Living Here Guide

Our skyline has lots of glass, lots of class

Charlotte’s skyline, as seen from atop Mosaic Village at Johnson C. Smith University, is filled with soaring rectangles and playful shapes.
Charlotte’s skyline, as seen from atop Mosaic Village at Johnson C. Smith University, is filled with soaring rectangles and playful shapes. Charlotte Observer file photo

If there were a beauty contest for skylines, we’d finish in the top 10.

Which ain’t bad.

We’d be up there with the sparkling finalists, politely pretending to be just so thrilled as we embraced the winner, our pageant sister San Francisco or Miami.

But we’d at least be on stage when the winner got crowned because – let’s just face it – as skylines go, we’re gob-smackingly fetching.

Not to brag, but we’re built. Ask anybody.

You don’t have to have a great skyline to have a great city any more than you need to be blond to get on TV. But it does get you to the head of the line.

New York, Seattle, Atlanta, Chicago, Toronto – all great cities with stunning spires. We’re not in that lofty league, but we’re pretty high in the Junior Miss category.

We’re known as a great family town and our skyline embodies the theme.

Bank of America’s stately tower, often cited as the tallest building between Philadelphia and Gastonia, plays the masculine role. At 60 stories, it serves as dad.

Mom, 47 stories in height, stands beside him with padded shoulders in the guise of the Hearst Tower.

A tall son, perhaps Carolina basketball material, stretches 54 stories tall and is known as the Duke Energy Center. Like many adolescents, he’s into shock fashion – from one angle he’s got a flat-top hat; from another his figure features a martini glass.

Filling out the family is the daughter also known as One Wells Fargo Center. She’s 42 elegant stories tall, known for her curves.

You could make a gorgeous chess set using some of the standouts from our skyline. King, queen, bishop and knight have just been described.

For a castle, the slender Vue will serve nicely. What about the Johnston Building at 212 S. Tryon for pawn material? Built in 1924, it was Charlotte’s tallest tower for two years.

Charlotte’s architects have filled the sky well with gardens of glass. Rather than boxy grids, soaring rectangles and playful shapes mark uptown.

On summer nights, the BB&T BallPark sends shafts of light soaring, visible for miles. Its titanic cousin, Bank of America Stadium, does the same on football nights. They radiate vitality from the ground up.

We know looks aren’t everything. But when you consider Charlotte is 247 years old, we think we’re looking pretty good.

Mark writes local commentary for the Observer.

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