Historic Washington Heights is one of our newest partners. Located just north of Johnson C. Smith University, this historic neighborhood was established in 1913 and was built primarily for middle-income African-American residents. However, unlike most communities around Charlotte at the time, Washington Heights imposed no race restrictions. The neighborhood was far enough away from the hustle and bustle of Charlotte that it could offer country living to its residents and a nice sanctuary for children, but it was close enough for an easy work commute to the big city. This neighborhood offered the best of both worlds.
In the 1930s and 40s, the town experienced an upsurge of economic growth. Most of the wooden single-story stores were replaced with brick and concrete structures. While the famous streetcar service was discontinued in 1938, Washington Heights is still known today for being the only African-American streetcar suburb. Having streetcar lines is just one of many unique things about the early Washington Heights neighborhood. Many of the streets that run through Washington Heights display the names of some very prominent leaders that were known to be very influential in the establishment and continued growth of this neighborhood. The neighborhood was named in honor of Booker T. Washington, a national black leader.
The neighborhood still boasts older 1910’s and 20’s dwellings. It also offers quiet comfortable living for single-family homes, an easy commute to Charlotte, grassy areas for children, and a very nice park for all ages to come to and just relax. Last, but not least, is the famous Excelsior Club. The Excelsior Club has been present from the early beginnings of the neighborhood and still prepares a very nice meal and hosts a good crowd for fun and fellowship Tuesday through Saturday. CHARP has worked with Historic Washington Heights primarily through our partnership with the Honors College at UNCC. The students have been busy working with neighborhood leadership to document the history of Washington Heights and have created an impressive website filled with oral histories, photos, and a documentary about the neighborhood.