Corner of Trade and Tryon Sts., Charlotte
Independence Square, or “The Square” as it’s known, is one of the most recognizable landmarks in Uptown and serves as a popular spot to meet friends before going out on the town. The intersection has been important in Charlotte ’s history for generations. It was part of a Native American trading path between Charleston, South Carolina, and the Cherokee Nation and was used as a major migration route for European colonies migrating from the north to the south.
Prior to becoming Independence Square, the intersection was known as Osborne Corner. The John Irwin House, named for local merchant and town commissioner John Irwin, stood on the northwest corner of the square from 1818 to 1908, when it was demolished to make way for Charlotte’s first skyscraper, a 12-story building designed by renowned architect Frank P. Milburn.
The steel-frame building was owned by the Charlotte Realty Company and called “The Realty Building” until it was taken over by the Independence Trust Company and its name changed to “The Independence Building.” The building was listed on the National Register of Historic Places. It was leveled in 1981 to make way for the current building, 101 Independence Center.
Though the Independence Trust Company occupied the building for decades, the intersection doesn’t take its name from the longstanding corporate tenant. It was named in honor of the signing of the Mecklenburg Declaration of Independence  on May 20, 1775, declaring freedom from England a full year before the Continental Congress signed the Declaration of Independence in Philadelphia.
Artist Raymond Kaskey of Washington State was commissioned to create the sculptures that tower over each of the four corners of the intersection. The sculptures are titled Commerce, Transportation, Industry, and Future. A gold miner spilling money on the head of a banker symbolizes Commerce; a railroad worker holding a hammer represents Transportation; a woman in a bonnet denoting the early mills in the area is the image for Industry. She has a child peeking out from beneath her skirts, which is said to suggest child labor. Future is signified by the figure of a woman holding a child. The sculptures were commissioned in 1983 to commemorate the completion of 101 Independence Center.