Charlotte, North Carolina facts for kids

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Charlotte, North Carolina
City
City of Charlotte
Clockwise: UNC Charlotte, Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Arts + Culture, Duke Energy Center, Charlotte's skyline, First Presbyterian Church of Charlotte, Charlotte Main Library and NASCAR Hall of Fame building
Clockwise: UNC Charlotte, Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Arts + Culture, Duke Energy Center, Charlotte's skyline, First Presbyterian Church of Charlotte, Charlotte Main Library and NASCAR Hall of Fame building
Flag of Charlotte, North Carolina
Flag
Nickname(s): The Queen City, The QC, The Hornet's Nest
Charlotte's location in Mecklenburg County in the state of North Carolina
Charlotte's location in Mecklenburg County in the state of North Carolina
Country United States
State North Carolina
County Mecklenburg County
Settled 1755
Incorporated 1768 (as a town, later a city)
Named for Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz
Area
 • City 297.7 sq mi (771 km2)
Elevation 751 ft (229 m)
Population (2014)
 • City 809,958 (17th)
 • Density 2,720.7/sq mi (1,050.5/km2)
 • Urban 1,249,442 (38th)
 • Metro 2,380,314 (22nd)
Demonym(s) Charlottean
Time zone EST (UTC-5)
 • Summer (DST) EDT (UTC-4)
ZIP code 28201-28237, 28240-28247, 28250, 28253-28256, 28258, 28260-28262, 28265-28266, 28269-28275, 28277-28278, 28280-28290, 28296-28297, 28299
Area code(s) 704, 980
FIPS code 37-12000
GNIS feature ID 1019610
Website www.charmeck.org

Charlotte /ˈʃɑːrlət/ is the largest city in the state of North Carolina. It is the county seat of Mecklenburg County and the second-largest city in the southeastern United States, just behind Jacksonville, Florida. Charlotte is the third-fastest growing major city in the United States. In 2014 the estimated population of Charlotte according to the U.S. Census Bureau was 809,958 Residents of Charlotte are referred to as "Charlotteans". It is listed as a "gamma-plus" global city by the Globalization and World Cities Research Network.

Charlotte is home to the corporate headquarters of Bank of America and the east coast operations of Wells Fargo, which along with other financial institutions makes it the second-largest banking center in the United States. Among Charlotte's many notable attractions, some of the most popular include the Carolina Panthers of the National Football League (NFL), the Charlotte Hornets of the National Basketball Association (NBA), the Charlotte Independence of the United Soccer League (USL), two NASCAR Sprint Cup races and the NASCAR All-Star Race, the Wells Fargo Championship, the NASCAR Hall of Fame, the Charlotte Ballet, Carowinds amusement park, and the U.S. National Whitewater Center. Charlotte Douglas International Airport is a major international hub, and was ranked the 23rd-busiest airport in the world by passenger traffic in 2013.

Charlotte has a humid subtropical climate. The city 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

See also: Timeline of Charlotte, North Carolina

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.

In August 2015 and in September 2016, the city experienced several days of protests related to the police shootings of Jonathan Ferrell and Keith Scott.

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
See also: List of Charlotte neighborhoods and List of tallest buildings in Charlotte
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

Little Sugar Creek Greenway near Brandywine Road in winter, Charlotte, NC
Little Sugar Creek Greenway in winter

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. <section begin="weather box"/>

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Demographics

Historical population
Census Pop.
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%
Est. 2015 827,097 13.1%

The most recent U.S. Census estimate (2014, released in May 2015) showed 809,958 residents living within Charlotte's city limits and 1,012,539 in Mecklenburg County. The Combined Statistical Area, or trade area, of Charlotte-Concord-Gastonia, NC-SC had a population of 2,537,990. Figures from the more comprehensive 2010 census show Charlotte's population density to be 2,457 per square mile (948.7/km²). There are 319,918 housing units at an average density of 1,074.6 per square mile (414.9/km²).

Race and ethnicity 2010- Charlotte (5559889573)
Map of racial distribution in Charlotte, 2010 U.S. Census. Each dot is 25 people: White, Black, Asian Hispanic, or Other (yellow))

According to the 2010 United States Census, the racial composition of Charlotte was:

  • White or Caucasian: 45.1%
  • Black or African American: 35.0%
  • Hispanic: 13.1%
  • Asian: 5.0%
  • Native American: 0.5%
  • Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander: 0.1%
  • some other race: 6.8%
  • two or more races: 2.7%

In 1970, the Census Bureau reported Charlotte's population as 30.2% Black and 68.9% White.

The median income for a household in the city is $48,670, and the median income for a family is $59,452. Males have a median income of $38,767 versus $29,218 for females. The per capita income for the city is $29,825. The percentage of the population living at or below the poverty line is 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 are living below the poverty line.

Religion

Billy-graham-library-and-grounds
Billy Graham Library

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, and SIM Missions Organization make their homes in the Charlotte general area. In total, Charlotte proper has 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 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 Traditional Latin Mass is offered by the Society of St. Pius X at St. Anthony Catholic Church in nearby Mount Holly. The Traditional Latin Mass is also offered at St. Ann, Charlotte, a church under the jurisdiction of the Roman Catholic Bishop of Charlotte. St. Matthew Parish, located in the Ballantyne neighborhood, is the largest Catholic parish with over 30,000 parishioners.

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

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 were religiously affiliated, 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 is Roman Catholic (9.43%), followed by Methodist (8.02%) and Presbyterian (5.25%). Other Christian affiliates include Pentecostal (2.50%), Lutheran (1.30%), Episcopalian (1.20%), Latter-Day Saints (0.84%), and other Christian (8.87%) churches, including Eastern Orthodox and non-denominational. 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
  • Bechtler Museum of Modern Art
  • Billy Graham Library
  • Carolinas Aviation Museum
  • Charlotte-Mecklenburg Fire Education Center and Museum           
  • Charlotte Nature Museum in Freedom Park
  • Charlotte Trolley Museum in Historic South End
  • Discovery Place
  • Discovery Place KIDS-Huntersville
  • Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Arts + Culture
  • Historic Rosedale Plantation
  • Levine Museum of the New South
  • The Light Factory
  • McColl Center for Visual Art
  • Mint Museum
  • NASCAR Hall of Fame
  • Second Ward Alumni House Museum
  • Wells Fargo History Museum
  • Charlotte Museum of History

Performing arts

  • Actor's Theatre of Charlotte
  • Amos' Southend Music Hall
  • Blumenthal Performing Arts Center
  • Charlotte Ballet
  • Charlotte Symphony Orchestra
  • Charlotte Shakespeare
  • Children's Theatre of Charlotte
  • ImaginOn
  • North Carolina Music Factory
  • Opera Carolina
  • The Robot Johnson Show
  • Citizens of the Universe
  • Theatre Charlotte
  • Carolina Renaissance Festival

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

Images for kids


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