Around Town

The story behind the big bronze wheel at Trade and Tryon

01/06/01  Mike Kaloudis (cq) and friends take advantage of the mild temperature Saturday in downtown Charlotte and skateboard around the sculpture "Il Grande Disco" at the corner of Tryon and Trade Streets.  Lou Ellen Plummer
01/06/01 Mike Kaloudis (cq) and friends take advantage of the mild temperature Saturday in downtown Charlotte and skateboard around the sculpture "Il Grande Disco" at the corner of Tryon and Trade Streets. Lou Ellen Plummer

It’s hard not to miss the big wheel anchored to the Square in uptown. It always grabs our eye, but we admit that until now, we’ve never taken the time to learn its story. Get ready to impress your uptown friends:

– It’s called Il Grande Disco, the Great Disc, and sculpted by famed Italian artist Arnaldo Pomodoro. The decision to hire an Italian was controversial at the time considering the piece’s prominent place in town.

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Artist Arnaldo Pomodoro inspects his sculpture.

– Bank of America’s precursor, NCNB, and its CEO Hugh McColl installed the piece in 1974.

– It commemorates Mecklenburg’s Declaration of Independence from England. The exterior represents regeneration and a city emerging.

– It’s 6 tons of bronze spanning 15 feet in diameter.

– At one point, you could touch the sculpture and it would whirl. It just stopped one day. Now it’s anchored.

whirlingdisc
Grande Disco twirls rapidly in blustery winds. Photographer left camera shutter open one second for effect.'

Graffiti nearly ruined it, but professionals restored it.

graffitidisc

– There are five other versions of Il Grande Disco throughout the world.

– It’s been called The Penny and The Flying Saucer. And in plenty of background photos.

#Charlotte NC trip pictures coming soon

A photo posted by Sami ॐ (@samspitale) on Jan 18, 2015 at 3:12pm PST

Photos: Charlotte Observer archives. See more stories like this on the Retro Charlotte blog.

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