If you’re driving up North Tryon Street uptown, which direction are you going? Hint: It’s not due north.
Seriously. Look at the map.
Streets in other cities — Chicago and (sigh) Raleigh — go north-south and east-west in a classic grid pattern. Charlotte’s uptown streets are also in a grid, but they lie diagonally.
So, to answer the question above, when you’re going up North Tryon Street you’re actually going northeast.
– Cities normally form based on a particular topography, whether set on hills for protection, or along rivers or coasts, where trading by ships provided livelihoods.
– Charlotte, a relatively new city, started on a small ridge between two local creeks — Irwin Creek and Little Sugar Creek. Those creeks, like many of the other streams in the county if you look at a topographical map, flow northeast to southwest.
– Tryon and Trade streets follow older Native American trading paths.
– The street grids in Charlotte followed those diagonally-flowing creeks, resulting in an uptown grid map that looks more like diamonds than squares.
So, in short: Because the creeks said so.
Now go wow your friends with your new Charlotte smarts.
Photo: Mark Hames/Charlotte Observer (top); Garrett Nelson/PlanCharlotte.org (topography).