Digital North Carolina Blog

Digital North Carolina Blog

This blog is maintained by the staff of the North Carolina Digital Heritage Center and features highlights from the collections at DigitalNC, an online library of primary sources from institutions across North Carolina.

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Discover Charlotte – A City in Motion

film title printed over charlotte sunrise

In partnership with the Charlotte Mecklenburg Library we’re pleased to share this 1968 film entitled Discover Charlotte – A City in Motion. Created by the Charlotte Chamber of Commerce and narrated by famous journalist and North Carolinian Charles Kurault, this promotional film boasts about Charlotte’s industrial and economic growth.

air traffic controller in tower with view of tarmac and planeIn color with an upbeat soundtrack, Discover Charlotte lauds the motion of Charlotteans, beginning with a look at the city’s role in trucking, rail, and air transport. Turning to the banking industry, the film shows people processing large amounts of checks and cash and using adding machines at lightning speed. Shots of the Charlotte Record newspaper offices include coverage of Record employees learning via Teletype that Gene Payne, the Record’s cartoonist, had won a Pulitzer. You’ll see pilots and passengers at the Charlotte Douglas airport, Arthur “Guitar Boogie” and the Crackerjacks playing at the WBT station, computers whirring in a new data processing center, workers constructing a Duke power complex, and researchers examining newly woven textiles.

Most of the film features scenes of middle and upper class white Charlotteans in work, social, or religious settings.  In Charlotte, there is “a church for every man” and there are brief views of a number of religious institutions including Covenant Presbyterian Church, Dilworth Methodist Church, Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Cathedral. Other events and activities shown in the film include

  • Festival in the Park at Freedom Park,pit stop with race car being gassed up and tires changed
  • the Mint Museum Drama Guild rehearsing a play,
  • a wedding reception for an unnamed white couple, 
  • a Carolina v. NC State basketball game,
  • a Charlotte Checkers hockey game, and 
  • a NASCAR stock car race.

There are also views of two university campuses, Johnson C. Smith and the relatively new UNC-Charlotte.

Filmed during the Civil Rights movement, there are only brief allusions to racial tensions. There is a snippet of white police officers talking about “riding with Negro officers,” which cuts to a group of black men and officers talking about a local march. The end of the film describes Charlotte’s participation in the Model Cities initiative and its “total attack on poverty,” efforts that were meant to eradicate urban blight that, as in many cities in America, ended up displacing and/or destroying minority-owned homes and businesses. The film ends with drawings of a planned expressway, widened streets, parks, new hotels and high rises.

This is one of a number of items Charlotte Mecklenburg Library has shared on DigitalNC. You can see more on their contributor page or learn more about their North Carolina collections on their website.


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