Charlotte: Recreation

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Charlotte: Recreation


Sightseers in Charlotte enjoy the Mecklenburg County park system, which includes 175 parks with more than 14,000 acres, plus an extensive growing greenway system. Latta Plantation Nature Preserve1,290 acres off Mountain Island Lake in northern Mecklenburg Countyis a prime example, and the park is becoming a major recreational center in the Southeast. Special features include the Equestrian Center, with riding trails and a major show facility; the Carolina Raptor Center, a unique facility for caring for and exhibiting birds of prey, and an environmental center that includes a museum and permanent research and rehabilitation facilities; and Historic Latta Plantation, a restored plantation home dating from the early 1800s that includes a small operating farm that is also listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Nature trails and picnic areas are available.

History buffs can take in the Hezekiah Alexander Home, built in 1774 and considered the oldest building in Mecklenburg County. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the home is furnished with authentic articles from the eighteenth century, and the adjacent Charlotte Museum of History presents a variety of changing exhibits. Located at Pineville is the James K. Polk Memorial, a state historic site devoted to the country's eleventh president with log buildings and their furnishings that serve as period pieces dating from the early 1800s and a visitor's center featuring a film on Polk's life. At Reed Gold Mine, where gold was discovered in 1799, visitors today can still pan for gold.

Within the city, Ray's Splash Planet Waterpark has 117,000 gallons of water in its indoor waterpark and also features a fitness center, concessions, and a summer camp.

Fun beckons just outside of Charlotte, too. To the south, but within Mecklenburg County, is Paramount's Carowinds, a 105-acre amusement park featuring rides, a 13-acre WaterWorks park with a 25,000-square-foot wave pool named Big Wave Bay, and in 2005 Nickelodeon Live presents favorite characters from their cable television shows. The North Carolina Transportation Museum in Spencer provides train rides, antique autos, and transportation displays on its 53-acre site.

Arts and Culture

Culturally minded residents and visitors in Charlotte can view a wide array of collections at the Mint Museum of Art, founded in 1936, that houses more than 27,000 items including American art, pre-Columbian art, and American and European ceramics by such artists as Winslow Homer, Andrew Wyeth, and Frederic Remington. As the oldest art museum and emerging as a major southern landmark in North Carolina, the museum's building formerly served as the first branch of the U.S. Mint from 183761. Other collections include a 6,000-piece costume collection, antique maps, and contemporary American prints. In 1999 its sister museum, the Mint Museum of Arts & Crafts, opened to present ceramics, glass, jewelry, wood, and metalworks from historical to contemporary times.

The crown jewel of Charlotte's arts scene is the North Carolina Blumenthal Performing Arts Center, home to the Charlotte Symphony, which offers 115 performances each season with frequent guest artists; and Opera Carolina, which stages four major operas annually. Also anchored there are the Charlotte Choral Society, the Carolinas Concert Association, the Oratorio Singers of Charlotte, the Charlotte Repertory Theatre Company, and the North Carolina Dance Theatre. The city's other musical groups include the Charlotte Boys & Girls Choir, Carolina Pro Musica, Chamber Music of Charlotte, and the Charlotte Music Club. The Charlotte Pops Orchestra brings a summer series of 16 free open air concerts to Symphony Park at SouthPark.

The state-of-the-art Verizon Wireless Pavilion (formerly Blockbuster Pavilion), which showcases world-class concerts, Broadway shows, opera, and ballet, is an outdoor amphitheater that can accommodate 19,000 people. For theater buffs, Charlotte Repertory Theatre, the city's first and only resident Equity theater company, presents three productions each summer. Theatre Charlotte, the state's oldest community theater, presents over 2,600 performances productions fueled by more than 500 local volunteers each year. Central Piedmont Community College's (CPCC) Summer Theatre has chased away the summer doldrums with its mostly-musicals schedule for over three decades. Since 1954, the Children's Theatre of Charlotte produces plays for and by children, presents special events, and holds classes.

The Charlotte City Ballet, a local company founded in 1985, offers classical and non-traditional performance throughout the year as does the Charlotte Youth Ballet. Cultural events, lectures, and entertainment are presented at the Afro-American Cultural Center.

Offerings in theateras well as the other artsare enriched in Charlotte because of its many colleges and universities. The University of North Carolina at Charlotte, Davidson College, Queens University of Charlotte, and Johnson C. Smith University all offer a variety of cultural programs for the general public. UNCC is the site of WFAE-FM, Char-lotte's National Public Radio affiliate.

Spirit Square is located in the historic First Baptist Church, built in 1909. The arts center is the result of private and corporate support, as well as a $2.5 million bond issue. More than 500,000 people visit the facility each year to enjoy its four galleries, take classes in such areas as theater, fiber, clay, and dance, and view performances in its intimate 750-seat theater. Watch performing artists, in all their variety and from all over the world at Spirit Square's 180-seat, black-box Duke Power Theatre, which is home to the Actor's Theater of Charlotte. Spirit Square is also home for area arts groups and has helped to spur the revitalization of Charlotte's uptown. It is considered the keystone of Charlotte's cultural center on North Tryon Street, which includes restaurants, several art galleries, the public library, and Discovery Place.

Located adjacent to Freedom Park, the Nature Museum is geared to younger visitors and features nature trails, live animals, classes, a planetarium, and a puppet theater. Collectible treasures from around the world are on display at the Farvan International Gallery.

There are 14 galleries located in "NoDa" as Charlotte's historic northern district is called. The ArtHouse Center for Creative Expression has fine art, photography, textile art, and sculptures. The Center of the Earth Gallery (CTE) is award-winning and displays an eclectic collection of contemporary works from both regional and national artists.

Visitors can explore the wonders of science at Discovery Place, ranked among the 10 most outstanding hands-on science and technology museums in the country, which includes an IMAX Dome Theatre.

Festivals and Holidays

Charlotteans like to celebrate, and festivals abound almost year-round. The biggest is the three-day Spring Fest, which draws more than 300,000 people uptown to celebrate the rites of spring each April. Among the offerings are food, entertainment by local and nationally known performers, games, art exhibits, and an art competition. Also, during May, the city celebrates the 600 Festival, an auto-racing event tied to the Coca-Cola 600 that includes a parade, fireworks, and unusual competitive events such as a bathtub derby and culminates with a charity ball.

Numerous neighborhoods have festivals and celebrations throughout the summer. In the fall, Festival in the Park, held in Freedom Park, says farewell to summer in a fun-filled 4 days featuring 175 artists and nearly 1,000 entertainers. The free event has art awards totaling about $4,000. The annual Greek Yiasou Festival celebrates Charlotte's largest ethnic community, and November's Southern Christmas Show, the largest indoor event in the Carolinas and Virginia, is a holiday crafts show that extends over 10 days at Charlotte's Merchandise Mart. Each year the Christmas season is launched in Charlotte with the Carolinas' Carousel Parade on Thanksgiving Day.

Sports for the Spectator

The Carolina Panthers, a National Football League expansion team, began play in Charlotte in the 1996 season in Bank of America Stadium (originally Ericsson Stadium), a $187 million state-of-the-art black and silver 73,258-seat stadium that was custom built for them. Local basketball fans were disappointed when the Charlotte Hornets decided to move their professional National Basketball Association team to New Orleans. However, in 2004 the expansion Bobcats picked up play at the Charlotte Coliseum while they await a brand new $264 million arena located in the city. Since 1997 the Charlotte Sting has played for the Women's National Basketball League (WNBA). Professional golf comes to town during May for the Wachovia Championship at Quail Hollow Club, founded in 2003. To date, the event has sold out all of its 35,000 daily tickets.

The annual Continental Tire Bowl has been extremely popular since its inception in 2002. The University of North Carolina at Charlotte 49ers plays basketball at the Halton Arena. The Shrine Bowl Game at Memorial Stadium pits the top high-school stars from North and South Carolina. Proceeds from the event, which began in 1937, go to the Shriners Hospital for Crippled Children in Greenville, South Carolina.

Until 2005 the Charlotte Observer Marathon Run for Peace had some of the top name runners in the country. However, it suffered a setback when the former director pled guilty to embezzlement; the group is planning to revive the run in January 2006. A local running store has inserted itself into the picture by announcing a Run for Your Life marathon to occur in December 2005. Spring signals the opening of the 167,000-seat Lowe's Motor Speedway, which attracts fans to its NASCAR events, including the Coca-Cola 600 during Memorial Day weekend, among other races. Summer ushers in a full season of baseball played by the Charlotte Knights, the city's Triple A minor league team in the Chicago White Sox farm system.

Sports for the Participant

For active pursuits, Charlotte-Mecklenburg County boasts 14,000 acres of parks and over 20 recreation centers. The city's more than 175 parks include recreation centers, a petting zoo, playgrounds, more than 1,000 swimming pools, volleyball, basketball, 100 tennis courts, soccer and softball fields, 10 golf courses, and a motocross track. A BMX bike track (which has hosted national tournaments) is located at the Hornets Nest Park, which sits on 102 acres and also has facilities for baseball, softball, basketball, and volleyball; 10 playgrounds; and a lake with a fishing pier. One of the park system's oldest recreation centers, the Enderly Recreation Center, underwent a major renovation and in May 2005 opened with 21,000 square feet that includes a gymnasium, three multipurpose rooms, senior and youth activity rooms, a computer lab, and an adult fitness center. Skateboarders can enjoy expansive new courses, a multi bowl, and a variety of terrains at Grayson Skatepark, opening in spring 2005.

For those who prefer water activities, Lake Wylie and Lake Norman are about a 20-minute drive from uptown. Boating, swimming, water skiing, and fishing can be enjoyed in an unspoiled wooded environment. The mountains of North Carolinathe highest east of the Mississippiare just two hours away by car, and they offer the delights of skiing, backpacking, hiking, and mountain climbing. Two hundred miles of Atlantic Ocean beach, with beckoning surf and offerings of swimming, sunning, boating, and fishing, are a three-hour drive away.

Shopping and Dining

A variety of shopping experiences are available to Char-lotteans. The Eastland Mall offers more than 100 stores including Sears and Burlington Coat Factory, an ice rink called "Ice House" that offers lessons and party packages, and cinemas. Midtown Square is a discount mall with a central food court that is in the midst of redevelopment that will, by 2007, include high-profile stores such as Target and Home Depot EXPO Design Center. Meanwhile SouthPark Mall, Charlotte's most upscale facility, offers 1.2 million square feet of shopping space in one of America's top selling retail centers, with plans to add a Nordstrom and Neiman Marcus by the holiday season of 2006. Adjacent to Carowinds amusement park is the Outlet Marketplace Mall, which features more than 50 outlet and off-price stores, a farmer's market, a flower market, and a food court. Charlotte Regional Farmers Market features locally grown produce, baked goods, flowers, and crafts from March through December. The North Davidson district is Charlotte's version of New York's SoHo and has been dubbed "NoDa" by locals; the district counts antique and boutique shops among its eclectic mix.

From an elegant dinner by candlelight to a rollicking night of food with Dixieland jazz, a variety of dining options is offered in the city. Visitors may chose from Chinese, Japanese, Indian, Egyptian, Arabian, Greek, French, Indian or Mexican cuisines, as well as "good old down-home" Southern cooking. Among the mid-South regional food specialties diners may seek in Charlotte are southern fried chicken, barbecue, country ham, and Brunswick stewa mixture of chicken, pork, corn, tomatoes, beans, and hot peppers, as well as biscuits and hushpuppies, and pecan pie and banana pudding.

Visitor Information: Visit Charlotte, The Convention & Visitors Bureau, 500 S. College St., #300, Charlotte, NC 28202; telephone (704)334-2282; toll-free (800)722-1994; fax (704)342-3972; email [email protected]

Charlotte: Economy

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Charlotte: Economy

Major Industries and Commercial Activity

Distribution and banking are the two major forces responsible for the emergence of Charlotte as a major urban center where economic growth and business development are flourishing.

Located in one of the nation's largest urban regions, Charlotte has more than six million people living within a 100-mile radius. In fact, more than half the population of the United States can be reached from Charlotte within one hour's flight time or one day by vehicle. Its proximity to a wide variety of markets has led to Charlotte's maturation as a financial, distribution, and transportation center for the entire urban region. The city has developed into a major wholesale center with the highest per capita sales in the United States, ranking sixth nationally in total wholesale sales.

Charlotte is also becoming recognized as a national and international financial center. The city is already the major banking center of the Southeast and only New York City has more banking resources. With more than $1 trillion in bank holding company assets and two major banking institutions (Wachovia and Bank of America), Charlotte is in a position to provide businesses with a wide array of sophisticated corporate banking services, as well as resources for financing and investing.

Several factors attract foreign businesses to Charlotte from such countries as Germany, Great Britain, Japan, France, Switzerland, Italy, and Canada. These include an inland port facility, a foreign trade zone, and the area's customs and immigration offices. More than 600 foreign-owned companies have facilities in the Charlotte region, representing one-third of all foreign companies in North Carolina and South Carolina combined.

In October 2000, Entrepreneur magazine listed metropolitan Charlotte as fifth on their ranking of the "Top 20 Large Cities" to own a business. As the subsidiary headquarters for a variety of major national companies, its urban region continues to attract sophisticated industries such as microelectronics, metal working, and vehicle assembly, as well as research and development, high-technology and service-oriented international and domestic firms. Charlotte boasted 286 Fortune 500 firms in 2004 within its city limits along with 1,200 manufacturing companies.

In recent years, Charlotte has emerged as a magnet for defense-related industries, with four of the nation's top ten defense contractors locating facilities in the area. In 2003, 149 defense-related firms were awarded contracts totaling more than $47 million; more than $160 million in defense related contracts have been awarded to Charlotte companies in the past three years.

Charlotte's business future is expected to remain diverse. More corporate headquarters, transportation- and distribution-related industries will lead growth, with knowledge-based industries following. In 2005, 48 biotech firms are located in Charlotte and 18 optoelectronic facilities exist within the region.

Items and goods produced: textiles, food products, printing and publishing, machinery, primary and fabricated metals, aircraft parts, computers, paper products

Incentive ProgramsNew and Existing Companies

A variety of incentives, grants, bonds, and other programs are offered by the City of Charlotte and Mecklenburg County to help local businesses. Among them, two brown-field programs offer reimbursement for site development or tax breaks; a Façade Improvement Grant Program offers reimbursements up to $10,000 for façade renovations, landscaping, or signage improvements; a Business Investment Grant Program offers funds for eligible companies.

State programs

North Carolina, a right-to-work state with a low unionization rate, offers a revenue bond pool program through various banks. Several venture capital funds operate in the state and inquiries can be made through North Carolina's Council for Entrepreneurial Development (CED). Industrial Revenue Bonds issued by the state provide new and expanding businesses the opportunity to provide good employment and wage opportunities for their workers. North Carolina offers State Technology Based Equity Funds providing financing for new technology based enterprises, as well as TDA incubators for firms transferring new technologies into commercial applications. The state offers an income tax allocation formula that permits the double weighting of sales in calculating corporate income tax. The North Carolina Department of Transportation administers a program which provides for the construction of access roads to industrial sites and road improvements in areas surrounding major corporate installations. The William S. Lee Act makes available to new and expanding companies a 4 percent tax credit on machinery and equipment investments over $2 million, a jobs tax credit, worker training tax credit, research and development tax credits, and business property tax credits. The State Development Zones program offers tax credits for investments in machinery or equipment, creation of new jobs, worker training, credit on training expenditures, and research and development.

Job training programs

The state of North Carolina's Division of Employment and Training offers a unique system of job training programs that are available to any new or expanding manufacturing employer creating a minimum of 12 new production jobs in the state, and to any new or prospective employee referred for training by a participating company. The industrial training service provides great versatility in terms of types and length of training, and classes can be held in a company's plant or on the campus of one of the state's community colleges. The state of North Carolina furnishes instructors and, at the company's request, may test and screen job candidates. Employees may go through training before or after employment by the company. The industrial training service is financed solely by the state of North Carolina.

Development Projects

In the 10 years between 1994 and 2003, Charlotte gained 8,888 firms, announced more than $9.1 billion in new business, and created 79,646 new jobs on 99 million square feet of floor space. During that 10-year period, significant announcements were made by a variety of firms, including the Charlotte Bobcats, Carolina Panthers, Carrier Corporation, Carolina Place Mall, GM Onstar, Hearst Corporation, Trans-america, Solectron, SeaLand, T.J. Maxx Distribution Center, and B.F. Goodrich. The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Development Corporation (CMDC) began selling parcels of land in 2003 on the site of the Wilkinson Park Business Center. One investor was the real estate firm Beacon Partners, who in August 2004 planned the $5 million development of 5 free-standing buildings ranging from 12,500 to 22,080 square feet. Johnson & Wales University opened its new campus to about 1,000 students that will also provide exceptional student housing featuring expansive floor plans, a fitness center, and game room.

Today's retail building in Charlotte is being shaped by a court ruling made in 2000. The retail building boom the area witnessed during the 1990s might have gone on indefinitely, but in a far-reaching development neighborhood opponents of a shopping center project took Charlotte and the developer to court and won. In a decision handed down by a Superior Court judge in May 2000, it was ruled that the city must change how it makes about 80 percent of its zoning decisions. The judge said that Charlotte's fast-track zoning process, under which approvals were made without a hearing, was illegal as it violated state laws. The decision impacted at least 50 projects that ranged from multimillion-dollar shopping center expansions to apartment buildings. The SouthPark Mall, at the center of the controversy, was set to grow by 50% and bring in tenants such as Saks Fifth Avenue and Nordstrom, but the ruling resulted in a limitation on square footage that prevented or delayed those retailers from setting up shop.

Prominent among Charlotte's success is the New Charlotte Arena that will serve as home to the NBA expansion Bobcat team along with the WNBA's Charlotte Sting beginning in the fall of 2005. Occupying about 780,000 square feet at a cost of $200 million, it will host college basketball, concerts, and other shows.

Economic Development Information: Charlotte Chamber of Commerce, 330 S. Tryon St., PO Box 32785, Charlotte, NC 28232; telephone (704)378-1300

Commercial Shipping

Providing exceptional air service in and out of the city, Charlotte/Douglas International Airport ranked 33rd nationally in annual air cargo volume in 2004 with nearly 96,000 tons deplaned. Both domestic and international air freight moves quickly and economically to its destination. Charlotte also serves as a major hub for small package express. Ten air couriers have Charlotte operations in addition to commercial passenger carriers and large freight forwarders.

Charlotte is at the center of the largest consolidated rail system in the United States. Two major rail systems, Norfolk Southern and CSX Transportation, link 27,000 miles of rail systems between the region and 23 states in the eastern half of the country. About 300 trains pass through the city each week. The railroads, in fact, have enabled Charlotte to become a "port city," although the city is located about 175 miles from the coast. The Charlotte Intermodal Terminal (CIT), operated by the North Carolina Ports Authority, is a facility that links Charlotte with the port of Wilmington, Delaware, through a Seaboard Railroad System piggyback ramp operation. CIT is the first fully operational inland container staging and storage facility in the United States operated by a port authority.

More than 200 trucking companies move products and materials through the area. Forty percent of the nation's 100 largest trucking firms have Charlotte operations.

Labor Force and Employment Outlook

The work force in both Mecklenburg County and surrounding areas is plentiful. Studies have found North Carolina workers are more productive than other workers in the same industries nationally. Several area educational institutions provide education and training for employees, including classes in technical skills and management development, as well as graduate degree programs. In 2003 alone, new Charlotte firms created 16,171 new jobs.

The following is a summary of data regarding the Charlotte-Gastonia-Rock Hill labor force, 2003 annual averages.

Size of nonagricultural labor force: 823,400

Number of workers employed in . . .

manufacturing: 106,200

trade, transportation, and utilities: 176,500

information: 24,300

financial activities: 69,000

professional and business services: 118,700

educational and health services: 68,200

leisure and hospitality: 71,000

other services: 36,600

government: 104,700

Average hourly earnings of production workers employed in manufacturing: $14.54

Unemployment rate: 5.2% (December 2004)

Largest employersNumber of employees
Wachovia Corporation18,967
Carolinas HealthCare System15,257
Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools15,134
Bank of America13,000
City of Charlotte5,838
US Airways5,749
Duke Energy Corp.5,400
Mecklenburg County5,373
Presbyterian Healthcare/Novant Health5,166
Excel Staffing Services of Charlotte, Inc.4,500

Cost of Living

A slightly lower than national average cost of living and broad economic base converge to make Charlotte attractive to new residents.

The following is a summary of data regarding several key cost of living factors for the Charlotte area.

2004 (3rd Quarter) ACCRA Average House Price: $218,000

2004 (3rd Quarter) ACCRA Cost of Living Index: 92.9 (U.S. average = 100.0)

State income tax rate: Ranges from 6.0% to 8.25%

State sales tax rate: 4.5% (food and prescription drugs are exempt; food sales are subject to local sales taxes)

Local income tax rate: None

Local sales tax rate: 3.0% (county-wide) (restaurant food sales are subject to local sales tax of 7.5%; 2.0% in grocery stores for food)

Property tax rate: City, $.42 plus County, $.7567 per $100 assessed value; assessed value based on 100% of established market value (2005)

Economic Information: Charlotte Chamber of Commerce, 330 S. Tryon St., PO Box 32785, Charlotte, NC 28232; telephone (704)378-1300

Charlotte: Education and Research

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Charlotte: Education and Research

Elementary and Secondary Schools

Charlotte is at the forefront of innovation in education today. The public school system, which implemented court-ordered busing to achieve desegregation in 1970, is now considered a model for the entire country in terms of race relations. In 2002 the Council of Great City Schools issued a report profiling the school district as one of four nationwide having "reduced racial disparities in academic achievement." A key component to their success comes from the Equity Plus program that operates in specific schools and features reduced student-teacher ratios, added teacher incentives, and additional supplies and equipment.

As one of four finalists in the Broad Foundation's 2004 annual competition, Charlotte-Mecklenburg schools received $125,000 in scholarship monies for graduating seniors in recognition of bridging the inequities in achievement among ethnic groups as well as between high and low income students. A study by Forbes in February 2004 ranked the district seventh on its "The Best Education in the Biggest Cities" list that focused on various factors such as housing values and high school graduation rates. In the 20042005 school year, the district is testing a "Pay for Performance" program that links specific student academic performance directly to teacher bonuses.

The following is a summary of data regarding Charlotte's public schools as of the 20042005 school year.

Total enrollment: 121,640

Number of facilities

elementary schools: 91

junior high/middle schools: 32

senior high schools: 17

other: 11

Student/teacher ratio: kindergarten-grade 3, 19:1; grades 4-8, 22:1; 9-12, 29:1

Teacher salaries

minimum: $28,724

maximum: $65,566

Funding per pupil: $7,311

Education in grades kindergarten through twelve is also provided at more than 60 private schools in the area.

Public Schools Information: Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools, 701 E. Second St., Charlotte, NC 28202; telephone (980) 343-7450; fax (980)343-5164; email [email protected]

Colleges and Universities

The University of North Carolina at Charlotte, the fastest growing campus in the University of North Carolina system, offers dozens of undergraduate options in 7 colleges to its nearly 20,000 students, including approximately 4,000 graduate students. Three local institutions are affiliated with the Presbyterian Church: Davidson College, Queens University of Charlotte, and Johnson C. Smith University. With 1,600 students, Davidson College in northern Mecklenburg County was founded in 1837 and is considered one of the most competitive liberal arts and sciences colleges in the nation. Queens University of Charlotte, formerly (in 2002) Queens College, offers bachelor's degree programs in arts, science, nursing, and music. Originally chartered as the Biddle Memorial Institute in 1867, Johnson C. Smith University is one of the oldest historically African American colleges in the country with more than half of its 1,500 students coming from out-of-state. Winthrop College, located in Rock Hill, South Carolina, is highly regarded for its executive master's in business administration program, as well as its training of future teachers and home economists. In fall 2004 Johnson & Wales University, opened the doors to its career-focused institution that operates in five other states nationwide.

Libraries and Research Centers

The Public Library of Charlotte & Mecklenburg County is North Carolina's largest system, with a 187,000-square-foot main library, six regional libraries, and 16 branch locations. The library system lends books, CDs, tapes, videos, and software along with providing many searchable online resources. The main library downtown contains a large local history and genealogy library, a depository for U.S. Government publications, an International Business Library, and the Virtual Librarya computer learning laboratory. Other libraries in the area include those affiliated with academic institutions (such as the one million volume collection at the University of North Carolina's J. Murrey Atkins Library), commercial concerns, and medical and legal organizations. Research centers affiliated with the University of North Carolina at Charlotte conduct activities in such fields as microelectronics, bimolecular engineering, social science and urban studies. The University Research Park, located on a 3,200-acre campus near the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, has attracted a combination of regional and national businesses engaged in research, manufacturing, and services.

Public Library Information: Public Library of Charlotte & Mecklenburg County, 310 N. Tryon St., Charlotte, NC 28202-2176; telephone (704)336-2725

Charlotte: History

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Charlotte: History

Colonists Curry King's Favor

The first colonial settlersGerman, Scotch-Irish, English, and French Huguenotin the region that is now Charlotte encountered a friendly, peaceful native tribe, the Catawba. The area's fertile soil brought more settlers, and by 1761 the Catawba were restricted to assigned territory in South Carolina. The colonists were aggressive in seeking political advantages. In the mid-1750s, for example, to curry favor with England's King George III, the first settlers to the area named their town Charlotte, after the king's wife, Charlotte Sophia of Mecklenburg-Strelitz (Germany). The town was incorporated in 1768. Their next step was to convince the royal government that they deserved to be a separate county. They diplomatically named their new county Mecklenburg, in honor of the queen.

But their ambitions did not stop there. Thomas Polk, one of the town's first settlers, and his neighbors wanted Charlotte as the county seat. Although there really was not much in Charlotte to justify such a designation, that did not stop these enterprising individuals. They built a log cabin where two Indian trails converged and called it a courthouse, and the existence of that courthouse led to the royal government's appointing Charlotte as the county seat in 1774.

Gold Fever Spurs Boom

Charlotteans' "can-do" attitude also included a strong streak of stubbornness and independence. It was in Charlotte that the Mecklenburg Declaration of Independence was signed on May 20, 1775, predating the colonies' joint declaration by more than a year. During the Revolutionary War, British General Lord Cornwallis referred to Charlotte as "a damned hornet's nest of rebellion."

From 1781 to 1800 Charlotte added a flour mill and a saw mill to its growing settlement. In 1799, a young boy came upon a 17-pound gold nugget at the Reed Gold Mine, 30 miles east of the city. Soon, mines dotted the area and business in Charlotte boomed. Gold fever lasted until starry-eyed prospectors were lured west by the California Gold Rush of 1849.

City Becomes A Financial and Textile Center

As the importance of the mines diminished, cotton took hold as the town's money producer. The invention of the cotton gin helped to establish Charlotte as a ginning and exchange center, and the town evolved into a textile power. The beginning of the city's development as a major distribution center began in the mid-1880s with the convergence of several railroad lines in Charlotte. After the Civil War, hydroelectric power was developed on the Catawba River near Charlotte. The city began to serve as a textile center in the late nineteenth century, and by 1903, more than half of the nation's textile production was located within a 100-mile radius of Charlotte. The evolution of North Carolina's interstate highway system in the 1900s further paved the way for Charlotte to become the major distribution center that it is today. Charlotte enjoyed great expansion after World War I. The location of a branch of the Federal Reserve Bank in the 1920s also had a major impact, and Charlotte subsequently evolved into a top banking center. In the 1940s Charlotte contributed to military efforts and in the 1950s underwent another period of growth. Charlotte became a banking and distribution center that grew more than 30 percent in the 1970s, profiting from a historic desegregation ruling and a dedication to metropolitan renewal and development.

In the 1990s, large-scale business expansions and relocations created many new jobs and an economy that continued to thrive despite the recession in the early 2000s. In 2005 the Charlotte Business Journal reported on a study that indicated Charlotte was the second-most popular destination for relocating families. Several factors contribute to the success of the area, including a cost of living below the national average and a graceful blend of historical homes alongside new development. The city's population is projected to grow nearly four percent annually, resulting in an expanding job market accompanied by a diverse business community that allows for prosperity even during difficult economic times.

Historical Information: Public Library of Charlotte & Mecklenburg County, 310 N. Tryon St., Charlotte, NC 28202-2176; telephone (704)336-2725. Hezekiah Alexander Foundation, 3500 Shamrock Dr., Charlotte, NC 28215; telephone (704)568-1774


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CHARLOTTE (North Carolina). In the mid-eighteenth century, Scotch-Irish settlers moved west from the Carolina coastal plain, and German families traveled through the valley of Virginia to settle in the region called the Piedmont. There, a small town took shape at the intersection of two Indian trading paths. Settlers called it "Charlotte," after Queen Charlotte of Mecklenburg, Germany. By 1850, the modest settlement had fewer than 2,500 inhabitants. The arrival of the railroad connected the landlocked town with the markets of the Northeast and the fertile fields of the Deep South. After the Civil War (1861–1865), the city resumed railroad building, extending as many as five major lines from its borders. This transportation network and Charlotte's proximity to cotton fields prompted local engineer D. A. Tompkins to launch a mill campaign in the 1880s. With cheap electricity provided by James B. Duke's Southern Power Company, the town was transformed into a textile center by the mid-1920s. By 1930, Charlotte had become the largest city in the Carolinas.

As the textile empire expanded, so did the need for capital. This need was fulfilled by local banking institutions, leading the way for the city's emergence as a financial center. Charlotte's transportation network was improved by the opening of an expanded airport in 1941 and the convergence of interstates I-77 and I-85 in the 1960s. The city became a major distribution center in the Southeast.

During the first half of the 1900s, Charlotte experienced cordial race relations, though these existed within the strictures of Jim Crow. A substantial black middle class worked with white leaders to orchestrate a voluntary desegregation of public facilities in 1963. School desegregation occurred more fitfully. In the 1970 case of Swann v. Charlotte-Mecklenburg School Board, the U.S. Supreme Court ordered busing to desegregate the city's schools. The landmark decision inaugurated a generation of busing throughout the nation. Federal courts released Charlotte from that decision in 2001.

In the 1990s, bank mergers vaulted this once-inconsequential textile town into the position of the nation's second-largest banking center. In 1989, the city became a hub for USAirways, increasing national and international transportation connections. By 2000, the city had grown to around 550,000 people. But Charlotte's expansion brought problems, including traffic, environmental degradation of air and water, and unchecked commercial development.


Hanchett, Thomas W. Sorting Out the New South City: Race, Class, and Urban Development in Charlotte, 1875–1975. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1998.

Kratt, Mary Norton. Charlotte, Spirit of the New South. Tulsa, Okla.: Continental Heritage Press, 1980. Reprint, Winston-Salem, N.C.: J. F. Blair, 1992.


Charlotte: Communications

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Charlotte: Communications

Newspapers and Magazines

The Charlotte Observer is Charlotte's major daily newspaper (morning). Also published in Charlotte is SportsBusiness Journal, a national tabloid-size glossy weekly that reports on the glitzy and the mundane of sports business. Other publications originating in the area include the weekly The Charlotte Post, serving the African American community; the twice-weekly The Mecklenburg Times, featuring financial, legal, and realty news; Charlotte Business Journal; community weeklies such as The Leader; and several periodicals serving such industries as iron, chemistry, hosiery, and botany.

Television and Radio

Seven television stations broadcasting from Charlotte include three network affiliates (ABC, CBS, and NBC), a PBS affiliate, and three independent stations (Fox, UPN, and WB). Programming from independent and educational stations originating in neighboring cities is also available to Charlotte-area television viewers. Sixteen AM and FM radio stations in Charlotte broadcast a variety of offerings that include religious and sports programming as well as contemporary, rock and roll, gospel, and country music.

Media Information: Charlotte Observer, Knight-Ridder Inc., 600 S. Tryon St., Charlotte, NC 28202; telephone (704)358-5000

Charlotte Online

Charlotte Center City Home Page. Available

Charlotte Chamber of Commerce. Available

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools. Available

Charlotte Observer. Available

Charlotte Regional Partnership Home Page. Available

City of Charlotte Home Page. Available

Historic Charlotte Home Page. Available

Public Library of Charlotte & Mecklenburg County. Available

Visit Charlotte (Charlotte Convention & Visitors Bureau). Available or

Selected Bibliography

Claiborne, Jack, The Charlotte Observer: Its Time and Place, 18691986 (Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina Press, 1986)

Mayes, Doug, and Nancy Stanfield, CharlotteNothing Could Be Finer (Memphis, TN: Towery Publishing, 1996)

Charlotte: Population Profile

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Charlotte: Population Profile

Metropolitan Area Residents

1980: 971,000

1990: 1,162,140

2000: 1,499,293

Percent change, 19902000: 29.0%

U.S. rank in 1980: 36th

U.S. rank in 1990: 34th

U.S. rank in 2000: 34th

City Residents

1980: 315,474

1990: 419,558

2000: 540,828

2003 estimate: 584,658

Percent change, 19902000: 28.9%

U.S. rank in 1980: 47th

U.S. rank in 1990: 35th

U.S. rank in 2000: 33rd (State rank: 1st)

Density: 2,232.4 people per square mile (2000)

Racial and ethnic characteristics (2000)

White: 315,061

Black or African American: 176,964

American Indian and Alaska Native: 1,863

Asian: 18,418

Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander: 283

Hispanic or Latino (may be of any race): 39,800

Other: 23,743

Percent of residents born in state: 46.3% (2000)

Age characteristics (2000)

Population under 5 years old: 38,529

Population 5 to 9 years old: 38,895

Population 10 to 14 years old: 36,269

Population 15 to 19 years old: 34,442

Population 20 to 24 years old: 41,513

Population 25 to 34 years old: 103,103

Population 35 to 44 years old: 92,561

Population 45 to 54 years old: 69,537

Population 55 to 59 years old: 22,470

Population 60 to 64 years old: 15,844

Population 65 to 74 years old: 25,616

Population 75 to 84 years old: 16,650

Population 85 years and older: 5,399

Median age: 32.7 years

Births (2003)

Total number: 10,566

Deaths (2003)

Total number: 3,903 (of which, 78 were infants under the age of 1 year)

Money income (1999)

Per capita income: $26,823

Median household income: $46,975

Total households: 215,803

Number of households with income of . . .

less than $10,000: 15,422

$10,000 to $14,999: 9,254

$15,000 to $24,999: 24,030

$25,000 to $34,999: 28,791

$35,000 to $49,999: 36,318

$50,000 to $74,999: 44,158

$75,000 to $99,999: 23,612

$100,000 to $149,999: 18,999

$150,000 to $199,999: 6,404

$200,000 or more: 8,815

Percent of families below poverty level: 7.8% (35.6% of which were female householder families with related children under 5 years)

2002 FBI Crime Index Total: 49,052


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Charlotte: Introduction
Charlotte: Geography and Climate
Charlotte: History
Charlotte: Population Profile
Charlotte: Municipal Government
Charlotte: Economy
Charlotte: Education and Research
Charlotte: Health Care
Charlotte: Recreation
Charlotte: Convention Facilities
Charlotte: Transportation
Charlotte: Communications

The City in Brief

Founded: circa 1750 (incorporated 1768)

Head Official: Mayor Patrick McCrory (R) (since 1995)

City Population

1980: 315,474

1990: 419,558

2000: 540,828

2003 estimate: 584,658

Percent change, 19902000: 28.9%

U.S. rank in 1980: 47th

U.S. rank in 1990: 35th (State rank: 1st)

U.S. rank in 2000: 33rd (State rank: 1st)

Metropolitan Area Population

1980: 971,000

1990: 1,162,000

2000: 1,499,293

Percent change, 19902000: 29.0%

U.S. rank in 1980: 36th

U.S. rank in 1990: 34th

U.S. rank in 2000: 34th

Area: 242.87 square miles (2000)

Elevation: Ranges from 730 to 765 feet above sea level

Average Annual Temperature: 60.1° F

Average Annual Precipitation: 43.1 inches

Major Economic Sectors: wholesale and retail trade, services, manufacturing

Unemployment rate: 5.2% (December 2004)

Per Capita Income: $26,823 (1999)

2002 FBI Crime Index Total: 49,052

Major Colleges and Universities: University of North Carolina at Charlotte, Queens University of Charlotte, Johnson C. Smith University, Davidson College

Daily Newspaper: The Charlotte Observer

Charlotte: Geography and Climate

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Charlotte: Geography and Climate

Charlotte is located in southwestern North Carolina's Piedmont region of rolling hills. The city is about 85 miles south and east of the Appalachian Mountains, and about 180 miles northwest of the Atlantic Ocean. Situated near the South Carolina state line, Charlotte is the Mecklenburg county seat.

Charlotte's moderate climate enjoys a sheltering effect from the mountains; its cool winters seldom bring extreme cold temperatures or heavy snowfall, while the city's long, quite warm summer days are mitigated by considerably cooler nights. Summer precipitation falls principally in the form of thundershowers, followed by comparatively drier fall weather.

Area: 242.87 square miles (2000)

Elevation: 730 to 765 feet above sea level

Average temperatures: January, 39.3° F; July, 79.3° F; average annual temperature, 60.1° F

Average Annual Precipitation: 43.1 inches

Charlotte: Convention Facilities

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Charlotte: Convention Facilities

Boasting more than 23,000 hotel rooms, Charlotte has become the major business travel center in the Carolinas and a prime meeting and convention center in the Southeast. The Charlotte Convention Center offers 850,000 square feet and hosts trade shows, conventions, conferences, and expositions. The exhibit space consists of 280,000 square feet and is divisible into one to four halls. There are 46 meeting rooms with 90,000 square feet of flexible meeting space, a deluxe hotel-quality ballroom measuring 35,000 square feet, and wide, light-filled concourses that converge at the heart of the center, the Grand Hall. The Charlotte Coliseum seats 24,041 people in comfort, providing superior sight lines, television monitors, state of the art video monitors, and ample concession service. A two-story scoreboard features instant replay, and monitors on four sides; banquet rooms allow for 400 sit-down guests and 700 reception-style. The 275-room Renaissance Charlotte Suites Hotel is adjacent to the Charlotte Coliseum and features 19,000 square feet of meeting space, 18 meeting rooms, and an 11,400 square foot ballroom. The Ovens Auditorium is a 2,457-seat facility where arts-related events and business meetings are held. Featuring a 9,100 square-foot ballroom along with more than 20,000 square feet of meeting space, the Marriott Charlotte Center City offers a unique atrium for events.

Convention Information: Visit Charlotte, The Convention & Visitors Bureau, 500 S. College St., #300, Charlotte, NC 28202; telephone (704)334-2282; toll-free (800)722-1994; fax (704)342-3972; email [email protected]

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