Fact Friday #22 - NoDa Then and Now


Happy Friday everyone!

Have you visited North Davidson (NoDa) lately to partake in the exploding brewery scene, catch some live music, take in an art gallery, or get some great eats? If not, you should. There’s plenty to do. Here’s a tiny bit on the area's beginnings.

Above: The Highland Park Mill Number Three on North Davidson Street was one of the last cotton mills to be built in the city in 1904. Premier Charlotte cotton industrialist D. A. Tompkins and others formed the Highland Park Manufacturing Company in 1892, which had built two Highland park mills in Charlotte and in Rock Hill, South Carolina, by 1900. The site chosen for the third location, which was to be the city’s first electric-driven mill, was on rural farmland about a mile north of the original Highland Mill on North Brevard Street. By the time it was completed, it was by far the largest mill in Charlotte, with 30,000 spindles, 1,000 looms, and more than 800 employees. The enormous plant precipitated the establishment of an entire mill community with rows of white frame houses clustered around it, which became known as North Charlotte and is shown here in 1909.

Above: A flourishing business district, once known as “Charlotte’s second downtown,” grew up around the mill. When the Highland Park Manufacturing Company dissolved in 1969, all textile manufacguring ceased at Highland Park, making it one of the last mills in the city to close. For years it sat vacant while the neighborhood slowly decayed, but North Carholtte gained renewed life in the 1980s as dancers, musicians, actors, and artists moved in and restored blighted mill houses in what eventually became the North Davidson Arts District. In 1999 the mill that gave the area life finally became part of the the rehabilitation, and it was restored and adapted into urban apartments. North Davidson is emerging as Charlotte’s newest trendy district of shops and residences, but has so far resisted any widespread development that would destroy its eclectic flavor and its renovated homes.

(Personal side note: We’ll see how long this lasts with the Blue Line Light Rail project already underway, which expects to do to North Charlotte, what it did to South End. Folk are aleady beginning to dub the area “North End.” )

Caption: The galleries and storefronts of Davidson Street form the heart of “NoDa,” the neighborhood’s take on “SoHo” in New York and Charlotte’s most prominent arts district.

Until next week!

Chris.

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

Information and illustrations taken from Charlotte Then and Now, 2013, Brandon Lunsford. Additional commentary added.