kids encyclopedia robot

Monroe, North Carolina facts for kids

Kids Encyclopedia Facts
Quick facts for kids
Monroe, North Carolina
Union County Courthouse in downtown Monroe
Union County Courthouse in downtown Monroe
"a heritage of progress"
Location of Monroe, North Carolina
Location of Monroe, North Carolina
Country United States
State North Carolina
County Union
 • Total 24.9 sq mi (64.4 km2)
 • Land 24.6 sq mi (63.6 km2)
 • Water 0.3 sq mi (0.7 km2)
591 ft (180 m)
 • Total 32,797
 • Density 1,067.5/sq mi (412.1/km2)
Time zone UTC-5 (Eastern (EST))
 • Summer (DST) UTC-4 (EDT)
ZIP codes
Area code(s) 704
FIPS code 37-43920
GNIS feature ID 0990144

Monroe is a fast-growing city and the county seat in Union County, North Carolina, United States. The population jumped from 26,228 in 2000 to 32,797 in 2010. It is the seat of government of Union County and is also part of the Charlotte-Gastonia-Rock Hill, NC-SC Metropolitan area. Monroe has a council-manager form of government.


In 1843, the first Board of County Commissioners, appointed by the General Assembly, selected an area in the center of the county as the county seat and Monroe was incorporated that year. It was named for James Monroe, the country’s fifth president. It became a trading center for the agricultural areas of the upland region, which cultivated tobacco.

Since the early 20th century, Ludwig drums and timpani have been manufactured in Monroe. The Ludwig brothers developed a hydraulic action timpani. In 1916 they invented a spring mechanism—the basis for the current Balanced Action Pedal Timpani.

Monroe had the typical segregation of the state following World War II, and local blacks, including Marine veteran Robert F. Williams, began to work to gain civil rights. At this time, the city had a population estimated at about 12,000; the press reported an estimated 7500 members of the Ku Klux Klan in the city. Williams became president of the local NAACP chapter and began to work to integrate public facilities, starting with the library and the city's swimming pool. These had been built with federal funds during the Great Depression of the 1930s and were operated from revenues derived from taxes on blacks as well as whites.

In 1958 Williams hired Conrad Lynn, a civil rights attorney from New York City, to aid in defending two African-American boys, aged nine and seven. They had been convicted of "molestation" and sentenced until age 21 to a reformatory for kissing a white girl their age on the cheek. This became known as the Kissing Case. The former First Lady, Eleanor Roosevelt, talked to the governor to urge restraint, and the case became internationally embarrassing for the United States. After three months, the governor pardoned the boys.

There was rising Ku Klux Klan white violence against the minority black community of Monroe during the civil rights years, and Williams began to advocate black armed defense. The NAACP and black community in Monroe provided a base for some of the Freedom Riders in 1961, who were trying to integrate interstate bus travel, which was protected by the federal constitution's provisions regulating interstate commerce. Mobs attacked pickets marching for the Freedom Riders at the county courthouse. That year, Williams was accused of kidnapping an elderly white couple, when he sheltered them in his house during an explosive situation of high racial tensions.

Williams and his wife fled the United States to avoid prosecution for kidnapping. They went into exile for years in Cuba and in the People's Republic of China before returning to the United States in 1969. After Williams returned in 1969 and his trial was scheduled in 1975, North Carolina re-evaluated its case and dropped the charges.

The Jesse Helms family was prominent among the white community iduring these years. Jesse Helms Sr. served as Police and Fire Chief of Monroe for many years. Jesse Helms, Jr. was born and grew up in the town, where whites were Democrats in his youth. He became a politician and was elected five terms (1973–2003) as the U.S. Senator from North Carolina, switching to the Republican Party as it attracted conservative whites. He mustered support in the South for and played a key role in helping Ronald Reagan to be elected as President of the United States. Through that period, he was also a prominent (and often controversial) national leader of the Religious Right wing of the Republican Party. The Jesse Helms Center is in neighboring Wingate, North Carolina.

Monroe was home to the Starlite Speedway in the 1960s to 1970s. On May 13, 1966 the 1/2 mile dirt track hosted NASCAR's 'Independent 250.' Darel Dieringer won the race.

As part of the developing Charlotte metropolitan area, in the 21st century, Monroe has attracted new Hispanic residents. North Carolina has encouraged immigration to increase its labor pool.

The Malcolm K. Lee House, Monroe City Hall, Monroe Downtown Historic District, Monroe Residential Historic District, Piedmont Buggy Factory, John C. Sikes House, Union County Courthouse, United States Post Office, and Waxhaw-Weddington Roads Historic District are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.


Charlotte–Monroe Executive Airport (EQY) is located 5 mi (8.0 km) northwest of Monroe.

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 24.9 square miles (64 km2), of which, 24.6 square miles (64 km2) of it is land and 0.3 square miles (0.78 km2) of it (1.13%) is water.


Historical population
Census Pop.
1850 204
1860 239 17.2%
1870 1,144 378.7%
1880 1,564 36.7%
1890 1,866 19.3%
1900 2,427 30.1%
1910 4,082 68.2%
1920 4,084 0.0%
1930 6,100 49.4%
1940 6,475 6.1%
1950 10,140 56.6%
1960 10,882 7.3%
1970 11,282 3.7%
1980 12,639 12.0%
1990 16,127 27.6%
2000 26,228 62.6%
2010 32,797 25.0%
Est. 2015 34,623 5.6%
U.S. Decennial Census

As of the census of 2010, there were 32,797 people, 9,029 households, and 6,392 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,067.5 people per square mile (412.2/km²). There were 9,621 housing units at an average density of 391.6 per square mile (151.2/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 60.12% White, 27.78% African American, 0.44% Native American, 0.65% Asian, 0.03% Pacific Islander, 9.37% from other races, and 1.60% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 21.39% of the population.

There were 9,029 households out of which 33.7% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 49.0% were married couples living together, 15.9% had a female householder with no husband present, and 29.2% were non-families. 23.3% of all households were made up of individuals and 8.3% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.83 and the average family size was 3.27.

In the city, the population was spread out with 26.9% under the age of 18, 11.6% from 18 to 24, 32.6% from 25 to 44, 18.0% from 45 to 64, and 10.8% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 31 years. For every 100 females there were 102.5 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 101.1 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $40,457, and the median income for a family was $44,953. Males had a median income of $30,265 versus $22,889 for females. The per capita income for the city was $17,970. About 11.7% of families and 17.2% of the population were below the poverty line, including 28.7% of those under age 18 and 12.8% of those age 65 or over.

kids search engine
Monroe, North Carolina Facts for Kids. Kiddle Encyclopedia.