Happy Friday everyone!
This photograph from Christmas 1940 shows how bright and vibrant North Tryon Street once was at night. Although it was already becoming an "automobile city," Charlotte in the 1940s still boasted a thriving downtown full of businesses and entertainment. The glittering marquee of the Carolina Theatre, Charlotte's grandest downtown movie palace, is on the left side at the corner of North Tryon and Sixth streets. A night at the movies could've followed a day of shopping, since department stores like Efird's, just south from the theater, and Ivey’s, on the opposite side of the road, still made this part of Tryon Street the center of the downtown shopping district. On the immediate right, across from the Carolina, is the Mayfair Manor Hotel, which was built in 1929.
Today the lights of Tryon Street are still on, but are not nearly as bright and grand as they once were. The marquee and the ornate façade of the Carolina Theatre were demolished in 1988 and for many years the lot stood empty and waiting for development. Its recently been converted into a small park/community space called Carolina Theater Park. The Mayfair Hotel still survives as one of the city’s only remaining historic downtown hotels, and is currently known as the Dunhill Hotel. The Bank of America Tower now looms over the scene, and its presence on the site of the old Belk Brothers department store is a symbol of how much the character of downtown has changed. As businesses followed residence out into the suburbs in the 1950s and 1960s, shopping centers like Efird's and Belk’s declined and we're eventually torn down. The downtown area was revitalized when Charlotte became a major banking center, but the flashy lights of Tryon Street's shopping and entertainment district are largely a thing of the past, although there is a concerted effort to change this and add more retail in this area, as mentioned in last week’s Fact Friday. Additionally, renovations are planned for the Carolina Theatre, which could include office space and a high-end hotel.
Until next week!
Email me at chris@704Shop.com if you have interesting Charlotte facts you’d like to share or just to provide feedback!
Find all previous Fact Friday blog posts by clicking here.
Information taken from:
Charlotte-Mecklenburg Historic Landmarks Commission (cmhpf.org)
Charlotte Then & Now, 2013, Brandon D. Lunsford
Some content reworded or updated. Additional commentary added.
“We have to do with the past only as we can make it useful to the present and the future.” – Frederick Douglass