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The Evolution of Green Space: A History of Urban Landscape in Charlotte, North Carolina, 1890-1990

by

Brian W. C. Sturm

Honors Thesis, Department of History

University of North Carolina, 2000

 

Special note:  I am deeply indebted to Brian Sturm for taking the initiative to bring this manuscript to my attention.  Contrary to popular belief, man-made landscapes are just as important as buildings to the preservationist.  The essential philosophy of historic preservation to which I aspire is that history must stand at the heart of the movement, not urban design, not economic development, not even neighborhood revitalization.  Therefore, the Commission's website seeks to make historical material easily accessible to the public.  It is most gratifying to place this manuscript on the Commission's website.  Indeed, I would urge other students who study and write about Charlotte-Mecklenburg history to contact me about having their manuscripts included on our website.  Dr. Dan L. Morrill

 

 

Chapter One: Green Fringes Grace the Periphery

In 1890, Charlotte, North Carolina may have had only 11,000 inhabitants but clearly they already had the attention span for several daily newspapers. These often-overzealous rags, be they the Democrat, the News or the Observer, printed all the news they could find much less that which was "fit to print." But in these days of bare and ragged journalism, if there was one shred of truth in these ink-stained pages it was in the colophon of the Charlotte Chronicle, "Published in Charlotte, the most wide awake town in the South!" Charlotte may not have been the largest city in the Carolinas, that title belonged to Charleston, but it was the fastest growing, and it knew it. Local, innovative business leaders brought new industry and money into this cotton town and pushed its citizenry to think on a bigger scale. The population of the city grew and Charlotte moved from the age of agriculture to industry. In a fashion not unlike today, Charlotteans touted their town as a "world-class city." It was not long before the city outgrew its boundaries, and perhaps even, to borrow from the vernacular, became too big for its britches.

The years between 1890 and 1920 saw the city map change quite a bit. Population growth and housing starts pushed the city limits well beyond the few blocks around Trade and Tryon Streets to include numerous residential neighborhoods on the periphery. These first suburbs varied in their social nature with some housing middle class blacks, others blue collar whites and others the city's wealthiest members. Two are of particular interest to this paper, however, as they awoke within Charlotte the evolution of green space. Those two garden suburbs are Dilworth and Myers Park.

A history of suburbia in Charlotte could certainly span the century in question. As concept in urban planning and green space, however, the suburb had its heyday in these first thirty years 1890 to 1920. The two neighborhoods of Dilworth and Myers Park in this time period illustrate the great impact suburbs have always had on green space in this city and on the city itself. Both neighborhoods were the creations of big thinkers, men who harnessed creativity and industry to change Charlotte. Both Dilworth and Myers Park challenged the contemporary concepts of the city and forced Charlotte to consider ideas of land-use planning. Perhaps most importantly these suburbs, as landforms, introduced ideas of order and beauty into the cultivation of green space that heretofore were not found in the Queen City, save those two cemeteries. These neighborhoods remain garden suburbs to this day. The chapter closes with a discussion of the 1917 Civic Plan that never was and other failed attempts at continuing the planning trends begun in this period.

These Charlotte neighborhoods, of course, fit into the larger context of the American phenomenon of suburbanization. As economic opportunities increased in the major cities of the nation, urban populations pushed growth "out" of cities instead of "in." While European cities maintained the aristocratic core of their great cities, advances in transportation took the affluent out of the city in America and towards country estates. Many historians consider Llewellyn Park in Orange, New Jersey, to be America's first true suburb. Developed in 1854 by the New York City pharmacist Llewellyn Haskell, this secluded locale offered a gated community of expansive lots five to ten acres in size as well as railroad access to the city. It combined a fresh and healthy environment (Haskell suffered from rheumatism) with the beauty of the country and proximity to the city. Llewellyn Park soon found imitators. In 1869, Frederick Law Olmsted, the aforementioned creator of New York's Central Park, completed work on Riverside, a planned suburb south of Chicago.1

In North Carolina, suburban development did not occur until the turn of the century. The typical North Carolina suburb was not unlike those throughout the nation wherein houses were placed on large lots along curvilinear streets often surrounding a park. Some of the first such neighborhoods in the state were Fisher Park in Greensboro, Trinity Park in Durham, and Cameron Park in Raleigh.2 Contrasting with many northern suburbs these few in North Carolina appealed to a decidedly middle class, offering less ostentatious lots and homes than those of Llewellyn Park or Riverside. The reason for this contrast stems from the impetus for suburbanization in the South, one certainly different than what propelled the phenomenon in the North some thirty years earlier.

Architectural historian John Archer asserts the thesis that the move towards the American romantic suburb began when equilibrium between city and country was achieved. Once technology allowed for Americans to live in a country setting but within proximity by train or trolley to the amenities of the city they would heartily grasp the opportunity.3 Such a thesis is based on the ideology that Americans are fundamentally inclined to the country and not the city. His argument does not fit in the South, however, for one reason. Southerners lived in cities in which country and city were still one and the same. When this first wave of suburbanization occurred, North Carolina towns were not nearly the size of most northern cities. These cities of the Piedmont are to this day characterized more by their periphery development than their smaller central business districts.4 There was not yet a clamor to return to rural origins in a state like North Carolina, so why would its citizens leave the modern center city?

Another cause leading to suburbanization in America was the City Beautiful Movement. The City Beautiful Movement arose from the 1893 Columbian Exposition in Chicago. The beautiful fairgrounds designed by Frederick Law Olmsted showed the nation that classical architecture and landscape had not only an aesthetically pleasing but didactic and civilizing character. The City Beautiful movement had potential in North Carolina but did not take well. Women's social clubs in Charlotte and Wilmington perhaps captured the spirit better than any of the states other citizens by awarding prizes in neighborhoods to the best kept homes and lawns.5 Though the movement inspired widespread beautification, North Carolina was still too poor to truly emulate the City Beautiful in its urban and suburban development.

What boosted the South into this era of suburbanization was the energy of new entrepreneurs who were willing to invest in growth. Often these men of the New South had broad portfolios within which real estate development would compliment other business interests. The first landscaped suburb in the region was Atlanta's Druid Hills. Designed by John C. Olmsted, son of the elder Frederick Law, this park community was funded by an iron, steel, and real estate entrepreneur.6 In Charlotte, men like Edward Dilworth Latta and George Stephens set the precedent for leadership among the city's businessmen. Both men established what were virtually holding companies to control their properties of Dilworth and Myers Park. Latta had holdings in clothing manufactures and transit, Stephens in banking and newspapers. These diverse interests not only reflected a dedication to growth in the region but also, and more importantly, made possible the success of these two suburbs. Dilworth and Myers Park were typical Southern suburbs in this respect.

In 1890, the industrialist Edward Dilworth Latta decided to expand out from the corporate limits of this cotton town and create a new piece of Charlotte Dilworth. This development stood apart from traditional American suburban planning in its design, zoning and demographics. There was space for living, working and recreation. Like a satellite or extension to the city, Latta's new neighborhood was to include housing for various income levels, a district of mills and warehouses with railroad access, and a parcel of green space. What made Dilworth sparkle with novelty was Latta Park, the first large park in Charlotte's history.

Latta Park today.  You are looking at what was initially the bottom of a lake.

The real charm in Latta Park lies not in its green valleys or prattling streams but rather in the zeal that accompanied its creation and unveiling over a century ago. The park could have been Charlotte's fiftieth and it would still be a memorable achievement. It was designed as the centerpiece of the Dilworth suburb and planned by men of the New South creed. The fact that it was Charlotte's first municipal park only makes it that much more of an accomplishment in park planning.

Latta Park, the greater neighborhood of Dilworth, its trolleys and all other interests of Latta's were grouped under the umbrella of the Charlotte Consolidated Construction Company, commonly known as the "Four C's." In June, 1890 Latta and five other prominent Charlotte businessmen chartered the company with $100,000 in capital stock and began plans for the Dilworth neighborhood.7 As a subsidiary to the Four C's, the Charlotte Railway Company was founded in February of the following year to manage the two lines being built by the Four C's.8 Simultaneously, the Four C's was surveying and clearing lots for Charlotte's first suburb Dilworth. Latta Park rested in the center of this development and was the terminus for one of two trolley lines. Latta hoped the park would translate not only into increased trolley business but increased land values as well. One of his many promotions read, "Please read all the history of cities, particularly locations thereof which have been made adjacent to parks. Enhanced values tenfold have followed."9


Figure 2: Charlotte's first garden suburb of Dilworth. This 1890 map by the Four C's suggests not simply a new neighborhood but a distinct "City of Avenues." (Source: Thomas W. Hanchett, Sorting Out the New South City: Race,Class and Urban Development in Charlotte, 1875-1975 (Chapel Hill, NC: UNC Press, 1998), 58.)

The man behind this rhetoric, the park, and Dilworth was Edward Dilworth Latta, one of Charlotte's New South impresarios. In his first fifteen years in town, this South Carolina native had prospered in industry and begun to change the physical shape of Charlotte forever. Arriving from New York City in 1876 with a Princeton education, Latta quickly opened the men's clothing store of E. D. Latta and Brothers. In 1883, this business expanded into the Charlotte Trouser Company.10 With his ambition and business talent Latta had taken advantage of Charlotte's textile trade and built one of the largest clothing-manufacturing firms in the South. When he and his partners founded the Four C's they created a development firm that brought electric streetcars, widespread utilities, and modern suburban planning to the growing town.11 Latta wanted more for Charlotte than trouser factories, he wanted a community of civic-minded leaders and citizens willing to work for a greater standard of living. It was through the Four C's that Latta was able to most effectively express his opinions on the development of this New South City:

Let us take on the full duties of citizenship, which means the highest type of morality; an equal participation in the burden of taxation; an interest in the selection of city officials; keeping our premises in a neat and cleanly condition; keeping down the possibility of our homes becoming firetraps; keeping the lawns in front of our houses in the most attractive concession, and cultivating those sweet emblems of fragrant nature the rose and the flower.12

 

And language such as that helped Latta and his development of Dilworth to gain favor.

Edward Dilworth Latta

To assist in cultivating "the rose and the flower," Latta hired the Atlanta-based landscape architect James Forsyth Johnson to design the future Latta Park. Johnson brought to Charlotte an appreciation for the South. Under the patronage of New Southerner and Atlanta Constitution editor Henry W. Grady, Johnson had designed the grounds for the Piedmont Exposition of 1887 and the Piedmont Chatauqua of 1888.13 Perhaps more valuable to Latta, and decades of Charlotteans since, was the landscape ideology Johnson carried into his projects. Johnston's career began in his native land of Great Britain as a landscape artist at horticultural exhibitions. In 1874 he published his seminal work The Natural Principle of Landscape Gardening: Or the Adornment of Land for Perpetual Beauty. In explaining his theories on landscape architecture Johnson not only used his own illustrations and descriptions of gardens around the British Isles, but included passages from contemporary literature by naturalists such as Capability Brown and William Wordsworth. His were beliefs that urged simplicity and that humans cannot outdo nature, "These, it has been said, are the days of steam; but in beautifying land we can do nothing by steam. Nature's laws and operations in their vast diversity and grandeur, are in truth far beyond us, and all that we are able to do is to work with her in a loving and reverent spirit."14

The final product was one of beauty and one widely publicized. Trolley service began on May 18, 1891 and the land auction organized to sell the first of the Dilworth lots was set for May 20-22.15 Beginning on March 17, the Four C's published a daily column in the Charlotte Chronicle with testimonials, advertisements, and boosterism over Dilworth, its trolleys, and its park. For March 20, festivities were planned all day in Latta Park: a baseball game, a fireworks display, and balloon ascension carrying a deed box with a deed to one of the new Dilworth lots.16 At that time Latta Park boasted generous flowerbeds, a fountain, a boating lake dubbed Lake Forsyth, a lily pad pond, and a $12,000 pavilion designed by Atlanta architect Gottfrid Norrman. In commending the Four C's for these contributions to the cityscape, the Charlotte Chronicle proclaimed, "They have given the people a park of ninety-acres in extent for parched humanity to bask in, and for the dear little infant to drink in new life in the cooling and pure atmosphere of its surroundings."17

Clearly Charlotte was excited about this new addition to the city. Latta Park succeeded in attracting attention then and remains today a verdant piece of green space within the city-county public park and recreation system. The reasons for this success are the farsighted leadership that planned Dilworth and the strong identity given to this creation at the time. Edward Latta proposed something radical in Charlotte when he suggested citizens move outside of the city grid into his development situated on old farmland to the South of town. Like other New South entrepreneurs he utilized a broad portfolio to finance his project and make it more feasible. The suburb of Dilworth would have failed if not for the Charlotte Railroad Company. The park was also a new concept for the city to digest and which Latta had to publicize. With a column in the Charlotte Chronicle devoted to news about the Four C's, Latta maintained a constant dialogue of civic pride and progressive thinking that soon won people over to his way of city planning. In this manner, Latta not only marshaled great support for his endeavor but instilled in it virtues. With the aid of an intellectual landscape architect in Johnston, Latta was thus able to promote not just a new place to live in Charlotte but a new way to live.

The second great garden suburb to take its place in the Charlotte landscape was Myers Park. For reasons similar to Dilworth and Latta Park, Myers Park also became a successful venture in urban green space. Between 1891 and 1911, when crews broke ground on Myers Park, several developments grew up beyond the tiny city limits of Charlotte: Chatham Estates, Elizabeth Heights, Pedmont Park, Wilmore, and Rosemont, to name a few. Myers Park succeeded in surpassing these suburbs and remains arguably the city's most grand neighborhood. This success came from strong leadership and intensive planning. The development was the brainchild of a single, though well connected, local entrepreneur George Stephens. Stephens was able to completely finance Myers Park through his holding company the Stephens' Company. An able landscape architect John Nolen completed the plans for the streets, parks and housing lots. Moreover, together these two men incorporated a distinct social ideology in the design and planning of Myers Park. It was to be the home for the Charlotte elite and compliment the city in its grand layout.

            George Stephens

The neighborhood of Myers Park is the legacy of the two men George Stephens and John Nolen. Theirs is a case in which two people met at the right place and time. Though they held distinct roles from one another in the development of the suburb, and though they came from very different backgrounds their talents and aims complimented each other. Together they changed the Charlotte landscape.

Stephens came to Charlotte directly after graduating from the University of North Carolina in 1896. Ambition and success in sports marked his days at Chapel Hill. He worked all four years as a physical education instructor, was a halfback on the varsity football team and a pitcher for the varsity baseball team, not to mention president of the YMCA and Athletic Association. Once in Charlotte he climbed the corporate echelon like a gym rope. Starting as an insurance agent, in 1899 Stephens began the Southern States Trust Company with local investor F. C. Abbott. He was an officer in the Piedmont Realty Company with Abbott and others and in 1905 was appointed the secretary-treasurer of the new Park and Tree Commission. Stephens charge was to find a landscape architect to design the city's first municipal park. The man he turned up was John Nolen.18

John Nolen  Photo from Mary Norton Kratt and Thomas W. Hanchett, Legacy: The Myers Park Story (Myers Park Foundation, 1986).

It was in a letter of recommendation from the president of Harvard that Stephens discovered Nolen. In June 1905 he hired him to come to Charlotte and survey the site for the future Independence Park. For the survey work and both train rides between Charlotte and Boston the Park and Tree Commission compensated Nolen only $25.19 Stephens ultimately made the trip worth far more, however, in the coming years. Stephens paid Nolen to design a landscape plan for his new lot in Piedmont Park and later advised other men in Piedmont Realty as well as those on the Board of Aldermen to follow the same beautifying course.20 Stephens hired Nolen to design the grounds of his Kanuga Lake resort, today an Episcopal retreat. He also helped Nolen gain commissions from his alma mater the University of North Carolina in 1917 and from his adopted hometown of Asheville in 1922.21 Stephens believed in the sermons Nolen preached and when he made plans for his new neighborhood development of Myers Park, Nolen was again his man.

Nolen's name is not only one that echoes through Charlotte's planning history but one that resounds through the history of America's planning tradition. His career would come to include over 450 projects, including comprehensive plans for 29 cities, and 27 plans for "new towns." He would eventually help to found professional organizations such as the American Society of Planning Officials and the American Planning Institute.22 When he came to Charlotte, however, in June of 1905 he had little to his name but a precocious ambition and a capricious past. Having graduated from the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School in 1893, he worked for ten years as the executive secretary for the American Society for the Extension of University Teaching, an institution that made higher education available to the working class through night courses. His early career could also be said to have matched public service with aesthetics. During college he worked summers as a superintendent at Onteora Park, a resort in the Catskills known for art, music and drama.23 From 1902 to 1903 he studied at the University of Munich and left Europe fascinated with public art, parks and architecture. He turned to city planning believing that it would be a better way to improve urban conditions and enrolled in Harvard's School of Landscape Architecture in 1903.24 The profession of planning was so new that this was the most viable option.

Nolen wanted to bring a civilizing force to America through better planning. His inspiration may have come from the Garden City experiments he saw in Great Britain while in Europe. Garden Cities were self sufficient towns located well outside the major metropolises in England. Incorporating distinct residential, commercial and industrial spaces, a Garden City was tied together by a system of interconnecting parks and greenways. His years in Massachusetts also taught him something of the old New England town structure distinguished by a common and radiating streets. His mission was to bring the amenities of the American City to a more natural and humane town environment:

As compared with such repugnant factors as the rush hours, the indecent crowding in the subway jams and blockades, the congestion of street traffic, the slums, the vermin that invade even the better districts, the crime, how superior are living conditions in the small city or town, where the air is clean and the beautiful country lies at hand!25

 

He brought this ideology to each of his projects and by 1911 was ready to do so with Myers Park.

For Stephens, Myers Park was his greatest business venture to date and ultimately it would become his finest legacy.26 Through his new joint stock company, the Stephens Company, the young real estate mogul independently financed the entire project. The company was incorporated on February 27, 1911 with a capital stock of $25,000. The three partners Stephens, Word Wood, a college friend and associate with Wachovia Bank, and A. J. Draper, an executive with the Southern Power Company,27 shared equal amounts of stock. Not five months later did the Stephens Company take action when local planter, and not coincidentally Stephens' father-in-law, Jack Springs Myers transferred 738 acres of land southeast of the city to the corporation for slightly over $2.3 million. Not only was $3000 per acre a steal of a price but Myers did not even demand that the amount be paid in full until the individual lots were sold. Stephens and Wood in the same year negotiated a partnership with industrialist and publisher Daniel A. Tompkins to become partners in the Charlotte Observer in order to aid in publicity. The company not only paved its own roads and built its own sewer but also sold the sewer back to the town for over $2,900.28

For Nolen, the development of Myers Park was a tremendous project and plan. Though the man would eventually take on over 450 such projects, this one came early in his career and proved to be a masterpiece in suburban design. If anything, Myers Park fully expressed Nolen's ambitions of creating a civilizing environment through careful urban planning. What he created in the Park was a suburb that provided the affluent a private and almost secluded residence but in an atmosphere which promoted, at least within Myers Park itself, a communal lifestyle. The almost paradoxical mission was accomplished through the street plan as well as through plentiful green spaces.

Figure 3: Nolen's 1911 plan for the streets and lots of Myers Park called for a dramatic entrance gate for the streetcars. Nolen exercised the same detail in his drawings for hundred of other projects around the nation. 

In laying out the streets of Myers Park, Nolen created what has been described as, "a giant cul-de-sac."29 It is a neighborhood that turns in on its self. The reasons for designing the grand boulevard Queens Road to follow the gentle outline of a lollipop are many. In one way it added to the private character of the estate. There was only one true entrance and exit to the neighborhood; at the monolithic gates through which Hawthorne Lane instantly changed its name to Queens. Within the confines of these stone portals, however, no homeowner was more than a few blocks from the trolley line that ran down the center of this parkway. Moreover, this plan provided a simple solution to the problem of how to get the trolleys back into town. And there was beauty within the plan because as a wanderer ventured into the interior of this neighborhood, like branches off the trunk of a tree, the streets became narrower and narrower. Queens Road had a width of 110 feet whereas Edgehill Road along an interior park was a mere 40 feet in width. The varying degrees of width gave the main roads a character of grandeur and the residential streets one of seclusion.30

Just as instrumental in the overall spirit conveyed in Myers Park was the landscape design. Streets were designed to accent the topography. Neither a gridiron nor a collection of "meaningless curved streets," these asphalt paths followed gentle curves in the lay of the land. All streets were shaded by a variety of hardwoods, elms, oaks, tulips, etc., and depending upon the width of the street more landscaping was added. Nolen wanted no lot further than two blocks from a playground or park area. Thus parks were included in the design. Edgehill Park, little more than a landscaped strip along the banks of a small stream that ran into Sugar Creek, was what Nolen envisioned running throughout the entire neighborhood as a system of greenways. These bands of landscaping would provide the same social force as roadways, compelling fellow Charlotteans to meet and greet one another. In other places in the plan spaces were just left free from development. What was originally Jack Myers' front lawn, and considered by many to be the original Myers' Park, was left as a green space surrounded by Hermitage, Ardsley and Providence Roads.

Nolen exhibited all the anal tendencies of a socially and environmentally concerned Progressive. Where trees were lacking, he made them appear. In the first year of construction and development, 100 trees 6 to 10 inches in diameter were transplanted and only 1 died.31  As in many affluent suburbs in America, the Stephens Company wrote restrictions into the deeds of Myers Park. These measures included the restrictions against non-Caucasians purchasing lots and minimums on the cost of future homes but also, under the direction of Nolen, included lot specifications. All lots had to be a minimum of half an acre, the building line of a home had to be at least 40 but no more than 80 feet back from the street, and no fences were allowed in front yards. Nolen in these restrictions wanted to achieve a series of landscaped green banks along the roadways. The front lawns of every homeowner would blend into a common greenway for all to share and enjoy. While the house and perhaps the backyard were private realms, he explained that, "the street and the great out-of-doors assuredly stand for the brotherhood of man and its unity with nature." Even if the front lawns were to engender brotherhood, this planner wanted to see it done right. Nolen's office willingly offered to any homebuyer free of cost a landscape design for his specific lot.32

Financial success was the reward for the business sense and immaculate planning put into Stephens and Nolen's creation. Most significant was the change created in the home buying market. While the prosperous and elite among Charlotteans had always preferred the main streets of downtown or large boulevards in Dilworth for their residences, Myers Park attracted the wealthiest men in the Piedmont to its quiet lanes and drives nestled within. Only a generation before, the bankers and planters of the town had their large homes on Trade or Brevard Streets within the grid. Jack Myers himself did not even live on his farm property regularly but kept a residence downtown.33 By 1920, however, a Myers Park neighborhood directory would have shown that such a trend had changed. The new men buying lots represented the current power brokers in the real estate business, McAden, Lambeth and Stephens, in the region's textile industry, Springs, Johnston and Clark, and in the new Southern Power Company, Duke, Cocke and Burkholder.34 The home buying that took place in Myers Park represented a new preference for seclusion, for suburbia and for green spaces throughout the city.

With the completion of much of Myers Park by 1916, Charlotte was clearly coming into its own in the Carolinas. Nearing 50,000 in population, the city was experiencing a growth rate higher than ever before seen. Potential for growth of the city's industrial, commercial, residential and green space was high. In a decision that fully embraced this spirit, the Chamber of Commerce hired John Nolen to return to Charlotte in 1917 to conduct a civic survey followed by a comprehensive plan.35 It was clear that new growth was occurring on all borders and was changing the city shape. Since the construction of Dilworth, Charlotteans had forsaken the gridiron as a means of organization and understandability. For just as long, the city had struggled to provide public utilities or transportation to new developments. Nolen's survey collected and mapped data on existing land use, population densities, racial patterns, industrial location, transit corridors, land values, parks, etc. Furthermore it provided preliminary plans for a future downtown civic plaza, a system of interconnecting greenways, and outer belt road, ironically ideas that have come to fruition only in the last two decades.36 Together with a comprehensive plan, this data could have intelligently guided Charlotte's growth well into the twentieth century.

In a decision that completely abandoned the spirit of the day, the Chamber later failed to appropriate the money for the second half of the project, Nolen's comprehensive plan. The ideas developed in the survey such as an inner-urban network of greenways, radiating boulevards, and belt road were left on the table. Consequently, Charlotte did not devise a comprehensive plan until well after the Second World War in 1960. Green space was lost to private development as more suburbs seized creek banks and divided them into lots.

The case of Nolen's rejection was less a case of decisive action rather than a situation of complacent apathy. City officials, quite unlike the entrepreneurial Stephens, were reluctant to consider, much less pay for, long range urban planning. Relations between Nolen and the Chamber were often a one-sided dialogue. Beginning with the civic survey, Nolen had problems securing payment from the Charlotte leaders. In one letter to a Chamber member complaining of over $1900 in withheld travel and drafting expenses, Nolen exclaimed, "I cannot believe that this is the conception of fair business dealing of the Charlotte Chamber of Commerce, or of any other Chamber of Commerce."37 The Chamber settled their accounts with Nolen in March of 1918 and received their copy of the survey in August.38 Nolen did not receive word back from Charlotte until the following February when all he was told was that the Chamber had a new president and there had been some delays.39 Communication between the two parties stopped entirely between 1919 and 1922. In September of that year, he wrote to Clarence Kuester, then Secretary of the Chamber, expressing his hopes then that "conditions appear to be ripe for action."40  In further correspondence, Kuester expressed his reluctance to the proposal of a civic plan. When Nolen sent photos of his work for Kuester to present to the Chamber, the Charlottean sent the vapid reply, "I will present this to my Committee again; do not know what success I shall have. It is slow and hard work to get them to catch vision. I may not be able to do anything at all with them, but will do my best. Up to this time I have not gained much headway on the position."41  Correspondence again dropped off after this point. The rejection of Nolen thus appears to have been due to lack of interest and insight rather than decided disapproval. Genuine interest in planning simply did not exist within the minds of the public officials.

This rejection of professional planning by the city closed this period of innovative growth. The period of the New South was over and perhaps the region had become too comfortable with its own prosperity. A city once so "awake" now seemed to nod off at the signs of unchecked growth. Nolen wrote in a 1924 letter to Kuester, "I think Charlotte is slipping so far as city planning goes. There are examples of errors that are costly and more or less irremediable. Other errors will follow without a city plan."42 The shortsightedness of the city leaders in 1918 prevented the city from acquiring any guidelines to regulate growth. It was the city's fate to be consumed by generic suburbs that only mirrored the innovations of this era. This predicament tied the hands of the young Park and Tree Commission forcing it to compete with other wealthy developers for park real estate. The cases of Dilworth and Myers Park do show how green space first evolved in the Queen City through strong private leadership and careful attention to ideology. The rejection of Nolen and professional neighborhood planning had a profound effect on the evolution of the Charlotte landscape. Green space would certainly not disappear from the Queen City, but to continue under the ideology of men like Latta, Nolen and Stephens was nearly impossible. New life was eventually found in the public park.