So, what is the best way to escape the summer heat? A road trip! I decided to explore a city people on these forums voted as having the second best small city skyline.
We are going to North Carolina's wine country. Winston-Salem has a population of around 240,000 in a metro area of 475,000. It's located in the Yadkin Valley, which is the major wine growing area in the southeast. The metro area has many signs telling you to take an exit for __fill_in_the_blank__
vineyard and some brew their own beer as well. These vineyards are where the state's wealthy bankers and former tech company execs retire and are a reason Winston-Salem ranks as a top five place to retire. However.. we are focusing on the city and not the vineyards. I will also avoid the restored colonial neighborhoods you typically see on Winston-Salem threads. Both of those subjects usually dominate photography threads on Winston-Salem. I want to show more of the CBD.
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And to really explore this city, we need a great soundtrack. Winston-Salem developed it's own sound, thanks to the music clubs and 980 WAAA, the first African American owned radio station in the United States and only the third radio station in the United States to target an African American audience. By far the biggest group and the group that best captures the Winston-Salem sound was the 5 Royales. One of, if not the most, influential group of the 1950s. They brought the Winston-Salem sound to popular music and had a big impact on the music of the 60s and 70s. Many of their songs were covered during that time, including "Dedicated to the One I Love" (The Shirelles, the Mamas & the Papas), "Tell the Truth" (Ray Charles) and "Think" (James Brown, Mick Jagger). James Brown modeled his first band after the "5" Royales. Eric Clapton and Steve Cropper were both heavily influenced by the 5 Royales. Winston-Salem is still known for it's great music scene today. Mitch Easter brought a new sound to the city and still operates his Fidelitorium (well-known recording studio) in Winston-Salem.
Winston-Salem was North Carolina's largest city at the peak of the American Industrial Revolution. It was one of the top 25 industrial centers, it's port was ranked 7th (an International Rail Port) and it was a model city in the 1910s and 1920s, featured in magazines. It was actually ranked among the top ten fastest growing cities in 1920! Yes, this is where the state's historic buildings and large historic homes are located. Today the city's economy is health/medical research, banking & insurance, aerospace, advertising/brand image and tech companies. The city's "second largest" hospital employs more people than "all" of the factories in the "four county" metro area combined!
It's interesting how things change and this city was able to completely transform its economy!
Most people only photograph the southern half of this city's skyline. And this is due to the size of the skyline and trees blocking many of the buildings. Also, the buildings line-up and block each other. For these reasons, you will see different buildings in both of these skylines. Yes, this is a Tree City USA city and they are proud of it. The trees blocking the views are heavily protected and hide beautiful historic neighborhoods.
The skyline dramatically appears over the highways when driving into the city. This city has the roughest terrain of the state's big six cities. Winston-Salem has many steep ridges and valleys at the base of the Appalachians and is bordered by the Saurtown mountains to the north; made famous by the Andy Griffith Show. Andy's hometown is a suburb of Winston-Salem.
West End Village / Ballpark District:
I've long wanted to explore this part of Winston-Salem, which has rowhouses, historic retail structures, duplexes, historic apartments and high density single family homes that front the sidewalk hard. Structures in this area date back to the 1810s. It also has the city's amazing ballpark.
It's possible to make an entire thread on this one neighborhood! The red building was built in 1890! To the left are rowhouses. The house to the right is the headquarters for the film festival award winning Out-of-Our-Minds Animation Studio. I unfortunately wasn't in the city very long and took many of these as fast drive-past photographs. I apologize for this. This neighborhood has everything from clothing stores, to a bookstore, to music clubs, a sports bar and the best known store is a place to find unusual beers.
The building on the right was built as luxury apartments in the 1910s. To the left is the headquarters for AirType. Yes, this city is filled with creative companies. If you have an art degree, it's actually useful here. Creative companies are a major employment sector. The building also has an interesting preserved historic advertisement for Pepsi Cola.
Architect: 360 Architecture
Seating Capacity: 7,211 (is expandable for AAA)
2010 Ballpark of the Year award winner and winner of the 2011 Brick in Architecture Bronze Award from the brick industry. The ballpark has 26,000 bricks! The most of any minor league ballpark. It also has the most advanced audio/video systems of any minor league ballpark and requires 250 game day employees to operate it. It is one of the most expensive minor league ballparks and cost four times more than any other ballpark in the Carolina League.
It is a baseball palace! It was actually built with stacked bullpens, like a major league park, but fans preferred seeing the pitchers warm-up in foul territory, so they converted the bullpen into a bar. It also doesn't have any bleachers! It's all seats and they are all the widest seats available, with cup holders. After trying to bring the Minnesota Twins to Winston-Salem and failing, an attempt was made to design a near-major league level ballpark for the city's loved minor league team. The first design resembled a major league park. After 360 Architecture was hired, they scaled it back and modeled the ballpark after AT&T Park in San Francisco and two minor league ballparks in Ohio. The exterior of the ballpark is modeled after Winston-Salem's historic Brookstown Inn, built in 1836, just a few blocks away. In an attempt to have the best-of-the-best, the ballpark's concessions contract belongs to Legends Hospitality Management. This is the only minor league facility to use Legends. They are co-owned by the Yankees and Dallas Cowboys. This ballpark is one of the few minor league ballparks without an outfield wall full of advertising. I think the outfield wall only has two ads on one side? This was said to give the ballpark a major league look. It was built by the CEO of Primo/Culligan Beverage Company and founder of Blue Rhino Propane Exchange Company (you may have one of these tanks under your grill?), along with a billionaire tech company investor. This is the best and most expensive ballpark in the Chicago White Sox's minor league farm system and is home to all of the White Sox's rehab services. It's where the major league players go on rehab assignment!
The ballpark is still under construction! Construction resumes during the off-season. This fall, the team will begin work on the team store, a restaurant, ticket windows and a 6-storey office tower. Here you can see the basement and steel beams for the team store and restaurant. It's safer to build in the off-season.
An Interesting Fact: Winston-Salem is more of a tennis city, with a tennis history dating back around 100 years (one of the nation's top tennis cities)! This city's major league sports event is the USTA Winston-Salem Open, held in August and broadcast on the CBS TV Network. The event attracts some of the best tennis players in the world and was won by Isner last year. Winston-Salem has also set Davis Cup ticket sales records, so this city really loves its tennis.
The ballpark serves local Yadkin Valley wines and has a variety of luxury seating options, from dugout suites to seats at a full bar in the air conditioning.
This is the only ballpark with the light standards built into the ballpark's structural framework. This is often commented on by critics as one of the most interesting features. This design allows the light towers to blend into the design.
We're going inside! This is the entrance to the luxury seating options, player locker rooms and coach's offices. Notice it is sponsored by a major Winston-Salem based law firm with offices from Winston-Salem to San Francisco (Womble Carlyle Sandridge & Rice). The elevator is to the luxury suites, buffet and bar. Luxury ticket holders also have assigned parking spaces and valet parking.
The locked doors lead to the dugout suites and team locker rooms. Dugout suite ticket holders use the players' tunnel to access their seats.
Did you know: The Winston-Salem Dash is the oldest professional sports team in North Carolina.
Ballpark developers are also working on plans for a quarter-billion-dollar mixed-use development around the ballpark. As part of the construction site, they acquired as many surrounding properties for a massive lifestyle center as possible. The development will include a movie theatre, hotel, residences, a Whole Foods Market and other retail spaces. The first building (a multi-storey residential building) breaks ground in the off season.
This ballpark has the highest seating pitch in baseball, so you don't have to worry about someone tall sitting in front of you! This is due to the city's rough terrain we talked about earlier. Players say the ballpark looks huge, due to this. The ballpark was built in a geographic depression (a natural bowl!). The playing field is actually at a lower elevation than the East-West Expressway and that is after using fill dirt to increase the elevation (the bowl was deeper than what you see today!)! Drivers on the East-West Expressway can look into the ballpark from the ridge tops or through the concourse bridge, seen below ....
....Peters Creek Parkway, which is located on the other side of the ballpark, is at a higher elevation than the concourse for the luxury suites.
This allows people along the Peters Creek Parkway to look down into the stadium, as you see in these photographs. To create a skyline view and prepare the site behind the outfield wall for the mixed-use development, a tall ridge was graded down. This provided some of the fill dirt discussed earlier.
The concourse bridge (above) with batting cages, is a signature feature of this ballpark. This was designed to allow people on the East-West Expressway to look into the ballpark. A similar feature is found at San Francisco's ballpark.
Winston-Salem mixes a corporate city with an arts center and a college town. Much of the skyline was built by large banks and insurance companies. You'll find the work of many famous architects in this downtown, from Cesar Pelli, Pickard Chilton, Shereve Lamb & Harmon, Welton Beckett, Ralph Adams Cram, a water garden by Zion & Breen, HOK, Alexander Jackson Davis, Bertram Goodhue and many more. In the 1800s, Winston-Salem was the nation's leading carriage/wagon manufacturing center. To the photos: The tall building on the left (photo below) was built by the owner of Nissen Carriage Works, an early car company and previously the nation's top a horse drawn carriage manufacturer. It was North Carolina's tallest building in 1926 and the first in the state with 20 or more floors. It would hold the state's tallest title until a 23-storey building was built two or three blocks down the street. Like I said, this is where the state's old buildings are. Today it's all apartments with ground-level retail. Other odd facts: The two largest Fortune 500s are located in skyscrapers downtown, including BB&T National Bank, one of the top-10 banks and top-15 insurance companies. Winston-Salem is also the oldest of the state's five largest cities (1753) and it still has many buildings from the mid-1700s. We'll save that for another thread though.
A surprising fact about the city: Most of it's tech and medical research headquarters are downtown.
Very unusual for North Carolina.. or any city really. The nation's first and largest urban research is also in downtown Winston-Salem. Unfortunately, I didn't take any photographs of it on this trip. It's the far eastern third of downtown. This tour is the western two-thirds.
In Winston-Salem, downtown is the fastest growing residential neighborhood and people moving downtown prefer to live in historic buildings converted to apartments/condos. Demand is so high, developers are willing to convert almost anything to residential. Even a former Holiday Inn and the county's former courthouse are being converted to apartments! Here we see a former Hanes underwear factory on Sixth Street being converted to luxury apartments with a bowling alley, game room and swimming pool. The same developer is also trying to buy the Chatham Blankets and Westinghouse factory for residential conversion! Any old building that enters the market.. someone is there ready to fight for it and covert their prize to residences.
The newest "new construction" residential tower is the 10-storey One Park Vista, with multi-million-dollar condos. Quarterback Dan Marino was reported as a buyer.
Fourth Street 1920s:
A large amount of construction. I thought this would be a fun photograph to add and I love to add historic photographs to my threads.
Source: Forsyth County Public Library
The beautiful art deco building in the middle is the former RJR Nabisco headquarters, designed by Shereve Lamb & Harmon. It won the AIA Building of the Year Award in 1929 and it's renovation won an AIA Honor Award in 1982. It also won a 1984 Art Deco Society of New York award and a 1965 AIA award for best preserved art deco building. It was North Carolina's tallest from 1929-1965, when the glass box beside it took the state's tallest title. In the 1990s, the building became the headquarters for Planters / Lifesavers Company, which held Mr. Peanut Conventions in the city every year. When it was on the market, condo developers lined up to bid for it, but the building's owner said no to a residential use. A hotel developer was selected instead. The hotel developer is working on plans to convert this building to an upscale boutique hotel to serve the research and tech companies, along with the big banks and insurance companies downtown. I want to be first in line to make reservations!
A Look Inside:
I know you want to see the extreme Art Deco inside this building.
Former RJR Nabisco Headquarters - Photographer Credit: David Rolfe
RJR Nabisco was in the top 15 on the Fortune 500 in the 1980s. It was the largest headquarters in the Southeast United States. At that time, this city's workers also had the highest income in the state.
Former RJR Nabisco Headquarters - Photographer Credit: David Rolfe
Did You Know: Winston-Salem has a 12 foot waterfall on the south side of downtown, called The Falls of Bath and also has Salem Gorge. They were featured in postcards over 100 years ago and efforts are underway to make them prominent tourist attractions again. I wanted to photograph them on this visit and title the thread "Falls of Bath," but it was too hot to do much walking.
If the outside is this nice, we should go inside and see what the air conditioning.. uh.. inside looks like!
The Federal Building was designed by Oscar Wenderoth in 1908 and was originally home to North Carolina's Federal Courthouse, The Federal Home Loan Bank for the Southeast, The Winston-Salem Ports Authority, United States Attorney, North Carolina FBI Office, Deputy Marshall, Internal Revenue Service as well as a Post Office and a ground-level bowling alley. It also had a jail in the basement for the courtrooms upstairs.
Today, the building is home to three or four live music venues, a ballroom and a few artsy businesses.
IMG College Headquarters America's Home for College Sports
A division of the CBS Broadcasting Company
Designed with a basketball court as the lobby and with broadcast studios that feature large windows looking out to the sidewalk, so pedestrians can look in on the sports broadcasts and athlete interviews, IMG College's headquarters is one of the most interesting buildings I've seen. This company employs 700 people and has partnerships with about 100 universities, conferences and the NCAA. The company has outgrown this building and is talking expansion. So what do they do? Radio, TV, ad sales, websites, printed media, tickets, social media sites and more. They buy multi-media rights to universities' sports programs across the nation. This building lifts the curtain, so to speak. What you may have thought was done at your local university may be done in downtown Winston-Salem. Through the windows, you can watch 43 radio broadcasters do play-by-play radio broadcasts for Notre Dame, UCLA, Michigan, Ohio State and many more. During March Madness, conference tournaments or bowl season, these studios are full. Large metal gates and bars are in place to protect the studios, but they are designed to allow you to see inside!
Again, developers will convert anything old to residential to fill the seemingly never ending demand for residences in historic buildings. The office building named Coe Plaza is under contract to become apartments or condos by U.S. Development. One of the many out-of-state developers filling this demand.
"It's a tightly scripted, all-hands-on-deck effort that puts IMG College on par with any broadcast operation in the world," said Andrew Giangola, vice president of strategic communications for IMG College.
The IMG College producers in the building update scores, make sure signals are working and put together highlights packages.
I tried to clean-up this photograph (above). The glass reflections destroyed it. It's one of the broadcast studios you can look into from the sidewalk.
If you look closely, you can into the lobby, which is a basketball court for employees and visitors. Unfortunately, visitors didn't apply to me. Looking through the windows, you can see college football helmets, a video board, score board, basketball hoops and a basketball floor.
Wells Fargo's Trust Division and Wells Fargo's North & South Carolina banking headquarters are in the 34-storey domed building, which was designed by Cesar Pelli for Wachovia Bank's headquarters. Government software design firm, Silk Road Technology, owns the concrete box building and the glass building is the headquarters for BB&T National Bank. The brick building closest to the viewer is home to small graphic design and tech companies. The art deco building across from it is owned by U.S. Development and will become luxury apartments or condos.
The retail building above was built in 1860. And it looks like it too.
An interesting bike rack. My favorite is the bike rack in front of the Nissen Building, which has a Victorian bike them.
Jerome's Department Store (above, behind the bike rack) was started by Joseph Solomon and operated from 1936 to 2000. Solomon was a Romanian immigrant who worked in clothing stores since he was 14. He moved from New York City to Winston-Salem to start his business in 1932. The store sold clothing and later sold furniture.
The front of the Nissen Building (above). Yes, apartments.
The city's bus station was designed for a proposed streetcar system, which is currently in Alternative Analysis and is moving through the steps to seek federal rail transportation money.
Winston Tower (above left) was North Carolina's tallest building from 1965-1971. It was also the first skyscraper in North Carolina to have 30 or more floors. It's the state's best example of the International Style. The building had an observation deck and a gift shop, but it is now closed. The building is home to a venture capital group from Boston, a telecom company, a software company and a logistics company. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places and restored in 2003.
Winston-Salem is North Carolina's festival city. When I was there, they had a rock festival, India Fest and Summer on Trade..all on the same day. This city has a festival to celebrate bicycling (multiple Sundays), Wednesday (multiple Wednesdays - new festival this year!), beer, gay pride, juggling (world championship), comic books (local comic-con), both of the state's wine festivals (it's the southeast's wine country), fourth street (yes, a festival for a street!) and many more. These festivals can attract people from around the world, like Russian jugglers at the Juggling Festival, as an example. Winston-Salem finds something to celebrate every week and I always check to see what festivals are scheduled on my visits. I didn't attend one on this short trip though. Years ago, the festival season ended during cold weather, but now they are holding some festivals during the winter too and this city usually has several snows.
Interesting Fact: Rat Fink was created by t-shirt designer Ed Roth, aka Big Daddy Roth in the 1950s. It reached it's peak in popularity around 1963 or 1964 and is commonly associated with drag racing and rat rods from the time period.
Piedmont Craftsmen and Stimmel Associates Land Planning and Civil Engineering (above left).
This (above) was actually a truck!
This building was recently restored for an antique store, which appears to be close to opening. It was originally a hardware store and later a furniture store.
One of the tallest buildings under construction in the Carolinas.
The Winston-Salem metro area is known for it's barbecue. You will find several restaurants serving it. The area has developed it's own unique style of barbecue and the suburb of Lexington has a major barbecue festival each year.
The Winston-Salem area barbecue restaurants also have red slaw. Something unique to Winston-Salem and it's really good. A few restaurants outside the Winston-Salem area have tried copying it, but it never tastes the same as what you find in the Winston-Salem area restaurants. I would love to have the "real" recipe for this slaw. I would definitely list it as a unique food to the Winston-Salem area.
According to locals, this is a wine tasting lounge (above) in Washington Park, near the Falls of Bath and across from the Salem Waterway, on the city's Cycleway bike paths. You can see part of the small wood-truss bike bridge in the photo. I've biked Winston-Salem's cycleways before (10+ years ago) on a previous trip, when I resided in Arden, and loved it. They were built in the 70s and 80s, before these dedicated bike paths became a fad. There are actually offices, museums, houses and condos and restaurants (as seen above) on the paths. I guess you could call them bike oriented developments? I love the tunnel through a 7-storey office building and small bridges over the waterways too. This is the same bike path seen through downtown (see Pickard Chilton's Republic Insurance Headquarters entrance, opening to the cycleway in downtown) and it's how you access the waterfall. City leaders are currently spending $4 million on a rails-to-trails project downtown to expand the bike and walking paths, while preserving a rail line for the city's proposed commuter rail system.
The questions asked: Yes, this sign is the original Arby's sign and city leaders, along with the restaurant's owner, are aware of the sign's historical importance. It lights-up at night as well. A long time resident said he remembered seeing in the 1960s, as a kid.
Lauren wanted a photograph of this big gas station we passed on the way to visit a friend.
He said the cat weighs 35 pounds! He also showed me it can run and is healthy, despite it's weight.
Look at the eyes! I would love to know what type of cat this is?
Andy Griffith was born in suburban Winston-Salem and the Andy Griffith Show was based on his hometown. The mountain with the unusual knob, you see as you drive around Winston-Salem, is Mount Pilot from the show. Winston-Salem's second and fourth tallest buildings also made an appearance on the show, as going into the big city. If you are a fan of the show and are in the Winston-Salem area, take the North-South Expressway (U.S.-52 / I-74) north from downtown Winston-Salem to Andy Griffith Parkway and Mayberry U.S.A.
His former house is a bed & breakfast and everything there is themed on the show. This was a really sad loss for the Winston-Salem area.
Thank you for your time. To those who live there, we had fun and we'd both like to return soon.