Anyone Know Which Charlotte Marketing Agency Helped (Mis)name Downtown in the late 1980s?
Anyone? Because prior to the late 1980's, before a city funded Charlotte ad agency was tasked with building the Charlotte brand, it was called "Downtown." Which makes sense, since (everywhere but in Charlotte) the term "Uptown" refers to a spatial relationship between different parts of a city center. Commonly, the uptown neighborhood or neighborhoods, separated from a city's lower or central business district, may often be residential, sometimes with particularly upscale or fashionable connotation. In New York, for example, you have a Downtown, a Midtown, and an Uptown. But not in the Queen City …
There's much confusion brought about by the use of the terms "Uptown" and "Downtown" for Charlotte's center city area, since these terms don't reference different areas of town and are thus interchangeable. Personally, I still call it Downtown for the same reason I call "Bank of American Stadium" Panthers Stadium. I don't like to have my vocabulary manipulated by Charlotte advertising agencies and politicians (ironic, I know).
Prior to the mid-late 1980s, the term "Downtown" was used by residents, media and city leaders for …well…downtown. During the 1980s, however, a massive campaign was launched to revamp the seedy image of the downtown area and the term "Uptown" was introduced to the general public. On February 14, 1987, the Charlotte Observer began using the term "Uptown" as a way to promote a more positive upbeat image of the center city area, and (in a rather Orwellian twist) schools were provided with "historical" documents justifying use of the term to teach to students (e.g. a barely noticed proclamation designating central shopping and business district as Uptown Charlotte by City of Charlotte Mayor John M. Belk on September 23, 1974).