I was in Greenville, SC three weeks ago for a wedding (yes, for those of you who saw my Richmond thread
, that is two separate weddings on consecutive weekends). It turned out to be much cheaper for us to fly into Charlotte and then drive south than to fly directly to Greenville, so that's what we did. Naturally I took a couple of hours to explore downtown Charlotte, having never been there before.
I found downtown to be very much a mixed bag. On one hand, it is clear that residential infill at a fairly large scale is happening and will eventually transform the center city. On the other hand, I was disappointed to discover way too many suburban-style plazas and green spaces around many of the buildings (most of which are still offices), which really made the place feel like a suburban office park writ large. I was pleased to find the streets packed with people, but disappointed to discover that almost every storefront was a lunch spot for office workers, leaving virtually no bona fide retail. While I was impressed by the expensive and well-maintained streetscape (benches, lights, bus stops, etc), I also found it a little too forced - clean is good, but this was so polished that it didn't seem real.
I was impressed by the transit system, which the city is clearly making an effort to promote. Also, I have to say that many of the the postmodern skyscrapers in the city are absolutely gorgeous. Charlotte is definitely home to some of the best skyscrapers since World War II.
Anyway, rambling aside, here are the pics.
Got some good views coming in the plane, although it was pretty hazy.
I've always loved this building. In person I thought the facade could use a few more details, but I also found that the crown is much more easy to appreciate live than via photo.
This building I never cared for in photograph; it always seemed awkwardly top-heavy. However, in person I thought it was beautiful. Even better than the previous one.
I like it because it is much better at the ground level. What a great, engaging entrance. Also, with the foreshortening effect, it doesn't seem so top-heavy.
Few skyscrapers make me want to look up when I'm this close, but this one draws your eye.
And hey! Details!
I hate hate hate this building though. If it had actually been built in 1980, as it looks like, that would be excusable, but nope. Recent construction. In fact newer than the two previous skyscrapers. BLAH!
This is the only picture of it I came home with other than the skyline aerials from the plane. I thought the boom was funny.
Although I will say that skyscraper isn't as bad as this piece of nonsense.
Some older buildings. They do exist.
Normally I'm not a fan of the blank glass facade, but the visible structure makes this one interesting.
All right. Enough skyscrapers. Now: Street level.
I like this. At this scale, the glass curtain wall works.
Statuary that actually looks like humans = +1
This sort of thing is pleasant enough, but there was way way too much of it all over town. Like every sizable building has its own little park.
I was surprised to find this little block tucked away behind a small shopping arcade. Nice.
And now, transit.
The downtown bus stops are quite impressive. Sizable shelters, lots of seating, and huge, visible, brightly-colored, informative stop shields. Really top notch for a bus stop. Good work.
Your basic city bus. The livery is a little dated, but whatev.
On the other hand, unique paint schemes for express or otherwise special routes is very progressive. Not many cities do this, but more should.
Unfortunately, any city that runs a lame fake trolley like this automatically drops a couple of spots on the respect meter. Free downtown circulators are good. Dressing a particularly small and uncomfortable bus up to look sort of like ye olde tyme trolley is not.
The main downtown bus station.
And finally, the brand new light rail line. I didn't ride it, but did check out the main downtown station, which is conveniently located directly adjacent to the bus station.
The light rail line is elevated or otherwise separated from street traffic downtown - a rare and expensive luxury for light rail. Very impressive.
As a Washingtonian I am charmed by the similarities of this station to our vaulted Metro ceilings
Looking down the track towards the next station. Looks a little goofy, but I didn't get any closer.
On the whole, a very impressive line.
That's all for now. Pictures from Greenville will come along soon.