Columnist Jack Claiborne in The Charlotte Observer wrote in 1973, “Four years ago a story in a Sunday edition of The Charlotte Observer asked, ‘Can Dilworth be saved?’ The answer then from local real estate dealers was, ‘No’.” In subsequent years many residents have continued to ask the same question, reflecting the always fragile nature of inner city neighborhoods.
Beginning in 1891 as Charlotte’s first street car neighborhood, Dilworth was a special place to live-but by the 1960’s Dilworth was fighting to overcome years of blight and decay. In the late 60’s, the original Dilworth Community Development Association was formed to prevent further deterioration and encourage a focus on our inner city neighborhood at a time when city planners were focused on the suburbs. From its loosely organized roots, the DCDA grew to serve the larger Dilworth neighborhood, electing its first group of officers and board members 1971. It has been working for Dilworth ever since. Since that time the DCDA worked to see housing codes enforced, zoning and land use modifications made that were appropriate to an inner city neighborhood, and rallied for preservation and rejuvenation of the neighborhood’s rich store of houses and commercial buildings. In 1973, the Dilworth Jubilee began as a celebration of the diverse place known as Dilworth. The Dilworth Home Tour was an outgrowth of the Jubilee, and, as a 1973 editorial column in The Charlotte News said, “It was not just an effort to show off, but to share; the home tour, for example, was intended to not only display the products of renovation, but to pass on the secrets and to perhaps infect visitors with the enthusiasm to try it. The City was invited to see a work very much in progress. The celebration was to highlight the revitalization of Dilworth. The DCDA continued to work to reduce the conflict between commercial development and our neighborhood, to encourage political activism, to ensure that elected officials understand the importance of preserving the Dilworth Community, and to work to continue the development of ‘community’ within this special neighborhood which has a unique place in Charlotte’s history. In view of the DCDA’s achievements in restoring and (re-)developing Dilworth since its deterioration in the 1970s the board decided it was time to remove “development” from the name of the association in 2014 so that now we are the DCA: the Dilworth Community Association.