This story has been shared from sister station News14.com
CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Many in Charlotte describe the upcoming Democratic National Convention as the biggest moment in the Queen City's history as the city will be under the national and international microscope like never before.
But Charlotte's success didn't happen overnight. It was fueled by century’s worth of big moments and big dreamers.
"I believe the city has come this way because we've had leaders that have pushed us this way,” Charlotte Mayor Anthony Foxx said.
In May 1775, historians believe Charlotte leaders declared their own local independence from Great Britain, more than a year before our fore fathers formally signed a national declaration.
"We were ruling ourselves from 1775 onwards,” Tom Cole of the Charlotte Mecklenburg Library said.
In the 1800s, Charlotte continued to blossom and diversify its economy through crops and the nation's largest gold rush outside of California.
"That brought us a mint where coins are made out of local gold. It brought us a railroad connection where farmers could bring their cotton to market," Cole said.
The exchange of gold currency later brought more banks to Charlotte near Trade and Tryon Street. It began as the merging of two trading paths and today, it's a symbol of power in the nation's second largest financial center.
"That's a part of our story of our city, working for tomorrow,” Foxx said.
World War I later transformed the city. The Dowd House and Camp Greene trained troops before they headed overseas, more than doubling the city's population.
"Camp Greene housed over 20,000 soldiers before they were sent over to France," former Charlotte Mayor Pat McCrory said.
Later in the 20th century, city leaders propelled Charlotte as a major player in the southeast by expanding the airport. Now, Charlotte-Douglas is the sixth busiest airport in the world.
“People questioned whether the airport was a wise expenditure at the time,” Foxx said. "I don’t think anyone would question that now.”
Charlotte got on the sports map when the city landed the state's first professional team, the Hornets, in 1988.
"That was a breakthrough,” Cole said. “That was a big deal, a banner headline. "Fireworks and celebration."
In the last 30 years, as population exploded, so did the center city. Investments in uptown, like light rail and Time Warner Cable Arena, gave Charlotte a much stronger case to host the 2012 DNC.
"It didn't by accident,” McCrory said. “It happened by strong leadership both in government and the private sector."
Once the convention is over, Foxx is excited about the Queen City's future potential.
"It will establish a new floor for us, that maybe one day we can host a Super Bowl or an Olympics or something like that,” he said.