Early settler, Thomas Polk, uncle to future President James Polk, built a home at the crossroads of two Indian trading paths in 1755. Soon the village of Charlotte Town was born. Although named for Queen Charlotte of Mecklenberg, the wife of George III, Charlotte Town’s loyalty to the crown was short lived. By May 1775, the founders of Charlotte had fired the city’s crown officials when they drafted and affirmed the Mecklenberg Declaration of Independence. During the Revolutionary War, the city served as an encampment for both the American and British armies. Charlotte was the site of many skirmishes between local residents and the occupying British Army. It was during these many skirmishes, that a frustrated British general nicknamed the feisty Charlotteans and their city, “Hornets’ Nest”.
One early spring day in 1799, twelve year old Conrad Reed decided to go fishing. He may not have brought home many fish, but did return home with a seventeen pound rock. Three years later, a jeweler pointed out that the family’s door stopper was, in fact, a seventeen pound chunk of gold! This was the first verified finding of gold in the U.S. and marked the start of America’s first gold rush. In fact, Uptown Charlotte is literally built on the gunnies of the St. Catherine and Rudsill gold mines. The California gold rush in 1848 may have brought an end to Charlotte’s run as a major gold producing center, but the resourceful Charlotteans had already turned their energies to another cash producing commodity. Through the mid to late nineteenth century, cotton would play a major role in the city’s economic development and continued prosperity.
Today, Charlotte is the largest city in the Carolinas and the twentieth largest U.S. city. The Queen City continues to be the number one choice of destination when visiting the Carolinas. The city boats that there is something new to entice, interest and amaze visitors daily. Whether you stay a day, weekend, or longer, this hospitable city guarantees to keep you entertained.
- 2000 census population: 540,828
- Racial makeup: Black/African American – 32.7%; White – 58.3%; Hispanic/Latino – 7.4%, and Asian – .3%
- Population: Age 18 and over – 75.3 %; 65 and over – 8.8%
- Language: residents age 5 and older speaking English in the home – 85.4%; Spanish – 8%
- 2000 median household income: $46,975
- Median age: 32.7
Recreations & Leisure
Charlotte boasts a pleasant year round climate which makes it a perfect back drop for all types of sports and outdoor recreational activities. If you enjoy golfing, Charlotte offers over 50 beautiful golf courses. If your tastes run more to cycling, horseback riding, indoor ice skating, swimming, sailing, or even extreme sports, Charlotte has something for you.
If you like the thrill of a great roller coaster ride, Charlotte’s Paramounts Carowinds is the place to visit. This one hundred acre theme park feature rides and attractions based on motion pictures.
Feel the need for speed? Then, you may want to catch a race at the Lowe’s Motor Speedway. With over 167,000 seats available, this NASCAR fan’s paradise, will have you yelling, “start your engines!”.
Got the urge to catch a game? Charlotte can offer you a basketball, football, baseball or hockey game. The city is home to the Charlotte Hornets (NBA), Carolina Panthers (NFL), Charlotte Knights (baseball), and Charlotte Checkers (hockey).
Schools & Education
The Charlotte-Mecklenberg Schools (CMS) was ranked by Forbes as 7th in the country for the “Best Education in the Biggest Cities”. Additionally, it was a finalist for the Broad Prize. This coveted prize is awarded annually to only four districts in the country for elevating their achievement levels. As a finalist, CMS was award over $125,000 in district scholarships.
The CMS K-12 public school system consists of 148 schools and learning centers and enrolls over 122,000 students. The district employs over 7,700 full-time teachers and maintains a student-to-teacher ratio of 15.90.
Charlotte and its surround suburbs also host over 35 colleges, universities, technical and trade schools in the area. The University of North Carolina at Charlotte, Jefferson C. Smith University, Queens College, Kings College, The Art Institute of Charlotte, Carolina College of Health Sciences, Central Piedmont Community College, Wake Forest University, and the Reformed Theological Seminary all call the city home.
Educational Attainment based on 2000 Census:
- High school diploma or equivalency: 20%
- Some college, no degree: 22%
- Associate degree: 6.4%
- Bachelor’s degree: 26.0%
- Graduate or professional degree: 10.5%
Opened in 1992, the Blumenthal Performing Arts Center is truly one of the nation’s top ranking performing arts facilities. The Blumenthal Performing Arts Center offers audience members a full venue of first-class Broadway touring productions, dance, music, and comedy shows. The facility also serves as home to ten outstanding arts organizations including the Charlotte Symphony Orchestra, Charlotte Philharmonic Orchestra, North Carolina Dance Theatre, Opera Carolina, and the Light Factory. With so many arts organizations calling the Blumenthal Performing Arts Center home; visitors are guaranteed to find something to do almost every night of the week.
Over 2.9 million people visit Charlotte annually. Recognized as a prominent cultural capital, Charlotte continues to build its reputation as a world-class city offering arts, science, and historical attractions. There are several unique museums and historical sites of interest including:
The interactive Levine Museum of the New South which is home to the nation’s most comprehensive interpretation of post-Civil War Southern history.
The Mint Museum of Craft and Design is the sister to the Mint Museum of Art. At 16,000 square feet, it houses one of the country’s largest craft museums.
The James Polk Memorial is the historic birthplace and childhood home of the eleventh U.S. president.
The Discovery Place is an unbelievable hands on science museum. Visitors should allow plenty of time to explore the aquariums, three-story rainforest, Omnimax Theatre, and the country’s largest planeterium, the Kelly Space Voyager Planeterium.
The Charlotte Nature Museum is designed for those who enjoy the outdoors. This museum houses a butterfly pavilion, an exhibition of Indian relics, live animals, and hands-on interactive exhibits for kids of all ages.
The Charlotte Museum of History and Hezekiah Alexandre Homesite is the county’s oldest stone house dwelling dating back to 1774. The museum also houses furnishings from 1774 thru 1820, regional artifacts, and a colonial to modern objects archive.
Named as one of the “Top 50 Cities that Sizzle” by Nation’s Restaurant News, Charlotte offers visitors a smorgasbord for the senses. Whether you enjoy a perfectly grilled steak, barbeque, fresh sushi or a hearty bowl of spaghetti, the Charlotte restaurant scene will tickle your taste buds.
With over 112 distinct restaurants in Charlotte and its surrounding suburbs, variety is not a problem. A few of the city’s more notable restaurants include The Gallery Restaurant at the Ballantyne (American/New American), Cajun Queen (Cajun), French Quarter Restaurant (French), Bravo Ristorante (Italian), Nikko (Japanese), Bubba’s Barbeque (Barbeque), and Sullivan’s Steakhouse (Steak).
Charlotte has experienced a steady growth in new business over the past ten years. Over 8,869 new firms have invested $8.6 billion in new Charlotte facilities. This has provided current employment to over 770,200 people in the city’s metro area. Unemployment has remained at a relatively low rate of 5.5%.
Charlotte is first and foremost a banking city. With more than $1.1 trillion in assets, it is the second largest financial center in the country. Modern banking giants Bank of America and First Union (Wachovia) call the city home. Of the 75,646 employees working in the finance and insurance sector, 46,331 are employed in commercial banking.
Charlotte’s largest major industry is education, health and social services. This sector accounts for 15.8% of the workforce. The second highest industry workforce can be found in the finance, insurance, real estate, and rental and leasing industry with 14.7%. Professional, scientific and technical services rank third with 11.8%. Finally, the retail trade industry holds the number four position with 10.8%.
Charlotte ranks fifth nationally in the number of Fortune 500 headquartered companies. Currently, 286 Fortune 500 companies maintain operations in Charlotte. The city and its surrounding suburbs serve as world headquarters for Bank of America, Wachovia, Duke Energy, Sonic Automotive, Nucor, SPX Corporation, Goodrich Corporation, Lowes, and Family Dollar.
Thinking about starting your own business? Starting that business in Charlotte would definitely put you in good company. The city was named by Entrepreneur magazine as one of the nation’s best large cities for entrepreneurs to start and run a small business. Of the 24,341 companies with operations in Charlotte, 22,509 employ fewer than 50 workers and 1,721 employ between 50 and 500 workers.