CHARLOTTE, N.C. — A high school project led one Charlotte man on a journey to documenting the city’s most historic signs.

Ten years ago Christopher Lawing decided he would begin taking pictures of different signs around Charlotte for a photography assignment.

“With my love of Charlotte history, with my love of color and design, and just history in general, and the stories I’d grown up with as an eighth generation native Charlottean, taking pictures of the signs were a natural kind of evolution of how this project were to go,” Lawing says.

Out of that came the Charlotte Signs Project.

It’s been a decade now, and Lawing has dedicated his time to taking pictures and learning the history behind the city’s most memorable signs, like the Ratcliffe Flowers in Uptown.

“The business has moved, the building has moved, but the sign is still here as a tribute to what once was,” he says. “(It’s) a tribute to Charlotte’s history and a true preservation achievement in addition to our cultural heritage that is celebrated by everyone today."

Lawing has taken thousands of pictures over the years and even published a book of his work in 2017.

“So many people have reacted to these signs in different ways,” he says. “Some people have cried over seeing a certain sign. Some people laugh over certain memories, but it’s a time machine that transports them back to when they were little kids or with their family.”

The Charlotte Signs Project started out as a quick high school assignment, but it’s developed into an opportunity for Lawing to keep the city’s rich history alive and well.

“We have a lot of heritage,” he says. “We have a lot of history that is still here, we just have to look for it. It’s all around us, and I want everybody to be able to see that, and to celebrate it, and to help preserve it for the future.”

You can learn more about the Charlotte Signs Project or purchase Lawing’s book here.