CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- The Democratic Convention might be Charlotte's biggest stage yet. But the tidy city of gleaming skyscrapers built with money during the flush years of banking is more in its middle age, trying to reinvent itself without cutting all the ties to its big cash past.
Charlotte is certainly New South, a progressive city where Republicans backed mass transit and Democrats assured banking barons encountered no obstacles to making the city the second-biggest banking center in the nation.
But Charlotte isn't a utopia. One in six residents live below the poverty level. Its unemployment rate is one of the highest among the 50 biggest cities in the U.S.
Charlotte leaders say its model is no longer grow-at-all-costs Atlanta, but Portland, Ore., which combines growth with environmental responsibility.