NoDa in the 90s


August is when summer really hits in NoDa, and when the temperature seems to always be at 90 or above, the heat can feel quite exasperating. Back when the neighborhood was first founded in the early 20th century, people here didn’t have ceiling fans or air-conditioning at home, nor did they have the nice big trees that give us shade. Yet they endured, and maybe we can learn a bit from them to help us get through these hot days and nights.

Here are six tips for how to survive when the mercury soars into the 90s in NoDa:

  1. Get some cooler clothing. Everyone knows that NoDa was originally built around three textile mills, and one way to beat the heat is to dress in light natural fabrics like the cotton gingham that was produced at the mills. Check out Pura Vida Worldly Art, Bartique, and Jade Sky for some new duds that will help you both feel and look cooler in the summer heat.

  2. Enjoy a sweet frozen treat. Back in the day, people used to flock to Hand’s Pharmacy to buy ice-cold watermelons they stored in their big walk-in refrigerator. Sadly, those aren’t available anymore, but you can stop by PopBar and the newly opened Jeni’s Ice Cream for a delicious cold treat.

  3. Take a dip in the pool. On a sweltering day, nothing beats a dip in the water. Now Granny Smith’s old bathhouse on Alexander Road and the pond at North Davidson and 37th are long gone, but the pool at the Johnston YMCA is still open daily. That pool was actually the first de-segregated pool in the city, so take a moment to thank those who fought for our civil rights before diving in!

  4. Go play some softball. Sometimes the worst thing about the heat is not having anything else to do. Back when the mills were open, one of the neighborhood’s favorite summer pastimes was to go watch the mill-sponsored baseball teams play in the lot behind the Highland Mill. What would be better than taking in a ball game on a warm summer evening? Why, playing a game with the NoDa 16” Softball and Social Club! Catch up with them every Monday at 6 pm at North Charlotte Park. Sometimes they’ll even bring out special rules like putting a “slip n’ slide” between 3rd base and home plate.

  5. Drink an ice-cold beverage. One of the few luxuries a mill worker had while working a hot shift in the summer was taking a break to drink an ice-cold Coke. And a cold beverage is still one of the best ways to beat the heat. Of course, NoDa has no shortage of options of places to go for a cold beverage. We encourage you to explore to find your favorites but allow us to recommend three of ours. Sanctuary Pub serves the coldest PBR’s in the neighborhood. Idlewilds expert mixologist will whip you up a tiki drink to match your most tropical dreams with fresh fruit juices and hand-carved ice. The neighborhood favorite NoDaColada can only be found at the NoDa Company Store, and if you go on a Sunday, you might just get a free lunch to go with it too.

  6. Finally, if all else fails, and the heat just gets to be too much, well maybe then it’s just best to stay in your air-conditioned home. Turn on the fans, crack open a bottle of wine, and get on social media to gripe about how the neighborhood was so much cooler back then when you first started coming here—you know, back in November.

Article by Eric Hoenes. Photo by Ariel Perry.