Streets you can’t beat — or maybe you can

“When longtime resident Fred Helms, a 93-year-old lawyer, turns onto Queens Road West, he draws an appreciative breath and announces, ‘We are now entering …  the most beautiful residential street in the world.’ ”

— From “Charlotte’s Magnificent Mile” (Sept. 17, 1989)

(Beautiful, but not indestructible. Less than a week after this story appeared in the Observer, Hurricane Hugo littered Queens Road West with snapped-off willow oaks. And since then the boulevard’s aging canopy has endured “Hugo on Ice” [2002] and continuing assault by cankerworms.)

I was  reminded of Fred Helms’ grand claim by the recognition recently given New Bern’s Middle Street by the American Planning Association. (Hat tip to Mary Newsom.)

My own short list of North Carolina’s great streets tilts toward the less pristine and preserved, even the somewhat seedy. This weekend in Salisbury, for instance, I enjoyed wandering the idiosyncratic old storefronts of Main and Innes  — antique shops, election headquarters, coin shop, hardware stores, wig shop, used book stores, wine shops, famous hot dog stand, drugstore, shoe repair shop, lots of restaurants with no apparent dreams of being franchised — and not a Crate & Fitch or Abercrombie & Barrel to be seen.

So what’s your idea of a great street?

4 thoughts on “Streets you can’t beat — or maybe you can”

  1. I can’t remember the name of the road, but my favorite one is in Saluda. Right as you enter onto the main street, there is an unpaved road off to the left. It actually follows a railroad and then a creek for quite a while. I looked on Google Maps. I think it is called Pearson Falls Road–but I’m not sure. I just know it when I come to it. It is definitely one of–if not THE– prettiest streets in the state.

  2. Kevin.
    From Charlotte…. Get off I-85 S at Hwy 74 toward Shelby.
    Thru Shelby, then go on 30+ miles (?) to take the Saluda exit (8-10 miles BEYOND the 167-Hwy 9-Lake Lure exit). Turn left over the 74 bridge and go a short way to 176 (a ‘T’) and turn right thru Saluda till you come to the Green River BBQ on your left (just after the rr bridge). You’ll have to turn around to get back to the Pearson Falls road, but you won’t be disappointed. The side-dishes are the feature, but the BBQ ain’t bad either!
    If you’re at BAC stadium, i’m guessing you’re an hour-and-three-quarters from some great, great eats!
    BTW, i have no connection w/ the place other than my addiction.

  3. I have no doubt that the Saluda road is gorgeous, but the writers – like many in these parts – confuse ‘road’ with ‘street.’ A road is in the country (or the suburbs). A street is in the city.

    At the moment my favorite street in Charlotte is probably North Davidson Street through NoDa. Fayetteville Street in Raleigh is much improved – and interesting to walk down. Franklin Street in Chapel Hill is a classic, although the economics of the market have made it into almost a caricature of its former self.

    You’ll know a great street when you’re on it and you realize you want to stop and walk down the sidewalk, and maybe look in all the store windows. East Kingston Ave. in Charlotte is also a great street.

    And thanks for the Hat Tip.

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