From traffic to poverty, 64-year-old report shows Charlotte’s growth issues are nothing new

How does Charlotte want to grow?

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - It's like a part of Charlotte's DNA: Growth. We talk about it all the time - from companies moving here, to new buildings popping up - we are booming.

In fact, according to Census data, Charlotte is the 5th fastest growing city in the country. Between 2010 and 2017, our population grew 16 percent, outpacing Atlanta and Nashville.

But this fast pace has the city scrambling to figure out how to handle all of these people. We’re dealing with bumper-to-bumper traffic, overcrowded schools, poverty, and a lack of parks.

It has city leaders asking themselves a question that goes all the way back to the 1950s - “How shall we grow?” City and county leaders published a report with that very title back in 1955.

Ely Portillo with UNC Charlotte’s Urban Institute, came across the 64-year-old report while looking for old skyline photos of the Queen City.

“As I dug into it I started to realize that even though it looks a little dated, there’s actually a lot in here that’s really relevant to our city today,” Portillo said.

Portillo pulled four big takeaways from that report that we can learn from:

  • “Charlotte’s big problems aren’t new.”
  • "Be wary of grand plans promising a simple solution."
  • "Planning for growth is hard, especially in the midst of it."
  • “Growth and boosterism remain abiding strains of the Charlotte DNA.”

“Even back then, they were looking ahead and saying, 'Are we going to be the next Atlanta? Are we going to be the next great city? Are we going to be a world-class city?” Portillo said. “So those themes would be very familiar to anyone who pays attention to the city’s growth today.”

Copyright 2019 WBTV. All rights reserved.