Fact Friday 397 - The History of Pearl Street Park - Mecklenburg County's First Park for African-Americans

Fact Friday 397 - The History of Pearl Street Park - Mecklenburg County's First Park for African-Americans

Happy Friday!

Content from this week's Fact Friday comes to you from an awesome blog I happened to stumble upon while looking for information on this topic, called BlazeCLT.com. I definitely encourage you to check them out and subscribe. Their tagline is "Taking the guesswork out of active, family friendly adventures in and around Charlotte, NC." How awesome is that?


There are a number of compelling reasons to visit Pearl Street Park, hidden in plain sight on the edge of Uptown Charlotte. Reason number one is to acquaint yourself with a remarkable piece of Charlotte history. 

Pearl Street Park, located across Kenilworth Ave. from the Metropolitan Shopping Center (the Trader Joe’s end), is easy to miss, but well worth a stop. A little bigger than eight acres, the park offers short walking trails, a full basketball court and open field space. (Be sure to check out their blog for a listing of other amenities also available at the park.)

Pearl Street Park was purchased by the City of Charlotte on March 31, 1943 from Thompson Orphanage and became the city’s first and only public recreation space for African American children and families. According to a commemorative plaque by the Charlotte Mecklenburg Black Heritage Committee, the park was formerly identified as the "first Negro Playground," as the first African-American public park in Mecklenburg County. The land is in Charlotte’s Second Ward, which was home to the Brooklyn Neighborhood, Charlotte’s largest African American neighborhood – the center of black civic life – until the neighborhood was demolished in the 1960s in the name of urban renewal.

One of the park’s first uses was as a Victory Garden in World War II. During the war, the government rationed most food products and relied on citizens to provide their own fruits and vegetables, which were hard to harvest and deliver due to labor and transportation shortages.

Following the war and until the eventual (and slow!) park desegregation in the 1950s and 1960s, Pearl Street Park was an important social gathering space for African American families. It served as the athletic fields for the football and baseball teams at nearby Second Ward High School. At one time, in addition to playground equipment, trails and fields, there was a swimming pool on the grounds.

In 2005, the Charlotte Mecklenburg Black Heritage Committee dedicated Pearl Street Park as the first African American Park in Mecklenburg County, marked with a monument to memorialize its rich cultural heritage. Beside the monument is an audio history station where visitors can listen to and learn more about the park’s historical significance.

If you have access, also check out this article by the Charlotte Observer on the park's revitalization. 

Until next week!



"Hidden Park: Pearl Street Park," by Lauren Sawyers, BlazeCLT.com. September 27, 2018. 

"Revisiting Pearl Street Park," by Lauren Sawyers, BlazeCLT.com. December 23, 2021. 


Email chris@704shop.com if you have interesting Charlotte facts you’d like to share or just to provide feedback!

“History is not the past, it is the present. We carry our history with us. We are our history.” - James Baldwin

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