John Montgomery Belk (1969-1977)
John Belk was Mayor of Charlotte longer than any other Charlottean. He served eight and a half years. Like Stan Brookshire, Belk was elected four times, but the N.C. Legislature moved city elections from May to November causing Belk to serve an extra six months. Prior to his becoming Mayor, Belk was the President of the Charlotte Chamber of Commerce.
A son of William Henry Belk, founder of Belk Department Stores, Belk ran Belk Stores Services which handled the buying and merchandising aspects of the family business. He later became head of the entire Belk enterprise. Belk served in both World War II and in Korea.
During his Administration:
- The City's first Convention Center was built at the corner of College an East Trade streets.
- The uptown building boom was underway during Belk's administration. The skyline of Charlotte changed many times during his tenure.
- Douglas Municipal Airport expanded its runways.
- SouthPark opens to the public on February 12, 1970. The regional shopping center is located on 100 acres of land in southeast Charlotte that was formerly part of the Governor Morrison farm.
- President Richard M. Nixon visited Charlotte to honor Dr. Billy Graham.
- Douglas Municipal Airport experiences its first major airplane crash when an Eastern Airline flight from Charleston, South Carolina crashes into farmland three miles short of the runway. Pilot error is blamed for the 72 people that are killed.
- Charlotte achieved a AAA credit rating from national rating institutions which gave the City the lowest rate when borrowing money.
- Court-ordered busing to achieve racial balance in the schools was accomplished peacefully. Charlotte became known nationally as the "City that Made Integration Work."
- President Gerald Ford visited Charlotte for Mecklenburg Declaration Day in 1975, the bi-centennial celebration.
- Several annexations took place during the Belk years which changed Charlotte's population from 240,000 to 320,000.
- Uptown Charlotte revitalization began with urban renewal of the historic Fourth Ward area in 1975.