A Trifling Place
3:41 pm
Fri January 4, 2013

A Trifling Place, Episode 1: Where Are You From?

President George Washington called Charlotte a "trifling place." That's how our founding father described the city during a visit in 1791. But it's certainly changed since then. Welcome to "A Trifling Place," a podcast dedicated to exploring the ins-and-outs of Charlotte.


In a city like Washington, D.C. the first question the person sitting next to you on the metro might ask is ‘What Do You Do?’ In Charlotte, sitting next to you at the DMV office, it’s "Where Are You From?"

I’m Tasnim Shamma and I’m from New York City. I joined WFAE in mid-August and I’ve got a few questions about the Queen City.

Credit Tasnim Shamma

But if I asked my neighbors, "Why is Charlotte’s downtown called uptown?"  --  we'll address that identity crisis in a future podcast -- they might not know the answer because they might also be new to Charlotte. So that's where this podcast comes in: we're going to talk to people who know the city like the back of their hand and can teach us a thing or two about Charlotte.

Let's start with the obvious: Charlotte has seen explosive growth. It's not your great-great-grandfather's city. 

Today, it boasts close to 800,000 people, more than double what it was just 30 years ago. Just last year -- between the middle of 2010 and 2011 -- U.S. census figures show that 20,000 more people chose to call Charlotte home.

The Charlotte Chamber of Commerce devotes a big part of their website to a section called "Newcomers."

"You've either just moved to Charlotte, or you're considering it," their website says. "The good news is that most Charlotteans aren't from here either."

I wandered around Uptown Charlotte to get a flavor of where other people had moved from.

  • Angela Haigler, Ames, Iowa
  • Gayle Grannum, Queens, New York 
  • Animaw Azage, Los Angeles, California and Ethiopia
  • Terryn Abram, Somerset, NJ and Lawrenceville, GA
  • Michelle Hurt, Atlanta, Georgia
  • Celeste Wilson, Hendersonville, North Carolina
  • Rhonda Alcy, Raleigh, N.C.
  • Srinivas Vemuri , Dayton, Ohio
  • Mamodou Fall, Bronx, New York and Senegal
  • Maggy Avila, Chicago, Illinois, Mexico City

Some of these people say they consider Charlotte their hometown after living here for four years or 30 years. But I did find some people born-and-raised in Charlotte. Two in fact! Sitting next to each other waiting for the bus on North Tryon Street in Uptown. 

Genise Moore from northeast Charlotte and Lazarus Brown of west Charlotte. 

All of the people I stopped on the street spoke about tremendous growth. Here's how Priscilla Rankin remembers what it looked like in the late sixties:

"When I first came to Charlotte, there were houses along Church Street and of course we didn't have the high rises," Rankin says. 

Intrigued? Well stick with us! I'm really looking forward to exploring Charlotte and like the Chamber of Charlotte says, you're probably a newcomer too. Explore Charlotte with me in this podcast. We'll visit different neighborhoods and try to answer the questions that you were curious about too when you first moved to Charlotte.