Retro Charlotte

June 1973: Marshall Park opens

May, 1973. Marshall Park opened the following month.
May, 1973. Marshall Park opened the following month. The Charlotte Observer

“Crowds Revel in New Park” was the headline on June 3, 1973, describing the opening of Marshall Park. Here’s more from staff writer Harold Warren’s story:

“A brilliant sun smiled on the festive opening Saturday of downtown Charlotte’s new 5-acre Marshall Park as several hundred people of all ages let their hair down.

“Meandering, blue-green pools and channels, set among rambling walkways and bridges, reflected dozens of bobbing, bright-colored balloons, puffy white clouds, recently transplanted trees and new buildings of the governmental plaza area.

“Comments ranged from ‘nice,’ ‘beautiful,’ ‘lovely,’ and ‘a fun place’ to a gushing ‘wow-fantastic’ and a breathy ‘I can’t believe this is Charlotte.’

“Crowds began gathering around 10 a.m. when the music started. Several local groups played throughout the day until 3 p.m. Four costumed Carolina Clowns - Toothy, Teardrop, Dot and Blosum - cavorted about and handed out helium-filled balloons to wide-eyed tots and smiling adults. ...

“A tanned, jovial Mayor John Belk, sporting a plaid jacket and white shoes, opened the ceremony with some expansive wit-flecked rhetoric. Turning serious, the mayor highly praised the man for who the park is named, James B. Marshall, city manager from 1935 to 1940, who, until his death in 1952 was involved in innumerable civic improvements here.

“Belk and James B. Marshall Jr. - who said his father ‘would have loved this place’ - unveiled a blue-draped bronze plaque, then threw a ceremonial switch. Six large jets of water in the center of the park’s pool gurgled, then roared upward, forming a single column of water towering 50 feet tall. The crowd erupted with applause.”