Charlotte Convention Center
The Charlotte Convention Center opened in 1995 as the City’s main venue for conventions, trade shows, banquets and theater-style conferences; and attracts more than half a million visitors each year. At 850,000 square feet, the Convention Center provides 280,000 square feet of contiguous exhibit space, a ballroom of 35,000 square feet with banquet seating for up to 1,800 guests, and more than 90,000 square feet of flexible meeting space (46 meeting rooms).
Perhaps the most unique aspect of the Convention Center is the fact that the trolley tracks run directly though it. Original construction standards included the ability to bear the weight and vibration of the trolley, and upgrades later added the capacity to accommodate Charlotte’s new light rail system. Today you can ride through the building, looking down on convention crowds, or ride the trolley to and from the Convention Center and other parts of the city.
Charlotte’s newest tourist attraction, the NASCAR Hall of Fame will be erected one block east from the Convention Center.
Between the Convention Center and the Charlotte Arena, the trolley runs through Charlotte’s Second Ward.
Second Ward was historically a mainly black community. Its land lies lower than that of the other three wards, or quarters, of the City, a health hazard in the years before indoor plumbing and storm sewers. Early maps identify the area as "Logtown," indicating that it was largely made up of rude homes. With emancipation in the 1860s, such an area of inexpensive housing was a logical settlement area for the newly freed slaves that flocked to the city. Ultimately, Second Ward was home to some of the most wealthy and educated, as well as poor and uneducated, portions of the black community.
By 1917, when the first known map of Charlotte's racial patterns was drawn, Second Ward was solidly black except for Trade, Tryon, College, and parts of Fourth Street. About this time, evidently, the nickname Logtown gave way to "Brooklyn" for reasons no longer remembered.
Through the last half of the 19th and first half of the 20th centuries, Second Ward contained a broad spectrum of black residences and businesses, including Charlotte's first black public school when it opened in 1882, and Second Ward High School, the city's only black high school for many decades. Here, too, were the city's black YMCA and black Carnegie Library, the first public library for blacks in North Carolina. There were many black businesses, led by the A.M.E. Zion Publishing House, which did all printing for that religion in America and issued the denomination's monthly newspaper, making Charlotte an A.M.E. Zion center second in importance only to New York City.
Almost all traces of this community were destroyed through urban renewal clearance and private demolition in the 1960s, replaced by Charlotte's Government Plaza, two hotel towers, some office buildings, and a pair of automobile dealerships. Two black historic landmarks do survive on Brevard Street.
The Mecklenburg Investment Company building was financed by a group of black professionals in 1921 to provide the first office building open to blacks. The three story building, which had a third floor lodgehall where many black civic groups met, features handsome yellow and red patterned brickwork by black builder-architect W. W. Smith. The 1902 Victorian Gothic style Grace A.M.E. Zion Church housed one of Charlotte's oldest black congregations until very recently. The building is now owned by the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Historic Landmarks Commission, which is considering how best to preserve it