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Balancing Memory

by Angela Lindsay

February 5,2006

‘A change of scenery will do you good,’ I’ve heard someone say. Recently, I moved into a new place, and I must admit that I am excited about my new surroundings. Still, I can’t help but attach a certain sense of nostalgia to my previous place after having been there a while. You get used to the way things look, feel, and even smell. It’s comfortable.

On a larger scale, the Queen City has undergone its share of changes over the past decade. In fact, I barely recognized the place when I moved back here two years ago. I fully embrace the changing landscape of Queen City: the social culture, the business environment and even the residents themselves. However, there is still something to be said for holding on to the familiar.

Last year, I attended an event commemorating the 50th Anniversary of Cricket Arena which opened as Charlotte’s original coliseum in 1955. Throughout the evening, we had the opportunity to view old photos of celebrities who had performed there, historical newspaper clippings and various antiques.

Even though I rarely attend any events at Cricket anymore, there is something authentic about the experience when I do. It may stem from my fond memories as a child going to see the circus or the Ice Capades there. The same can be said for Ovens Auditorium. I remember growing up and performing many dance recitals at Ovens, which, at that time, seemed like the biggest dome I had ever seen.

Many of the events that were once held at these establishments were shuffled into the now “old” coliseum on Tyvola Road and now, of course, have taken up residence in the new uptown arena. Don’t get me wrong. I love Bobcats Arena. I think it adds variation to what Uptown has to offer in terms of entertainment and also gives a nice dimension to our skyline. But I think our city still has to be careful not to progress itself into oblivion right along with the memories it has amassed over the years.

While the future of Cricket and Ovens may be unclear, I have not heard of any definite demolition plans for the sites. The same can not be said for other significant places around town. Second Ward high school has been torn down, and Grace A.M.E. Zion Church, a staple institution in the religious denomination in which I was raised, is reportedly on the chopping block. Also, the debate over whether to salvage and restore The Carolina Theater to its 1927 grandeur has raged on for years.

Landmark hotels like the Dunhill are dwarfed by the posh Westin hotel and the soon-to-arrive Ritz Carlton. Even Memorial stadium doesn’t see as much action as it used to, save Johnson C. Smith University’s Homecoming game every year which my family wouldn’t miss. Even though I hate to see these places seemingly slip farther behind in relative importance, I understand the need to clear the way for change if we expect to march proudly into the future.

Skyscraper condos, new stores, and restaurants, coupled with the light rail system, are sure to bring back to life a time when department stores like Ivey’s lured residents to downtown. Many other residents will be attracted to the luscious greenway replacing Midtown Square Mall and the new park, ur, baseball stadium, proposed to be built in Second Ward.

There are areas of Charlotte, such as South End and the No Da district, which have undergone facelifts and are thoroughly enjoying their revitalization as a result. Change has also been good to residential areas such as the former, and now barely recognizable, Earle Village and Dalton Village public housing complexes, and there are still other places, such as Beatties Ford Road, which I would like to see rejuvenated into the thriving black business mecca that once defined it.

We may not always be able to pick and choose which changes to implement and which to leave as mere ideas, but the trick is to find a happy medium and to grow at a rate that both cultivates change and allows some things to remain the same. And if Charlotte does that, then change, as they say, will definitely be good.

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