More than 100 years before the light rail connected southern Charlotte neighborhoods to uptown, Edward Dilworth Latta envisioned a streetcar suburb just outside of the city.In the late 1800s, he established a construction company that would buy about 200 acres of farmland southeast of Charlotte. Then he had a trolley system installed that ran to Latta Park, which soon became the centerpiece of the community, according to the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Historic Landmarks Commission.Today, Latta Park remains a fixture in the Dilworth neighborhood. And perhaps like my 19th-century predecessors, I moved here from the hustle and bustle of uptown earlier this year looking for a neighborhood with a sense of community.The neighborhood’s main thoroughfare, East Boulevard, is dotted with restaurants, as well as boutiques where ladies will find excuses to splurge.In the fall, make your way to the free annual Festival in the Park for art and food and the music at the bandshell framed by the lake in Freedom Park. Another annual event is the Yiasou Greek Festival at the Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Cathedral.If you’re looking to mingle, head to popular after-work hangout Dilworth Neighborhood Grille or check out the neighborhood association for wine and cheese socials for newcomers.Here’s a look at some of the other significant neighborhoods on the outskirts of the Interstate 277 loop.South EndJust next door to Dilworth is South End, an artsy neighborhood convenient to the light rail that sprung up around what once was a manufacturing hub by the train tracks. Nowadays, the mills are shut down but remnants remain. The Atherton cotton mill, which opened in 1893, has been renovated for shops and restaurants. Shop for local produce at Atherton Market or unwind with a beer on the patio at Icehouse.Many come to South End for Food Truck Fridays, when food trucks congregate in a lot at the corner of Camden Road and Park Avenue. And on the first Friday of each month, more than 15 art galleries take part in the South End Gallery Crawl.Be sure to visit Price’s Chicken Coop, a hole-in-the-wall, take-out-only place that serves sinfully greasy but delicious fried chicken. You may find me at Owen’s Bagels, tucked in at the end of a strip mall beside a strip club. Write your name on the wall and try out the long menu of bagel sandwiches.NoDaAnother artsy district on the opposite side of uptown is NoDa, a nickname derived from North Davidson, the street that runs through the heart of the neighborhood. NoDa is home to my all-time favorite Charlotte spot: Amelie’s. The French bakery opened an uptown branch a few years ago, but my fellow night owls and I prefer the 24-hour NoDa location, where we huddle over a laptop or chat with friends at all hours.Other culinary highlights are Cabo Fish Taco and Growlers Pourhouse, whose Reuben was awarded best sandwich in Charlotte by the Observer in 2012.The neighborhood is a popular spot for nighttime outings. Play cornhole on the back patio of Solstice Tavern and check out a gallery crawl or live music at the Evening Muse. If you feel guilty about leaving your pooch at home, bring it along to the Dog Bar.ElizabethThis neighborhood, located to the southeast of uptown, was named for the wife of an early donor to Elizabeth College, a college for women that opened in the late 1800s. It moved to Virginia in 1915, but the area continued to blossom. Independence Park, the city’s first public park, is a popular spot for community events, including the annual trunk-or-treat and potluck dinner on Halloween. The active community association also organizes Easter egg hunts and the Elizabeth 8K Road Race.For a night on the town, try Loco Lime for Mexican food and then Sunflour Baking Co. for dessert and a loaf of bread to take home. Head to the Visulite Theatre to catch some live music and finish the night with a drink at Philosopher’s Stone Tavern or Jackalope Jacks.
Saturday, Aug. 25, 2012
Close-inneighborhoods are eclectic mix
Others to explore Plaza Midwood: Don’t miss the historic district, at the Charlotte Country Club (founded in 1910), and the VanLandingham Estate, the former home of a prominent family that now serves as a bed and breakfast. Popular hangouts include Elizabeth Billiards and The Common Market. Wilmore: This mostly residential neighborhood declined beginning in the 1930s, but has resurged with its renovated early 20th-century bungalows and its proximity to South End and the light rail. It was designated as a historic district in 2010. Eastover: Several hundred homes are in this neighborhood southeast of uptown. Built on land that was once two dairy farms, Eastover is home to several prominent Charlotteans. A must-see is the Mint Museum Randolph. Wesley Heights: Bordering Interstate 77 to the west of uptown, this revitalized neighborhood has great views of the city skyline. It’s home to the historic George Pierce Wadsworth Estate, and is close to the Seversville and Bryant Neighborhood parks. Washington Heights: This neighborhood, northwest of uptown, was named for African-American leader Booker T. Washington and was developed in the early 1900s for middle-income black Charlotteans.