My “history” of Mecklenburg County begins in March 1988. A job interview brought me to Charlotte. The interview went well, I was hired, and my new boss gave me advice on where my husband and I should look for an apartment. No, this won’t be one of those “got lost at Queens and Queens” tales. I took both his advice and the Belk Freeway eastward toward uptown. My spirits were soaring because I’d gotten a really good job. And this wasn’t just a good job. It was a good job in a big city. One with tall buildings. There, behind the JFG coffee sign, was the towering One First Union Center. I had arrived!
Maybe it helps you to know that I was born in rural Wisconsin. I grew up in small town Iowa where “tall” only described the onion-shaped water tower. I’d visited Chicago, St. Louis and other cities with tall buildings, but had never lived in a big city. On that spring afternoon, Christopher Cross’ “Ride like the Wind” was playing on the radio, its energetic beat matching my high-flying mood as I took the I-277 loop past uptown. Before the Bank of America Center and the Hearst Tower, the rounded top of the “juke box” dominated Charlotte’s skyline. And it will always dominate my first memory of Mecklenburg County. I’ve changed jobs several times since 1988. And that pink granite bank building has changed names as many times. But it still represents something very special to me - reaching tall and reaching my dreams.