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Looking Back at Charlotte

Cotton is King

Cotton was a major cash crop in Mecklenburg County. To harvest the crop, farmers  hired temporary laborers to handpick the cotton. Some of the cotton would be pressed for the oil in a cotton press like this one.

Rural Life

According to the 1900 United States Census, 55,628 reside in Mecklenburg County. Of these, only 18,091 live in Charlotte. There are 4,190 farms in the county, and that’s where most people live. A farm laborer earns approximately $14.64 a month.

Realities in 1900

This is a picture of the Atherton Mill on East Boulevard. Today the building houses condominiums. Until 1901, children under the age of 12 could work in textile mills. After the law changed, children had to attend school. However, this did not apply to children of widowed mothers, who worked to provide support for the family. There are 676 children working in Mecklenburg County in 1900. Their average annual salary is $99.00.

Other realities that would seem harsh include:

South Tryon Street

 The Realty Building (1907) on the right in the main photograph was on the corner of Trade and Tryon. It became known as the Independence Building in 1920. The American Trust Building at 210-212 South Tryon Street housed a number of businesses, including the Southern Power Company.   Built in 1901 for Frederick C. Abbott, George Stephens and Word H. Wood, The Academy of Music was also located here.

1905 Charlotte

In 1905, Charlotte has:

3 Car Dealerships

6  Stables

41 Secret and Benevolent Societies

15 Saloons

20 Drugstores

14 Restaurants

34 Boarding Houses  and 8 Hotels

34 Fire Alarm Boxes

7 Dairies

13 Newspapers

North on Tryon

Looking north on Tryon Street, you see buildings that vary in architectural styles. Most of them are just a few stories high. Electric street cars are the main form of public transportation.  The city was decorated for the May 20th celebration of 1909 and the distinguished guest was President William Howard Taft.


Looking Back At Charlotte

Welcome to our time-travel website for Charlotte, North Carolina during the early 1900s. Discover what life was like over one hundred years ago. You will learn about how people dressed, how they lived, what foods they ate, where they worked, what games children played, new inventions and a whole lot more.  At the turn-of-the century, Charlotte is a small city with a population of 18,091 people. Click on the map below, and you will see that the city limits only included four wards.