charlotte CITY WALKS Is Going virtual in 2021
After canceling 2020's City Walks program due to the pandemic, we're back this year, in a new, virtual format. Walks will be available via the Clio app, which provides free, public walking tours that highlight the city’s neighborhoods. They’re intended to inspire people to get better acquainted with their own neighborhoods, to learn about parts of the city they don’t know well, and to connect with others living in Charlotte.
The walks are free and open to all. They'll be available starting in May, with instructions on how to access, download and use the Clio app to follow walking tours right from your phone. Self-guided walking tours are also available through historian Tom Hanchett's History South website.
“Like everything else, this year’s Charlotte City Walks look different. Instead of tours led by a walk leader, we’re offering self-guided tours for people to take with their family or COVID bubbles,” said Angelique Gaines of the UNC Charlotte Urban Institute. “One thing remains the same: City Walks connect people to our city through its neighborhoods and encourage them to get involved in the city we’re building together.”
This year’s walks are flexible, allowing people to explore the city on their own timeline with free, self-guided tours available at citywalksclt.org. Unlike previous City Walks, there’s no need to register, and there are no limits on ticket availability. City Walks encourages participants to follow safety precautions while touring, including wearing masks and staying six feet away from people outside their group. UNC Charlotte Urban Institute, organizes City Walks with assistance from the Foundation For the Carolinas, and local partnerships.
2021 Virtual City Walks: Complete List
Walks available on the Clio App (click the title to open the walk)
Groups will explore the vibrant history of North Charlotte and NoDa with local tour guides. We will visit three textile mills, stroll through two distinct and largely intact mill villages, view local art and several large murals, and hear about some of the colorful neighbors from NoDa.
What’s with all the new murals we have uptown? Join ArtWalks CLT for a free guided artwalk, Experience firsthand how murals enliven public space, learn about the Talking Walls mural festival, and be inspired by discovering a dozen murals.
The UNC Charlotte Botanical Gardens include a wide variety of rare and exotic plant materials. From carnivorous plants to tasty tubers, take a walk with Dr. Jeff Gillman to discover the fascinating histories and hidden treasures in the Botanical Gardens.
Join us for a 90 minute walking tour of Charlotte's Belmont neighborhood (not the town of Belmont). Learn about the origins as a white mill village, the change to an under-invested Black neighborhood, and now another change. Charlotte's tale of two cities as noted in the Leading on Opportunity report is playing out in the Belmont neighborhood. As housing prices soar, long-time homeowners are concerned about tax increases, and renters are losing their affordable rates. This begs the question – where do I go if I need to leave my home? See large new homes next to small mill homes, learn about mill village life and current redevelopment, and hear how the community association is working to navigate this change.
Central Avenue, Kilborne Drive and Norland Road are undergoing a Comprehensive Neighborhood Improvement Program (CNIP) through the City of Charlotte. These improvements will provide the area with a safer pedestrian and bicycle connection between two very special urban parks, Kilborne Park and Evergreen Nature Preserve. It also lays the groundwork to pedestrian, bicycle, bus and future streetcar connections for its vibrant diverse community that will provide this East Charlotte community with more economic opportunities for jobs and education. It will create a sense of community through its small, independent businesses and community gathering places with enhanced neighborhood safety and security. Good transportation connections will significantly improve the quality of daily life for all who live, work and play in this established East Charlotte community. Come along with CharlotteEAST as your guide to experience the revitalization - we are excited about the future of this community!
Elmwood Cemetery in the heart of uptown Charlotte offers not only a fascinating glimpse into Charlotte’s past, with graves dating back to the 1800s - it’s also a certified arboretum. Erin Oliverio leads this walking tour, where she’ll provide tips on how to identify trees and discuss the city’s meticulous stewardship of this Center City gem.
Around the Clocktower: JCSU & Biddleville
Founded as Biddle Institute in 1867, today’s Johnson C. Smith University has nurtured history-makers for over 150 years. African American history specialist Michael Webb, a JCSU alum, and Tom Hanchett, community historian, delve into stories behind campus landmarks. Then loop through Biddleville to see homes of important education leaders Dr. George E. and Marie G. Davis, a Civil War blockade-runner and more.
Find all the details and directions to see the sights yourself at History South.
South End Interactive: Murals that jump off the walls
South End Interactive is where art comes to life. Experience eight murals in South End with augmented reality technology that allows you to dive deeper into each piece, play with face filters, and explore 3-D models of the most intricate details.
You can see directions and where to find all of the murals at SouthEndCLT.org.
History South: Explore Charlotte's intriguing past and vibrant present
Charlotte's own historian extraordinaire Tom Hanchett has compiled a dozen walking self-guided walking tours for people to explore neighborhoods like Plaza Midwood, NoDa and Dilworth. Learn about the history of Charlotte's streetcar, the mill enclave that became NoDa, and how the Thirsty Beaver saloon hangs on in its little spot on Central Avenue.
Here’s a quick primer, courtesy of the JanesWalk.org group:
After you take a tour, take this short survey and let us know what you thought.
Is this just a Charlotte thing?
Activist Jane Jacobs celebrated the power of everyday people to shape their city.
City Walks are part of a global celebration – known in many cities as Jane Jacobs Walks or Jane’s Walks – of free, citizen-led walking tours inspired by Jane Jacobs, a famous neighborhood champion who lived in New York and Toronto.
Born May 4, 1916, Jane Jacobs was a writer, activist and urban thinker who championed a community-based approach, based on what she observed in her neighborhood, Greenwich Village. She saw cities as ecosystems with their own logic and dynamism. She encouraged residents to get engaged and to explore where they lived, worked and played.
Jane's Walks take place around the world during the first weekend in May, to honor her birthday, but in Charlotte they take place throughout May.
- Angelique Marcus Gaines, email@example.com, 704-687-1199
How do I download the Clio App?
1. Open the Apple or Google Play Store on your phone.
2. Search for “Clio”
3. Choose the “Clio-Your Guide to History” App and choose
Q: Will City Walks return as an in-person program in 2022?
A: Our goal is to return to hosting City Walks the way we usually do — with in-person walks led by community leaders — as soon as it is safe to do so.
Q: What about the munching tours — those were my favorite! Are they coming back?
A: Yes! We love eating delicious things as well, and we know how popular the munching tours have been. While it wasn’t practical to include them this year due to COVID-related restrictions, we plan to reincorporate munching tours into our lineup as soon as we can.
Q: Can I still organize a City Walk in this virtual format?
A: For 2021, we have reached our capacity for City Walks-affiliated tours hosted virtually on the Clio app. However, we would love to hear your feedback and ideas for additional walks — contact Angelique Gaines.
Q: Will these virtual walks be available past the month of May?
A: Yes. While City Walks usually runs only in May, the virtual walks we’re offering this year will continue to be available for you to enjoy and share into the future.
Q: Is City Walks still free?
A: Yes. The Clio app and History South self-guided walking tours are totally free to use.
Q: Will you still have some virtual walks in the future?
A: Let us know what you’d like to see. Depending on the response to this year’s City Walks program, we’ll certainly consider it. Virtual tours and self-guided walks have the advantage of letting you move at your own pace and go whenever you want. At the same time, they can lack the community-building experience of getting to know your neighbors while you learn about a new place together — so, it’s a balancing act.