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Charlotte, North Carolina
City of Charlotte
From top to bottom, left to right: Charlotte skyline, UNC Charlotte, NASCAR Hall of Fame, Spectrum Center, Bank of America Stadium, Romare Bearden Park
From top to bottom, left to right: Charlotte skyline, UNC Charlotte, NASCAR Hall of Fame, Spectrum Center, Bank of America Stadium, Romare Bearden Park
Flag
Official seal of Charlotte, North Carolina
Seal
Nicknames: 
The Queen City, The QC, CLT, The Hornet's Nest
Location within Mecklenburg County
Location within Mecklenburg County
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Country  United States
State  North Carolina
County Mecklenburg
Settled 1755
Incorporated 1768
Named for Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz
Government
 • Type Council-manager
 • Body City Council of Charlotte, North Carolina
Area
 • City 309.25 sq mi (800.94 km2)
 • Land 307.26 sq mi (795.80 km2)
 • Water 1.98 sq mi (5.14 km2)
Elevation
761 ft (232 m)
Population
 (2020)
 • City 874,579
 • Rank 16th in the United States
1st in North Carolina
 • Density 2,846.38/sq mi (1,098.99/km2)
 • Metro
2,660,329 (23rd)
Demonym(s) Charlottean
Time zone UTC−5 (EST)
 • Summer (DST) UTC−4 (EDT)
ZIP code
28201-28237, 28240-28247, 28250, 28253-28256, 28258, 28260-28262, 28265-28266, 28269-28275, 28277-28278, 28280-28290, 28296-28297, 28299
Area codes 704, 980
FIPS code 37-12000
Major Airport Charlotte Douglas International Airport
Interstates I-77.svg I-85.svg I-277.svg I-485.svg
Rapid Transit Charlotte Area Transit System

Charlotte ( SHAR-lət) is the most populous city in the U.S. state of North Carolina. Located in the Piedmont region, it is the county seat of Mecklenburg County. The population was 874,579 as of the 2020 census, making it the 16th-most populous city in the U.S., the second-most populous city in the Southeast behind Jacksonville, Florida, and seventh-largest city in the Southern United States. The city is the cultural, economic, and transportation center of the Charlotte metropolitan area, whose population ranks 23rd in the U.S., and had a population of 2,660,329, in 2020. The Charlotte metropolitan area is part of a sixteen-county market region or combined statistical area with a 2020 census-estimated population of 2,846,550.

Between 2004 and 2014, Charlotte was ranked as the country's fastest-growing metro area, with 888,000 new residents. Based on U.S. Census data from 2005 to 2015, Charlotte tops the U.S. in millennial population growth. It is the third-fastest-growing major city in the United States. Residents are referred to as "Charlotteans".

Charlotte is home to the corporate headquarters of Bank of America, Truist Financial, and the east coast headquarters of Wells Fargo, which along with other financial institutions has made it the second-largest banking center in the United States.

Among Charlotte's notable attractions, some of the most popular include the Carolina Panthers (NFL), the Charlotte Hornets (NBA), the Coca-Cola 600, the Wells Fargo Championship, the NASCAR Hall of Fame, the Charlotte Ballet, Children's Theatre of Charlotte, Carowinds amusement park, and the U.S. National Whitewater Center.

Charlotte has a humid subtropical climate. It is located several miles east of the Catawba River and southeast of Lake Norman, the largest man-made lake in North Carolina. Lake Wylie and Mountain Island Lake are two smaller man-made lakes located near the city.

History

The Catawba Native Americans were the first to settle Mecklenburg County (in the Charlotte area) and were first recorded in European records around 1567. By 1759 half the Catawba tribe had been killed by smallpox. At the time of their largest population, Catawba people numbered 10,000, but by 1826 that number dropped to 110.

Mecklenburg County was initially part of Bath County (1696 to 1729) of New Hanover Precinct, which became New Hanover County in 1729. The western portion of New Hanover split into Bladen County in 1734, its western portion splitting into Anson County in 1750. Mecklenburg County formed from Anson County in 1762. Further apportionment was made in 1792, with Cabarrus County formed from Mecklenburg, and in 1842, with Union County formed from Mecklenburg's southeastern portion. These areas were all part of one of the original six judicial/military districts of North Carolina known as the Salisbury District.

The area that is now Charlotte was settled by people of European descent around 1755, when Thomas Spratt and his family settled near what is now the Elizabeth neighborhood. Thomas Polk (granduncle of U.S. President James K. Polk), who later married Thomas Spratt's daughter, built his house by the intersection of two Native American trading paths between the Yadkin and Catawba rivers. One path ran north–south and was part of the Great Wagon Road; the second path ran east–west along what is now Trade Street.

Nicknamed the Queen City, like its county a few years earlier, Charlotte was named in honor of German princess Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz, who had become the Queen Consort of Great Britain and Ireland in 1761, just seven years before the town's incorporation. A second nickname derives from the American Revolutionary War, when British commander General Charles Cornwallis, 1st Marquess Cornwallis occupied the city but was driven out by hostile residents, prompting him to write that Charlotte was "a hornet's nest of rebellion", leading to the nickname The Hornet's Nest.

Within decades of Polk's settling, the area grew to become "Charlotte Town", incorporating in 1768. The crossroads, perched atop the Piedmont landscape, became the heart of Uptown Charlotte. In 1770, surveyors marked the streets in a grid pattern for future development. The east–west trading path became Trade Street, and the Great Wagon Road became Tryon Street, in honor of William Tryon, a royal governor of colonial North Carolina. The intersection of Trade and Tryon—commonly known today as "Trade & Tryon," or simply "The Square"—is more properly called "Independence Square".

While surveying the boundary between the Carolinas in 1772, William Moultrie stopped in Charlotte Town, whose five or six houses were "very ordinary built of logs".

Local leaders came together in 1775 and signed the Mecklenburg Resolves, more popularly known as the Mecklenburg Declaration of Independence. While not a true declaration of independence from British rule, it is among the first such declarations that eventually led to the American Revolution. May 20, the traditional date of the signing of the declaration, is celebrated annually in Charlotte as "MecDec", with musket and cannon fire by reenactors in Independence Square. North Carolina's state flag and state seal also bear the date.

After the American Revolution

Charlotte is traditionally considered the home of Southern Presbyterianism, but in the 19th century, numerous churches, including Presbyterian, Baptist, Methodist, Episcopalian, Lutheran, and Roman Catholic formed, eventually giving Charlotte the nickname, "The City of Churches".

In 1799, in nearby Cabarrus County, 12-year-old Conrad Reed found a 17-pound rock, which his family used as a doorstop. Three years later, a jeweler determined it was nearly solid gold, paying the family a paltry $3.50. The first documented gold find in the United States of any consequence set off the nation's first gold rush. Many veins of gold were found in the area throughout the 19th and early 20th centuries, leading to the 1837 founding of the Charlotte Mint. North Carolina was the chief producer of gold in the United States until the Sierra Nevada find in 1848, although the volume mined in the Charlotte area was dwarfed by subsequent rushes.

Old Court House Charlotte North Carolina 1888
View of the Old Court House, Charlotte, 1888.

Some groups still pan for gold occasionally in local streams and creeks. The Reed Gold Mine operated until 1912. The Charlotte Mint was active until 1861, when Confederate forces seized it at the outbreak of the Civil War. The mint was not reopened at the war's end, but the building, albeit in a different location, now houses the Mint Museum of Art.

The city's first boom came after the Civil War, as a cotton processing center and a railroad hub. Charlotte's city population at the 1880 Census grew to 7,084.

WWI to present

Population grew again during World War I, when the U.S. government established Camp Greene north of present-day Wilkinson Boulevard. Many soldiers and suppliers stayed after the war, launching an urban ascent that eventually overtook older city rivals along the Piedmont Crescent.

The city's modern-day banking industry achieved prominence in the 1970s and 1980s, largely under the leadership of financier Hugh McColl. McColl transformed North Carolina National Bank (NCNB) into a formidable national player that through aggressive acquisitions became known as NationsBank, eventually merging with BankAmerica to become Bank of America. First Union, later Wachovia in 2001, experienced similar growth before it was acquired by San Francisco-based Wells Fargo in 2008. Measured by control of assets, Charlotte is the second largest banking headquarters in the United States, after New York City.

On September 22, 1989, the city took a direct hit from Hurricane Hugo. With sustained winds of 69 mph (111 km/h) and gusts of 87 mph (140 km/h) in some locations, Hugo caused massive property damage, destroyed 80,000 trees, and knocked out electrical power to most of the population. Residents were without power for weeks, schools were closed for a week or more, and the cleanup took months. The city was caught unprepared; Charlotte is 200 miles (320 km) inland, and residents from coastal areas in both Carolinas often wait out hurricanes in Charlotte.

In December 2002, Charlotte and much of central North Carolina were hit by an ice storm that resulted in more than 1.3 million people losing power. During an abnormally cold December, many were without power for weeks. Many of the city's Bradford pear trees split apart under the weight of the ice.

Geography

Charlotte Skyline 2011 - Ricky W
Uptown Charlotte's skyline

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 297.68 square miles (771.0 km2), of which 297.08 square miles (769.4 km2) is land and 0.6 square miles (1.6 km2) is water. Charlotte lies at an elevation of 748 feet (228 m), as measured at Charlotte/Douglas International Airport. Charlotte constitutes most of Mecklenburg County in the Carolina Piedmont. Charlotte center city sits atop a long rise between two creeks, Sugar Creek and Irwin Creek, and was built on the gunnies of the St. Catherine's and Rudisill gold mines.

Though the Catawba River and its lakes lie several miles west, there are no significant bodies of water or other geological features near the city center. Consequently, development has neither been constrained nor helped by waterways or ports that have contributed to many cities of similar size. The lack of these obstructions has contributed to Charlotte's growth as a highway, rail, and air transportation hub.

Cityscape

Southpark aerial Charlotte NC
Charlotte's SouthPark neighborhood
EpiCenter Charlotte
The EpiCentre Charlotte at intersection of Trade Street and College Street

Charlotte has 199 neighborhoods radiating in all directions from Uptown. Biddleville, the primary historic center of Charlotte's African-American community, is west of Uptown, starting at the Johnson C. Smith University campus and extending to the airport. East of The Plaza and north of Central Avenue, Plaza-Midwood is known for its international population, including Eastern Europeans, Greeks, Middle-Easterners, and Hispanics. North Tryon and the Sugar Creek area include several Asian-American communities. NoDa (North Davidson), north of Uptown, is an emerging center for arts and entertainment. Myers Park, Dilworth, and Eastover are home to some of Charlotte's oldest and largest houses, on tree-lined boulevards, with Freedom Park, arguably the city's favorite, nearby.

Park Road and the SouthPark area have an extensive array of shopping and dining offerings, with SouthPark essentially serving as a second urban core. Blossoming neighborhoods like Sedgefield, Dilworth and South End are great examples of that. Far South Boulevard is home to a large Hispanic community. Many students, researchers, and affiliated professionals live near UNC Charlotte in the northeast area known as University City.

The large area known as Southeast Charlotte is home to many golf communities, luxury developments, mega-churches, the Jewish community center, and private schools. As undeveloped land within Mecklenburg has become scarce, many of these communities have expanded into Weddington and Waxhaw in Union County. Ballantyne, far south Charlotte, and nearly every area on the I‑485 perimeter, have seen extensive growth over the past ten years.

Since the 1980s in particular, Uptown Charlotte has undergone massive construction of buildings, housing Bank of America, Wells Fargo, Hearst Corporation, Duke Energy, several hotels, and multiple condominium developments.

Green space

The 120‑acre Park Road Park is a prominent landmark of the SouthPark neighborhood. Park Road Park features 8 basketball courts, 2 horseshoe pits, 6 baseball fields, 5 Picnic Shelters, volleyball courts, playgrounds, trails, tennis courts, and an eleven-acre lake. The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Parks & Recreation Department operates 36 tennis facilities and the 12 lighted tennis courts at the park.

The urban section of Little Sugar Creek Greenway was completed in 2012. Inspired in part by the San Antonio River Walk, and integral to Charlotte's extensive urban park system, it is "a huge milestone" according to Gwen Cook, greenway planner for Mecklenburg County Park and Recreation.

Climate and environment

Charlotte, like much of the Piedmont region of the southeastern United States, has a humid subtropical climate (Köppen Cfa), with four distinct seasons; the city itself is part of USDA hardiness zone 8a, transitioning to 7b in the suburbs in all directions except the south. Winters are short and generally cool, with a January daily average of 40.1 °F (4.5 °C). On average, there are 59 nights per year that drop to or below freezing, and only 1.5 days that fail to rise above freezing. April is the driest month, with an average of 3.04 inches (7.7 cm) of precipitation. Summers are hot and humid, with a daily average in July of 78.5 °F (25.8 °C). There is an average 44 days per year with highs at or above 90 °F (32 °C). Official record temperatures range from 104 °F (40 °C) recorded six times, most recently on July 1, 2012, down to −5 °F (−21 °C) recorded on January 21, 1985, the most recent of three occasions. The record cold daily maximum is 14 °F (−10 °C) on February 12 and 13, 1899, and the record warm daily minimum is 82 °F (28 °C) on August 13, 1881. The average window for freezing temperatures is November 5 through March 30, allowing a growing season of 220 days.

Charlotte is directly in the path of subtropical moisture from the Gulf of Mexico as it heads up the eastern seaboard, thus the city receives ample precipitation throughout the year but also many clear, sunny days; precipitation is generally less frequent in autumn than in spring. On average, Charlotte receives 41.6 inches (1,060 mm) of precipitation annually, which is somewhat evenly distributed throughout the year, although summer is slightly wetter; annual precipitation has historically ranged from 26.23 in (666 mm) in 2001 to 68.44 in (1,738 mm) in 1884. In addition, there is an average of 4.3 inches (10.9 cm) of snow, mainly in January and February and rarely December or March, with more frequent ice storms and sleet mixed in with rain; seasonal snowfall has historically ranged from trace amounts as recently as 2011–12 to 22.6 in (57 cm) in 1959–60. These storms can have a major impact on the area, as they often pull tree limbs down onto power lines and make driving hazardous.

Demographics

Historical population
Census Pop.
1800 276
1850 1,065
1860 2,265 112.7%
1870 4,473 97.5%
1880 7,094 58.6%
1890 11,557 62.9%
1900 18,091 56.5%
1910 34,014 88.0%
1920 46,338 36.2%
1930 82,675 78.4%
1940 100,899 22.0%
1950 134,042 32.8%
1960 201,564 50.4%
1970 241,420 19.8%
1980 315,474 30.7%
1990 395,934 25.5%
2000 540,828 36.6%
2010 731,424 35.2%
2020 874,579 19.6%
U.S. Decennial Census
2010–2020
NC population changes in the 1800s
Charlotte racial and ethnic composition as of 2020
Race Number Percentage
White (non-Hispanic) 347,363 39.72%
Black or African American (non-Hispanic) 284,206 32.5%
Native American 2,177 0.25%
Asian 61,420 7.02%
Pacific Islander 427 0.05%
Other/Mixed 36,282 4.15%
Hispanic or Latino 142,704 16.32%

As of the 2020 United States census, there were 874,579 people, 342,448 households, and 195,614 families residing in the city. In 2019, the U.S. Census Bureau estimates showed 885,708 residents living within Charlotte's city limits and 1,093,901 in Mecklenburg County. The combined statistical area, or trade area, of Charlotte–Concord–Gastonia, NC–SC had a population of 2,728,933. Figures from the more comprehensive 2010 census show Charlotte's population density to be 2,457 per square mile (948.7/km2). There were 319,918 housing units at an average density of 1,074.6 per square mile (414.9/km2).

According to the 2010 United States census, the racial composition of Charlotte was 45.1% White or Caucasian, 35.0% Black or African American, 13.1% Hispanic or Latin American, 5.0% Asian, 0.5% American Indian, 0.1% Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander, 6.8% some other race, and 2.7% two or more races. In 1970, the U.S. Census Bureau reported Charlotte's population as 30.2% Black and 68.9% White. In 2020, 39.72% of the population was non-Hispanic white, 32.5% Black or African American, 0.25% Native American, 7.02% Asian, 0.05% Pacific Islander, 4.15% other or mixed, and 16.32% Hispanic or Latin American of any race. This reflected the national demographic shift as Hispanic or Latinos and Asians increased in population.

The median income for a household in the city was $48,670, and the median income for a family was $59,452. Males had a median income of $38,767 versus $29,218 for females. The per capita income for the city was $29,825. The percentage of the population living at or below the poverty line was 10.6%, with 7.8% of families living at or below the poverty line. Out of the total population, 13.8% of those under the age of 18 and 9.7% of those 65 and older were living below the poverty line.

Religion

Charlotte has historically been a Protestant city. It is the birthplace of Billy Graham, and is also the historic seat of Southern Presbyterianism, but the changing demographics of the city's increasing population have brought scores of new denominations and faiths. The Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, Wycliffe Bible Translators' JAARS Center, SIM Missions Organization, and The Christian Research Institute make their homes in the Charlotte general area. In total, Charlotte proper has over 700 places of worship.

The Presbyterian Church (USA) is now the fourth largest denomination in Charlotte, with 68,000 members and 206 congregations. The second largest Presbyterian denomination, the Presbyterian Church in America has 43 churches and 12,000 members, followed by the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church with 63 churches and 9,500 members.

The Baptist Peace Fellowship of North America is headquartered in Charlotte, and both Reformed Theological Seminary and Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary have campuses there; more recently, the religious studies academic departments of Charlotte's local colleges and universities have also grown considerably.

The Advent Christian Church is headquartered in Charlotte. The Western North Carolina Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church is also headquartered in Charlotte.

The largest Protestant church in Charlotte, by attendance, is Elevation Church, a Southern Baptist church founded by lead pastor Steven Furtick. The church has over 15,000 congregants at nine Charlotte locations.

Charlotte's Cathedral of Saint Patrick is the seat of the bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Charlotte, the head of which is Rev. Peter Joseph Jugis. St. Matthew Parish, located in the Ballantyne neighborhood, is the largest Catholic parish with over 30,000 parishioners. Charlotte is home to ~28,000 Catholics.

The Greek Orthodox Church's cathedral for North Carolina, Holy Trinity Cathedral, is located in Charlotte.

Saint Peter Catholic Church (Charlotte, North Carolina) - view from Mint Museum
St. Peter's Catholic Church, located in Uptown, is the city's oldest Catholic church.

Charlotte has the largest Jewish population in the Carolinas. Shalom Park in south Charlotte is the hub of the Jewish community, featuring two synagogues, Temple Israel and Temple Beth El, as well as a community center, the Charlotte Jewish Day School for grades K–5, and the headquarters of the Charlotte Jewish News.

Most African Americans in Charlotte are Baptists affiliated with the National Baptist Convention, the largest predominantly African American denomination in the United States. African American Methodists are largely affiliated with either the African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church, headquartered in Charlotte, or the African Methodist Episcopal Church. African American Pentecostals are represented by several organizations such as the United House of Prayer for All People, Church of God in Christ, and the United Holy Church of America.

As of 2013, 51.91% of people in Charlotte practice religion on a regular basis, making it the second most religious city in North Carolina after Winston-Salem. The largest religion in Charlotte is Christianity, with Baptists (13.26%) having the largest number of adherents. The second largest Christian group are the Roman Catholics (9.43%), followed by Methodists (8.02%) and Presbyterians (5.25%). Other Christian affiliates include Pentecostals (2.50%), Lutherans (1.30%), Episcopalians (1.20%), Latter-Day Saints (0.84%), and other Christian (8.87%) churches, including the Eastern Orthodox and non-denominational congregations. Judaism (0.57%) is the second largest religion after Christianity, followed by Eastern religions (0.34%) and Islam (0.32%).

Culture

Museums

MintMuseumCharlotte
Mint Museum Uptown at Levine Center for the Arts
Harvey B. Gantt Center on Opening Day
The Harvey B. Gantt Center for African American Arts + Culture
BechtlerMuseumCharlotte
Bechtler Museum of Modern Art

Performing arts

Festivals and special events

The Charlotte region is home to many annual festivals and special events. The Carolina Renaissance Festival operates on Saturdays and Sundays each October and November. Located near the intersection of Highway 73 and Poplar Tent Road, the Carolina Renaissance Festival is one of the largest renaissance themed events in the country. It features 11 stages of outdoor variety entertainment, a 22-acre village marketplace, an interactive circus, an arts and crafts fair, a jousting tournament, and a feast, all rolled into one non-stop, day-long family adventure.

Zoos and aquariums

Charlotte is "... the largest metropolitan area in the United States without a zoo." The Charlotte Zoo initiative is a proposal to allocate 250 acres (101 ha) of natural North Carolina land to be dedicated to the zoological foundation, which was incorporated in 2008. On August 18, 2012, News Channel 14 says that the initiative is "... still a few years away" and the plot of land is "... just seven miles from the center of uptown." According to the news channel, "... the zoo will cost roughly $300 million, and will be completely privately-funded." The Charlotte Observer references two other zoos, the Riverbanks Zoo and Garden and the North Carolina Zoological Park as two "great zoos" that are accessible from the Charlotte-Mecklenberg area, both roughly more than 70 miles away.

Charlotte is also served by the Sea Life Charlotte-Concord Aquarium in the nearby city of Concord. The aquarium is 30,000 square feet in size, and is part of the Concord Mills mall. The aquarium opened on February 20, 2014.

Twin towns – sister cities

List of sister cities of Charlotte, designated by Sister Cities International:

Country City County / District / Region / State Date
Peru Peru Escudo de Armas de Arequipa.svg Arequipa Bandera de Arequipa.svg Arequipa Region 1962
Germany Germany DEU Krefeld COA.svg Krefeld Flag of North Rhine-Westphalia.svg North Rhine-Westphalia 1985
People's Republic of China China Baoding Hebei 1987
Russia Russia Coat of arms of Voronezh.png Voronezh Flag of Voronezh.png Voronezh Oblast 1991
France France Heraldique blason ville fr Limoges.svg Limoges Blason87.PNG Haute-Vienne 1992
Poland Poland Herb wroclaw.svg Wrocław POL woj dolnoslaskie FLAG 2009.svg Lower Silesian Voivodeship 1993
Ghana Ghana Kumasi Flag of Ashanti.svg Ashanti Region 1996
Israel Israel Hadera COA.png Hadera Haifa District 2009

Economy

Duke Energy Center and The Westin Charlotte, 2010
Duke Energy Center and The Westin Charlotte
Charlotte hearst tower
Truist Center, Truist Financial's headquarters in Charlotte

Charlotte is the second-largest banking center in the United States, after New York City. The nation's second largest financial institution by total assets, Bank of America, calls the city home. It is also home to the nation's sixth largest financial institution, Truist, formed from the merger of BB&T and SunTrust in 2019. The city was also the former corporate home of Wachovia until its 2008 acquisition by Wells Fargo; Wells Fargo integrated legacy Wachovia, with the two banks fully merged at the end of 2011, which included transitioning all of the Wachovia branches in the Carolinas to Wells Fargo branches by October 2011. Since then, Charlotte has become the regional headquarters for East Coast operations of Wells Fargo, which is headquartered in San Francisco, California. Charlotte also serves as the headquarters for Wells Fargo's capital markets activities. Bank of America's headquarters, along with other regional banking and financial services companies, are located primarily in the Uptown central business district. Microsoft and Centene Corporation also operate their East Coast headquarters in Charlotte. In November 2018, Honeywell moved its corporate headquarters to Charlotte. In 2019, Dole Food Company relocated its headquarters to Charlotte from California, and expanded its presence in Charlotte with its merger with Ireland-based Total Produce in February 2021. On May 25, 2021, it was announced that Charlotte would become the East Coast headquarters of Credit Karma.

As of 2019, Charlotte has seven Fortune 500 companies in its metropolitan area. Listed in order of their rank, they are: Bank of America, Honeywell, Nucor, Lowe's, Duke Energy, Sonic Automotive and Brighthouse Financial. The Charlotte area includes a diverse range of businesses, including foodstuffs such as Harris Teeter, Snyder's-Lance, Carolina Foods Inc, Bojangles', Food Lion, Compass Group USA, and Coca-Cola Bottling Co. Consolidated (Charlotte being the nation's second largest Coca-Cola bottler); packaging company Sealed Air, financial services company Dixon Hughes Goodman, online leading marketplace Lending Tree, chemical company Albemarle Corporation, door and window maker JELD-WEN, motor and transportation companies such as RSC Brands, Continental Tire the Americas, LLC., Meineke Car Care Centers, Carlisle Companies (along with several other services); retail companies Belk, Cato Corporation and Rack Room Shoes, along with a wide array of other businesses.

Charlotte is the major center of the U.S. motorsports industry, housing the US's only Formula One team, Haas F1, multiple teams and offices of NASCAR, the NASCAR Hall of Fame, and Charlotte Motor Speedway in Concord. Approximately 75% of the NASCAR industry's race teams, employees and drivers are based nearby. The large presence of the racing technology industry and the newly built NHRA dragstrip, zMAX Dragway at Concord, are influencing other top professional drag racers to move their shops to Charlotte as well.

WellsFargoCharlotte
One Wells Fargo Center behind Brevard Court in Uptown Charlotte

Located in the western part of Mecklenburg County is the U.S. National Whitewater Center, which consists of man-made rapids of varying degrees, and is open to the public year-round.

The Charlotte Region has a major base of energy-oriented organizations and has become known as "Charlotte USA – The New Energy Capital". In the region there are more than 240 companies directly tied to the energy sector, collectively employing more than 26,400. Since 2007 more than 4,000 energy sector jobs have been announced. Major energy players in Charlotte include AREVA, Duke Energy, Electric Power Research Institute, Fluor, Metso Power, Piedmont Natural Gas, Albemarle Corp, Siemens Energy, Shaw Group, Toshiba, URS Corp., and Westinghouse. The University of North Carolina at Charlotte has a reputation in energy education and research, and its Energy Production and Infrastructure Center (EPIC) trains energy engineers and conducts research. Over the last couple of years, Charlotte has become a hub in the Information technology (IT) industry.

The area is an increasingly growing trucking and freight transportation hub for the East Coast. The Charlotte Center city has seen remarkable growth over the last decade. Numerous residential units continue to be built uptown, including over 20 skyscrapers under construction, recently completed, or in the planning stage. Many new restaurants, bars and clubs now operate in the Uptown area. Several projects are transforming the Midtown Charlotte/Elizabeth area.

In 2013, Forbes named Charlotte among its list of Best Places for Business and Careers. Charlotte was listed as the 20th largest city in the US, and the 60th fastest growing city in the US between 2000 and 2008.

20 largest employers by number of employees in the Charlotte region
# Name Industry Number of employees
1 Atrium Health Health Care and Social Assistance 35,700
2 Wells Fargo Finance and Insurance 24,000
3 Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools Educational Services 18,495
4 Wal-Mart Retail Trade 17,100
5 Bank of America Finance and Insurance 15,000
6 Novant Health Health Care 11,698
7 American Airlines Transportation 11,000
8 Food Lion Retail Trade 7,900
9 Harris Teeter Retail Trade 8,239
10 Duke Energy Utilities 7,900
11 Lowe's Retail Trade 7,801
12 North Carolina State Government Public Administration 7,600
13 Daimler Trucks North America Manufacturing 6,800
14 City of Charlotte Public Administration 6,800
15 Mecklenburg County Public Administration 5,512
16 Union County Public Schools Educational Services 5,427
17 US Government Public Administration 5,300
18 YMCA of Greater Charlotte Arts, Entertainment and Recreation 4,436
19 Adecco Staffing, USA Administration and Support Services 4,200
20 Carowinds Arts, Entertainment and Recreation 4,100

Sports

Charlotte is home to three major professional sports franchises: the Carolina Panthers of the National Football League (NFL), the Charlotte Hornets of the National Basketball Association (NBA), and Charlotte FC of Major League Soccer (MLS). The Panthers have been located in Charlotte since the team's creation in 1995, and the current Hornets franchise has been located in Charlotte since its creation in 1988 (with the exception of the 2002-03 and 2003-04 seasons). The Panthers and Charlotte FC play their home games in Bank of America Stadium, while the Hornets play in the Spectrum Center. The Panthers have won six division titles from (1996, 2003, 2008, 2013, 2014, 2015) and two NFC championships in 2003 and 2015. Carolina has reached the Super Bowl twice but has been unsuccessful in both losing to the New England Patriots in Super Bowl XXXVIII in 2004 and against the Denver Broncos in Super Bowl 50 in 2016. The original Hornets NBA franchise was established in 1988 as an expansion team, but it relocated to New Orleans, Louisiana in 2002 after animosity grew between the team's fans and principal owner George Shinn. The NBA quickly granted Charlotte an expansion franchise following the departure of the Hornets and the new franchise, the Charlotte Bobcats, began to play in 2004. The team retook the Hornets name when the New Orleans-based team renamed itself the New Orleans Pelicans in 2013. The name change became official on May 20, 2014. On the same day, the franchise reclaimed the history and records of the original 1988–2002 Hornets. MLS awarded its expansion team to Charlotte in 2019, which began play as Charlotte FC in 2022.

Charlotte is represented in professional ice hockey by the Charlotte Checkers and in professional baseball at the Triple-A level by the Charlotte Knights.

Club Sport Founded League Venue
Carolina Panthers Football 1995 National Football League Bank of America Stadium
Charlotte Hornets Basketball 1988 National Basketball Association Spectrum Center
Charlotte FC Soccer 2019 Major League Soccer Bank of America Stadium
Charlotte Checkers Ice hockey 2010 American Hockey League Bojangles' Coliseum
Charlotte Knights Baseball 1976 Triple-A East Truist Field
Charlotte Independence Soccer 2015 USL League One American Legion Memorial Stadium
Charlotte Eagles Soccer 1993 USL League Two Sportsplex at Matthews
Charlotte Lady Eagles Soccer 1993 W-League Sportsplex at Matthews

The city is also the home of the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) headquarters. The NJCAA is the second-largest national intercollegiate athletic organization in the United States with over 500 member schools in 43 states. The Big South Conference is also headquartered in Charlotte. Founded in 1983, the Big South Conference has 11 member institutions with over 19 different sports and completes in the NCAA's Division I.

Over the years, Charlotte has hosted many international, collegiate, and professional sporting events. In professional basketball, the city hosted the NBA All-Star Game twice in 1991 and most recently in 2019. In collegiate sports, Charlotte hosts the ACC Championship Game and Duke's Mayo Bowl. The city has also been the host many ACC Men's Basketball Tournaments most recently in 2019. In 2021, Charlotte hosted the ACC Baseball Tournament. In 2017, Charlotte hosted the PGA Championship at the Quail Hollow Club.

Since 1931, Jim Crockett Promotions has been a full-fledged professional wrestling performer, based in the North Carolina, South Carolina, and Virginia states, and has been called Mid-Atlantic Wrestling. National Wrestling Alliance, World Championship Wrestling, WWE has big matches, and many pay-per-view event. Many professional wrestlers living.

The city is home to one university that participates in NCAA Division I Athletics, which are the Charlotte 49ers and are the teams that represent the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. Charlotte has participated in 11 NCAA Men's Basketball tournaments, 14 NCAA Men's Soccer Tournaments, and the Football team participated in their first bowl game in 2019 just six years after starting their program.

Johnson C. Smith University and Queens University of Charlotte both participate at the NCAA Division II level. Johnson and Wales University participate in the USCAA.

Education

School system

The city's public school system, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools, is the 2nd largest in North Carolina and 17th largest in the nation. In 2009, it won the NAEP Awards, the Nation's Report Card for urban school systems with top honors among 18 city systems for 4th grade math, 2nd place among 8th graders. An estimated 144,000 students are taught in 164 separate elementary, middle, and high schools. Charlotte is also home to many private and independent schools, including British School of Charlotte, Charlotte Catholic High School, Charlotte Christian School, Charlotte Country Day School, Charlotte Islamic Academy, Charlotte Latin School, Charlotte United Christian Academy, Grace Academy, Providence Day School, Hickory Grove Christian School, Northside Christian Academy, Southlake Christian Academy, and United Faith Christian Academy.

Colleges and universities

UNCCNewQuad
The Student Union Quad of UNC Charlotte's main campus

Charlotte is home to a number of universities and colleges such as Central Piedmont Community College, Johnson C. Smith University, Johnson & Wales University, Queens University of Charlotte, and the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. Several notable colleges are located in the metropolitan suburbs. Located in nearby Davidson, North Carolina is Davidson College. Additional colleges in the area include Belmont Abbey College in the suburb of Belmont, North Carolina, Gaston College with its main campus in the suburb of Dallas, North Carolina and Wingate University in the suburb of Wingate, North Carolina. Also nearby are Winthrop University, Clinton Junior College, York Technical College in Rock Hill, South Carolina, and Gardner-Webb University in Boiling Springs, North Carolina in the westernmost part of the Charlotte area.

UNC Charlotte is the city's largest university. It is located in University City, the northeastern portion of Charlotte, which is also home to University Research Park, a 3,200 acres (13 km2) research and corporate park. With more than 30,000 students, UNC Charlotte is the second largest university in the state system.

Central Piedmont Community College is the largest community college in the Carolinas, with more than 70,000 students each year and 6 campuses throughout the Charlotte-Mecklenburg region. CPCC is part of the statewide North Carolina Community College System.

The Charlotte School of Law opened its doors in Charlotte in 2006 and was fully accredited by the American Bar Association in 2011. The law school offered the Juris Doctor degree but the Bar association rescinded the accreditation in 2017. Charlotte School of Law, once the largest law school in the Carolinas, has ceased to operate.

Pfeiffer University has a satellite campus in Charlotte. Wake Forest University, with its main campus in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, also operates a satellite campus of its Babcock Graduate School of Management in the Uptown area. On March 24, 2021, it was announced Wake Forest School of Medicine would expand a 20-acre campus in Charlotte by 2024. The Connecticut School of Broadcasting, DeVry University, and ECPI University all have branches in Charlotte. The Universal Technical Institute has the NASCAR Technical Institute in nearby Mooresville, serving the Charlotte area. Montreat College (Charlotte) maintains a School of Professional and Adult Studies in the city. Additionally, Union Presbyterian Seminary has a non-residential campus offering the Master of Arts in Christian Education, and the Master of Divinity in Charlotte near the Beverley Woods area.

The North Carolina Research Campus, a 350-acre biotechnology hub located northeast of Charlotte in the city of Kannapolis, is a public-private venture including eight universities, one community college, the David H. Murdock Research Institute (DHMRI), the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and corporate entities that collaborate to advance the fields of human health, nutrition and agriculture. Partnering educational organizations include UNC Charlotte and Rowan-Cabarrus Community College, from the Charlotte region, as well as Appalachian State University, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Duke University, University of North Carolina at Greensboro, North Carolina A&T State University, Shaw University, North Carolina Central University and North Carolina State University. The research campus is part of a larger effort by leaders in the Charlotte area to attract energy, health, and other knowledge-based industries that contribute to North Carolina's strength in biotechnology.

Infrastructure

City services

Emergency medical services

Emergency medical services for the city of Charlotte are provided by Mecklenburg EMS Agency (MEDIC). MEDIC received over 146,000 calls in 2017 and transported over 112,000 patients in Mecklenburg County. The agency employs over 600 paramedics, EMTs, EMDs and admin staff.

In addition to dispatching MEDIC's EMS calls, the agency also dispatches all county fire calls outside of the city of Charlotte.

Hospitals

Hospital Facility Website Trauma Designation
Atrium Health Mercy https://atriumhealth.org/locations/atrium-health-mercy -
Atrium Health Pineville https://atriumhealth.org/locations/atrium-health-pineville -
Atrium Health University City https://atriumhealth.org/university -
Carolinas ContinueCare Pineville http://continuecare.org/pineville/ -
Atrium Health Carolinas Medical Center / Levine Children's https://atriumhealth.org/cmc Level I
Novant Health Charlotte Orthopedic Hospital https://www.novanthealth.org/charlotteorthopedichospital -
Novant Health Hemby Children's Hospital https://www.novanthealth.org/hemby -
Novant Health Presbyterian Medical Center https://www.novanthealth.org/presbyterian Level III

Atrium Health, legally Charlotte-Mecklenburg Hospital Authority, is the public hospital authority of Mecklenburg County.

Fire department

The Charlotte Fire Department provides fire suppression, emergency medical services, public education, hazardous materials (HAZMAT) mitigation, technical rescues, and fire prevention and inspection with 1,164 personnel. Forty-three fire stations are strategically scattered throughout Charlotte to provide a reasonable response time to emergencies in the city limits.

Waste treatment

Charlotte has a municipal waste system consisting of trash pickup, water distribution, and waste treatment. There are five waste water treatment plants operated by Charlotte Water (previously Charlotte-Mecklenburg Utility Department). Charlotte has a biosolids program. Some Chester residents spoke out against the program on February 26, 2013. Charlotte's sludge is handled, transported, and spread on farm fields in Chester by a company called Synagro, a wholly owned subsidiary of the Carlyle Group Charlotte's sludge is of the "CLASS B" variety, which means it still contains detectable levels of pathogens.

Transportation

The city of Charlotte has a lower than average percentage of households without a car. In 2015, 7.4 percent of Charlotte households lacked a car, and decreased to 6 percent in 2016. The national average was 8.7 percent in 2016. Charlotte averaged 1.65 cars per household in 2016, compared to a national average of 1.8.

Mass transit

LynxBlandStreet
The Blue Line's Bland Street Station in Charlotte's South End neighborhood

The Charlotte Area Transit System (CATS) is the agency responsible for operating mass transit in the Charlotte metropolitan area, carrying over 16 million riders annually. Established in 1999 and administered as a department of the City of Charlotte, CATS operates light rail transit, streetcar, express buses, local buses, and special bus services serving Charlotte and the surrounding area in addition to other programs such as vanpool.

CATS' rail arm, LYNX Rapid Transit Services, comprises two lines as of fall 2020. The Blue Line is an 18.9‑mile line north–south light rail line running through South End, Center City, NoDa, and University City. The CityLYNX Gold Line streetcar, Phase 1 of which opened in 2015, is under Phase 2 construction as of fall 2020. When completed, the Gold Line will link the Beatties Ford neighborhood through Uptown and then south and east to the Elizabeth neighborhood. The LYNX Silver Line, a light rail line in the pre-project development phase as of fall 2020, will link the southeastern suburbs of Matthews, Stallings, and Indian Trail with Uptown Charlotte and the future Charlotte Gateway Station before extending west to Charlotte Douglas International Airport and across the Catawba River to Belmont in Gaston County.

The bulk of CATS ridership is derived from its extensive bus network, which has its main hub at the Charlotte Transportation Center in Uptown, which also connects to the Blue and Gold lines. Other bus hubs are located at community transit centers in SouthPark, Eastland, and at Rosa Parks Place. CATS operates express buses to outlying parts of the city and some commuter bus to the northern suburbs in the Lake Norman area under the MetroRAPID umbrella.

Walkability

A 2011 study by Walk Score ranked Charlotte the 49th most walkable of the 50 largest cities in the United States.

Roads and highways

Charlotte's central 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. The latter highway also connects to the population centers of the Rust Belt.

Charlotte's beltway, designated I-485 and simply called "485" by local residents, has been under construction for over 20 years, but funding problems have slowed its progress. The final segment was finished in mid-2015. I-485 has a total circumference of approximately 67 mi (108 km). Within the city, the I-277 loop freeway encircles Charlotte's uptown (usually referred to by its two separate sections, the John Belk Freeway and the Brookshire Freeway) while Charlotte Route 4 links major roads in a loop between I-277 and I-485. Independence Freeway, which carries U.S. 74 and links downtown with the Matthews area, is undergoing an expansion and widening in the eastern part of the city.

Air

Charllotte Douglas International Airport
Charlotte-Douglas International Airport with the Uptown Charlotte skyline in the background

In 2011, Charlotte Douglas International Airport was the sixth-busiest airport in both the U.S. and the world overall as measured by traffic (aircraft movements). The airport handled just over 50 million travellers in 2019, as well as many domestic and international carriers including Air Canada, Lufthansa, and Volaris. It is a major hub for American Airlines, having historically been a hub for its predecessors US Airways and Piedmont Airlines. Nonstop flights are available to many destinations across the United States, Canada, Central America, the Caribbean, Europe, Mexico, and South America. The 145th Airlift Wing of North Carolina Air National Guard is also located east of the airport.

Intercity transportation

Charlotte is served daily by three Amtrak routes with ten daily trips from a station on North Tryon Street, just outside downtown.

  • The Crescent connects Charlotte with New York, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Washington, D.C.; Charlottesville, and Greensboro to the north, and Greenville, Atlanta, Birmingham, Meridian and New Orleans to the south. It arrives overnight once in each direction.
  • The Carolinian connects Charlotte with New York; Philadelphia; Baltimore; Washington, D.C.; Richmond; Raleigh; Durham; and Greensboro. Charlotte is the southern terminus, with the northbound train leaving just before the morning rush and the southbound train arriving in the evening.
  • The Piedmont, a regional companion of the Carolinian, connects Charlotte with Greensboro, Durham and Raleigh with three daily round trips. Charlotte is the southern terminus.

Charlotte is also served by both Greyhound and low-cost curbside carrier Megabus. Charlotte is a service stop for Greyhound routes running to Atlanta, Detroit, Jacksonville, New York and Philadelphia. It is also a stop for buses running out of Megabus' hub in Atlanta, with connections to Megabus' northeastern routes out of New York.

The city is planning a new centralized downtown multimodal station called Gateway Station. It is expected to house Amtrak, Greyhound and the future LYNX Red Line. It is under construction at the former site of the Greyhound station; Greyhound is currently operating from a temporary station nearby.

Notable people

Images for kids

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