Charlotte, NC: Wikis


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City of Charlotte
—  City  —
Center City Charlotte

Nickname(s): "The Queen City", "The QC", "The Hornet's Nest", "Crown Town"
Location in Mecklenburg County in the state of North Carolina
Coordinates: 35°13′37″N 80°50′36″W / 35.22694°N 80.84333°W / 35.22694; -80.84333
Country  United States
State  North Carolina
County Mecklenburg County, North Carolina seal.png Mecklenburg County
Settled 1755
Incorporated 1768 (as a town, later a city)
 - Type Council-manager
 - Mayor Anthony Foxx, (D)
 - City 286.0 sq mi (629.0 km2)
 - Land 242.3 sq mi (627.5 km2)
 - Water 0.6 sq mi (1.6 km2)
Elevation 751 ft (229 m)
Population (2009)[1][2]
 - City 716,874 (18th)
 Density 2,515.7/sq mi (971.3/km2)
 Metro 1,725,759
 - Demonym 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[3]
GNIS feature ID 1019610[4]

Charlotte (pronounced /ˈʃɑrlət/) is the largest city in the state of North Carolina and the seat of Mecklenburg County. Charlotte's population was estimated to be 687,456 in 2008,[1] making it the 18th largest city in the United States. The Charlotte metropolitan area had a population in 2007 of 1,701,799.[2] The Charlotte metropolitan area is part of a wider thirteen-county labor market region or combined statistical area that has an estimated population of 2,338,289.[5] Residents of Charlotte are referred to as "Charlotteans".

Nicknamed the Queen City, Charlotte and the county containing it are named in honor of the German Princess Charlotte of Mecklenburg, who had become queen consort of British King George III the year before the city's founding. A second nickname derives from later in the 18th century. During the American Revolutionary War, British commander General Cornwallis occupied the city but was driven out afterwards by hostile residents, prompting him to write that Charlotte was "a hornet's nest of rebellion," leading to another city nickname: The Hornet's Nest.

Charlotte has a temperate climate. It is located halfway between the Appalachian Mountains and the Atlantic Ocean, and between Washington, D.C. and Atlanta, Georgia. Charlotte is located along the Catawba River and near Lake Norman, the largest lake in North Carolina.

Forbes named Charlotte as the third most undervalued real estate markets in the U.S. in 2007.[6] In 2008, Charlotte was chosen the "Best Place to Live in America" by in its annual ranking, based on factors including employment opportunities, crime rates, and housing affordability.[7] It was also named #8 of the 100 "Best Places to Live and Launch" by; cities were picked for their vibrant lifestyles and opportunities for new businesses.[8] Lifestyle was also noted when in 2007 Prevention Magazine rated the city the fourth best "Walking City" in the nation, and the best in North Carolina,[9] and Self Magazine named it one of "Five Cities with Big Outdoor Appeal" for features like its Public Art Walking Tour, accessible museums such as the Mint Museum of Craft + Design, and nearby outdoor excursions like the U.S. National Whitewater Center.



Replica of James K. Polk birthplace on outskirts of Charlotte, North Carolina

The current land of Mecklenburg County has a long and storied history that involves being located in five different counties since 1696 or over 300 years of existence. Retracing the exact beginning of Mecklenburg goes back to its inclusion as a part of Bath County (1696-1729) of New Hanover Precinct of The House Of Hanover royalty in England. Bath County became New Hanover County (1729-present) that split into Bladen County (1734-present) and then Anson County (1750-present). The current Mecklenburg (1762-present) saw Cabarrus County split off (1792-present) and Union County (1842-present) to its current land size.

Interestingly, future Mecklenburg county once part of Bath, New Hanover, Bladen and Anson counties did not take its final form until 1842. Edward Teach, aka Blackbeard the pirate born in England in 1680 was part of the Royal Navy before becoming the most famous pirate recorded in history, took up residence in Bath County and married a local girl before being killed in 1718 on Okracoke Island in Hyde County NC after terrorizing and extorting Charleston SC harbor for months. His ship Adventure was sank by Lieutenant Robert Maynard who cut off the head of Teach and mounted on his ships bow.

It can be claimed that current Mecklenburg in its fifth and final county namesake was inclusive in the original Bath County over 300 yrs ago inhabited by Blackbeard whose massive treasures buried in the same county have never been found.

The area that is now Charlotte was first settled in 1755 when Thomas Polk (uncle of United States President James K. Polk), who was traveling with Thomas Spratt and his family, stopped and built his house of residence at the intersection of two Native American trading paths between the Yadkin and Catawba rivers.[10] One of the paths ran north-south and was part of the Great Wagon Road; the second path 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. Within the first decades following Polk's settling, the area grew to become the community of "Charlotte Town," which officially incorporated as a town in 1768.[11] The crossroads, perched atop a long rise in the Piedmont landscape, became the heart of modern Uptown Charlotte. In 1770, surveyors marked off the new town's 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.[12] The intersection of Trade and Tryon is known as "Trade & Tryon" or simply "The Square."[10] It is more properly called Independence Square.[13]

Both the town (now a city) and its county (originally a part of Anson County) are named for Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz, the German-born wife of British King George III. The town name was chosen in hopes of winning favor with the crown,[14] but tensions between the United Kingdom and Charlotte Town began to grow as King George imposed unpopular laws on the citizens in response to the townspeople's desire for independence.[15] On May 20, 1775, the townsmen allegedly signed a proclamation later known as the Mecklenburg Declaration of Independence, a copy of which was sent, though never officially presented, to the Continental Congress a year later.[16] The date of the declaration appears on the North Carolina state flag. Eleven days later, the same townsmen met to create and endorse the Mecklenburg Resolves, a set of laws to govern the newly independent town.[17]

Charlotte was a site of encampment for both American and British armies during the Revolutionary War and, during a series of skirmishes between British troops and Charlotteans, the village earned the lasting nickname "Hornet's Nest" from frustrated Lord General Charles Cornwallis.[18] An ideological hotbed of revolutionary sentiment during the Revolutionary War and for some time afterwards, the legacy endures today in the nomenclature of such landmarks as Independence Boulevard, Independence High School, Independence Center, Freedom Park, Freedom Drive, and the former NBA team Charlotte Hornets.

Churches, including Presbyterians, Baptists, Methodists, Episcopalians, Lutherans, and Catholics, began to form in the early 1800s, eventually giving Charlotte its nickname "The City of Churches."[19]

In 1792 the eastern half of Mecklenburg county made up of small rural independent farmers tired of traveling all day by horse and buggy to the county seat of Charlotte Town decided to go to Raleigh and secede to form its own county in the state legislature where they garnered a tie vote that was broken by an ex-naturalized Frenchman, eastern NC legislator Stephen Cabarrus. Cabarrus was thought to have been paid under the table by this new county and was allegedly hanged for horse thievery years later. The new county was named for Cabarrus and the town of Concord became its county seat. Oddly in 1799 or years before as many believe, in Cabarrus allegedly a 12-year-old Conrad Reed brought home a large gold rock he found in Little Meadow Creek, weighing about 17 pounds, which the family used as a bulky doorstop. Three years later, a jeweler determined that it was near solid gold, and bought it for a paltry $3.50.[20] The first verified gold find in the fledgling United States, young Reed's discovery became the genesis of the nation's first gold rush. Many veins of gold were found in the area throughout the 1800s and even into the early 1900s, thus the founding of the Charlotte Mint in 1837 for minting local gold. The state of North Carolina "led the nation in gold production until the California Gold Rush of 1848,"[21] although the total volume of gold mined in the Charlotte area was dwarfed by subsequent rushes. Charlotte's city population at the 1880 Census grew to 7,084.[22] Some locally based groups still pan for gold occasionally in local (mostly rural) streams and creeks. The Reed Gold Mine operated until 1912. The Charlotte Mint was active until 1861, when Confederate forces seized the mint 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, now housing the Mint Museum of Art.

The city's first boom came after the Civil War, as a cotton processing center and a railroad hub. Population leapt 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 ascent that eventually overtook older and more established rivals along the arc of the Carolina Piedmont.[23]

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 a series of aggressive acquisitions became known as NationsBank and eventually merged with BankAmerica and was rebranded as Bank of America. Another bank, Wachovia, experienced similar growth, and was acquired by San Francisco based Wells Fargo. Measured by control of assets, Charlotte is the second largest banking headquarters in the United States after New York City.[24]

On September 22, 1989, the city took a direct hit from Hurricane Hugo. Passing through Charlotte as a Category 1 hurricane with wind gusts over 100 mph (160 km/h) in some locations, Hugo caused massive property damage and knocked out electrical power to 98% of the population. Many residents were without power for several weeks and cleanup took months to complete. The city is just over 200 miles inland, and many residents from coastal areas in both Carolinas often wait out hurricanes in Charlotte. The city was caught unprepared, as almost no one expected a storm to strike with hurricane force this far inland. Over 80,000 trees were destroyed in Charlotte. In December 2002, Charlotte (and much of central North Carolina) was hit by an ice storm (which some dubbed, "Hugo on Ice") that knocked out power to over 1.3 million Duke Energy customers. According to a Duke Energy representative: "This ice storm surpasses the damage from Hurricane Hugo in 1989, which had 696,000 outages." During an abnormally cold December, many were without power for more than two weeks. Much of the damage was caused by Bradford pear trees which, still having leaves on December 4, split apart under the weight of the ice.


Historical populations
Year 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%
2008* 687,456 27.1%

As of 2008, census estimates show there are 687,456 people living within Charlotte's city limits, and 935,304 in Mecklenburg County. The Combined Statistical Area of Charlotte-Gastonia-Concord, NC-SC had a population of 2,338,289.[5] Figures from the more comprehensive 2000 census show Charlotte's population density to be 861.9/km² (2,232.4/sq mi). There are 230,434 housing units at an average density of 951.2/sq mi (367.2/km²).[26][27]

As of the 2005-2007 American Community Survey conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau, White Americans made up 56.0% of Charlotte's population; of which 50.3% were non-Hispanic whites. African Americans made up 33.7% of Charlotte's population; of which 33.2% were non-Hispanic blacks. Hispanics and Latinos made up 10.6% of Charlotte's population. American Indians made up 0.4% of the city's population; of which 0.3% were non-Hispanic. Asian Americans made up 4.0% of the city's population. Pacific Islander Americans made up 0.1% of the city's population. Individuals from some other race made up 4.0% of the city's population; of which 0.2% were non-Hispanic. Individuals from two or more races made up 1.8% of the city's population; of which 1.3% were non-Hispanic.[28][29]

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. 10.6% of the population and 7.8% of families are 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.


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 km²) of it is land and 0.6 sq. mi. (1.6 km²) of it is water. The total area is 0.25% water.

Charlotte constitutes most of Mecklenburg County in the Carolina Piedmont. Uptown/downtown Charlotte sits atop a long rise between two creeks and was built on the gunnies of the St. Catherine's and Rudisill gold mines. There is much disagreement about the use of the interchangeable terms "Uptown" and "Downtown" for the center city area. Prior to the late 1980s, the term "Downtown" was always used as a reference for Charlotte's center city area and many area residents still use the "Downtown" term. On February 14, 1987, the Charlotte Observer began calling the center city area "Uptown" in order to help promote a positive image of the area.[30]

Charlotte's elevation is 870 feet above sea level (at Charlotte/Douglas International Airport).

A 2007 American Lung Association report[31] ranks Charlotte as having the 16th highest levels of smog among U.S. cities; however, the region's air quality has improved significantly in recent years, and is expected to continue to do so, even with increasing travel.[32]



Charlotte is located in North America's humid subtropical climate zone. The city has cool to cold winters and warm, humid summers. In January, morning lows average around 29 °F (-2 °C) and afternoon highs average 51 °F (10.5 °C). In July, lows average 71 °F (22 °C) and highs average 90 °F (32 °C). The highest recorded temperature was 104 °F (40 °C) on September 6, 1954 and during the August 2007 Southeastern heat wave.[33] The lowest recorded temperature was -6 °F (-21 °C) in January 1985. Charlotte's location puts it in the direct path of subtropical moisture from the Gulf as it heads up the eastern seaboard along the jet stream, thus the city receives ample precipitation throughout the year but also a very large number of clear, sunny, and pleasantly warm days. On average, Charlotte receives about 43.52 in (1105.3 mm) of precipitation annually, including 6 inches of snow and more frequent ice-storms.

Climate data for Charlotte, North Carolina
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °F (°C) 79
Average high °F (°C) 51
Average low °F (°C) 32
Record low °F (°C) -6
Precipitation inches (mm) 4.00
Snowfall inches (mm) 2.0
Avg. rainy days 10 10 11 9 10 9 11 10 7 7 8 10 112
Source: The Weather Channel[34][35] August 2009


Charlotte has become a major U.S. financial center and is now the second largest banking center in the United States (after New York). The nation's largest financial institution by assets, Bank of America, calls the city home. The city was also the former corporate home of Wachovia until its purchase by Wells Fargo in 2008; Wells Fargo is in the process of integrating Wachovia, with the two banks expected to be fully merged by the end of 2011. Bank of America's headquarters, along with other regional banking and financial services companies, are located primarily in the uptown financial district. Thanks in large part to the expansion of the city's banking industry, the Charlotte skyline has mushroomed in the past two decades and boasts the Bank of America Corporate Center, the tallest skyscraper between Philadelphia and Atlanta. The 60-story postmodern gothic tower, designed by renowned architect Cesar Pelli, stands 871 feet tall and was completed in 1992.[citation needed] Electrolux recently decided to relocate their North American headquarters to Charlotte from Augusta, Georgia. Electrolux will also consolidate all of their North American offices into the new Charlotte headquarters. Swedish-based Husqvarna recently announced that they will relocate their North American headquarters to Charlotte from Augusta also.

The following Fortune 500 companies are headquartered in the Charlotte metropolitan area, in order of their rank: Bank of America, Lowe's in suburban Mooresville, Nucor (steel producer), Duke Energy, Sonic Automotive, Family Dollar, Goodrich Corporation, and SPX Corporation (industrial technology). Other major companies headquartered in the Metro Charlotte include Time Warner Cable (formerly a business unit of Fortune 500 company Time Warner), Continental Tire North America (formerly Continental/General Tire), Muzak, Belk, Harris Teeter, Meineke Car Care Center, Lance, Inc, Bojangles', Carlisle Companies, LendingTree, Compass Group USA, Food Lion, Coca-Cola Bottling Consolidated Company (the nation's second largest Coca-Cola bottler), and the Carolina Beverage Corporation (makers of Cheerwine, Sun Drop, and others) in suburban Salisbury, North Carolina.[citation needed] US Airways regional carrier CCAir was headquartered in Charlotte.[36][37] Charlotte is home to several large shopping malls, with Carolina Place Mall, SouthPark Mall and Northlake Mall being the largest.[citation needed]

NASCAR Hall of Fame

Charlotte is also a major center in the US motorsports industry, with NASCAR having multiple offices in and around Charlotte. Approximately 75% of the NASCAR industry's employees and drivers are based within two hours of uptown Charlotte. Charlotte is also the future home of the NASCAR Hall of Fame, expected to be open May 11, 2010, a week prior to the Sprint All-Star Race. The already large presence of the racing technology industry along with the newly built NHRA premier dragstrip, zMAX Dragway at Concord, located just north of Charlotte, is influencing some of the top professional drag racers to move their shops from more expensive areas like California to the Charlotte area as well. The recently announced small racetrack at the former Metrolina Fairgrounds location which is at Sunset and Statesville Roads is expected to bring more local racing to the area along with a skate park, shoppes, restaurants and an upscale hotel will offer recreation of many types. Located in the western part of Mecklenburg County is the National Whitewater Rafting Center, consisting of man-made rapids of various degrees and is open to the public year round.[38]

The Charlotte Region has an extraordinary base of energy-oriented organizations and has become known as “Charlotte USA – The New Energy Capital.” In the region there are 180+ companies directly tied to energy sector; collectively they employ 13,200+ workers. Since 2007, more than 3,500 new energy sector jobs have been announced. Major energy players in Charlotte: Duke Energy, AREVA, Electric Power Research Institute, Fluor, Metso Power, Piedmont Natural Gas, Siemens Energy, Shaw Group, Toshiba, URS/Washington Group and Westinghouse. Babcock and Wilcox just announced its relocation to Charlotte. There are a number of renewable energy firms and projects that have developed in Charlotte. The University of North Carolina at Charlotte has a long-term reputation in energy education and research; it has the “Energy Production and Infrastructure Center” on campus to train energy engineers and do research.

The center city/uptown area of Charlotte has seen remarkable growth over the last decade. Numerous residential units continue to be built uptown, including over 20 skyscrapers either 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.[39]

Law, government and politics

Charlotte has a council-manager form of government. The Mayor and city council are elected every two years, with no term limits. The mayor is ex officio chairman of the city council, and only votes in case of a tie. Unlike other mayors in council-manager systems, Charlotte's mayor has the power to veto ordinances passed by the council; vetoes can be overridden by a two-thirds majority of the council. The council appoints a city manager to serve as chief administrative officer.

Unlike some other cities and towns in North Carolina, elections are held on a partisan basis. The current mayor of Charlotte is Anthony Foxx, a member of the Democratic Party.

Charlotte tends to lean Democratic. However, voters are friendly to moderates of both parties. Republican strength is concentrated in the southeastern portion of the city, while Democratic strength is concentrated in the south-central, eastern and northern areas.

The city council comprises 11 members (7 from districts and 4 at-large). The Democrats currently control the council with an advantage of 8-to-3. Of the at-large seats, Democrats won three out of four in the last election.[40] While the city council is responsible for passing ordinances, many policy decisions must be approved by the North Carolina General Assembly as well, since North Carolina municipalities do not have home rule. Since the 1960s, however, municipal powers have been broadly construed.

Charlotte is split between three congressional districts on the federal level—the 8th, represented by Democrat Larry Kissell; the 9th, represented by Republican Sue Myrick; and the 12th, represented by Democrat Mel Watt.


The residents of Charlotte are provided emergency medical service by MEDIC, the Mecklenburg EMS Agency. MEDIC responded to over 93,000 calls for help in 2008, and transported over 71000 patients to the hospital.[41] The Agency employs nearly 350 Paramedics, EMTs, and EMDs. In addition to dispatching Medic’s EMS calls, the Agency also dispatches all county fire calls outside of the city of Charlotte.[42] At any given time, between 20 and 40 ambulances will be deployed to cover the county. In addition, MEDIC will deploy tactical SWAT paramedics, bike teams, and vehicles equipped to deal with mass casualty incidents should the needs arise.

Law enforcement and crime

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department

CMPD is a combined jurisdiction agency. The CMPD has law enforcement jurisdiction in both the City of Charlotte, and the few unincorporated areas left in Mecklenburg County. The other small towns maintain their own law enforcement agencies for their own jurisdictions. The Department consists of approximately 1,700 sworn law enforcement officers, 550 civilian personnel and more than 400 volunteers.[43] The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department divides the city into 13 geographic areas, which vary in size both geographically and by the number of officers assigned to each division.

The total crime index for Charlotte is 589.2 crimes committed per 100,000 residents as of 2008 and has shown a steady decline since 2005.[44] The national average is 320.9 per 100,000 residents.[45]

According to the Congressional Quarterly Press; '2008 City Crime Rankings: Crime in Metropolitan America, Charlotte, North Carolina ranks as the 62nd most dangerous city larger than 75,000 inhabitants.[46] However, the entire Charlotte-Gastonia Metropolitan Statistical Area ranked as 27th most dangerous out of 338 metro areas.[47]


Charlotte has 199 neighborhoods which span from Uptown to Ballantyne. Uptown has undergone a massive construction phase with buildings from Bank of America, Wells Fargo and multiple condos. Elizabeth Avenue has also had large residential buildings under construction. On Kenilworth and Charlottetowne Avenues, near Carolinas Medical Center, the Metropolitan, a major mixed-use project, was recently completed. Apart from these, the Ballantyne area has also seen a lot of growth and construction in the last several years. It provides for several choice office parks and mixed-use developments for the growing urban population as well companies looking to establish space or relocate.

Charlotte Pano.jpg

Education and libraries

School system

The city's public school system, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools, is the second largest in North Carolina and 20th 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.[48][49] About 132,000 students are taught in 161 separate elementary, middle and high schools.

The west side of UNC Charlotte's main campus
Facade of the Main Library in Uptown Charlotte
ImaginOn Children's Library

Colleges and universities

Charlotte is home to a number of notable universities and colleges such as Johnson & Wales University, Queens University of Charlotte, Johnson C. Smith University, Charlotte School of Law, Connecticut School of Broadcasting and University of North Carolina at Charlotte. Located in the nearby suburb of Davidson is Davidson College, ranked in the top 10 nationally among liberal arts colleges according to U.S. News & World Report. UNC Charlotte is the city's largest higher education institution. It is located in University City, the northeastern portion of Charlotte, which is also home to University Research Park, a 3,200 acre (13 km²) research and corporate park. At 24,000 students and counting, UNC Charlotte is the fastest-growing university in the state system and the fourth largest. Central Piedmont Community College is the city's junior college system and the largest community college in North Carolina and South Carolina.[50] There are multiple campuses, all in the Charlotte metro area.

Pfeiffer University has a satellite campus in Charlotte and Wake Forest University, with its main campus in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, also operates a satellite campus of its Babock Graduate School of Management in the SouthPark neighborhood. Wake Forest is currently looking to move the campus to Uptown Charlotte.[51]


The Public Library of Charlotte and Mecklenburg County serves the Charlotte area with a large collection (over 1.5 million) of books, CDs and DVDs at 19 locations in the city of Charlotte. There are also branches in the surrounding townships of Matthews, Mint Hill, Huntersville, Cornelius and Davidson. All locations provide free access to Internet-enabled computers and WiFi and a library card from one location is accepted at all 24 locations.

Although the Library's roots go back to the Charlotte Literary and Library Association, founded on January 16 1891,[52] the state-chartered Carnegie Library which opened on the current North Tryon site of the Main Library was the first non-subscription library opened to members of the public in the city of Charlotte. The philanthropist Andrew Carnegie donated $25,000 dollars for a library building on the condition that the city of Charlotte donate a site, and $2500 per year for books and salaries,[53] and that the state grant a charter for the library. All conditions were met, and the Charlotte Carnegie Library opened in a imposing classical building on July 2, 1903.

The 1903 state charter also required that a library be opened for the disenfranchised African-American population of Charlotte. This was completed in 1905, with opening of the Brevard Street Library for Negroes, an independent library[54] in Brooklyn, a historically black area of the city of Charlotte, on the corner of Brevard and East Second Street (now Martin Luther King Blvd.) The Brevard Street Library was the first library for free blacks in the state of North Carolina,[54] some sources say in the southeast.[55] This library was closed in 1961 when the Brooklyn neighborhood in Second Ward was redeveloped, but its role as a cultural center for African-Americans in Charlotte is continued by the Beatties Ford branch, the West branch and the Belmont Center branch of the current library system, as well as by Charlotte's African-American Cultural Center.


The Billy Graham Library and Birth Place in Charlotte, NC

The birthplace of Billy Graham, Charlotte is locally known as the "The City of Churches."(Charlotte is the historic seat of Southern Presbyterianism), but the changing demographics of the city's increasing population have brought scores of new denominations and faiths to the city. The Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, Wycliffe Bible Translators' JAARS Center, and SIM Missions Organization make their homes in Charlotte. In total, Charlotte proper has 700 places of worship.

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.

Charlotte's Cathedral of Saint Patrick is the seat of the bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Charlotte. The largest Christian congregation within Charlotte is that of St. Matthew Catholic Church. 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.

The African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church (AME Zion) is headquartered in Charlotte.

There are other religious institutions in the Charlotte area, including two Unitarian Universalist Churches and the Eidolon Foundation.[56]

The Salvation Army's headquarters for the North and South Carolina Division is located in Charlotte, as well as many local corps community centers and Boy's and Girl's Clubs.

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 (Charlotte, North Carolina) and Beth El (Charlotte, North Carolina) and a community center. Islam is represented by an active Islamic Center of Charlotte.



The Harvey B. Gantt Center for African American Arts+Culture



Club Sport Founded League Venue
Carolina Panthers Football 1995 National Football League Bank of America Stadium
Charlotte Bobcats Basketball 2004 National Basketball Association Time Warner Cable Arena
Charlotte Checkers Ice hockey starts in 2010 AHL Time Warner Cable Arena
Charlotte Checkers Ice hockey 1993 ECHL Time Warner Cable Arena
Charlotte Knights Baseball 1976 International League Knights Stadium, Fort Mill, SC
Charlotte Eagles Soccer 1993 USL-2 Waddell Stadium
Charlotte Lady Eagles Soccer 1993 W-League Waddell Stadium
Carolina Speed Indoor football 2006 American Indoor Football Association Bojangles' Coliseum
Charlotte Rugby Football Club Rugby union 1989 Rugby Super League Skillbeck Athletic Grounds
Charlotte Roller Girls Flat Track Roller Derby 2006 USA Roller Sports Grady Cole Center
NWA Charlotte Professional Wrestling 2009 National Wrestling Alliance NWA Charlotte Coliseum[57]


LYNX Light Rail opened in November 2007
People board a LYNX train on Stonewall station
Air Force One takes off from Charlotte/Douglas International Airport, with the Charlotte skyline in the background

Mass transit

The Charlotte Area Transit System (CATS) is the agency responsible for operating mass transit in Charlotte, and Mecklenburg County. CATS operates light rail transit, historical trolleys, express shuttles, and bus service serving Charlotte and its immediate suburbs. The LYNX light rail system comprises a 9.6-mile line north-south line known as the Blue Line. Bus ridership continues to grow (66% since 1998), but more slowly than operations increases which have risen 170% in that same time when adjusted for inflation.[58] The 2030 Transit Corridor System Plan looks to supplement established bus service with light rail and commuter rail lines as a part of a system dubbed LYNX.

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. Charlotte's beltway, designated I-485 and simply called "485" by locals, is partially completed but stalled for funding. The new projection has it slated for completion by 2013.[59] Upon completion, 485 will have a total circumference of approximately 67 miles (108 km). Within the city, the I-277 loop freeway encircles Charlotte's downtown (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 US 74 and links downtown with the Matthews area is undergoing an expansion and widening in the eastern part of the city.


Charlotte/Douglas International Airport is the 8th busiest airport in the U.S. and 9th busiest in the world as measured by traffic.[60] It is served by many domestic airlines, as well as international airlines Air Canada and Lufthansa, and is the largest hub of US Airways. Nonstop flights are available to many destinations across the United States, as well as flights to Canada, Central America, the Caribbean, Europe, Mexico, and South America.

Intercity rail

Charlotte is served daily by three Amtrak routes.

The city is currently planning a new centralized multimodial train station called the Gateway Station. It is expected to house the future LYNX Purple Line, the new Greyhound bus station, and the Crescent line that passes through Uptown Charlotte.

Sister cities

Charlotte's sister cities are:[61]

See also


  1. ^ a b "Annual Estimates of the Population for Incorporated Places Over 100,000, Ranked by July 1, 2008 Population". US Census Bureau. Retrieved 2008-04-10. 
  2. ^ a b "Table 1. Annual Estimates of the Population of Metropolitan and Micropolitan Statistical Areas: April 1, 2000 to July 1, 2008". U.S. Census Bureau. Retrieved 2009-09-29. 
  3. ^ "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2008-01-31. 
  4. ^ "US Board on Geographic Names". United States Geological Survey. 2007-10-25. Retrieved 2008-01-31. 
  5. ^ a b "Table 2. Annual Estimates of the Population of Combined Statistical Areas: April 1, 2000 to July 1, 2008". US Census Bureau. Retrieved 2008-12-18. 
  6. ^ [1]
  7. ^ Charlotte-Named-Best-Place-to-Live: Personal Finance News from Yahoo! Finance
  8. ^ [2]
  9. ^ ____/fitness/walking/walking.goals/
  10. ^ a b "The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Story: History Timeline: Founding a New City". Web Site. Public Library of Charlotte and Mecklenburg County. Retrieved 2008-10-25. 
  11. ^ Mecklenburg County, North Carolina USGenWeb Project
  12. ^ "The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Story: History Timeline: Designing a New City". Web Site. Public Library of Charlotte and Mecklenburg County. Retrieved 2008-10-25. 
  13. ^ "101 Independence Center". Retrieved 2008-10-15. 
  14. ^ "The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Story: History Timeline: Charlotte Incorporated". Web Site. Public Library of Charlotte and Mecklenburg County. Retrieved 2008-10-25. 
  15. ^ "The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Story: History Timeline: King's Power". Web Site. Public Library of Charlotte and Mecklenburg County. Retrieved 2008-10-25. 
  16. ^ The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Story: History Timeline: Mecklenburg Declaration
  17. ^ "The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Story: History Timeline: Mecklenburg Resolves". Web Site. Public Library of Charlotte and Mecklenburg County. Retrieved 2008-10-25. 
  18. ^ "The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Story: History Timeline: Revolutionary War". Web Site. Public Library of Charlotte and Mecklenburg County. Retrieved 2008-10-25. 
  19. ^ "The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Story: History Timeline: The City of Churches". Web Site. Public Library of Charlotte and Mecklenburg County. Retrieved 2008-10-25. 
  20. ^ Blanchard Online: American Rarities (Retrieved on 05-22-07)
  21. ^ This entire scenario has been questioned over the ages since it seemed to be a very odd timely coincidence that large gold quantities and deposits were discovered at roughly the same time these eastern Mecklenburg farmers wanted to split away and form their own county leading many to believe it was a rigged and in the end we know Mecklenburg lost half its county size including all the gold and in the end only got to be a federal mint for this first discovery in America of this extremely valuable ore as hundreds of mines sprang up all the new county mining many mega millions that in today's prorated values would total in the tens of billions of more. Most of the poor farmers thus became very wealthy selling or renting their farmland to the gold mine companies. This massive gold rush lasted 50 years or until the 1849 discovery of gold in northern California hills west [sic] of San Francisco [sic] and Sacramento that created the second great American gold rush boom town. In retrospect it seems fairly obvious as many knew in those olden days that Mecklenburg county as a whole was quite literally tricked and robbed of half its land size and all of its gold plus the historical significance of being the original place of gold discovery by a mere band of uneducated farmers. Much of this version of events has been covered up or lost in time. In those early days not long after the Revolutionary War of 1776 it was not uncommon for secessionism to prevail, but in hindsight the massive scheming trickery of these rural farmers to prevail in Raleigh, literally stealing 50% of the county away and all of the gold, is quite stunning and breathtaking; but it has been forgotten over the more than 200 years. This highly engineered secessionist success could go down as one of the greatest masterminded plots in US history and much bigger than even today's Ponzi schemes. Also using the small boy with the doorstop myth may go down as one of the all time greatest ploys. The Charlotte Branch Mint
  22. ^ "The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Story". Web Site. Public Library of Charlotte and Mecklenburg County. Retrieved 2008-10-25. 
  23. ^ "The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Story: History Timeline: Antebellum Days". Web Site. Public Library of Charlotte and Mecklenburg County. Retrieved 2008-10-25. 
  24. ^ "The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Story: History Timeline: 80s Charlotte". Web Site. Public Library of Charlotte and Mecklenburg County. Retrieved 2008-10-25. 
  25. ^ "Annual Estimates of the Population for Incorporated Places Over 100,000". U.S. Census Bureau. 
  26. ^ "Mecklenburg County MapStats from FedStats". US Census Bureau. Retrieved 2008-04-10. "Population of Census records circa 2006" 
  27. ^ "Charlotte city, North Carolina - ACS Demographic and Housing Estimates: 2006". US Census Bureau. Retrieved 2008-04-10. "Charlotte Demographics and Population circa 2006" 
  28. ^
  29. ^
  30. ^ "The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Story: History Timeline: 'Down' becomes 'Up'". Web Site. Public Library of Charlotte and Mecklenburg County. Retrieved 2008-10-25. 
  31. ^ American Lung Association, Annual Air Quality Report Card (2007)
  32. ^ "Charlotte: Regional Trends" (PDF). 2007 John Locke Foundation. pp. 2. Retrieved 2007-10-18. 
  33. ^ Weather History
  34. ^ "Average Weather for Charlotte, NC - Temperature and Precipitation". Retrieved August 30, 2009. 
  35. ^ "Weatherbase: Historical Weather for Charlotte, NC, United States of America". Weatherbase. Retrieved August 30, 2009. 
  36. ^ "World Airline Directory." Flight International. March 22-28, 1995. 82. Retrieved on July 25, 2009.
  37. ^ "World Airline Directory." Flight International. March 23, 1999. 68. Retrieved on September 30, 2009.
  38. ^
  39. ^
  40. ^
  41. ^
  42. ^
  43. ^
  44. ^
  45. ^
  46. ^
  47. ^
  48. ^ [3]
  49. ^
  50. ^ CHLT - Colleges
  51. ^ "Wake Forest University plans for growth and increases commitment in Charlotte". Wake Forest University. 2009-05-22. Retrieved 2009-005-22. 
  52. ^ "Public Library of Charlotte and Mecklenburg County: A century of service". Web Site. Public Library of Charlotte and Mecklenburg County. Retrieved 2008-10-25. 
  53. ^ "Public Library of Charlotte and Mecklenburg County: A century of service". Web Site. Public Library of Charlotte and Mecklenburg County. Retrieved 2008-10-25. 
  54. ^ a b "Public Library of Charlotte and Mecklenburg County: A century of service". Web Site. Public Library of Charlotte and Mecklenburg County. Retrieved 2008-10-25. 
  55. ^ " Web Site". Retrieved 2008-10-25. 
  56. ^ Eidolon Foundation - Home
  57. ^ NWA Charlotte Coliseum
  58. ^
  59. ^ News 14 | 24 Hour Local News | TOP STORIES
  60. ^
  61. ^ Charlotte International Cabinet

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 0-8078-2376-7.
  • Kratt, Mary Norton. Charlotte: Spirit of the New South. 293 pages. John F. Blair, Publisher. September 1, 1992. ISBN 0-89587-095-9.
  • 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 0-8078-4871-9.
  • 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 0-89587-250-1.

External links

Travel guide

Up to date as of January 14, 2010
(Redirected to Charlotte article)

From Wikitravel

Charlotte is a huge city with several district articles containing sightseeing, restaurant, nightlife and accommodation listings — consider printing them all.
The largest city in the Carolinas.
The largest city in the Carolinas.

Charlotte, [1] is an ambitious and very rapidly growing city in the southern part of central North Carolina. It is the largest city in the state with a population of 664,332 (2007 estimate) residents within the city limits. As of 2006, the Charlotte-Gastonia-Salisbury combined statistical area (CSA) had a regional population of 2,191,604, and Charlotte is the county seat of Mecklenburg County. It is the center of finance, industry, technology, and entertainment for the region. Primarily known in the past as a business center, Charlotte is steadily developing its fledgling tourist industry; currently its central core is one of the most visitor-friendly districts in the Carolinas.

For information on the city's central district, see Uptown Charlotte.

  • Uptown. The literal and figurative "center of things". Uptown is Charlotte's central district, and the location of its somewhat oversized skyline. It is generally agreed that the word "uptown" refers to anything inside the I-277 loop, though some adjacent entities might describe themselves that way. Uptown is the center of Charlotte's commerce, culture, and government. As recently as the mid-1990s, the area was a virtual "office park" -- home to a lot of business but very few residents -- but is rapidly repopulating with highrise condos. The district is home to several Fortune 500 headquarters, museums, nightclubs, restaurants, parks, city and county government offices, theaters... pretty much anything you'd expect to find in a city center. Most of the bustle is centered around Tryon St., the "Main St." of the city. Note that most east-west streets are numbered, whereas most north-south streets have proper names. It is well worth noting that Uptown is statistically one of Charlotte's safest areas, due in large part to a large flow of human traffic at most hours.
Charlotte districts map
Charlotte districts map
  • NoDa. NoDa, short for North Davidson Street, is one of Charlotte's most eclectic and original neighborhoods. Also known as the Historic Arts District, NoDa is about two miles north of the center city. The district grew up around a large textile mill that closed in the 1970s, sending the surrounding neighborhood into a long period of decline. After artists began moving back into the neighborhood in the 1980s, they began to revitalize and preserve the old brick buildings and quaint mill houses. Even the old Highland Mill, next to the Johnston YMCA, is being renovated for both residential and retail/office space. Enjoy street level art galleries, several restaurants and other unique shops in the district. There is a "gallery crawl" every first and third Friday that attracts many visitors to NoDa.
  • South End. This neighborhood is located close to Uptown in the corridor formed by Tryon St. and South Blvd. It was previously a mill district located along the railroad tracks, but has gradually converted into a hip, semi-upscale entertainment/cultural district. The addition of trolley tracks and light rail connecting it to Uptown has helped spur expansive development here. Possibly the best place in town to take a walk with children, as the neighborhood features ice cream shops, a trolley museum and several kids-oriented stores. Also home to Charlotte's emerging design industry, South End features several galleries and a "gallery crawl" parallel to those in NoDa.
  • Plaza-Midwood. Similar in some ways to NoDa and South End, but a little rougher around the edges. Plaza-Midwood (named in part for its location along The Plaza) prides itself on its "old Charlotte" feel, and a grungy underbelly that has resisted gentrification. This neighborhood has quickly become a vibrant alternative to the upscale scene, and is home to several local institutions (including the legendary Penguin restaurant).
  • Myers Park. Once located altogether outside the city, Myers Park is near the heart of modern-day Charlotte. Its reputation as an "old money" neighborhood is accentuated by its cathedral-esque tree canopy and slowly winding avenues. It is home to some of Charlotte's oldest and most expensive homes (formerly country estates), as well as Queens University of Charlotte and Freedom Park. A driving tour of Myers Park is a popular way for tourists to get acquainted with the city, but bring a map; some of Charlotte's most difficult intersections are located here.
  • Dilworth. Charlotte's first "streetcar suburb", Dilworth has never lost its reputation as a desirable place to make a home. In recent years the neighborhood has blossomed into an upscale district dotted with eateries and galleries. The promise of increased public transit service has added even more development to this already walkable neighborhood.
  • SouthPark. An affluent district in south-central Charlotte, and home to the city's second-largest business district. SouthPark is a newer suburb whose development has mostly occurred in the last 40 years, but it has quickly developed into a semi-urban concentration of office buildings, high rise condos, hotels and entertainment options.
  • Elizabeth. Just outside of Uptown, Elizabeth reflects a transition between elegant Myers Park and gritty Plaza-Midwood. Its tree-lined streets and quiet residential blocks provide an air of relaxation, but its commercial blocks are among the city's most colorful. Sometimes characterized as "a poor man's Dilworth", Elizabeth is coming into its own as a center of activity.
  • University City. A sprawling 1970s-style suburban district, focused around the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. This area is on the city's northeast side and encroaches somewhat into southwestern Cabarrus County. University City (or UC) is largely an area in transition, having formerly been mostly rural or affluent suburbs; today's growth patterns reflect an influx of minority groups and young families. Aside from the University and related research centers, this area is also home to Verizon Wireless Ampitheatre, a well-defined "downtown" cluster of hotels and retail centers, and many square miles of sprawling shopping centers.
  • East Charlotte. A somewhat ambiguous, but distinctive, area covering a large portion of the city's eastern end. East Charlotte contains the city's largest concentration of immigrants, and is mostly a middle- to lower-class area. Much of the east side is depressed and unattractive, but it contains some of Charlotte's most interesting cultural development. Virtually any kind of ethnic food can be found here, and much of the city's "street life" gravitates toward this area.
  • Ballantyne. The most recent large-scale development in Charlotte, Ballantyne is located at the far southern edge of the city. Sprawling and suburban in nature, it is noted for its luxurious "mini-mansions", upscale retail, large hotels and corporate buildings, and distinguished country club. Ballantyne is mostly residential in nature and most tourist attraction is generated by the Ballantyne Resort. Visitors to this section of Charlotte find that most attractions center around the intersection of Johnston Rd and Ballantyne Commons Pkwy.



Heavy growth in the past 20 years has made Charlotte one of the nation's largest and most successful cities in the South. In many ways, the city is still trying to catch up to its own growth; visitors often comment that it seems understated in terms of culture and development. However, it is changing at a breathtaking speed. A very rapid influx of population and business investment has given it one of the most dynamic urban areas in the region.

Visitor information

Charlotte Info Center 330 S Tryon St and 200 E Seventh St, +1 704 333-1887 ext. 235 or +1 800 231-4636, [2] are the main locations in city center, while a third is inside the airport. Brochures, souvenirs, and advice are available for first-time visitors as well as long-time residents. Along with the public library, this is the best place to go if you are looking for a concentrated source of information about the city. It is worth checking out the brochures for self-guided walking and driving tours.



This statue near the Uptown Holiday Inn honors Charlotte's namesake.
This statue near the Uptown Holiday Inn honors Charlotte's namesake.

Charlotte's earliest settlers were Presbyterians of Scots-Irish descent who built a small courthouse, marketplace and village at the intersection of ancient Native American trading paths (the actual intersection is the Square formed by Trade and Tryon Streets) during the middle of the 18th Century. Both Charlotte and Mecklenburg County were named in honor of the Germanic wife of King George III of England. In addition, the main thoroughfare (Tryon St.) was named in tribute to the English Governor of the day. The establishment of a courthouse made Charlotte the seat of Mecklenburg County, and it was known for little more in its early days.

Revolutionary war

Charlotte's early residents were fiercely independent, in accordance with their rural Protestant heritage. The city was known as a hotbed of separatism well prior to the American Revolution, culminating in the Mecklenburg Declaration of Independence (signed a year prior to the American equivalent). The Square was the site of a minor skirmish with Cornwallis' army, which led to the city's characterization as a "hornet's nest" of rebellion. Nevertheless, the city remained a relatively obscure village, and was dubbed a "trifling place" by visiting President George Washington.

Pre-Civil war

The first signs of economic prosperity came to Charlotte with the discovery of a huge gold nugget at the site of modern-day Reed's Gold Mine. This triggered the United States' first gold rush, and dotted Mecklenburg County with gold mines. The mines contributed low-grade gold to the city's street-paving program, which led to the joke that the streets were literally paved with gold in Charlotte. Eventually the city earned the establishment of a U.S. Mint for currency production on modern-day Mint St. Perhaps most importantly, the city positioned itself as a railroad hub. With several lines intersecting in Charlotte, the city became a major destination for farmers wishing to distribute their tobacco and cotton crops nationwide. These events presaged Charlotte's future as a city of commerce and distribution.

Civil war

Thankfully, Charlotte was mostly spared the wide-scale destruction of the Civil War. The city contributed troops to the Confederate effort, many of whom are buried in the Confederate graveyard at modern-day Elmwood Cemetery. Curiously, landlocked Charlotte briefly became the home to the Confederate Naval Yard near the end of the war, as a result of its railroad connections. Also, the city was host to the final full meeting of the Confederate Cabinet, and Jefferson Davis was standing on Tryon St when informed of Lincoln's assassination (Davis' widow later retired to Charlotte). Generally, though, Charlotte was fortunate to play a relatively minor role in the devastating conflict. Its main casualty was the loss of the Mint, which was shut down for obvious reasons by the Union government.


Charlotte has been noted as one of the South's most resilient cities in the wake of the Civil War. Having been spared the widespread destruction of cities such as Atlanta and Columbia, Charlotte was relatively free of obligations to rebuild infrastructure. It jumped quickly onto the "New South" bandwagon, increasing its ties to the railroads and mill industry. Some of the major mills established here after the War are still standing, and have mostly been converted into modern businesses and condominiums. Perhaps most importantly, Charlotte was a site of heavy financial investment by "carpetbaggers" (northern transplants who were eyed with suspicion or outright hostility). These upstart banks were the predecessors to Charlotte's modern banking giants.

20th century

At the turn of the century, Charlotte was still a small town in spite of its favorable position. But by the 1950s, it had exploded into the largest city in the Carolinas. Aggressive businessmen transformed the city into a financial juggernaut, and the distribution industry made a smooth transition from the railroad-dominated 19th century into the automotive 20th century. As the local textile and furniture industries faltered, Charlotte invested its energy into finance and transportation, enabling it to avoid the depressions suffered in many other Carolinas cities. By the 1970s, the city was into a full-scale economic boom. The population skyrocketed with immigration from around the USA and foreign countries. The city skyline began to transform as office towers sprouted on an almost yearly basis, and the suburbs pushed farther toward the county borders. By the end of the century, Charlotte had transformed from mill town into metropolis.


It could be said that Charlotte's greatest struggle is with its own identity. The city remains tied to its roots as a giant of finance and transportation, but has diversified as it has grown. The rapid growth of the late-20th century lead to the unfortunate demolition of much of the city's historical infrastructure, giving Uptown a glittering feeling of newness despite its 250-year history. The city continues to focus on the development of its core, despite the explosion of suburban communities out of Mecklenburg County and into surrounding towns. One thing is definite, though: all indications are that the city will continue to grow for the foreseeable future, making it one of the United States' most prominent metro areas in the next decade.


The city is full of "transplants" from New England, Mid-Atlantic and Midwest regions, and a considerable immigrant population. Nevertheless, the city still has a sizeable population of locals who can remember when the city was still a medium-sized town centered around railroad distribution. Like most Southern cities, Charlotte has a large African-American population. Also, it has a significant community of Asian descent, and a very rapidly growing Hispanic population. What was once a white-and-black city has become increasingly colorful with each passing decade.


Charlotte's physical arrangement reflects the growth trends of the 20th Century. Like most Southern American cities, it is "sprawled" over a relatively wide area for its size. Most of the city is suburban in nature, and most of those suburbs are less than 50 years old although some nearby towns such as Mint Hill date back well into the 1700s. These suburbs are encircled by the partially-completed I-485.

However, unlike many of its peers Charlotte has a very dense urban core that functions as an axis for its business and cultural life. The center of the city is therefore the primary destination for tourists and business travelers.

What is often lost in this arrangement is a diverse, colorful ring of "inner suburbs" that lie in the zone between the core and the new suburban development. Most of Charlotte's most unique neighborhoods lie in this ring, as well as most of the city's "underground" activity. As a result, these areas have a highly local flavor and are just beginning to be discovered by tourists.


The major language is English. In recent years, the number of foreign-language establishments has begun to rise. In particular, Spanish-speaking shops and restaurants have become numerous on the city's east side. Also, there are a fair number of Asian establishments as well. There is a large shopping area called "Asian Corners", and a part of the east side nicknamed "little Hanoi". It is worth noting, however, that these areas make up a relatively small part of the English-dominated city.

Climate Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Daily highs (°F) 51 56 64 73 80 87 90 88 82 73 63 54
Nightly lows (°F) 32 34 42 49 58 66 71 69 63 51 42 35
Precipitation (in) 4.0 3.6 4.4 3.0 3.7 3.4 3.8 3.7 3.8 3.7 3.4 3.2

Check Charlotte's 7 day forecast at NOAA

The temperature ranges from about 14 °F (-10 °C) to 104 °F (40 °C). On average, a summer high is about 90 °F (32 °C) and a winter low is about 32 °F (0 °C). Charlotte receives 43.52 in (1105.3 mm) of precipitation annually, most of which is in the form of rain (though there is some snow and ice in the winter). Charlotte is not as well equipped for snow and ice as more northerly cities; significant accumulations of snow (more than 2cm) or ice on the roads can disrupt activity city-wide. Usually, this includes the closing of local businesses and schools, and happens about once a year on average. Charlotte's inland location usually protects it from being hit directly from Atlantic hurricanes (the most recent exception being Hurricane Hugo in 1989), though it often receives heavy rains due to passing tropical systems.

Get in

By plane

Charlotte Douglas International Airport (IATA: CLT), [3] is on the west side of town near Billy Graham Parkway. A special bus line called Sprinter [4] runs regularly between the airport and Uptown. The airport is a major domestic and international hub for Star Alliance member US Airways [5], and also receives flights from most other major airlines. Lufthansa [6], also aligned with Star Alliance, is the only foreign transoceanic carrier, with service to Munich. Air Canada [7] has service to Toronto. Though the airport has diversified somewhat in the past few years, US Airways domestic flights are still its primary source of traffic.

Don't worry if you get hungry at CLT – the airport is home to many restaurants and shops. While many of the restaurants are decently priced, the shops are not - charging upwards of $2 for a Coke.

For those who need to remain connected, free WiFi is available at the Bank of America Business center, located in the central concourse. The center has multiple electrical outlets, comfy chairs, and several restaurants nearby. Throughout the airport free WiFi is available. Connect to the SSID CLTNET.

Taxis charge a flat $25 rate for a trip from the airport to Uptown (for one or two passengers; additional charges apply for groups).

By train

The Amtrak [8] station is on N Tryon near Dalton, on bus route 11 (North Tryon)[9]. If you arrive by train, be aware that this area is relatively seedy. Though you will be safe in and around the station, it is not a good idea to "wing it" once you arrive. Try to pre-arrange travel from the station to your next destination; walking is not recommended.

By car

The interstate highways through Charlotte are Interstates 85 (northeast-southwest) and 77 (north-south). I-85 takes you to Burlington and Greensboro. N.C. 74 is also a primary route into the city, and links with I-277.

By bus

Greyhound [10] station is just northwest of Uptown and is served by buses 8 (Tuckaseegee), 34 (Freedom Dr), and 7 (Beatties Ford).

Get around

By foot

Uptown is very dense, and almost all attractions in that part of town are easily reached by walking. However, only a few other districts (such as NoDa and Dilworth) are truly pedestrian-friendly. Outer districts, such as Ballantyne and University City, are pedestrian-unfriendly areas. If you must walk, give some thought to the weather; summer days in the South are quite hot and it is easy to get dehydrated.

By car

Uptown is laid out in a grid, with numbered streets running east-west with few exceptions. Streets running north-south have proper names. Charlotte's outer suburbs are often difficult to navigate. Most roads are built according to the natural lay of the land; once you leave the I-277 loop, you are likely to find it increasingly difficult to predict the direction (and often, the name) of the road you are traveling on. Therefore, it is a good idea to make certain your directions are specific and trustworthy before venturing into an unknown area. Otherwise, you will likely find yourself relying on the (usually) friendly natives for directions back to your starting point.

Note that while I-277 (inner loop) has been completed for some time, I-485 (outer loop) is incomplete and still under construction. The northwestern quadrant of I-485 is still missing, but the rest of the freeway is quite useful for circling the perimeter of the city.

Similarly, I-277 is very useful when moving quickly around the center city. However, it is important to understand that one side of the "loop" is actually I-77, which interchanges with I-277 in two places. It is easy to misread the signs and end up moving farther along I-77 rather than circling back onto I-277. When using the loop, be sure to follow signs for "Downtown" in order to stay on the correct path.

Secondary roads in Charlotte are notoriously difficult to navigate. In particular, visitors and residents alike are often befuddled by frequent name changes in the roads. To make matters worse, many roads in the city share similar names. Also, very few of the city's roads are based on a grid or similarly organized system; most of the roads outside the city core are winding avenues that follow the natural features of the land.

The city can be a delight to explore by car, but visitors are strongly advised to pick up a free map [11]or purchase a road map upon arrival. A GPS unit with the most current updates can, of course, make travel in and around Charlotte immensely more enjoyable.

By public transit

By taxi

Available to any part of Charlotte. There are several prominent companies, and unlike larger cities (for instance, New York City or London) the design of the vehicles is not uniform. However, a taxi is always recognizable by a sign on the roof of the car. If the taxi is vacant, the sign will be lit up; if it has a passenger, the sign will be off. It is customary to give a tip to cab drivers, especially if they help you with luggage or other items. It is usually a good idea to inquire about the fare before boarding if you are planning to make a longer trip; Charlotte's sprawled-out nature can lead to high fares for trips outside the center city.

Cab fares in Charlotte are regulated by the city, and are consistent for all companies. The "drop charge" (pickup rate) is $2.50, and each 1/5th mile is $0.50. During weekday rush hours (7-9AM and 4-6PM), you will also be charged $0.50 for every minute spent in stopped traffic. For a direct one-way trip to or from the airport, the rate is a flat $25. You can save money by sharing a cab with a companion, but be aware that there is a $2 charge for each person after 2.

By light rail

LYNX Blue Line [12] light rail corridor is a rapid and efficient way to commute from Uptown to the southern edges of Mecklenburg County. It stops at major Uptown destinations (Bobcats Arena, the Convention Center), travels through South End, and proceeds along South Blvd all the way down to I-485. Frequency varies from 7-10 minutes on weekdays to 20-30 minutes on weekends. Fares are $1.50 for a one-way ticket (discounts for seniors and youth) and $4 for a day pass. Tickets are good for 90 minutes and allow for transfer to CATS transit buses.

By bus

Charlotte Area Transit System (CATS) [13] operates transit service throughout the Charlotte area. Most bus routes start at the teal-roofed Transportation Center in Uptown (across the street from the Bobcats Arena) and go toward the suburbs like spokes on a wheel (roughly). Though they are generally clean and safe, they are usually not the most efficient way to get around the city. Bus fare is $1.50 for a one-leg or two-leg trip, $2 for an express bus (these run mornings and evenings and go to an outlying area without stopping), and $0.60 for a shuttle. Allow 45 minutes for a one-leg trip, 2 hours for a two-leg trip. Bus transfers can be used on the LYNX light rail and are valid for 90 minutes after issue. Also, be aware of the colorfully-painted buses in the suburbs that connect neighborhoods to primary routes.

By trolley

Charlotte Trolley [14] is a replica streetcar system that operates on the LYNX line between the South End and Uptown. The Trolley stops at LYNX Light Rail stations in Uptown and South End as well as stops at Atherton Mill, Tremont and 9th St. Fare is $1.50 each way. Italic text

By bicycle

Some parts of Charlotte are very friendly to cyclists, especially the south-central area around Myers Park and Dilworth. It is a good idea to research in advance to identify streets with designated bike lanes on the right-hand side of the road. Be aware that bicycles are subject to the same traffic laws as cars. Helmets are recommended but not required for adults.


There are numerous museums and historic sites scattered throughout the city, especially in and near Uptown. In the next year or two, a new "museum district" will arise on the southern edge of the district; at roughly the same time, the NASCAR Hall of Fame will open near the Convention Center. See individual districts for a more thorough list of museums.

  • The Mint Museum of Art, 2730 Randolph Rd, +1 704-337-2000, [15]. Tu 10AM-10PM, W-Sa 10AM-5PM, Su 12PM-5PM. Closed Mondays and major holidays. Charlotte's main art museum is in the original building of the Charlotte Mint (see History), which was moved from its location at Mint St. Though its permanent collection is somewhat lacking, it regularly hosts high-quality traveling exhibits from around the world. Its primary strengths are American art and ceramics; colonial/pre-colonial art; and costumes and other decorative art from many countries. Not a must-see, but worth a visit if you are in Charlotte for more than a couple of days or have a special interest in art. $6 adults, $5 seniors and college students, $3 6-17, free under 5.
  • Discovery Place, on N Tryon between 6th and 7th, +1 704-372-6261, [16]. 10 AM-6PM or 9AM-5PM, except on Sunday when it opens at 12:30PM. One of the nation's most acclaimed children's museums. Focuses primarily on the sciences, though special exhibits (such as the recent exhibition of the Dead Sea Scrolls) may have a more general focus. Step into the rainforest, see and feel the fish, watch a hydrogen balloon explode and a frozen banana hammer. $7.50 for Discovery Halls, $7.50 for OMNIMAX, $13 for both.
  • Levine Museum of the New South, 200 E 7th St, +1 704-333-1887, [17]. Tu-Sa 10AM-5PM, Sunday 12PM-5PM. An excellent introduction to the South's history and influences over the past centuries. Boasting an excellent standing exhibit with walk-throughs and hands-on experiences, this is a great museum for "new" and old Southerners alike. Highly recommended for visitors seeking an understanding of Southern culture and history. Closed Mondays. $6 adults, $5 seniors and minors, under 6 free, $17 family.
  • James K Polk Historic Site, 12031 Lancaster Hwy, Pineville, +1 704-889-7145, [18]. Tu-Sa 9AM-5PM. From Interstate 77 south of Charlotte take Interstate 485 east (Exit 2). At the Pineville exit take U.S. 521 south through the town of Pineville for about 1.5 mi. The Polk Memorial is on the left. The museum offers tours and information about the home of U.S. President James K. Polk, as well as a reconstruction of his house. Monthly special events. Free.
  • Carolinas Aviation Museum, 4108 Airport Dr (at Charlotte-Douglas International Airport), +1 704-359-8442 (fax: +1 704-359-0057), [19]. Tu-Sa 10AM-5PM, Su 1PM-5PM. This is a big attraction for aviation fanatics. This museum features a wide variety of resources including historic and restored airplanes, air shows and a library (by research request only). Because it is located at Charlotte-Douglas, it is the only attraction in the city that can be reached by airplane. If you want to meet people working on restoring the airplanes, come on a Tuesday or Thursday. (It is also a great place to watch takeoffs and landings at the airport.)
  • Bojangles' Coliseum, 2700 E Independence Blvd, +1 704 372-3600, [20]. Historic domed arena in southeast Charlotte on NC-74. Once the largest concrete free-standing dome in the world, it has played host to Elvis, Jimi Hendrix and many sporting events. Currently used for community events, conventions and smaller musical acts. Formerly known as Cricket Arena and Independence Arena.
  • Memorial Stadium, 310 N Kings Dr, +1 704 353-0200. Adjacent to the CPCC campus south of Uptown, with a spectacular skyline view. Generally used for smaller events such as high school and college football games and band competitions. In 2006 it was the site of the city's main 4th of July fireworks display.
  • Ballantyne Village Theatre, 14815 John J. Delaney Dr, +1 704-369-5101. Brand-new theater in the southern suburb of Ballantyne. Noted for its bold decision to show independent films on only 4 screens, despite being part of the landmark Ballantyne Village shopping center. Pitches its product as a "luxury" experience with fine dining and other amenities nearby.
  • Belmont Drive-In, 314 McAdenville Rd, Belmont, +1 704-825-6044. A traditional drive-in movie theater, located off NC-74 in the nearby town of Belmont. Very strongly recommended for visitors looking for "local color". Extremely cheap compared to a regular theater ($6 per car, regardless of how many people you cram in), welcoming of pets and kids, and serves pretty good concessions. Typically shows 2-3 movies in an evening, and you're free to leave at any time.
  • Regal Manor Twin, 609 Providence Rd, +1 704-334-2727. The quintessential independent theater in Charlotte, and the oldest cinema that is still in operation. There are only two screens, and parking is limited, but this is generally the place to find that indie that you can't find anywhere else in the region.


There are several major theaters and a few fringe groups scattered throughout the city, especially in and near Uptown.

Imaginon and Children's Theatre of Charlotte
Imaginon and Children's Theatre of Charlotte
  • The Children's Theatre of Charlotte, 300 E 7th St, +1 704 973-2800, [21]. M-Th 9AM-9PM, F-Sa 9AM-6PM, Su 1PM-6PM. For weekend evening performances ImaginOn re-opens one hour prior to performance time. Box Office hours M-F 10AM-5PM, and one hour prior to all performances for walk-up guests (box office phones are not answered on weekends). Founded in 1948, it has been opening young minds to the wonders of live theater for over half a century. Annually, it reaches more than 320,000 young people and families from preschool to late teens, with four program areas: MainStage productions; Tarradiddle Players, the professional touring company; and Community Involvement Program. Ticket prices vary.
  • Actor's Theatre of Charlotte, 650 E Stonewall St, +1 704 342-2251, [22]. M-Th 9AM-9PM, F-Sa 9AM-6PM, Su 1PM-6PM. Highly awarded professional theater in existence since 1989. Diverse dramas and musicals fill the seasons here and no production fails. Besides their main stage productions, the theater is home to a late night series called 650 which are usually free, otherwise- ticket prices vary.
  • Carolina Actor's Studio Theatre (CAST), 1118 Clement Ave, +1 704 455-8542, [23]. M-Th 9AM-9PM, F-Sa 9AM-6PM, Su 1PM-6PM. Tucked back in the Plaza- Midwood area is a space that prides itself on diverse EXPERIENTIAL theater. Many productions incorporate multi-media and other performing art forms and is the most daring of the spaces around the city. The theater has two intimate spaces, including the 'boxagon' which has a rotating stage. Ticket prices vary.
  • Theatre Charlotte, 501 Queens Rd, +1 704 376-3777, [24]. M-Th 9AM-6PM, F-Sa 9AM-4PM, closed Su. With a production history dating from 1927, is Charlotte's oldest arts organization as well as the oldest continually producing theater in the state.
  • Charlotte Comedy Theatre, The Plaza, +1 704 467-7681, [25]. M-Sa 8PM-midnight. The only 'strictly' comedy venue in Charlotte at the moment. Made of up of Charlotte's most notorious improvisers, founded and directed by an 13 year Chicago improv veteran.
  • Pineville Dinner Theatre, 10403 Park Rd #J, +1 704 544-0607, [26]. M-Th 9AM-9PM, F-Sa 9AM-6PM, Su 1PM-6PM. The only venue to sit, dine and enjoy some stage shows. Prices vary.
  • Blumenthal and Spirit Square, 130 N. Tryon St, +1 704 372-1000, [27]. M-Th 9AM-9PM, F-Sa 9AM-6PM, Su 1PM-6PM. The Performing Arts Center has three performance spaces: the 2,100-seat Belk Theater; the 434-seat Booth Playhouse, and the Stage Door Theater which seats 150. The Center presents the Broadway Lights Series, featuring national touring Broadway productions and a wide range of special attractions. Home to the seasons of the Charlotte Symphony Orchestra, Opera Carolina, North Carolina Dance Theatre, Carolina Voices, the Carolinas Concert Association, ArtsTeach, Community School of the Arts, and the Light Factory.
  • UNC Charlotte Theatre and Dance, 130 N Tryon St, +1 704 372-1000, [28]. M-Th 9AM-6PM, F-Sa 9AM-4PM. Performs several times throughout the year. For information on the Department of Dance, please call: 704-687-3625 or email them at
  • Central Piedmont Community College Theatre , 130 N Tryon St, +1 704 330-6534, [29]. M-Th 9AM-6PM, F-Sa 9AM-4PM. Performs several times throughout the year and has a professional summer series. Tickets are available at [30]
  • Collaborative Arts Theatre, +1 704 625-1288, [31]. M-Th 6PM-midnight, F-Sa 9AM-6PM. Founded in 2006 and each spring produces the Charlotte Shakespeare Festival, a free festival in uptown Charlotte.
  • Shakespeare Carolina, [32]. M-Th 6PM-midnight, F-Sa 9AM-6PM. Founded in 1997, their home theater is at Theatre Charlotte and they produce an annual 'Queen City Shakespeare Festival' during the summer.
  • Citizens of the Universe, +1 704 449-9742, [33]. M-Th 6PM-midnight, F-Sa 9AM-6PM. COTU is one of two active fringe theaters in Charlotte. With no set season and no set theater, this company performs in the environment available to them. Hard to catch, this theater specializes in book/ film translations to stage.
  • Machine Theatre, [34]. M-Th 6PM-midnight, F-Sa 9AM-6PM. Active fringe theater, made up of established local actors, this company presents new works as well as inventive adaptations of classic texts.



Professional sports are one of Charlotte's most popular forms of entertainment. Though its roots are primarily in stock car racing, the city offers something for fans of nearly every kind of sport. In particular, its success in the NFL and NBA have given it widespread exposure as a growing sports hub.

Bank of America Stadium is home of the NFL's Carolina Panthers.
Bank of America Stadium is home of the NFL's Carolina Panthers.

NASCAR events take place at Lowe's Motor Speedway. Charlotte is the de facto hub of stock car racing in the U.S., with several NASCAR teams based in the city. 3 NASCAR Sprint Cup races take place each season, including the All-Star Race [35] and the Coca-Cola 600. Additionally, Charlotte was chosen as the home for the NASCAR Hall of Fame and headquarters, which will be located near the Convention Center in Uptown. Each year Charlotte hosts "Speed Street", a large festival featuring various racing-themed attractions and a long list of musical guests. The Carolina Panthers is is the city's NFL franchise. Games are played at Bank of America stadium. In 2002, was awarded a new NBA franchise, the Bobcats after the city's first NBA team left for New Orleans in an ugly divorce ending in 2002. These events take place in Uptown.

Minor league sports include the Charlotte Knights (AAA baseball) which operates in Fort Mill, South Carolina, one exit past Carowinds. The Charlotte Checkers ice hockey team play in Uptown and is cheap fun (Charlotte was the first city south of Baltimore to host professional hockey and has had a team for most of the last 50 years). The Carolina Speed is the fourth professional indoor football team to be based in Charlotte, with games taking place in East Charlotte. The Charlotte Eagles soccer team play near SouthPark. Charlotte Rugby Football Club [36], which play northwest of Uptown, and Charlotte Roller Girls, with games in Elizabeth complete a vast list of professional, minor league and club sports to enjoy in the city.


Charlotte has been noted for its "green" appearance, due to its extensive tree canopy and abundance of parks. See the individual district pages for listings of major city parks. Outdoor adventurers may revel in the pleasures offered at the U.S. National Whitewater Center [37].

  • The Double Door Inn, 218 E Independence Blvd, +1 704 376-1446, [38]. Legendary for its blues history, and one of the city's most beloved institutions. Any long-time Charlottean will tell you the story about Eric Clapton's impromptu set at the Double Door; a framed newspaper article over the bar is proof. Hosts musical acts on most nights of the week. Very intimate, and more for the drink-and-watch crowd.
  • The Evening Muse, 3227 N Davidson St, +1 704 376-3737, [39]. Located in the NoDa district, the Evening Muse is noted for its variety of music ranging from light folk to rockabilly, and open mic on Monday nights.
  • The Milestone, 3400 Tuckaseegee Rd, +1 704 398-0472, [40]. Almost forgotten in Charlotte's mainstream entertainment scene, this veteran club has a shockingly prestigious music history -- Nirvana, the Flaming Lips, and R.E.M. have all graced the stage here. Though the interior looks like something out of skid row, there is a well-cultivated hipster vibe at the Milestone that is virtually untouched anywhere else in the city. Mention this one in conversation to gauge a friend's true cool-factor.
  • Tremont Music Hall, 400 W Tremont Ave, +1 704 343-9494, [41]. Premier stop for National Acts specializing in modern rock, indie rock, punk, hardcore, metal, emo, SKA, roots rock and others. Great place to see a band as you’re never more than 50 ft from the stage.
  • Amos' Southend, 1423 S Tryon, +1 704 377-6874, [42]. All types of bands play here especially cover bands.


Golf is a major sport in the Carolinas, and is played nearly year-round due to the mild autumn and spring seasons. Several private, semi-private and country clubs courses are available.

  • Driving Tours [43] Queen City Tours covers most of the center city and surrounding area. Note that they offer different types of tour service for different group sizes. This tour shows Uptown, Dilworth and Myers Park.
  • Helicopter Tours [44] North Carolina Rotor and Wing offers a birds' eye view of The Queen City and its surrounding neighborhoods.
  • Charlotte 101 Class and Tour[45] Central Piedmont Community College offers a quarterly combination classroom lecture and tour about the Queen City for 6 hours. Pre-registration required.
  • CIAA Basketball Tournament [46] will come to Charlotte in early March for the next several years. Historically-black colleges from across the country bring their teams, alums and fans to the center city for a week of games... and accompanying parties and conventions. Games are held in Bobcats Arena. Other events take place throughout the city, including a festival along Tryon St.
  • St. Patrick's Day Parade [47] is not on the scale of Boston or NYC, but always well-attended and a fun time to visit the Irish restaurants Uptown. The parade goes up Tryon St., and the best place to view is at the Square.
  • Southern Spring Home and Garden Show [48] has brought designers and experts to the city for nearly 50 years. Held in March, and located at the Merchandise Mart. $9 at the door, kids free.
  • The Thursday, Friday, and Saturday before Memorial Day, Speed Street [49] brings half a million partiers to the center city for major musical acts and events related to the NASCAR All-Star Race. This event shuts down several major streets, and covers the entirety of Uptown with crowds after sundown. Parking is usually stretched to the limit, and hotels will be difficult to find. However, this is an excellent time for hard partiers to see the city at its most active.
  • Charlotte is not known as a horse-racing hub, but the Queen's Cup Steeplechase [50] gives the city an event to call its own. Located about 45 minutes from the center city in Mineral Springs. Held in mid-April.
  • There is no better time to visit South End than during the Art and Soul of South End Festival [51] in April. Several major events coincide to bring the district a variety of visual art, music and entertainment. Prices vary based on event, but most is free to attend.
  • PGA Quail Hollow Championship [52] brings the world's best golfers to Quail Hollow Country Club for a weekend in April. As one would expect, there are plenty of wine-and-cheese events associated with the championship... as well as a noticeable upturn in Polo shirts at Uptown clubs.
  • Taste of Charlotte [53] festival in June is far and away the best time to bring an appetite to the city. Tryon St. closes down for the weekend and many of the city's best restaurants are represented with samples of their signature dishes.
  • Fourth of July Fireworks Display has shifted locations several times lately, but is always located somewhere in Uptown. This event draws nearly 100,000 visitors to the center city at once; be prepared to sit in gridlock, especially during the display when streets will come to a complete halt. Using public transit to park-and-ride from another district is recommended.
  • Also in July, comic book collectors meet for the annual Heroes Convention at the Convention Center.
  • Black Gay Pride Festival has made inroads as an annual festival in July.
  • Charlotte Pride is a more general gay-pride festival in August. It has shifted locations, most recently to the Gateway Village area on the edge of Uptown. It has grown significantly since its inception.
  • September is one of the best times to visit the city. The city's Labor Day Parade along Tryon St is modest, but a well-established annual event. The month-long Charlotte Shout [54] collaboration includes not only cultural festivals and events, but also a day of free admissions to important cultural locations. For over 40 years, Festival in the Park [55] has transformed Freedom Park into a massive marketplace and fair. The new Charlotte Film Festival [56] is a collaboration between the city's most prominent theaters in and around the center city. Also, the Yiasou Greek Festival [57] is a long-running tradition at Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church that draws a huge crowd for its mouth-watering food and unique shopping opportunities.
  • The Public Library of Charlotte hosts the Novello Festival of Reading [58] in October. This series of readings and events brings well-known authors (such as Kurt Vonnegut, Ray Bradbury, Toni Morrison) to the city. Prices vary based on event, most of which are held at the Central Branch.
  • Scarowinds [59] is the city's most unique Halloween event. The Carowinds theme park turns ghoulish after dark, with special decor and events. Though it's a bit pricey, it never draws complaints of overpricing. $29, no kids.
  • Carolina Renaissance Festival [60] is in late Fall. Located just outside the city, it is a family-friendly reenactment of Elizabethan times. Features a wide array of shopping and themed events. $15 for adults, $5 for children.
  • Southern Christmas Show [61] in late November is one of the region's biggest holiday shopping events. The Merchandise Mart on E Independence Blvd hosts the event. $8 at the door for adults, $3 for kids. $6 per car to park all day.
  • EclecFest [62] is a fledgling November festival in NoDa, started by the owner of a local bookstore. A combination flea market and cultural festival, this event is a good way to get introduced to the stores and locals of NoDa. Parking is typically available on and around N. Davidson St.
  • Charlotte International Auto Show [63] brings various dealers and buyers together. Located in the Convention Center and usually in November. Adults $8, kids free.
  • Carrousel Thanksgiving Day Parade [64] is one of the city's most beloved annual events. Televised regionally, this parade has run along Tryon St for half a century. A great time to visit.
  • Charlotte Collectible and Antique Show [65] comes to Metrolina Expo on Statesville Rd. each December. The name says it all: shopping opportunities abound. $5, kids free.
  • For college football fans, the Meineke Car Care Bowl [66] is a chance to catch a great game as well as a football-themed festival. An ACC team and a Big East team close out their seasons in Bank of America Stadium. Price varies year-to-year.
  • Johnson C. Smith University [67] - A historically African-American university located just outside Uptown. The centerpiece of the historic Biddleville community, J.C. Smith's campus is a picturesque gateway to the north/west side of the city.


Charlotte is a city that thrives on big business (specifically banking and is thus the second leading banking center in the country). Its most visible employers are Wells Fargo/Wachovia (the city's largest employer), Bank of America, Duke Energy, Nucor, Sonic Automotive, Continental Tire NA, SPX, Lowe's and Family Dollar. Though the Uptown area has the largest concentration of business offices, the entire metro area has sprouted office and industrial parks. In particular, the gleaming mid rises of SouthPark and Ballantyne are worth noting if you're in those areas. There are several Fortune 500 companies and is regularly listed as one of the U.S.'s fastest-growing business areas, as well as one of the best places to do business in the nation.


One of Charlotte's biggest weaknesses is the relative lack of retail shopping in the center city. Though this will change somewhat in the near future, you will generally have to venture into the suburbs to do your shopping. As with most American cities, most retail is in malls and shopping centers, though some areas (especially the inner suburbs) have stores along the streets.

  • Metropolitan Midtown, [68] just outside the central business district, is the redevelopment of the former Charlottetown Mall. Concord Mills [69] is not technically in Charlotte, but is the largest shopping destination in the region. Carolina Place Mall [70] is a large mall near the southern city line, convenient to the southern suburbs and stateline. Eastland Mall [71] is an older Charlotte mall that is slated for a revitalization while Northlake Mall [72] is a new mall in north Charlotte, convenient to the University area and Lake Norman area. SouthPark Mall [73] is arguably Charlotte's largest and most upscale mall, 6 mi south of center city. Belgate [74] features the first IKEA store in the Carolinas.
  • If you are looking to shop outside the commercial retail sector, try exploring some of the districts just outside the I-277 loop. In particular, the Dilworth and Plaza-Midwood areas are good places to visit unique, funky stores. East Blvd. (upscale) and Thomas St. (downscale) are both good places to find unusual items.
  • There are several market-style locations scattered across the city. There is a "green market" [75] during the warmer months on E 7th St near Tryon, the EclecFest market [76] (every second Saturday) behind the Neighborhood Theater on N. Davidson St., and many flea markets in and around the city.


For the most part, Charlotte's culinary tastes are in line with the rest of the American South. Standards such as grits, sweet potatoes (yams), and greens are common in kitchens and restaurants. Southern food is typically high in fats and carbohydrates, so dieters should be careful to stick to higher-end restaurants that serve a more cosmopolitan fare. Otherwise, dig in and enjoy the richness of the Southern diet.

Many of Charlotte's older restaurants are owned by Greek families. Often, you will unexpectedly find Greek items on the menus of restaurants that otherwise serve American fare.

North Carolinians have long been fiercely competitive about their barbecue, and Charlotte's eateries reflect that heritage. Outsiders beware: Carolinas "barbeque" is chopped and sauced pork. The sauce will depend on which region it comes from (east or west), and it all works well as a sandwich (though you usually get to choose between sandwich or plate). Barbecue sandwiches are invariably served with slaw (either a vinegar-based red slaw, or a mayonnaise-based white slaw) on the meat, though it will be left out or on the side if you request. This is a local custom and one of the many things that makes Charlotte and more generally NC interesting.

"Carolinas style" hamburgers and hot dogs are typically served with mustard, chili, and cole slaw, though some restaurants will vary their toppings slightly to create a "signature".

Krispy Kreme donuts are produced in nearby Winston-Salem, and are widely available. Also, Lance Snacks is based in Charlotte.

The dominant local grocery chains are Harris Teeter and Food Lion, both owned by N.C. companies. Harris Teeter is relatively expensive but more upscale. Food Lion is a middle-class favorite, and usually has an extensive ethnic section. Other groceries include Bi-Lo, ALDI, Lowes Foods, and Bloom (a high-tech spin off of Food Lion). The city is also dotted with dozens of ethnic groceries, especially Hispanic, Indian and Vietnamese. Check out Compare Foods stores dotted around the city.

The specialty grocery store scene is also growing, as Charlotte has three Trader Joe's stores, two Earth Fare stores and two Fresh Markets. These stores specialize in natural and organic foods. For something a little bit more local, try the Home Economist or the quaint Berrybrook Farms.


Liquor is available by the drink in the city of Charlotte. However, some smaller towns in the region prohibit liquor sales. If you plan to explore nearby counties, there is a chance you may encounter a "dry" area. Open containers of alcohol are never permitted on the street; if you order a beverage you must finish it before leaving the restaurant or bar. If you want to buy liquor by the bottle, you must do it at state-run ABC (Alcoholic Beverage Commission) stores, rather than at traditional liquor stores. Beer and wine are available for purchase at most markets, grocery stores and gas stations.

Cheerwine, a cherry-flavored soft drink, is a local favorite. Sundrop [77], available in a unique citrus blend and cherry-lemon, is based out of Gastonia and is a favorite among locals. R.C. Cola is also a "traditional" Southern soft drink.

If you are not from the American South, you may be surprised to see sweet iced tea is the predominant non-carbonated drink (and is arguably sweeter).

The city's nightlife is centered in Uptown, which is host to a wide variety of nightclubs. The largest concentration of clubs in the city is around College St. near its intersection with 5th St.; however, a quick check of local listing reveals plenty of alternatives for those who are seeking a more reserved atmosphere. See district listings for more details.


If you are not driving or renting a car during your visit, it is highly advisable to try to find lodging near the center city (these can be found in the district articles). Otherwise you will be stuck paying cab and bus fares, and you will find it quite difficult to move around as freely as you'd like. Most of the city's large hotels are located either uptown, near the airport, or in the University area. There are also some luxury hotels appearing in Ballantyne, and there are the typical options off the highways and interstate exits.

Below are listings for locations near the airport and Carowinds theme park, neither of which belong to a designated district.

  • AmeriSuites Charlotte/Coliseum, 4119 S Stream Blvd, +1 704 357-8555 (fax: +1 704 357-8555), [78]. Formerly this hotel’s main attraction was its proximity to the Charlotte Coliseum. Since the Coliseum’s closing in 2005, it is now primarily a business hotel with relatively convenient access to the airport. Offers a complimentary airport shuttle and has rooms designed for business travelers. Fitness center, breakfast buffet, pool. $90.  edit
  • Microtel Inns and Suites (Airport), 3412 S I-85 Service Rd, +1 704 398-9606, [79]. Good low-fare option for business travelers planning to fly into the city. Immediate access to I-85 lets you get about the city quickly. $50.  edit
  • Hyatt Summerfield Suites Charlotte Airport, 4920 S Tryon St, +1 704 525-2600, [80]. In the center of a Fortune 500 corridor, 3 mi from downtown and major convention centers.  edit
  • La Quinta Inn and Suites, 4900 S Tryon St, +1 704-523-5599. Air travelers enjoy. From the hotel, you have a short drive to the airport and a straight shot through South End into Uptown. Fitness center, pool, hot tub. $50-$115.  edit
  • Red Roof Inn, 3300 Queen City Dr, +1 704 392-2316. Nothing fancy, but cheaper than most hotels in the area. This is an economy chain, so the rooms are sparse but clean. Immediate access to the airport and surrounding amenities. $55.  edit
  • Renaissance Suites, 2800 Coliseum Centre Dr, +1 704 357-1414, [81]. In the past, this hotel was situated ideally for sports and other events.  edit
  • Wingate South Atlantic, 4238 Business Center Dr, +1 704 395-3600 (toll free: +1 800 228-1000), [82]. Whether you’re traveling to the South Atlantic for business or pleasure, rest easy knowing there’s a Wingate by Wyndham Hotel conveniently located and well-equipped to accommodate your every need. $90.  edit
  • MainStay Suites Extended Stay Hotel, 7926 Forest Pine Dr, +1 704 521-3232, [83]. Pet-friendly, cater towards people traveling for business, or for people just taking extended vacations.  edit


The city of Charlotte has mandatory 10-digit dialing, so you must include the area code even on local calls. Charlotte has two area codes: 704 and 980.

There are some public pay phones scattered around the city, but they are becoming increasingly rare with the predominance of cell phones. It is not safe to assume you will be able to find a pay phone at any given time.

All ZIP codes in the city of Charlotte begin with 282. The central district's code is 28202.

Stay safe

Though the crime rate is not astronomical, Charlotte is still a city -- don't let your guard all the way down. If you are uptown, the biggest worry is auto theft/break-in, which is hardly rampant. Violent crime is relatively rare in the central district, as well as the affluent southern side of town. The most dangerous areas are the west and east sides.

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police (CMPD) almost always maintain a visible presence in crowded areas. If you have trouble, look for an officer. Note that in certain parts of the city the police are deployed on bikes as well as cars.

Stay healthy


Charlotte is not a good allergy city, due to the abundance of flowering trees and greenspace.

Smog has become an increasing concern in recent years, as the city becomes more populated and in turn hosts more auto traffic. Local authorities monitor ozone levels and make public announcements[84]when "vulnerable" groups (children, the elderly, etc.) are at risk. These announcements are carried on local television, radio, and newspapers.


North Carolina is known as "Tobacco Road", and cigarettes are almost ubiquitous in Charlotte. However, smoking is prohibited in most indoor public areas, including public transportation and many restaurants. It is still legal to smoke on the street, though you may want to be considerate of others if you are in a crowded area. Smoking is permitted at most bars and nightclubs, and most restaurants have designated smoking sections. At concert venues (such as Bobcats Arena) there are outdoor decks for smokers.

In general, it is a good idea to be polite about smoking... whether you smoke or not. If you smoke, try to do it in an area in which others won't be bothered by it. If you are a non-smoker, be aware in advance of whether you will likely be bothered by smoke in a particular place. In North Carolina people tend to be much less sensitive to smoking than in other parts of the country, so you will likely be received with a bit of bewilderment if you make a scene about it.



Library branches are scattered across the city, and vary in size and function. Typically there are street signs nearby to direct you toward the nearest branch. Also, there are substantial libraries at each of the local universities.

  • Charlotte Observer [85]. The Observer is the city's primary newspaper and its only daily periodical. It is standard for a newspaper in a medium-sized city. Politically it is often perceived as left-of-center, though the slant is not very strong and unlikely to be perceived by visitors. The Observer is widely available in stores and boxes, $0.50 ($1.50 Sunday).
  • Creative Loafing [86]. Weekly "alternative" newspaper distributed for free at most stores and restaurants. CL has the city's best weekly entertainment and restaurant index, and is widely used by both locals and visitors as a handbook to city nightlife. Free.
  • Rhinoceros Times [87].' Conservative weekly newspaper distributed for free at many stores and restaurants. Despite its relatively limited circulation, RT has grown quickly and has become something of a gadfly in local politics. Free.
  • Charlotte Weekly [88]. Probably the most politically-neutral of the weeklies. The Weekly enjoys wide distribution, but seems to prefer a relatively low-key role in local reporting.
  • Charlotte Business Journal [89]. Weekly edition devoted to reviewing the city's business climate. Its thorough reporting often "scoops" other sources, and the CBJ can make surprisingly interesting reading even for those uninterested in business affairs. Available primarily at bookstores and other newsstands, though boxes can be found on the street Uptown.
  • La Noticia [90]. Spanish-language weekly newspaper. This has become the primary voice of the Hispanic community in Charlotte. As of now it has no English-language edition, so its circulation is relatively confined to eastern Charlotte. Free.
  • Charlotte Post [91]. African-American weekly that enjoys a devoted following but a relatively low circulation. Found mostly at institutions with a high percentage of black consumers, such as restaurants and churches on the west side. Free.
  • Mecklenburg Times [92]. Focuses on the workings of County government, especially politics and business issues. In-depth review of court decisions and related issues.
  • Street & Smith's Sports Business Journal [93]. Narrow, detailed coverage of the sports-business industry. Available primarily through newsstands and Uptown boxes. Weekly editions.
  • NASCAR Scene Daily [94]. Part of Street & Smith's, but focuses only on NASCAR-related news. A weekly newspaper, despite its title.

International visitors

Compared to large tourist destinations, Charlotte has a relatively small international population. Locals are usually quite friendly toward foreign visitors, especially those who are able to speak English. Speakers of other languages may find the language barrier more difficult to break than in "international" cities (though Spanish-speakers will likely have an easier time). It is recommended that international visitors keep their passport handy at all times.

Charlotte's sister cities are Arequipa (Peru), Krefeld (Germany), Baoding (China), Voronezh (Russia), Limoges (France), Wroclaw (Poland), and Kumasi (Ghana).

  • International House, 322 Hawthorne Ln, +1 704-333-8099, [95]. International visitors to Charlotte are strongly encouraged to begin their visit at the International House. Though it is worth the trip south of Uptown to visit the historic neoclassical mansion and meet the friendly staff, the IH can also be very helpful in finding interpreters, translated documents, travel information, etc.
  • Immigration and Naturalization Service, 210 E Woodlawn Rd (Ste 138, Bldg 6), [96]. M-F 7:30AM-2PM.
  • Armenian Cultural Association of the Carolinas, +1 704 334-5353 x239.
  • Bosnian Organization, +1 704 921-9080.
  • Cambodian Community Association, +1 704 566-0155.
  • Chinese American Association, +1 704 593-0897.
  • Eritrean Community Organization, +1 704 563-9000.
  • Ethiopian Community, +1 704 343-6629.
  • Filipino-American Community, +1 704 541-5944.
  • Ghana National Association, +1 704 567-2510.
  • Haitian American Club of the Carolinas, +1 704 537-1785.
  • India Association of Charlotte, +1 704 948-7664.
  • Iranian Group, +1 704-321-3578.
  • Islamic Society of Greater Charlotte, +1 704 568-0907.
  • Japan-America Society of Charlotte, +1 704 687-2727.
  • Korean Association of Charlotte, +1 704 376-8820.
  • Laotian Cultural Center, 2208 Rowan Way, +1 704 393-3588.
  • Laos American Association of North Carolina, +1 704 393-7363.
  • Metrolina Phoenician Club, +1 704 846-2269.
  • Taiwanese-American Association of Greater Charlotte, +1 704 847-6340.
  • Vietnamese Community Association of Charlotte, +1 704 568-8744.
  • British Consulate, 301 S College St 9th fl, +1 704 383-3944, [97]. Primarily interested in business affairs.
  • Mexican Consulate, 4424 Taggart Creek Rd., +1 704 394-2190.


Like most cities in the American South, Charlotte's communities have historically been centered around Protestant Christian churches (though this is changing as the city diversifies and urbanizes). A complete list of worship sites is impractical; below are listings which don't fit into a (as of yet) specified district so be sure to check out the district articles.

There are many foreign-language places of worship in the Charlotte area. For information about them, contact the International House [98] at +1 704 333-8099.

  • Wat Lao Buddharam, 1824 Toddville Rd, +1 704 597-5037. Laotian community of Buddhists in a relatively large temple grounds. Services are in Laotian.
  • Ash-shaheed Islamic Center, 2717 Tuckaseegee Rd, +1 704 394-6579. Primarily an African-American Islamic community, located on the city's west side.
  • Masjid Ali Shah Center , 1230 Beatties Ford Rd, +1 704 377-9010, [99]. Smaller community in western Charlotte.

Get out

Charlotte benefits from a highly centralized location in the Carolinas, giving visitors the option of driving to either the beach or the mountains if they choose. Cities within day-trip range include Asheville, Greensboro, Winston-Salem, and the Raleigh/Durham area. If you are interested in seeing smaller Southern towns, consider a short drive to Matthews, Davidson, or Huntersville; all are within 15 minutes' drive on the interstate.

  • Concord Mills - see Malls.
  • Lowe's Motor Speedway, [100]. Located just out of northern Charlotte in nearby Concord, off I-85. Home of near-constant racing events including NASCAR's All-Star race and the Coca-Cola 600. Occasional home of concerts and other special events. Among other special attractions, includes the opportunity to drive around the track or attend racing school.
  • Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden [101]. In Belmont (just west of Charlotte), this is one of the most acclaimed attractions in the area. The natural beauty and serenity of the gardens make it a favorite for romantic day trips and family outings. Guided tours offered.
  • North Carolina Zoo [102]. Located in Asheboro, about 60 miles northeast of Charlotte. The largest zoo in North Carolina, featuring over 200 species of animal and many more botanical species. Highlights include gorillas, elephants, lions and an aviary.
  • Reed Gold Mine [103]. Pan for gold in the USA's first gold mine. Very kid-friendly and educational, besides being pretty fun. Located in Cabarrus County, about 45 minutes from Charlotte.
  • Schiele Museum of Natural History [104]. A surprisingly high-quality museum in Gastonia, just west of Charlotte. Includes a planetarium, an aviary, and many special events and exhibits.
  • Southwest of Charlotte are the Catawba lands. See how this Native American tribe used to live and lives today.
  • South of Charlotte along Route 16, in Waxhaw, is the Mexico Museum. Items of cultural and historical interest include pottery, costumes, and photographs.
  • Carowinds [105]. Large theme park with a focus on movies. Many roller coasters and other such attractions; coasters include Top Gun, The Hurler, and the beloved Thunder Road. Give strong consideration to eating beforehand, as concession prices are very high. Go south on I-77 and get off at the state line. Bring sunscreen as most of the park is unshaded.
  • Take I-85S to US-321N to Hickory for excellent furniture shopping at a host of furniture outlets. Two such are Hickory Furniture Mart [106] (huge) and the Hickory Furniture Mall [107] (quieter and less expensive).
  • Chimney Rock Park [108]. Part of the highly scenic Blue Ridge Mountains in the Appalachian chain. One of the region's most visited parks, primarily because of its unusual rock formations and waterfalls.
  • Nantahala Outdoor Center [109]. About 3-4 hours west of Charlotte in the heart of the Appalachians. Excellent whitewater rafting and tubing for all experience levels; the river runs particularly well after big rains. Charlotte's own rafting center (the U.S. National Whitewater Center) is currently under construction, but will struggle to match the natural splendor of the Nantahala. Also an excellent place to hike, bike, bird watch, etc.
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