Oh brother, Charlotte is trying HARD to gain the title of the "Capital of the South" over longtime titleholder Atlanta in the past decade. It seems the battle continues through this horribly deep recession. Charlotte popped off the shots a few years ago when the leaders in North Carolina wooed then financial corporation after the merger of Philadelphia First Union and Winston-Salem-based Wachovia to Charlotte in 2001. The city already had Bank of America since 1998 when Charlotte-based NationsBank merged with BankAmerica.
In reality, Charlotte isn't even remotely on Atlanta's level at all since one has a little over 2 million inhabitants whereas the other has 5.4 million inhabitants in their respective metropolitan regions. Also the amount investment in Atlanta in more diversified economy compared to generally financial and service oriented economy of Charlotte. Most urban studies observers such as myself will give Charlotte kudos for creating the LYNX light-rail transit (LRT) system from the Charlotte Area Transit System (CATS) in 2008 and having an active and livelier downtown area called "Uptown Charlotte" even during the afterwork hours with substantial population. However, the infrastructure and population of the combined areas of Downtown, Midtown, and Buckhead of Atlanta with MARTA service to all those areas as well surpasses Charlotte still. Charlotte has the potential of leading the league of cities like Orlando, Tampa, Denver, Austin, Baltimore, etc. because of its size and immense amount investment in infrastructure and strong leadership. However, its infrastructure still isn't a major hub in the road network, air, or water categories since there's only 2 interstates that pass through Charlotte (I-77 & I-85), Charlotte-Douglas International Airport is up there and an actual international airport but only in certain categories, but like Atlanta it lacks a major river or waterway. The 2 cities are alike, yet not alike because Atlanta developed way sooner, has a more massive population base, larger airport, more roadway and rail infrastructure, and finally total domination as hub of the state of Georgia. Whereas, Charlotte is competing with Raleigh and its sister city, Durham, for the dominance of North Carolina because Raleigh is still growing at a rate much faster than Charlotte and its home county, Wake, is well on its way like Charlotte's Mecklenberg to being the state's first with 1 million inhabitants. On the other hand, North Carolina is a more urbanized and progressive state than Georgia since NC did go for the nation's first black president, Barack Obama, by a razor thin margin and has invested in rail transportation while Georgia still chooses to be typical southern state that is automobile-oriented, socially conservative, and anti-city ideology.
In the end, sorry Charlotte, but you guys still are only a second-tier city compared to Atlanta, Miami, Dallas, Houston, and Washington in the domination of major cities.
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