Charlotte, North Carolina

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For other places or people named Charlotte, see Charlotte (disambiguation).
Charlotte, North Carolina
Charlotte City Logo. ©2005 Charlotte, NC
Location of Charlotte in Mecklenburg County, North Carolina
County Mecklenburg
Mayor Pat McCrory, (R)
 - Total
 - Water

629.0 km² (280.5 mi²)
1.6 km² (0.6 mi²) 0.25%

 - City Proper
 - Metropolitan
 - Density


Time zone Eastern: UTC-5


35°14' N
80°50' W

City of Charlotte Official Website

Charlotte is the largest city in North Carolina and is the 20th largest city in the United States. Nicknamed the Queen City, Charlotte is the county seat of Mecklenburg County6.

Charlotte is one of the fastest-growing cities in the nation and is also the second-largest banking center in the country, trailing only New York City in terms of headquartered assets. A resident of Charlotte is referred to as a Charlottean (shar-la-TEE-uhn).



Charlotte was founded in the mid-18th century at the intersection of two Indian trading paths, one of which ran north-south Great Wagon Road, and is followed closely today by U.S. Route 21, and a second that ran east-west along what is now modern-day Trade Street. In the early part of the 18th century, the Great Wagon Road led settlers of Scots-Irish and German descent from Pennsylvania into the Carolina foothills.

In 1755, early settler Thomas Polk built a home at the crossroads of an Indian trading path and the Great Wagon Road, which became the village of Charlotte Town, incorporated in 1768. The crossroads, perched atop a long rise in the piedmont landscape, is the heart of modern Uptown Charlotte. The trading path became Trade Street, and the Great Wagon Road was named Tryon Street, in honor of William Tryon, a royal governor of colonial North Carolina. The intersection of Trade and Tryon is known as The Square.

The village established by Polk, uncle of United States President James K. Polk, was named for Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz, the German wife of British King George III. The loyalty to King George and his consort was short-lived, however. On May 20, 1775, townsmen allegedly signed a proclamation that later became known as the Mecklenburg Declaration of Independence. A copy was sent, although never officially presented, to the Continental Congress a year later.

Though Thomas Jefferson would deny having borrowed content from the Mecklenburg declaration, his 1776 Declaration of Independence featured language similar to the Charlotte document (today there is no generally accepted historic proof of the so-called Meck-Dec, and many doubt it ever existed, yet the date of the Declaration appears on the North Carolina state flag). Eleven days later the same 27 townsmen met to create and endorse the Mecklenburg Resolves, a set of laws to govern the newly independent town.

Charlotte played a critical role during the Revolutionary War. It was a site of encampment for both the American and British main armies, and during a series of skirmishes between British troops and feisty Charlotteans the village earned the lasting nickname "Hornets' Nest" from a frustrated Lord General Cornwallis. Charlotte was an ideological hotbed of revolutionary sentiment, an enduring legacy proclaimed today throughout the city in the nomenclature of such landmarks as Independence Boulevard, Independence High School, Freedom Park and Freedom Drive.

In 1799, 12-year-old Conrad Reed went fishing one spring morning and brought home a rock weighing about 17 pounds, which the family used as a doorstop for three years before it was recognized by a jeweller as gold. It was the first verified find of gold in the fledgling United States. The nation's original gold rush was on, and many veins of gold were subsequently found in the area. The Reed Gold Mine was the nation's first, and it operated until 1912. Uptown Charlotte is both literally and figuratively built on gold mines.

Charlotte's history as a financial center is extensive. In 1837 the U.S. Congress established a branch U.S. Mint here because of the gold deposits found in the area. The Charlotte mint was active until 1861, when Confederate forces seized the mint facility at the outbreak of the Civil War. The mint was not reopened at the end of the war, but the building survives today, albeit in a different location, and now houses the Mint Museum of Art.

The city's modern-day banking industry achieved prominence in the 1970s, largely under the leadership of financier Hugh McColl. McColl transformed North Carolina National Bank (NCNB) into a formidable national player that, through a series of aggressive acquisitions, would eventually become Bank of America. Another hometown bank, First Union, experienced similar growth, and is now known as Wachovia. Today, Charlotte is the second largest banking center in the country after New York City and never tires of telling you so. In fact, the New York Times' Peter Applebome said Charlotte has "the purest strain of the booster gene" of any city in America.

Charlotte's penchant for looking ahead -- a drive for economic development that kicked into particularly high gear during the mid-20th century -- has created something of a historical apathy in the city. Most traces of antebellum Charlotte are long gone, and preservationists often struggle to maintain landmarks in the face of modern-minded boosters, a key reason Charlotte is often regarded as a "new" American city despite the fact it is actually one of the oldest.

Famous natives of Charlotte include actor Randolph Scott, actress Berlinda Tolbert (who played 'Jenny Willis' on The Jeffersons), independent filmmaker Ross McElwee, humorist Rich Hall, artist Romare Bearden, evangelist Billy Graham, and Emmy-nominated actress Sharon Lawrence ("NYPD Blue"). Novelist Carson McCullers wrote her most famous novel The Heart Is A Lonely Hunter while a resident of the city.

Geography and climate

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 242.9 square miles (629 square kilometers). Out of that, 242.3 sq. mi. (627.5 sq. km.) of it is land and 0.6 sq. mi. (1.6 sq. km.) of it is water. The total area is 0.25% water.

Charlotte constitutes most of Mecklenburg County in the Carolina Piedmont. Uptown Charlotte (so named because it sits atop a long rise between two creeks) was built on the gunnies of the St. Catherine's and Rudisill gold mines.

Charlotte is located in North America's humid subtropical climate zone. The city has mild winters and hot, humid summers. In January, morning lows average around 32 °F (0 °C) and afternoon highs average 51 °F (11 °C). In July, lows average 71 °F (22 °C) and highs average 90 °F (32 °C). On average, Charlotte receives 43.51 in. of precipitation annually.


  • Uptown "Uptown" is a late 20th century name given to the original city, which in the 19th century was divided into four political wards. Today the First and Fourth Wards are largely residential, with Fourth Ward housing the majority of Charlotte's remaining 19th century Queen Anne architecture. At the center of Uptown is The Square, the intersection of Trade and Tryon Streets and the point of convergence of all four wards. Many of the city's skyscrapers are located uptown, as well as Bank of America Stadium, home of the Carolina Panthers, and the Charlotte Bobcats NBA arena. Johnson & Wales University, the Museum of the New South and the Mint Museum of Craft and Design can also be found here, as well as the city and county government district.
 A trolley line in Charlotte's South End.
A trolley line in Charlotte's South End.
  • South End takes its name from South Boulevard, its main thoroughfare, as well as its location just south of Uptown. An area of light industry and cotton mills for much of its history, today its former industrial buildings and mills are loft condominiums, restaurants, breweries, shops, and offices. Charlotte's historic trolley also originates in the neighborhood.
  • Dilworth, Charlotte's first streetcar suburb, was developed in the 1890s on 250 acres (1 km²) southwest of the original city limits. Planned largely with a grid pattern similar to the city's original four wards, it was initially designated the Eighth Ward. Centered on East Boulevard, today Dilworth is popular with Charlotte's young professionals drawn to its historic turn of the century architecture and traditional neighborhood feel.
  • Elizabeth takes its name from Elizabeth College, a small Lutheran women’s college founded in 1897 on the present-day site of Presbyterian Hosptial. Elizabeth began to develop rapidly after 1902, when a trolley line was completed. Elizabeth was annexed by Charlotte in 1907. Independence Park, the first public park in the city, was created in the neighborhood, and Elizabeth became one of the most fashionable residential areas in Charlotte.
  • Myers Park is home to some of the city's most desirable zip codes. Filled with some of Charlotte's oldest grand houses and streets lined with towering oaks, Myers Park was designed by John Nolen of Boston in 1911. Like most early American suburbs, Myers Park was initially a "streetcar suburb" whose residents commuted to town on the electric trolley car. Nolen discarded the original grid street pattern of Uptown and Dilworth and instead planned curving avenues following the area’s topography. Myers Park is largely a product of the building boom of the 1920s.
  • Plaza Midwood, conceived as a complement to nearby Myers Park, never quite matured in the same way that Dilworth, Elizabeth or Myers Park did. By the 1970s and 80s, it was considered an "at-risk" neighborhood, and has only recently enjoyed a revival that has made it a sought-after, more bohemian alternative to other higher-priced city neighborhoods.
  • SouthPark, located in south central Charlotte, is both an upscale residential and commercial neighborhood. The area's name derives from the fashionable SouthPark Mall, located at the intersection of Sharon and Fairview Roads. Luxury retailers such as Louis Vuitton, Burberry, and Tiffany & Co. can be found here.
  • Eastland, a neighborhood that developed primarily during the 1960s and 70s, comprises a majority of the east side of the city proper, including the namesake Eastland Mall. Demographics have changed much over the years and currently Eastland is home to one of Charlotte's largest Latino communities.
  • Ballantyne, another upscale area, is a planned mixed-use development that has grown exponentially in recent years and lies in the southernmost part of Charlotte, along the North and South Carolina border. Like SouthPark, Ballantyne has a high concentration of both impressive homes and commercial development.
  • The Arboretum is situated a few miles southeast of Uptown and developed primarily around the Arboretum Shopping Center. The area also is home to the country club communities of Raintree and Providence Plantation.
  • NoDa is the city's "arts district" on and around North Davidson Street, located just north of Uptown. Formerly an area of textile manufacturing and mill workers' residences, the area has seen a rebirth as a center for arts and entertainment.
  • University City comprises the northeastern part of Charlotte. If autonomous, it would be one of North Carolina's largest cities with nearly 200,000 residents. The largely suburban University City is the home of the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. University City is also home to University Research Park, a 3,200 acre (13 km²) industrial park. The outer edges of University City stretch into Cabarrus County and it is also home to Lowe's Motor Speedway and the state's largest tourist attraction, Concord Mills.
  • Biddleville is a neighborhood just west of Uptown. At the heart of Biddleville is Johnson C. Smith University, a historically black college, once called the Biddle Institute, where blacks were trained to be preachers and teachers. Biddleville came about in the 1870s as result of its proximity to the college, distinctly separate from Charlotte.

Metropolitan area

See also: Charlotte metropolitan area

The Metropolitan Combined Statistical Area of Charlotte-Gastonia-Salisbury, NC-SC, has a population, as of the 2005 census estimate, of 2,067,810.

The population of the City of Charlotte is 594,359 according to the US Census 2004 Estimate. Due to recent annexations, however, the city's population has grown to 651,101. The Charlotte metropolitan area, formerly known as the Charlotte-Gastonia-Salisbury CSA (combined statistical area), extends across 2 states (North Carolina and South Carolina), and includes the following counties:

North Carolina

South Carolina


Charlotte has become a major U.S. financial center. Both the nation's second (Bank of America) and fourth largest banks (Wachovia) call the city home. Their headquarters, along with other regional banking and financial services companies, are located primarily in the uptown financial district. Thanks to the continued expansion of the city's banking industry, the Charlotte skyline has mushroomed in recent years and boasts the Bank of America Corporate Center, designed by César Pelli. At 871 feet (265 m), the 60-story post-modern gothic tower is the 23rd tallest building in the United States, and the tallest skyscraper between Philadelphia and Atlanta.

The following Fortune 500 companies are headquartered in the Charlotte metropolitan area:


Public schools

Private schools

Colleges and universities

People and culture


As of 2004, census estimates show there are 594,359 people living in Charlotte, and 801,137 in Mecklenburg County. The county's population is projected to reach 1 million in 2010.

Figures from the more comprehensive 2000 census show Charlotte's population density to be 861.9/km² (2,232.4/mi²). There are 230,434 housing units at an average density of 367.2/km² (951.2/mi²).

Charlotte's population is ethnically diverse. The city's breakdown by race is as follows:


The birthplace of Billy Graham and one time home of the PTL Club, Charlotte was once known as the "City of Churches." Of those who practice a religion, most Charlotteans are Christian of various Protestant denominations, with (principally Southern) Presbyterians and Methodists being the two dominant denominations in the region. In total, Charlotte lays claim to over 700 places of worship.

Charlotte's Catholic and Jewish population surged during the 1980s when a series of corporate relocations brought thousands of northeasterners into the area. Catholic congregations continue to expand with the growth of Latino immigration.

The Baptist Peace Fellowship of North America is headquartered in Charlotte, and Reformed Theological Seminary has a campus there.

Jewish synagogues (Temple Beth El, Reform, Temple Israel, Conservative, and an Orthodox congregation) are located in Shalom Park on Providence Road.

The Charlotte area has five mosques: The Islamic Society of Greater Charlotte, Islamic Center of Charlotte, Masjid Ash-Shaheed, South Musallah, and the Islamic Society of Gastonia.

Hindus meet at the Hindu Center or the Bochasanwasi Shri Akshar Purushottam Swaminarayan Sanstha (BAPS) temple.

There are also several progressive religious institutions in the Charlotte area, with the Unitarian Universalist Church perhaps being the most prominent and popular.


The dominant newspaper in the region is the Charlotte Observer, which is the oldest daily newspaper in the United States.

According to Nielsen Media Research, the Charlotte television DMA is the 27th largest in 2005. Television stations serving the market include:

The metro-area is also served by a 24-hour cable news channel, News 14 Carolina, available on Time Warner Cable.


SouthPark Mall, the region's most upscale shopping center, is located about 5 miles south of Uptown. SouthPark has over 100 stores, many of which are unique to the Carolinas, including Tiffany & Co., Brooks Brothers, Louis Vuitton, Burberry, Neiman Marcus, Kate Spade, and Swarovski.

Northlake Mall opened in September of 2005 and is located 8 miles north of Uptown. Northlake was built to serve the population of rapidly growing north Charlotte and surrounding suburbs.

Concord Mills is an enormous retail and entertainment outlet mall about 10 miles northeast of Uptown. Concord Mills has over 200 outlet stores and a 24 screen theater within its nearly one-mile interior radius. Concord Mills is North Carolina's largest tourist attraction.

Carolina Place Mall opened in the early 1990s and is located about 12 miles south of Uptown in suburban Pineville, North Carolina. It has over 1.1 million square feet of shopping, and its proximity to the South Carolina border draws many shoppers from the Palmetto state.

Eastland Mall was constructed in the mid-1970s as an alternative to then five-year-old SouthPark Mall; its claim to fame being an indoor skating rink in the central atrium. But while SouthPark has flourished and transformed itself into the region's source for high-end merchandise, Eastland has experienced a general decline over the years with many stores vacating the mall. Efforts to reinvigorate the mall and surrounding area are currently being discussed.

Sites of interest


Carolina Panthers helmet.

Charlotte has been home to the NFL's Carolina Panthers since 1996. The Panthers play in Bank of America Stadium, located in Uptown. The team won the NFC Championship of the 2003-04 NFL season when they beat the Philadelphia Eagles, by a score of 14-3 in Philadelphia. This win advanced them to play in Super Bowl XXXVIII against the New England Patriots in February 2004.

Charlotte was home to the World Football League's Charlotte Hornets during 1974 and 1975. The city has also been home to two Arena Football League teams, the Charlotte Rage and Carolina Cobras. The NCAA football Meineke Car Care Bowl is held here each December.

In 2004, Charlotte was awarded an NBA expansion team named the Charlotte Bobcats. Prior to this, from 1988 to 2002, Charlotte's NBA team was called the Hornets. The Hornets were moved to New Orleans, Louisiana in 2002, and kept the Hornets moniker. The team plays in the new Charlotte Bobcats Arena in Uptown Charlotte.

The WNBA Charlotte Sting have played in Charlotte since 1997. Charlotte is home to the Charlotte Eagles of the United Soccer Leagues and plays host to the annual Wachovia Championship, an increasingly prestigious stop on the PGA Tour.

Charlotte is a hub of stock car racing, with major races being held at nearby Lowe's Motor Speedway. A vast majority of NASCAR teams and race shops are located within an hour's drive of Charlotte, and most NASCAR drivers maintain a residence in or near the city. 73% of all American motorsports employees are based within two hours of Uptown Charlotte.

Baseball has a long, rich history in the Queen City, dating back to 1901 when the Charlotte Hornets were formed. It's currently home to the Triple-A Charlotte Knights, the top minor-league affiliate of the Chicago White Sox.

The Charlotte Checkers of the ECHL also call the city home.



Air Force One takes off from Charlotte/Douglas International Airport, with the Charlotte skyline in the background.
Air Force One takes off from Charlotte/Douglas International Airport, with the Charlotte skyline in the background.

Charlotte Douglas International Airport is the 17th busiest airport in the US. It is served by many international and domestic airlines, and is the largest hub of US Airways. American Airlines, Air Canada, Continental, Delta, Northwest, United, and Lufthansa are some of the major carriers that serve the airport. Nonstop flights are available to many destinations across the United States, Europe, the Caribbean, Latin America and Canada.


Charlotte commuters on the heavily-travelled Independence Blvd (U.S. Highway 74) in rush hour traffic.
Charlotte commuters on the heavily-travelled Independence Blvd (U.S. Highway 74) in rush hour traffic.

Charlotte's centralized location between the population centers of the northeast and southeast has made it a transportation focal point and primary distribution center, with two major interstate highways, I-85 and I-77, intersecting near the city's center. Charlotte's beltway, designated I-485 and nicknamed the "Outerbelt", is nearly complete and slated for completion by 2013. Upon completion, the Outerbelt will have a total circumference of approximately 67 miles (108 km).

Mass transit

CATS logo
CATS logo

The Charlotte Area Transit System (CATS) is the local mass transit agency that operates historical trolleys, express shuttles and bus service that serve Charlotte and its immediate suburbs in both North and South Carolina. The 2025 Corridor System Plan looks to upgrade Charlotte's public transportation by supplementing its established bus service with a light rail and commuter rail network along five key corridors at a total cost of over $1.7 billion. CATS has begun work on the $426.8 million south corridor light rail project, running from Uptown to suburban Pineville with service scheduled to begin in 2007. Plans for the light rail and commuter rail network will link uptown Charlotte with its immediate suburbs along four additional key corridors.

Intercity rail

Amtrak's Crescent and Carolinian and Piedmont trains connect Charlotte with New York, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Washington, Richmond, Raleigh, Atlanta, Birmingham and New Orleans.

Sister cities

Charlotte has a number of sister cities including:

See also

Further reading

  • Hanchett, Thomas W. Sorting Out the New South City: Race, Class, and Urban Development in Charlotte, 1875-1975. 380 pages. University of North Carolina Press. August 1, 1998. ISBN 0807823767.
  • Kratt, Mary Norton. Charlotte: Spirit of the New South. 293 pages. John F. Blair, Publisher. September 1, 1992. ISBN 0895870959.
  • Kratt, Mary Norton and Mary Manning Boyer. Remembering Charlotte: Postcards from a New South City, 1905-1950. 176 pages. University of North Carolina Press. October 1, 2000. ISBN 0807848719.
  • Kratt, Mary Norton. New South Women: Twentieth Century Women of Charlotte, North Carolina. Public Library of Charlotte and Mecklenburg County in Association with John F. Blair, Publisher. August 1, 2001. ISBN 0895872501.

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