Articles

  • Construction on a new, luxury apartment building in Dilworth. Photo: Nancy Pierce.

    A builder’s perspective: Housing affordability is about more than subsidies

    Charlotte has a problem with housing affordability for many of its citizens. But the solution is more complicated and nuanced than just putting more money into subsidies. The housing affordability problem is primarily a result of the combination of two basic factors: It is getting more and more expensive to develop and operate housing, while at the same time, many families don’t have enough income to meet the required prices associated with these higher costs.  
  • The I-77 bridge (foreground) over the Catawba River, south of Charlotte. Photo: Nancy Pierce

    Why isn’t Charlotte built on the water?

    After visiting a city with a waterfront, maybe stopping for a drink and a bite to eat along whichever river or ocean it’s built along, I’m usually left with one overriding thought: “Wow, Charlotte could really use some of this.” Water plays a prominent role in the design and history of most cities, whether it be a river, bay or ocean. And Charlotte’s skyline and downtown sit tantalizingly close-but-yet-so-far from a major river and lake system. So, the question looms: Why isn’t Charlotte built on the water?  It’s a straightforward question I realized I had never actually asked, despite a decade living in Charlotte. So I called up an expert. 
  • A hellbender being measured on the New River.

    Hellbenders offer a window into water’s health

    Hellbenders - a species of large salamander with an evocative name - can tell us something about the health of a river. Macroinvertebrates are good indicators of water health across the state. Insects, crustaceans, molluscs, and arachnids can all tolerate water quality in different degrees. Mayflies, caddisflies, stoneflies, hellgrammites are all highly sensitive to pollution. Their presence anywhere indicates good water quality. Dragonflies, damselflies, crayfish and clams are somewhat tolerant of pollution. Black fly larvae, lunged snails, and leeches are all pollution-tolerant.
  • a corkscrew rush (Juncus effusus) in a garden setting.

    Rushes can restore some ecosystems - and beautify your backyard

    Common rush (Juncus effusus) is often used in riparian restoration projects. It provides cover for wildlife and helps stabilize soil and filter stormwater runoff, and it can be found throughout the Uwharries. Jim Matthews, professor emeritus at UNC Charlotte and founder of Habitat Assessment and Restoration Professionals, calls it the “Cadillac of wetland plants” because it can grow in standing water but also tolerate dry spells.
  • Novel Stonewall Station construction

    Turning to a board game for insights on planning Charlotte’s growth

    It isn’t quite “Risk” or “Monopoly” or even “Settlers of Catan.” But city officials are using feedback from a new board game called “Growing Better Places: A More Equitable and Inclusive Charlotte,” as they craft the comprehensive plan and unified development ordinance that are meant to guide the next two decades of growth. 
  • Raleigh writer Scott Huler in 2015, braving the 100-degree sun along North Tryon Street beside light rail construction. The street is likely the Indian Trading Path, where explorer John Lawson walked in January 1701. Photo: Mary Newsom

    Review: In ‘A Delicious Country,’ an author rediscovers the Carolinas

    You probably have never heard of John Lawson. Scott Huler aims to change that. Lawson was an Englishman and explorer who, over two months in late 1700 and early 1701, traveled almost 600 miles through the Carolinas, including through what’s now Charlotte. His book, A New Voyage to Carolina, recorded the terrain, plants and people he found. It was, as Huler writes, one of the most important early books to emerge from the colonial South.    
  • A conceptual illustration of the future Gateway District, where an Amtrak, streetcar and light rail station is planned. City of Charlotte, Depiction LLC

    Charlotte loves visions. Here are some of the biggest on the drawing board.

    If planners, developers and other leaders in Charlotte have a favorite word, it might just be “vision.” In a city defined by its growth, local leaders aren’t shy about throwing the word around,. and there are plenty of visions being promoted in Charlotte at any one time. Visions, of course, don’t always become reality - and if they do, they often take far longer than the original planners imagined, and mutate from their original form. But visions can also set the stage for development patterns that persist for generations. 
  • Dr. Jeffrey Kline, MD, director of research for the Department of Emergency Medicine at Carolinas Medical Center, wheels a device used for breath-based management of pulmonary embolism in the emergency department at CMC.

    Five maps that show stark health disparities in Mecklenburg County

    Sharp differences in race and income are visible on a map of Mecklenburg County, generally in the familiar “crescent and wedge” pattern many Charlotteans are familiar with.   But differences are also available in other, more unexpected dimensions as well. These five maps illustrate some of the biggest disparities: In people’s health. 
  • In a Charlotte carport, an Indian family holds a traditional Hindu Fire Ceremony. Photo: Nancy Pierce

    Immigrants play a big role in Charlotte’s growth, new study shows

    Almost one in six Mecklenburg residents were born outside the U.S., and immigrants make an outsized contribution to the local economy and many key industries.  That’s according to a new study that highlights the substantial role immigrants are playing in Charlotte’s booming growth. Immigrants make up big chunks of the local STEM, construction and manufacturing labor forces,. And they’re far from a monolithic group, hailing from countries around the world. 
  • Camp North End, a former Ford factory, distribution center and missile factory north of uptown Charlotte that's being redeveloped for adapative reuse projects. Photo: Nancy Pierce.

    Should Charlotte do more to preserve its history?

    There’s been a lot of talk lately in Charlotte about the value of older buildings and what we should do to save them, spurred by the Excelsior Club’s possible sale and demolition. For a fast-growing city with leaders who have long been spurred on by the promise of more development and an ever-bigger, ever-shinier skyline, it can be hard to preserve the past. Charlotte has a reputation for tearing down its past to make way for the future, with casualties that include notable buildings such as the Masonic Temple, Independence Tower and Hotel Charlotte (imploded as part of a David Copperfield television special).