Monday, February 21, 2011

Knoxville + Charlotte = Same league?

While folks in Charlotte are still elated over being selected for the 2012 Democratic National Convention, The Economist magazine has deftly slid a stiletto under the city's civic ribcage:

In its Feb. 10 issue, "Changing leagues: What landing the convention says about North Carolina’s biggest city," the writer quotes Charlotte Center City Partners' Michael Smith: "“We’re changing leagues.”

The magazine goes on to describe the city: "It has a couple of professional sports teams, the NASCAR Hall of Fame, a sleek new light-rail system and a decent but hardly remarkable smattering of museums and theatres. It seems just one of several pleasant, medium-sized cities—such as Knoxville, Richmond and Norfolk—between Washington, DC, and Atlanta."

Keeping in mind that Charlotte's estimated 2006 population, according to the U.S. Census Bureau was 630,478, it's instructive to note that the Census Bureau also reports:

• Richmond's 2010 population at 204,000 and Norfolk's at 242,803.
• Knoxville? Its 2006 population estimate was 182,337.

All those years of spending, building, scrapping and clawing and climbing by the fingernails into the NBA and the NFL, building towering phallic bank and energy company skyscrapers to prove the city's virility, were they for nothing? Can it be possible that to the rest of the world, which now appears not to have been paying the least bit of attention, Charlotte is still considered a "pleasant medium-sized city," maybe about like Knoxville?

Ouch! Ooof! Uggghh! And grrrrr!!! You can hear the teeth grinding up and down Tryon Street.


Anonymous said...

Charlotte is a city with international reach. These other minor cities have zero reach

Anonymous said...

" These other minor cities have zero reach."

Huh? Norfolk, VA? NATO HQ, world shipping, largest Naval base on the East Coast?

Adrian DeVore said...

As a former Charlottean, I lived here for ten years and found it to be a world class city for small-minded people. Although, Charlotte has an international reach, with seriuos difficulties accepting newer ideas and visions from outside people.

Bréanainn Séaghdha said...

I think it's obvious this guy had an ax to grind, otherwise why compare Charlotte to three of the worst cities between Atlanta and DC? Raleigh is the second largest city between Atlanta and DC, (426,708) and it is million times more pleasant than the ones he listed. (Although maybe in the same league as Knoxville, Richmond, and Norfolk, Greensboro is still larger at 260,083).

The only thing that "Economist" writer proved is he's never left Manhattan. (Which, by the way, Charlotte is only 2nd to as far as banking capital in the US).

Anonymous said...

Relax. If the writer can't see the difference between Charlotte on the one hand and Knoxville (where I went to law school) on the other, that's on him not us.

We can't force people to write and say nice things about us. Generally, they won't. This is the way of Manhattan and London and they control the media.

Anonymous said...

Heck, Atlanta and Dallas ate top-10 markets in this country with somewhat international presence, yet still considered 'backwoods' by many in New York, LA and London, et al. Charlotte doesn't stand a chance with some people no matter what we do. Let's just accapt the fact that we are many steps beyone Knoxville, Richmond, Birmingham, etc. but will never be a New Yor or Chicago. We'll probably be in the same league as Denver, Phoenix, Tampa, etc. and that's not bad company to be with, is it?

Anonymous said...

Face it Charlotte, we're Mayberry RFD.

Live with it and be happy.

The writer has no axe to grind. He is just saying what many don't want to hear. We're a small fish getting ready to swim in a big pond (Dem. Nat. Conv. & resulting national focus) for a moment.

After the press leaves we will go back to NASCAR and hating light rail.

Cato said...

Charlotte is actually Memphis with less crime, worse food and entertainment, and no waterfront.

Anonymous said...

What? Little Sugar Creek doesn't count as waterfront?

Anonymous said...

I thought it was funny. If Charlotte were smaller and had less to offer, it might strike a nerve but I dont see it that way. Charlotte is a vibrant mid-tier city attracting newcomers which I would take over a top-tier city like Chicago going backward.

David P. McKnight said...

Hats Off to Knoxville

Knoxville is a wonderful city with a glorious history stretching from the American Revolution to the new century before us now. It has a full-service, first-class public university located in the heart of the city, the University of Tennessee. It has innovative shuttle transportation connecting downtown business districts with the university.

Knoxville is situated on a marvelous Smoky Mountain vista overlooking precious, ancient corridors of the Eastern continent of America. It has excellent public libraries, a wealth of civic, business and cultural activities in the heart of downtown benefitting the people of the region. Its daily newspaper stays in close touch with local currents connecting people with all aspects of community living.

The Knoxville Symphony is a fine orchestra, and in its folk and popular music circles, Knoxville renders a cherished role as a meeting point between traditional American music and the more commercial music scene in Nashville to the west.

I always enjoyed visiting Knoxville for baseball games when the Knoxville Smokies and the Charlotte O's and Knights were "in the same league," the Southern League, and thank goodness for Charlotte's historical, geographical and cultural ties to Southern cities from Roanoke to Birmingham.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. wanted America to "let freedom ring," and not just from its largest cities but also "from Lookout Mountain."

Yes, Knoxville's right up there with Chattanooga, where I once picked up a big box of Moon Pies to take back to Charlotte.

Charlotte had a great bank--First Union, then Wachovia--that got taken by surprise in the sandtraps of the financial marketplace, so let's hope that the Queen City's remaining hometown banking corporation, Bank of America, will navigate successfully through the looming storms reverberating through the marketplace in these times.

If you were originally from Boston, would you give up your ties to Portland, Manchester, Providence and Hartford? If you were from Denver, would you give up your regional connections from Cheyenne to Taos? If you lived in Chicago, would you have wished to bypass all exits to Kokomo, Saginaw, Racine and Dubuque?

For Charlotte, traditional neighbors such as Charleston, Knoxville, Roanoke and Raleigh will always be there as civic friends and business partners if, in our zeal to be recognized "nationally" in this category or that, we will just continue to be good neighbors and honor the ties that bind.

Anonymous said...

Important to remember that Norfolk is only a portion of a major metropolitan area that nobody knows about. VA Beach - Norfolk - Hampton - Portsmouth all run into each other and have about 2 million people total in the area. There is no major airport, but there are 2 smallish-medium airports, the ports, naval base, and HQ for Norfolk Southern Railroad - and I believe that railroads will become increasingly important again in the next 20 years.

Charlotte is better positioned on the I-85 corridor for long term growth, but Hampton Roads is no backwater

Anonymous said...

Ahhh Charlotte. Forever the awkward girl before the prom worrying that no one will ask her.

Anonymous said...

When I lived in Brooklyn, I never thought about Charlotte. I moved here because the outer counties reminded me of upstate NY. Charlotte, the city, will never remind me of New York, the city. Not even on its best days. There are more people on the streets of NY at 4 a.m. than I've ever seen uptown even at lunch time.

Anonymous said...

The real truth is that Charlotte is and is not in the same league as Knoxville.

The "is not" reasons are easy enough to detail: Population size; skyline; international national and international businesses located here; rate of growth, etc.

Looking at that list of criteria makes one scratch their head in wonder at the ignorance to compare the two as in the same league.

But about that "is" part of my opening...

Anywhere outside of the South considers anywhere in the South as one and the same (with possible exceptions of Atlanta and Miami)

It's just the mentality of stereotyping everything in the South as a certain kind of nice little city that while bearing regional importance, just doesn't measure on the national scale.

Charlotte, as with all cities of the South, would do well to pay that no mind and just go about business as normal.

After all, it is the South that continues to rise...

Anonymous said...

Geeze folks. We'll NEVER be as world-class as Knoxville without a World Fair Sun Sphere!

Disco Chicken or no Disco Chicken.

rkcarm said...

Compairing Knoxville to Charlotte is like compairing Heaven to Hedes.

Anonymous said...

How can you say we're not world class? We've got the Lazy 5, and bluntly, no one else does. How much more international can you get than a water buffalo stealing food pellets through the driver side window? A little more seriously, what 'mid sized' city would have the vision to have a K-8 multi-language immersion program? By the time the media arrives it will be firmly re-positioned on to a physically stunning campus.

When the Obama kids start getting bored you know which direction the secret service caravan will be heading.

We got the convention because the Dems know that the 2012 election may very well hinge upon North Carolina, and in particular, Mecklenburg County. Charlotte's the safest city from which to launch their southern strategy. What other city do you know of that can seemlessly host CIAA and NRA events and be equally welcoming to both?

And that is world class.

Anonymous said...

EVERYBODY NEEDS EVERYBODY; every once in a while.

In the Movie ‘Fargo”, Marge’s husband Norm is relating how his painting did in the competition to be on the next stamps.

Norm Gunderson: They announced it.
Marge Gunderson: They announced it?
Norm Gunderson: Yeah.
Marge Gunderson: So?
Norm Gunderson: Three-cent stamp.
Marge Gunderson: Your mallard?
Norm Gunderson: Yeah.
Marge Gunderson: Oh, that's terrific.
Norm Gunderson: It's just a three-cent stamp.
Marge Gunderson: It's terrific.
Norm Gunderson: Hautman's blue-winged teal got the 29-cent. People don't much use the three-cent.
Marge Gunderson: Oh, for Pete's sake. Of course they do. Whenever they raise the postage, people need the little stamps.

Such is Charlotte’s plight. The world only needs us when it needs us.

Bolyn McClung

Anonymous said...

The writer shows that he or she knows nothing about the subject matter. Charlotte is larger in population that Baltimore, MD, Atlanta, GA, Miami, FL, and Washington, D.C. It is also larger in area. Only one city in the Southeast, Jacksonville, FL, is larger than Charlotte and that is because by Florida law, cities can extend all the way to the county limits. If you don't believe me check or go to any search engine and type,
" 50 Largest cities in the U.S." As a life-long Charlottean I've never been concerned with what people in other cities think. Every city in the U.S. has it's detractors. I remember when Atlanta, GA hosted the 1996 Olympics and people from around the county called the town "Mayberry." These cites I've mentioned have larger metro polulations because their suburbs have more people than us. Clearly a lot of people love Charlotte, especially when you look at the fact that more people want to live here than any city in the southeast, save Jacksonville, FL. That is why our population has grown greatly over the past 40 years. As for the opinion of the New Yorker, why not return to New York if it is so great? If New York WAS that great there wouldn't so many transplanted New Yorkers now living in Charlotte. In fact, the state that has the largest number of people who have left and who now call Charlotte home come from New York. That says a lot.

Now Charlotte, liek every city in teh U.S., can improve in some areas, but at least we realize that and have continued to work to improve over the decades.

Anonymous said...

If you read any news story they always say Charlotte, NC. There was an article on AOL News yesterday that mentioned 6 cities, and Charlotte was the only one that had the state after the city. Until we can be known by only the name of our city, without the NC post-fix, we'll be in the same category as Knoxville, etc. To add to that, when I travel and am asked where I'm from and say "Charlotte" they always ask..."North Carolina"???

Anonymous said...

Whether or not NC is after Charlotte depends on the source. I often hear people on national talk shows that are based in New York and other places around the country refer to Charlotte simply as, "Charlotte.' These same people then refer to places like Houston, TX and Dallas, TX, who cities with well over a million people living inside of the city limits as "Houston, TX" or "Dalls, TX." Houston, TX is the fourth largest city in the U.S. and Dalas, TX is in the top ten in size. So I take issue with the writer who claims that until no one refers to Charlotte as N.C. then we aren't "world class" whatever that means.

Four years ago I was in Los Angelas, CA (the second largest city in the country)and at an Applebees with some friends. Someone asked where I was from and I said, "Charlotte." Everyone there knew about Charlotte and in fact, one woman onced lived here and wanted to reeturn. Another man had attended every CIAA tournament since it came to Charlotte. In facgt, I always just say, "Charlote" when I travel around teh country and I've never encountered anyone who didn't know wthe city.

Anonymous said...

As a Knoxvillian who got linked to this article through happenstance, I might have a piece of advice. Why not do what we do? Quit caring what people think and just be Charlotte. And to the person who posted that they drop the NC when they tell people where they are from, I would never ask "North Carolina?".

Anonymous said...

I was in Charlotte recently for a national convention. This was my first visit (I live in California). Charlotte's uptown area was impressive, however, I was underwhelmed by the city itself. I can tell residents of your city are very sensitive and I don't want to offend anyone. You have much to be proud of but you should know that cities are about more than population and tall buildings. I was excited to visit a new city but was disappointed in many areas. The city seemed too new as if thats all that matters. What happened to your older buildings? Some of your contributors are upset that the article placed Charlotte in the same league as Richmond and Knoxville. Our organization met in Richmond two years ago and I loved it. It was very walkable, with diverse neighborhoods, beautiful architecture, etc. Its not perfect, doesn't have as many people as Charlotte nor as many tall buildings. But it has great character.