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Charlotte - A Super City

by Michael Carson

February 3,2004

I’m writing this article only hours after the big game and I find myself asking the question—“Is Charlotte a super city?”

In my eyes, and in the eyes of most other Charlotteans, the answer is an unequivocal yes. I know all the positives—all the things that make this city great. But to most people outside the City, the answer is a resounding no. The City lacks notoriety; it lacks definition. It lacks the characteristics that New York, Boston or San Francisco possess.

Don’t get me wrong. I love Charlotte and I don’t necessarily mind that the City is our little secret, but my personal goal as a columnist for Charlotte ViewPoint is to share what I believe makes, or will make, the Charlotte Center City, and the City as a whole, the most desirable place in the country to live and visit.

Several weeks ago, Sepp Blatter, FIFA’s president, suggested women’s soccer would be more appealing if female soccer players wore tighter shorts. Even though, in the context of women’s athletics, in our day and time, with all the progress women have made, the comment was extremely chauvinistic and very inappropriate, unfortunately his message that “sexiness sells” is, nonetheless, correct.

I will go out on a limb to say that it is the lack of “sexiness” that will prevent Charlotte from becoming a “world-class” city – a that has international draw and worldwide recognition.

Paris has the Louvre and the Eiffel Tower...New York has the Statue of Liberty and the Empire State Building...St. Louis has the Gateway Arch and Seattle the Space Needle...all of these cities have monuments that help define them in the mind of the world as an intriguing place. At this moment, Charlotte lacks intrigue.

Special events like the Panthers in the Super Bowl add to the city’s mystique, but alone do not invite people to visit.

Someone call architects I.M. Pei (the National Gallery of Art; the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame), James Stewart Polshek (Carnegie Hall; Rose Center for Earth & Space), Richard Rogers (Centre Pompidou; Millennium Dome), or Frank Gehry (Bilbao Guggenheim) because Charlotte needs a monument...a structure that encourages the world to cast its glance in our direction...a structure that defines Charlotte as the world’s newest world class city...a structure that allows us to say that Charlotte is a city that is unparalleled, both in its intrigue and sexiness, and in its neighborly charm.

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