Join Charlotte's celebration of neighborhoods May 2-4

When you get right down to it, any city or town is built of neighborhoods – block by block and street by street. That formula is part of the magic behind the idea of Jane’s Walks, an international movement that encourages people to get out for a neighborhood walk on the first weekend in May.

The idea honors Jane Jacobs, a non-planner, non-architect, non-bureaucrat whose writing and activism turned mid-20th-century thinking about cities on its head. Her 1961 book, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, which at the time was skewered by planning professions, today is a standard text in many university classrooms.

For the past two years, PlanCharlotte.org, an online publication of the UNC Charlotte Urban Institute, has sponsored Jane Jacobs Walks as a way to encourage residents to get outside and get to know their places a little better.

This year, Charlotte will be home to a festival of Jane’s Walks the weekend of May 2-4. The program’s expansion is made possible by a partnership with Janeswalk.org and the Municipal Art Society of New York, with funding assistance from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.

Click here to read more about the Jane’s Walk festival in Charlotte, San Jose, Calif.; Akron, Ohio; Philadelphia and Detroit. And to read about the 2012 and 2013 Jane Jacobs Walks, see In Jane Jacobs’ footsteps, exploring what's ‘urban’  and Jane Jacobs walkers explored Charlotte’s trendy, and not-so-trendy areas

Volunteers are encouraged to organize walks in their neighborhoods. But to get everyone started, at least three walks are already scheduled in Charlotte (Update May 1: Six walks are scheduled):

  • Know NoDa, with Tom Hanchett. 6 p.m. Friday, May 2. This walk through the NoDa neighborhood with Tom Hanchett, historian at Levine Museum of the New South, is co-sponsored with the Charlotte Museum of History. It is fully booked.
  • Enderly Park Neighborhood Walk. 9 a.m. Saturday May 3. This 90-minute walk explores the historic west Charlotte neighborhood of Enderly Park. It begins and ends at the Bette Rae Thomas Recreation Center, 2921 Tuckaseegee Road. It is free and open to the public, no registration needed.
  • Mr. Hare's Nature Walk. 9 a.m. Saturday May 3. This three-hour walk starts at North Tryon Street and Mellow Drive. It is a clean-up along a nature trail being built beside Little Sugar Creek in the Hidden Valley neighborhood. Walkers will help with trail clean-up. Wear comfortable clothes and shoes that can get dirty. It is free and open to the public, no registration needed.
  • Westside Park District walk. 10:30 a.m. Saturday, May 3. This walk will pass through  a series of public spaces linked by bike routes and a greenway, on the west side of the city from Arbor Glen to Revolution Park. The walk leader is city planner John Howard. For more information, click here. There is no cost, but bring some money if you’d like to eat lunch at the golf clubhouse.
  • Munching Tour of Central Avenue. 1:30-3:30 p.m. Saturday, May 3. Explore ethnic eateries in East Charlotte with Tom Hanchett, historian at Levine Museum of the New South.  For more information, click here.  There is no cost for the walk, but bring cash if you want to buy any food at the eateries. Registration is required for this walk. (Update May 1: This walk is fully booked with a waiting list.)
  • Designs on South End. 3:30 p.m. Sunday, May 4. UNC Charlotte urban design professor David Walters will cast his expert eye on Charlotte’s poster-child neighborhood for transit-oriented development. As you walk, you’ll learn the small details that can turn a “development” into a “place" while exploring South End's designs and interactions with public spaces. For more information, click here. There is no cost and no registration is required.

Anyone who’s interested is welcome to volunteer to host a walk. Just go to janeswalk.org, register, and start adding your walk. Or if you prefer, contact one of these UNC Charlotte Urban Institute staffers: