By deposits, Charlotte NC is the country’s second-largest banking center, and it shows in the way downtown has developed, both in the scale of the office towers and the typical big-company-town strategy for anchoring that downtown.

I was there for the Strong Towns meeting, which overlaps with the Congress of New Urbanism, and the location was ironic, for the downtown has so much of the big chunky, auto-oriented development that both organizations rail against. There’s the usual collection here of big public projects, including a convention center, the Nascar Hall of Fame, and an arena, ballpark, and stadium to draw in the suburban residents on nights and weekends.

The private development is chunky and auto-oriented as well. This photo shows a downtown development with a “Texas donut” apartment tower in the middle for young finance workers flanked by mid-line hotels serving the convention center. A surface lot at the base serves mid-salary bank employees willing to walk several blocks to work, while big streets get the cars in and out each day.