Making Connections, Charlotte Area Transit System
Charlotte Area Transit System
I designed the windscreen art for the six stations of the Charlotte Streetcar Starter Project. To date, 11 windscreens have been installed, with the remaining one planned for future expansion of the line. The windscreens were fabricated by FGD of Suwanee, GA. Each windscreen is 6’h x 13’w x ½”d. They are made of tempered and laminated float glass with direct print black pigment and color film.
My stations go along Trade St. through the busy center of the city, past historic areas, the Time Warner Cable Arena, the Charlotte Transportation Center, the Government District, Central Piedmont Community College and more. The artwork for each station is unique, reflecting what the station area is about.
I did a lot of research for this truly site-specific project. I worked in many archives and also personal collections, and with over 50 different individuals or organizations. This included the Charlotte Mecklenburg Library, the UNC Charlotte Library Archives, the Levine Museum of the New South, the Second Ward High School Foundation, and the Elizabeth Neighborhood Association.
I used a variety of maps in these windscreens, including historic Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps of the city at different points in time. The old maps make people stop and think about the area where they are standing at that very moment. For example, the McDowell Street windscreen is full of material about the long-gone Black neighborhood called “Brooklyn”, demolished during Urban Renewal. The 1929 map, along with the text and photos, honors what used to be.
Throughout my project there are lots of documents and manuscripts including handwritten letters, election returns, and musical notation. And every station has some kind of reference to Charlotte’s historic streetcars.
Every station also has a natural element – there’s the great blue heron that lives at Little Sugar Creek, the hornets’ nest that is the city symbol, the dogwood flower, the cotton plant at the CTC-Arena station, where the old cotton platform used to be, and the 100 year old willow oak trees that line the streets of the Elizabeth neighborhood.
“Making Connections” refers to the experience of traveling, and trying to make your connection or transfer, and also to the unexpected connections and convergences that are present in my designs.
The artwork is owned by Charlotte Art-in-Transit.
Photos copyright JoAnn Sieburg Baker, as noted. Other photos are by James and Nancy O'Neil and Britt Melancon.