Happy Friday everyone!
For much of Charlotte's early history, South Tryon was lined with a mix of businesses and residences that characterized it as one of the city’s four major corridors branching out from the Square. It had been no more or less prominent than any of the others, but around the turn of the 20th century it started to become a magnet for white-collar downtown businesses serving the region’s prospering textile industry. It began with the construction of the Piedmont Building in 1898, and its successful tenancy for office space convinced others that South Tryon was a viable market. In this remarkable panorama from 1918 looking north towards the Square, the dome of the Mecklenburg County Courthouse rises on the right. On the opposite side of the street on the 200 block are the Piedmont Building and the Trust Building, erected in 1902 to house banking interests and the predecessor to the Duke Power Company, the Southern Power Company.
By the 1930s a booming financial district was forming on South Tryon, dotted with skyscrapers and teeming with businessman hurrying to and from work. The line of tall buildings was a symbol of the growing economic power and development of the downtown and it's future, and local leaders proudly touted their new banking district as "the Wall Street of the South." The Trust Building burned in 1922 and was replaced in 1924 by the Johnston Building, which has remained a landmark on South Tryon for more than 80 years and serves as a reminder of the historical prominence of the corridor. A lot has changed in this view, but South Tryon remains a key financial tract for Charlotte. The Johnston Building, with red marquee, is now surrounded by much newer and taller skyscrapers that serve as the headquarters for several financial institutions based in the city.
The 200 block in color in this postcard from 1905, which also show the distinctive turrets of Charlotte’s second YMCA Building, constructed the year before in 1904.
How the financial district looked in the 1950s, with the distinctive columns of Charlotte’s Masonic Temple Building marking the eastern side of the street.
Until next week!
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Information taken from:
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