
Third St., Tom Walters. Many of the homes in Brooklyn were “shotgun” houses, meaning they were the width of just one room and a hallway. To justify the urban renewal plan, City leaders characterized many of the homes as ‘slums,’ even though they were often well-built and maintained.
During the 1960s and 1970s, Brooklyn was torn down in Charlotte’s first wave of the Urban Renewal Project. The project was completed in five stages and permanently displaced 1,007 families, mostly to northern and western segregated portions of the city. The razing of Brooklyn created lasting strife for its former residents and was a disaster for the economic growth of Charlotte’s Black residents.
The next time you find yourself driving by or enjoying the scenery that is now Uptown Charlotte, remember that this was once Brooklyn, or Second Ward. With the help of the KnowCLT app, developed by Zythow in partnership with Levine Museum of the New South, you can uncover the history of our city in new ways while honoring the it’s history. The app uses augmented reality to allow users to view the old Black neighborhood of Brooklyn by overlaying now lost buildings and residences over current views. Highly recommend checking it out! If you’re not Uptown, you can still use the app to hear oral histories from Brooklyn residents and learn more about the neighborhood.
I’ll be writing more for Black History Month in February, so I hope you’ll check back in as we explore Charlotte history.
Have a great weekend!
The Charlotte Museum of History
Pitkin, Ryan. “KnowCLT App Turns Former Streets of Brooklyn into a Museum
A new way to know CLT.” Queen City Nerve
“History of the Brooklyn Community” UNC Charlotte.
Charlotte Museum of History “Charlotte Neighborhoods” Permanent Exhibit.
About The Charlotte Museum of History
The Charlotte Museum of History exists to save and share the Charlotte region’s history, helping create a better understanding of the past and inspiring dialogue about the future. The museum is the steward of the 1774 Hezekiah Alexander Rock House and homesite, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is the oldest home in Mecklenburg County. Visit charlottemuseum.org and follow the museum on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. The museum is an independent 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization.
Email firstname.lastname@example.org if you have interesting Charlotte facts you’d like to share or just to provide feedback!
“We have to do with the past only as we can make it useful to the present and the future.” – Frederick Douglass