GTA 6 City of the Week is a weekly article series here on GTA BOOM. Every week, we will evaluate a different city in the United States, gauging how well it would fit GTA 6 as a setting. First though, a recap of the week's GTA V news...
Following last week's not entirely serious entry, we're veering back to the larger American cities out there. In an effort to make things more interesting, we've decided to try and pinpoint cities which would make good candidates on first glance. That said, over the course of our examination, certain disadvantages may arise. As such, allow us to introduce our newest contestant for the setting of GTA 6!
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Also known as the Queen's Nest, Charlotte is the largest city in the state of North Carolina, the second largest in the southeast, and the third fastest growing major city in the country. Though the largest in the state, Charlotte is not the capital. Just over 800,000 Charlotteans live in the city itself, with the surrounding metropolitan area being home to over 2,5 million souls.
Charlotte is located inland off the east coast, falling on the southern side of the country. Relatively far from the east coast super-region between Boston and Washington D.C., Charlotte is the biggest city located within a pretty damn large radius, making it a local regional hub in terms of politics and economics. It's distance from the sea is a boon in many ways. It is still close enough to act as a transportation and distribution hotspot for goods coming into the ports nearby, while it is far enough to be unscathed by the storms and the hurricanes which ravage the coast.
Usually, at least. Though rarely, Charlotte has been hit by hurricanes in the past, causing significant damage to the unprepared city. That said, to this day it acts as a safe haven to citizens of both North and South Carolina whenever the coastal areas are being battered by some maelstrom.
The skyline of Charlotte falls into that odd category where, when looking at it, you'll notice some pretty distinct buildings which could act as vantage points for recognition, however overall the city isn't overall that well known abroad to be instantly recognizable by its cityscape alone.
The city is home to a large number of museums, however interestingly it is the largest metropolitan area in the USA without a zoo. That said, there is an initiative underway to mend this, however it has been progressing slowly. Other than the zoo, Charlotte isn't missing any entertainment facilities which are expected of a big city, and also possesses many theatres.
Charlotte's economy is mostly based in banking. As the second largest financial center in the country after New York City, Charlotte is a major hub for banking across the nation. Bank of America, which is incidentally also second on the list of biggest banks, is headquartered in the city, as was Wachovia before being acquired by Wells Fargo. The latter now operates countless offices in the city, and is the second largest employer.
Alongside financial services, Charlotte is also known for 9 Fortune 500 companies making their homes in the city, with Lowe's and Family Dollar among them. To add to the list of "Second biggest", Charlotte is also the second biggest Coca-Cola bottler in the nation.
From a geographic point of view, Charlotte could fare a lot better. Now, you might have noticed that in recent installments of City of the Week, we started looking at larger areas rather than the immediate surroundings of the subject city. This is because, as evidenced in GTA 5, the map would likely contain a large area of wilderness, giving each city a higher chance of scoring well in this regard.
Well, Charlotte is still pretty inland, however its relative proximity to the ocean is a boon. The landscape isn't all too varied, however if we're generous with the videogame magic and turn much of eastern North Carolina into an island, it could theoretically work as a map for a GTA game.
The proximity of other notable locations, like Raleigh, Fayetteville and Wilmington are also a bonus, and the large inlets and ravine-like bays to the east add some nice variety to the landscape. Speaking of Raleigh, we might make a full blown City of the Week article focusing on that city. We discussed how it would be interesting to have a multiple city setup like in San Andreas return in GTA 6, in which case the two cities would work well together.
Fun bit of trivia: Charlotte's mass transit system is called CATS. Not because the city administration loves domesticated felines (though we don't doubt that they do), but because it is the abbreviation of Charlotte Area Transit System. We're thinking the reason for wording and order in that name is on purpose.
Crime in Charlotte hits that sweet spot between being a decent place to live and being a decent candidate for a GTA 6 setting. Crime rates are a tad above national averages, with some rates increasing compared to the 2014 levels. Even so, the overall crime rate isn't too high.
Now, it is by no means nonexistent, however it is much lower than in some of the other cities we've looked at. In 2015, there were 60 homicides and the annual average of stolen vehicles is about 5,000. Now, obviously these numbers are way below what the average GTA player racks up in a game, but nonetheless they are high in real-life terms.
Crime is pretty spread out in the city, with the highest rates being in the northern part of the city, as steadily decreasing as you move southward. That said, the city center is safer than the southern extremes. If you keep in mind the typical big-city things like locking your doors, avoiding disreputable areas after nightfall and such (though who doesn't do this?) you'll be fine.
Obviously, average levels of gang activity and drug abuse typical of large cities applies to Charlotte too, though overall it is lower than what you would expect for a settlement of its size. Generally, gang related violence is restricted to gangs with few innocents becoming victims.
Unless you're an NPC in a GTA game. In that case you're screwed.
Unfortunately, Charlotte won't be scoring too many points in this regard. While the city might be well known to people who deal with banking and finance, or who live on the coast and often flee to Charlotte during storms, foreigners won't really recognize the city. The skyline, as we mentioned, won't exactly pop and immediately scream "Charlotte" at everyone who sees it.
That said, important buildings and landmarks include the Duke Energy Center, Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Arts + Culture, NASCAR Hall of Fame, Bechtler Museum of Modern Art and the ImaginOn Children's Theatre.
Charlotte once again falls into the category of blank slate cities. Not much about the city immediately suggests a given storyline, providing the writers at Rockstar a chance to explore various new ideas as opposed to following a given direction most apparently suggested by the city's profile.
Seeing as Charlotte's crime rates are floating around the medium mark, the story might revolve around the tale of an up-and-coming criminal trying to make a name for themselves by carving out an organised crime syndicate in Charlotte.
Then again, overall we'd say that the lack of a concrete story direction could be considered a negative, as usually when we reviewed cities that immediately gave us ideas for their plotlines based on characteristics fared better in this regard.
Pros: Decent crime rate, proximity of other cities
Cons: Poor recognition, lack of story potential, geography is a stretch.
While it is clear that the negatives in this regard are mounting against Charlotte, we're inclined to help it limp into the lower Bs. I guess so much for trying to target cities which will score well as a potential GTA 6 setting, right? While the crime rate suffices and some of the geographical factors are beneficial, the other criteria just aren't met, leaving Charlotte as a decidedly poor candidate for a GTA map.
Which city would you like to see next week?