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behind the money

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Behind the MoneyAAA/Inspector 33
What started as a simple crossroads named for a young queen has grown into the second-largest financial center in the country. Charlotte has expanded upward and outward to become the largest metropolitan area in the Carolinas and a popular vacation destination.

German settlers, faithful to both England and Germany, named the town for German-born Queen Charlotte, wife to England's King George III. The county adopted the name of the queen's birthplace: Mecklenburg.

Charlotte's strong ties with England were severed when a convention of North Carolinians met to compose the Mecklenburg Resolves. The 1775 statement contained resolutions intended to invalidate the authority of the king and parliament. Residents later erected a monument to the signers at the County Courthouse. Thomas Polk, the founder of Charlotte, had built a log courthouse for the new county seat in 1768 at this site, the original crossroads.

The independent spirit that motivated the colonists to compose the Resolves continued, and British general Lord Cornwallis later would call Charlotte a “hornet's nest of rebellion” as a result of Patriot activity during his occupation of the city—hence the local NBA team name.

The intersection of Trade and Tryon streets, known as The Square, has been the heart of Uptown—what Charlotte's city center is called by residents. The Square serves as the center of commerce. Past, present and future are displayed in Raymond Kaskey's four bronze statues, found at each corner of the square. The statues tell Charlotte's story: A gold miner illustrates commerce; a female mill worker depicts a strong textile heritage; a railroad builder renders Charlotte's significance as a transportation hub; and a mother and child represents hope for the city's future.

flickr / CC BY /Nan Palmero
Queen Charlotte's influence is omnipresent in the city nicknamed after her; street signs and the city flag are adorned with crowns shaped around the letter “M” for Mecklenburg. When lit up at night, the Bank of America Corporate Center resembles a multitiered tiara; it also contains 60 floors, which matches the number of years of the queen's reign. A Kaskey statue, a patinated bronze of the queen, is found at the north end of the airport. And the aptly named Queens Road West boasts lavish Colonial-style houses.

Also called the City of Trees, Charlotte is known for its willow oaks, which line many residential and Uptown streets. The trees, which resemble black oaks but sport long, thin leaves similar to weeping willows, are native to Charlotte.

Charlotte's road to riches began in 1799 when a 17-pound nugget was found in nearby Concord, making Mecklenburg County the site of the first U.S. gold rush. This fame, coupled with the establishment of a Charlotte branch of the U.S. Mint in 1837, paved the way for the city's financial prominence.

Next to New York City, more banking establishments are centered in Charlotte than any other U.S. city, with Bank of America, BB&T and Wells Fargo's eastern division calling Charlotte home. It seems fitting that the city flag sports a green background—reminiscent of the color of money.

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Charlotte, NC

Top AAA Diamond Hotels

AAA’s in-person hotel evaluations are unscheduled to ensure the inspector has an experience similar to that of members. To pass inspection, all hotels must meet the same rigorous standards for cleanliness, comfort and hospitality. These hotels receive a AAA Diamond designation that tells members what type of experience to expect.

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DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Charlotte

895 W Trade St. Charlotte, NC 28202

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Hilton Charlotte Center City

222 E 3rd St. Charlotte, NC 28202

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Hilton Garden Inn Charlotte SouthPark

4808 Sharon Rd. Charlotte, NC 28210

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Hyatt Place Charlotte/Airport/Lake Pointe

4119 South Stream Blvd. Charlotte, NC 28217

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Travel Information

City Population

731,424

Elevation

734 ft.

Sales Tax

North Carolina has a 4.75 percent state sales tax; Mecklenburg County levies an additional 2 percent sales tax. Mecklenburg County also levies an 8 percent occupancy tax for lodging, a 1 percent prepared food and beverage tax and an 8 percent tax for rental cars.

Emergency

911

Police (non-emergency)

(704) 336-7600. Info hotline: 311

Fire (non-emergency)

(704) 336-4174

Hospitals

Atrium Health University City, (704) 863-6000; Carolinas Medical Center, (704) 355-2000; Carolinas Medical Center-Mercy, (704) 304-5000; Novant Health Presbyterian Medical Center, (704) 384-4000.

Visitor Information

501 S. College St. Charlotte, NC 28202. Phone:(704)339-6040 or (800)231-4636

Air Travel

Charlotte Douglas International Airport (CLT) is 6 miles west of the city on Josh Birmingham Parkway, and is accessible from Billy Graham Parkway or Wilkinson Boulevard. A hub for American Airlines, the airport is served by other major airlines as well; phone (704) 359-4910. If you're looking for things to do this weekend, check AAA.com or ask a AAA Travel Agent about airline tickets—sometimes available as part of a AAA Vacations® package.

Rental Cars

Hertz, 5489 Josh Birmingham Pkwy., offers discounts to AAA members; phone (704) 359-0114 or (800) 654-3080.

Rail Service

Amtrak, (800) 872-7245, has a station at 1914 N. Tryon St.

Buses

A Greyhound station serves Charlotte at 601 W. Trade St.; phone (704) 372-0456.

Taxis

Cabs are metered and charge a base fare of around $2.50, plus approximately $2.50 per mile or 50c per minute when the vehicle drops below 15 miles per hour. These companies operate from the airport's queue—City Cab, (704) 333-3327; Crown Cab, (704) 334-6666; Green Cab, (704) 777-1117; and Yellow Cab, (980) 785-1405; they all increase the base fare $2 per person for more than two passengers.

Public Transportation

Charlotte Area Transit System (CATS), (704) 336-7433, serves the city with more than 70 local and express routes. One-way fare is $2.20; $1.10 (children in kindergarten through grade 12, ages 62+ and the physically impaired); free (ages 0-5). Express fare (buses pick up in a limited area and travel directly to Uptown) is $3; $1.50 (children in kindergarten through grade 12, ages 62+ and the physically impaired); free (ages 0-5). Transfers from local to express are 80c; local to local transfers are free.

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