History on Call
Learn about the layers of Charlotte's history with Charlotte Trolley's History On Call, a free cell phone based tour highlighting some of the people and places of Charlotte's history. History On Call is a series of audio dramas you can access by telephone or computer. Each drama tells the story of a moment in history for a specific location. Currently, History On Call showcases six stories of Charlotte's first streetcar suburb, Dilworth. We hope you'll walk or drive through Dilworth and listen to these audio dramas.
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History is a continuum, and you are part of it. The stories we've included are only one layer of Charlotte's history. If you know of other people, places, or layers, we want to collect your stories too. If you have a story to share, you can dial "0" at any point in the History On Call tour, and tell us your story. In future phases of the project, we hope to include these oral histories. The audio dramas you'll hear contain some fictionalized characters, but the dramas are based on actual historical records, many of which are available in the Robinson-Spangler Carolina Room at the Main branch of the Public Library. If you are interested in learning more, we hope you'll visit this valuable local resource. Click on the links below to learn more about the sources for each drama. Here are the locations where History On Call messages should be heard:
1 - First Electric Streetcar Runs in Charlotte
In 1891, Charlotte's first suburb -- Dilworth -- was located far out of what most people thought of as the town. The brand new suburb, developed by Edward Dilworth Latta and his Charlotte Consolidated Construction Company, held the promise of fresh air, graceful streets, spacious homes ... and beginning on this day in May, an electric trolley to get you there!
2 - Buying Lots in Charlotte's First Suburb
The weekend Dilworth home sites went on sale to the public was an event like none Charlotte had seen before. The sale coincided with the anniversary of the signing of the Mecklenburg Declaration of Independence, so the mood was festive already, and Dilworth's developers - The 4Cs or the Charlotte Consolidated Construction Company - invited holiday crowds to a 3-day spectacle in Latta Park.
3 - Trolley Workers Strike - Violence Erupts
Labor unions developed across the United States as workers sought ways to win better working conditions and wages from their employers. Charlotte - and Dilworth - played its role in this national movement. As Dilworth grew, so did trolley service ... and many residents relied on the trolley as their primary means of transportation. So when the motormen went on strike on August 10, 1919, the disruption was felt citywide.
4 - Luring City Folk to Dilworth: Latta Park
Edward Dilworth Latta and the Four Cs planned Charlotte's trolley line after successful models in other cities - with an alluring destination at the end. Charlotte's first trolley line ran from uptown Charlotte to Latta Park, a 90-acre amusement center that drew crowds of streetcar riders - and young couples - from the city!
5 - Life in the Mill
D.A. Tompkins, the owner of the Atherton Cotton Mill, boosted the development of Dilworth in 1893 when he bought a full block of land to build a mill village to house his employees. Today, many of the original millhouses have been renovated and enlarged, but a few are surprisingly unchanged.
6 - Dilworth's First Architect: C.C. Hook
Architect Charles Christian Hook designed prominent and lasting buildings across Charlotte, including the Duke Mansion. The 4Cs hired him to design many stately homes along Dilworth's grand promenades. Discover Hook's original Dilworth homes that today are listed on the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Historic Landmarks Commission's roster of historic homes.