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Kannapolis, North Carolina
City of Kannapolis
City of Kannapolis
Location of Kannapolis, North Carolina
Location of Kannapolis, North Carolina
Country  United States
State North Carolina
Counties Cabarrus and Rowan
Founded 1906
Incorporated 1984
 • Type Council - Manager
 • Total 33.28 sq mi (86.19 km2)
 • Land 32.71 sq mi (84.73 km2)
 • Water 0.56 sq mi (1.46 km2)
780 ft (237.74 m)
 • Total 42,625
 • Estimate 
 • Density 1,554.11/sq mi (600.04/km2)
Time zone UTC-5 (EST)
 • Summer (DST) UTC-4 (EDT)
ZIP codes
28081, 28082, 28083
Area codes 704, 980
FIPS code 37-35200
GNIS feature ID 1021013
ColorLogo low res
The Kannapolis logo contains a Colonial Williamsburg architectural style cupola.

Kannapolis is a city in Cabarrus and Rowan counties, in the U.S. state of North Carolina, northwest of Concord and northeast of Charlotte and is a suburb in the Charlotte metropolitan area. The city of Kannapolis was incorporated in 1984. The population was 42,625 at the 2010 census, which makes Kannapolis the 20th largest city in North Carolina. It is the home of the Kannapolis Cannon Ballers, the Low-A baseball affiliate of the Chicago White Sox, and it is the hometown of the Earnhardt racing family. It is also the headquarters for the Haas F1 racing team. The center of the city is home to the North Carolina Research Campus, a public-private venture that focuses on food, nutrition, and biotech research.



Early meaning and usage of the city's name was a direct reference to Cannon Mills Corporation, or James William Cannon himself. Early published name variations include "Cannon-opolis" and "Cannapolis". A widely accepted origin of the word "Kannapolis" comes from the combination of the Greek words kanna (reeds, not looms) and polis (city), which some believed meant "City of Looms". Dr. Gary Freeze, Catawba College history and politics department chairman, said a Concord newspaper used the name "Cannon City" in 1906. After mill workers or newspapers called the town "Cannapolis", J.W. Cannon asked Cabarrus County commissioners to give the town the name, but starting with a "K". Kannapolis historian Norris Dearmon said the K might have been to distinguish the town from his Concord mill village. Since, Freeze said, "Jim Cannon didn't study Greek," Cannon did not name the town "city of looms".In 1906 J.W. Cannon purchased the land that later became Kannapolis, and acquired a total of 1008 acres in Cabarrus and Rowan Counties. Approximately 808 of those acres of farmland, purchased along the historic wagon road between Salisbury and Charlotte, became the location of the new textile mill, Cannon Manufacturing. Cannon Manufacturing began production in 1908. In 1914 Cannon Manufacturing became known as the world’s largest producer of sheets and towels. Shortly after, Mr. Cannon opened plants in Rowan County, Concord and in South Carolina totaling 20,000 workers. Mill founder J.W. Cannon’s youngest son, Charles A. Cannon, consolidated all the separate mills into the giant Cannon Mills Company in 1928.

National Register of Historic Places

The Meek House and Harvey Jeremiah Peeler House are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.


Kannapolis is located on the boundary of Cabarrus and Rowan counties, with a greater portion of its area in Cabarrus County. U.S. Route 29 (Cannon Boulevard) passes through the city east of the downtown area; U.S. 29 leads northeast 15 miles (24 km) to Salisbury and south 7 miles (11 km) to Concord. Interstate 85 bypasses the city on the south and the east, with access from Exits 54 through 63 (five exits total). I-85 leads northeast 65 miles (105 km) to Greensboro and southwest 21 miles (34 km) to Charlotte.

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 32.5 square miles (84.2 km2), of which 31.9 square miles (82.7 km2) is land and 0.58 square miles (1.5 km2), or 1.73%, is water.

North Carolina Research Campus

Research Center Kannapolis NC
David H. Murdock Core Laboratory at the North Carolina Research Campus

The North Carolina Research Campus in Kannapolis is a 350-acre (140 ha) research center. Corporations, universities and healthcare organizations have forged a public-private partnership at the intersection of human health, nutrition and agriculture by focusing on food and nutrition and biotech research. The partners include Appalachian State University, the David H. Murdock Research Institute, Dole Nutrition Research Laboratory, Duke University MURDOCK Study, General Mills, JC Med, Monsanto, NC A&T University, NC Central University, NC State University, UNC-Chapel Hill, UNC Charlotte, and UNC Greensboro.

David H. Murdock, owner of the real estate company Castle & Cooke and former CEO of Dole Food Company, and Molly Corbett Broad, president of the 16-campus University of North Carolina system, unveiled plans on September 12, 2005, for the research campus, as an economic revitalization project that encompasses the site of the former Cannon Mills plant and entire downtown area of Kannapolis.

During the next few years, the NC Research Campus was developed by Castle and Cooke in collaboration with UNC General Administration and several North Carolina universities, including NC State, UNC-Chapel Hill, and others. In 2008, faculty from NC State, UNC-Chapel Hill, UNC Charlotte, UNC Greensboro, NC A&T, NC Central, and Appalachian State moved into the Nutrition Research Institute building, operated by UNC-Chapel Hill, and the Plants for Human Health Institute, operated by NC State. The buildings are owned by Castle and Cooke, which rents the space to the UNC system in a rent-to-own agreement.

Funding for research and education activities at NCRC comes from federal and private research grants and donations, which support individual laboratories, and from the North Carolina State budget, which supplies general operating expenses and salaries for faculty and support staff. Funding from the Legislature is disbursed to individual universities to support their operations at NCRC.

The David H. Murdock Research Institute, a not-for-profit research institute, operates a Core Lab facility that offers genomic sequencing, metabolomics profiling, and other research services.


Historical population
Census Pop.
1990 29,696
2000 36,910 24.3%
2010 42,625 15.5%
2019 (est.) 50,841 19.3%
U.S. Decennial Census

2020 census

Kannapolis racial composition
Race Number Percentage
White (non-Hispanic) 29,003 54.61%
Black or African American (non-Hispanic) 11,636 21.91%
Native American 159 0.3%
Asian 1,301 2.45%
Pacific Islander 23 0.04%
Other/Mixed 2,530 4.76%
Hispanic or Latino 8,462 15.93%

As of the 2020 United States census, there were 53,114 people, 17,248 households, and 12,092 families residing in the city.


Parks and recreation


Kannapolis has several public recreational areas. These include parks, athletic fields and greenways. One public park in the city, Vietnam Veterans Park (formerly, North Cabarrus Park) is maintained and operated by Cabarrus County.

  • Bakers Creek Park
  • Dale Earnhardt Plaza
  • Veterans Park
  • Vietnam Veterans Park (formerly, North Cabarrus Park)
  • Village Park
  • Walter M. Safrit Park


  • The Club at Irish Creek (formerly, Kannapolis Country Club)
  • Kannapolis Recreation Park


Kannapolis is located adjacent to Interstate 85, approximately 20 miles (32 km) northeast of Charlotte.

Concord Kannapolis Area Transit, also known as Rider, provides multiple local bus routes, with its farthest point reaching Concord Mills Mall.

Charlotte Area Transit System (CATS) provides multiple transportation options including bus, vanpool or carpool. CATS provides a bus stop and parking at Kannapolis' Home Depot parking lot.

The Kannapolis Amtrak station is located at 201 South Main Street.


In 2004, a silent film about Kannapolis, showing the everyday behavior of ordinary people, which was made in 1941 by itinerant filmmaker H. Lee Waters, was selected by the Library of Congress for listing in the United States National Film Registry, as a representative of this kind of filmed "town portrait" popular in the 1930s and 1940s.

  • Minchin, Timothy J., "'It Knocked This City to Its Knees': The Closure of Pillowtex Mills in Kannapolis, North Carolina, and the Decline of the U.S. Textile Industry," Labor History 50 (Aug. 2009), 287–311
  • Vanderburg, Timothy W. Cannon Mills and Kannapolis: Persistent Paternalism in a Textile Town (University of Tennessee Press; 2013) 255 pages




Kannapolis City Schools is the primary school system for the city. Two additional systems also serve its jurisdiction: Cabarrus County Schools and Rowan–Salisbury School System.

Faith Christian Academy (FCA) is a private, non-profit Christian educational institution that is operated by Faith Baptist Church. Faith Christian Academy offers a combination of the A Beka program (K5-2nd grade) and the Alpha-Omega computerized, individual learning program (3rd-12th grade). FCA was organized in 1982.

Franklin Heights Christian Academy (FHCA) is a private, non-profit Christian educational institution that is operated by Franklin Heights Baptist Church. FHCA was organized in 2009. This school is now closed.

Higher education

Shaw University has an extramural site in Kannapolis offering undergraduate, graduate and continuing educational programs.

Ambassador Christian College has a campus in Kannapolis offering undergraduate and graduate degrees in Theology. The school was founded in 2003 by Dr. Keith Slough.

Notable people

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