Charlotte, North Carolina
) is the most populous city
in the U.S. state
of North Carolina
. Located in the Piedmont
region, it is the county seat
of Mecklenburg County
. In 2019, the U.S. Census Bureau
estimated the population was 885,708,
making it the 15th-most populous city
in the U.S. and the second-largest in the Southeast
behind Jacksonville, Florida
. The city is the cultural, economic, and transportation center of the Charlotte metropolitan area
, whose population ranks 22nd in the U.S
., and had a population of 2,569,213, in 2018.
The Charlotte metropolitan area is part of a sixteen-county market region or combined statistical area
with a 2018 census-estimated population of 2,728,933.
Between 2004 and 2014, Charlotte was ranked as the country's fastest-growing metro area, with 888,000 new residents.
Based on U.S. Census data from 2005 to 2015, Charlotte tops the U.S. in millennial population growth.
It is the third-fastest-growing major city in the United States.
Residents are referred to as "Charlotteans
Native Americans were the first known historic tribe to settle Mecklenburg County (in the Charlotte area) and were first recorded around 1567 in Spanish records. By 1759 half the Catawba tribe had died from smallpox
, which was endemic among Europeans, because the Catawba had not acquired immunity
to the new disease. At the time of their largest population, Catawba people numbered 10,000, but by 1826 their total population had dropped to 110.
city of Charlotte was developed first by a wave of migration of Scots-Irish
Presbyterians, or Ulster-Scot
settlers from Northern Ireland, who dominated the culture of the Southern Piedmont Region. They made up the principal founding European population in the backcountry. German immigrants
also settled the area before the American Revolutionary War
, but in much smaller numbers. They still contributed greatly to the early foundations of the region.
Mecklenburg County was initially part of Bath County
(1696 to 1729) of New Hanover Precinct, which became New Hanover County
in 1729. The western portion of New Hanover split into Bladen County
in 1734, its western portion splitting into Anson County
in 1750. Mecklenburg County formed from Anson County in 1762. Further apportionment was made in 1792, after the American Revolutionary War, with Cabarrus County
formed from Mecklenburg.
In 1842, Union County
formed from Mecklenburg's southeastern portion and a western portion of Anson County. These areas were all part of one of the original six judicial/military districts of North Carolina known as the Salisbury District
The area that is now Charlotte was settled by people of European descent around 1755, when Thomas Spratt and his family settled near what is now the Elizabeth neighborhood. Thomas Polk
(great-uncle of U.S. President James K. Polk
), who later married Thomas Spratt's daughter, built his house by the intersection of two Native American
trading paths between the Yadkin
One path ran north–south and was part of the Great Wagon Road
; the second path ran east–west along what is now Trade Street.
Within decades of Polk's settling, the area grew to become the Town of Charlotte, incorporating
Though chartered as Charlotte, the name appears as a form of "Charlottesburgh" on many maps until around 1800.
A form of "Charlottetown" also appears on maps of British origin depicting General Cornwallis' route of invasion.
The crossroads in the Piedmont became the heart of Uptown Charlotte
. In 1770, surveyors marked the 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.
The intersection of Trade and Tryon
—commonly known today as "Trade & Tryon", or simply "The Square"
—is more properly called "Independence Square".
While surveying the boundary between the Carolinas in 1772, William Moultrie
stopped in Charlotte, whose five or six houses were "very ordinary built of logs".
Local leaders came together in 1775 and signed the Mecklenburg Resolves
, more popularly known as the Mecklenburg Declaration of Independence
. While not a true declaration of independence from British rule, it is among the first such declarations that eventually led to the American Revolution
. May 20, the traditional date of the signing of the declaration, is celebrated annually in Charlotte as "MecDec", with musket and cannon fire by reenactors in Independence Square. North Carolina's state flag
and state seal
also bear the date.
After the American Revolution
Charlotte is traditionally considered the home of Southern Presbyterianism
, but in the 19th century, numerous churches, including Presbyterian, Baptist
, and Roman Catholic
formed, eventually giving Charlotte the nickname, "The City of Churches".
In 1799, in nearby Cabarrus County, 12-year-old Conrad Reed
found a 17- pound rock, which his family used as a doorstop. Three years later, a jeweler determined it was nearly solid gold, paying the family a paltry $3.50.
The first documented gold find in the United States of any consequence set off the nation's first gold rush
. Many veins of gold were found in the area throughout the 19th and early 20th centuries, leading to the 1837 founding of the Charlotte Mint
. North Carolina was the chief producer of gold in the United States until the Sierra Nevada find in 1848,
although the volume mined in the Charlotte area was dwarfed by subsequent rushes.
Some groups still pan for gold
occasionally in local streams and creeks. The Reed Gold Mine
operated until 1912. The Charlotte Mint was active until 1861, when Confederate
forces seized it at the outbreak of the Civil War
. The mint was not reopened at the war's end, but the building, albeit in a different location, now houses the Mint Museum of Art
The city's first boom came after the Civil War, as a cotton processing center and a railroad hub. Charlotte's city population at the 1880 Census
grew to 7,084.
In 1910, Charlotte surpassed Wilmington
to become North Carolina's largest city.
World War I to present
The population grew 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 urbanization that eventually overtook older cities along the Piedmont Crescent
. In the 1920 census, Charlotte was only the state's second largest city, Winston-Salem
having 48,395, two thousand more people than Charlotte. Charlotte overtook it several years later.
On September 22, 1989, the city was hit by Hurricane Hugo
. With sustained winds of 69 mph (111 km/h) and gusts of 87 mph (140 km/h),
Hugo caused massive property damage, destroyed 80,000 trees, and knocked out electrical power to most of the population. Residents were without power for weeks, schools were closed for a week or more, and the cleanup took months. The city was caught unprepared; Charlotte is 200 miles (320 km) inland, and residents from coastal areas in both Carolinas often wait out hurricanes in Charlotte.
In December 2002, Charlotte and much of central North Carolina were hit by an ice storm that resulted in more than 1.3 million people losing power.
During an abnormally cold December, many were without power for weeks. Many of the city's Bradford pear
trees split apart under the weight of the ice.
According to the United States Census Bureau
, the city has a total area of 308.6 square miles (799 km2
), of which 306.6 square miles (794 km2
) is land and 2.0 square miles (5.2 km2
) is water.
Charlotte lies at an elevation of 751 feet (229 m). Charlotte constitutes most of Mecklenburg County
in the Carolina Piedmont
.Charlotte center city
sits atop a long rise between two creeks, Sugar Creek and Irwin Creek, and was built on the gunnies
of the St. Catherine's and Rudisill gold mines
Though the Catawba River and its lakes lie several miles west, there are no significant bodies of water or other geological features near the city center.
Consequently, development has neither been constrained nor helped by waterways or ports that have contributed to many cities of similar size. The lack of these obstructions has contributed to Charlotte's growth as a highway, rail, and air transportation hub.
Charlotte has 199 neighborhoods radiating in all directions from Uptown
, the primary historic center of Charlotte's African American community, is west of Uptown, starting at the Johnson C. Smith University
campus and extending to the airport.
East of The Plaza and north of Central Avenue, Plaza-Midwood
is known for its international population, including Eastern Europeans, Greeks
, and Hispanics
North Tryon and the Sugar Creek area include several Asian American
(North Davidson), north of Uptown, is an emerging center for arts and entertainment. Myers Park
, and Eastover are home to some of Charlotte's oldest and largest houses, on tree-lined boulevards, with Freedom Park
area offers shopping, dining, and multifamily housing. Far South Boulevard is home to a large Hispanic community. Many students, researchers, and affiliated professionals live near UNC Charlotte
in the northeast area known as University City
The large area known as Southeast Charlotte is home to many golf communities, luxury developments, churches, the Jewish community center, and private schools. As undeveloped land within Mecklenburg has become scarce, many of these communities have expanded into Weddington
in Union County
, in the south of Charlotte, and nearly every area on the I‑485 perimeter, has experienced rapid growth over the past ten years.
Since the 1980s in particular, Uptown Charlotte has undergone massive construction of buildings, housing Bank of America, Wells Fargo, Hearst Corporation
, Duke Energy
, several hotels, and multiple condominium developments.
The 120‑acre Park Road Park
is a prominent landmark near the SouthPark area.
Park Road Park features eight basketball courts, two horseshoe pits, six baseball fields, five picnic shelters, volleyball courts, playgrounds, trails, tennis courts, and an eleven-acre lake. The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Parks & Recreation Department operates 36 tennis facilities and the 12 lighted tennis courts at the park.
The urban section of Little Sugar Creek Greenway
was completed in 2012. Inspired in part by the San Antonio River Walk
, and integral to Charlotte's extensive urban park system, it is "a huge milestone" according to Gwen Cook, greenway planner for Mecklenburg County Park and Recreation.
However, the Little Sugar Creek Greenway bears no relation to the San Antonio River Walk. The Little Sugar Creek Greenway is prone to flooding during thunderstorms and periods of heavy rain. Creation of Little Sugar Creek Greenway cost $43 million and was controversial because it required the forced acquisition of several established local businesses.
The city of Charlotte and Mecklenburg County began purchasing flood-prone homes in the 1990s. Voluntary buyouts of 700 households have created around 200 acres of open land that can flood safely, thereby saving an estimated $28 million in flood damage and emergency rescues.
McAlpine Creek Park
and integrated McAlpine Creek Greenway constructed in 1978 was the first greenway built in the western piedmont of North Carolina.
Like much of the Piedmont region of the southeastern United States, Charlotte has a humid subtropical climate
), with four distinct seasons; the city itself is part of USDA hardiness zone
8a, transitioning to 7b in the suburbs in all directions except the south.
The following narrative reflects 1991-2020 climate data. Winters are cool, with a normal January daily mean temperature of 42.1 °F (5.6 °C).
On average, there are 59 nights per year that drop to or below freezing, and only 1.5 days that fail to rise above freezing.
Precipitation is evenly distributed through the year; only August stands out as a slightly wetter month, averaging 4.35 inches of rainfall. Summers are hot and humid, with a normal July daily mean temperature of 80.1 °F (26.7 °C).
There is an average 44 days per year with highs at or above 90 °F (32 °C).
Official record temperatures range from 104 °F (40 °C) recorded six times, most recently from June 29 to July 1, 2012
, down to −5 °F (−21 °C) recorded on January 21, 1985
, the most recent of three occasions. The record cold daily maximum is 14 °F (−10 °C) on February 12 and 13, 1899
and the record warm daily minimum is 82 °F (28 °C) on August 13, 1881.[a]
The average window for freezing temperatures is November 5 through March 30, allowing a growing season of 220 days.
Charlotte is directly in the path of subtropical moisture from the Gulf of Mexico
as it heads up the eastern seaboard, thus the city receives ample precipitation throughout the year but also many clear, sunny days; precipitation is generally less frequent in autumn than in spring.
On average, Charlotte receives 43.60 inches (1,110 mm) of precipitation annually, evenly distributed throughout the year. Annual precipitation has historically ranged from 26.23 in (666 mm) in 2001 to 68.44 in (1,738 mm) in 1884.
There is an average of 3.5 inches (8.9 cm) of snow, mainly in January and February and rarely December or March, with more frequent ice storms and sleet mixed in with rain; seasonal snowfall has historically ranged from trace amounts in 2011–12 to 22.6 in (57 cm) in 1959–60.
Snow and ice storms can have a major impact on the area, as they often pull tree limbs down onto power lines and make driving hazardous. Snow has been recorded a small number of times in April, most recently, April 2, 2019.
As of 2020, the Charlotte metropolitan area as a whole is noted for having one of the worst weather radar
gaps among any major U.S. East Coast city
, with little to no coverage in a roughly quadrilateral area spanning Concord
and much of Statesville
As the nearest NWS
is located in Greer, South Carolina
, more than 80 mi (130 km) to the west-southwest of Charlotte, this deficit is particularly problematic during severe thunderstorm
The current lowest angle of the radar, based in Greer, is quite far above the surface over Charlotte, so the velocities
measurement for detecting rotations
cannot be below mid-level in potential tornado-forming storms and thus cannot indicate whether said rotation extends closer to the ground (below 5,000 ft (1,500 m)).
The most recent U.S. Census estimate (2019, released in May 2020) showed 885,708 residents living within Charlotte's city limits
and 1,093,901 in Mecklenburg County.
The combined statistical area
, or trade area, of Charlotte–Concord–Gastonia, NC–SC
had a population of 2,728,933.
Figures from the more comprehensive 2010 census show Charlotte's population density
to be 2,457 per square mile (948.7/km2
). There were 319,918 housing units at an average density of 1,074.6 per square mile (414.9/km2
Map of racial distribution in Charlotte, 2010 U.S. Census. Each dot is 25 people: White, Black, AsianHispanic, or Other
The median income for a household in the city was $48,670, and the median income for a family was $59,452. Males had a median income of $38,767 versus $29,218 for females. The per capita income
for the city was $29,825. The percentage of the population living at or below the poverty line
was 10.6%, with 7.8% of families living at or 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 were living below the poverty line.
The largest Protestant church in Charlotte, by attendance, is Elevation Church
, a Southern Baptist church founded by lead pastor Steven Furtick
. The church has over 15,000 congregants at nine Charlotte locations.
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
and Temple Beth El, as well as a community center, the Charlotte Jewish Day School for grades K–5, and the headquarters of the Charlotte Jewish News
As of 2013, 51.91% of people in Charlotte practice religion on a regular basis, making it the second most religious city in North Carolina after Winston-Salem
. The largest religion in Charlotte is Christianity
, with Baptists
(13.26%) having the largest number of adherents. The second largest Christian group are the Roman Catholics
(9.43%), followed by Methodists
(8.02%) and Presbyterians
(5.25%). Other Christian affiliates include Pentecostals
(1.20%), Latter-Day Saints
(0.84%), and other Christian (8.87%) churches, including the Eastern Orthodox
(0.57%) is the second largest religion after Christianity, followed by Eastern religions
(0.34%) and Islam
Charlotte is the second-largest banking center in the United States, after New York City
The nation's second largest financial institution by total assets, Bank of America, calls the city home.
It is also home to the nation's sixth largest financial institution, Truist
, formed from the merger of BB&T
The city was also the former corporate home of Wachovia
until its 2008 acquisition by Wells Fargo; Wells Fargo integrated legacy Wachovia, with the two banks fully merged at the end of 2011, which included transitioning all of the Wachovia branches in the Carolinas to Wells Fargo branches by October 2011. Since then, Charlotte has become the regional headquarters for East Coast operations of Wells Fargo, which is headquartered in San Francisco
, California. Charlotte also serves as the headquarters for Wells Fargo's capital markets activities including sales and trading
, equity research
, and investment banking
. Bank of America's headquarters, along with other regional banking and financial services companies, are located primarily in the Uptown central business district. Microsoft
and Centene Corporation
also operate their East Coast headquarters in Charlotte.
On May 25, 2021, it was announced that Charlotte would become the East Coast headquarters of Credit Karma
As of 2019, Charlotte has seven Fortune 500 companies in its metropolitan area. Listed in order of their rank, they are: Bank of America
, Duke Energy
, Sonic Automotive
and Brighthouse Financial
The Charlotte area includes a diverse range of businesses, including foodstuffs such as Harris Teeter
, Carolina Foods
, Food Lion
, Compass Group
USA, and Coca-Cola Bottling Co. Consolidated
(Charlotte being the nation's second largest Coca-Cola bottler); packaging company Sealed Air
, financial services company Dixon Hughes Goodman
, chemical company Albemarle Corporation
, door and window maker JELD-WEN
, motor and transportation companies such as RSC Brands
, Continental Tire the Americas, LLC.
, Meineke Car Care Centers
, Carlisle Companies
(along with several other services); retail companies Belk
, Cato Corporation
and Rack Room Shoes
, along with a wide array of other businesses.
Located in the western part of Mecklenburg County is the U.S. National Whitewater Center
, which consists of man-made rapids of varying degrees, and is open to the public year-round.
The Charlotte Region has a major base of energy-oriented organizations and has become known as "Charlotte USA – The New Energy Capital".
In the region there are more than 240 companies directly tied to the energy sector, collectively employing more than 26,400. Since 2007 more than 4,000 energy sector jobs have been announced. Major energy players in Charlotte include AREVA
, Duke Energy
, Electric Power Research Institute, Fluor, Metso Power, Piedmont Natural Gas, Albemarle Corp
, Siemens Energy
, Shaw Group, Toshiba, URS Corp., and Westinghouse.
The University of North Carolina at Charlotte
has a reputation in energy education and research, and its Energy Production and Infrastructure Center (EPIC) trains energy engineers and conducts research.
The area is an increasingly growing trucking and freight transportation hub for the East Coast.
The Charlotte Center city has seen remarkable growth over the last decade. Numerous residential units continue to be built uptown, including over 20 skyscrapers 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
In 2013, Forbes
named Charlotte among its list of Best Places for Business and Careers.
Charlotte was listed as the 20th largest city in the US, and the 60th fastest growing city in the US between 2000 and 2008.
20 largest employers headquartered in Charlotte
by number of employees in the Charlotte region
Arts and culture
Mint Museum Uptown at Levine Center for the Arts
The Harvey B. Gantt Center for African American Arts + Culture
Bechtler Museum of Modern Art
Festivals and events
The Charlotte region is home to many annual festivals and special events. The Carolina Renaissance Festival
operates on Saturdays and Sundays each October and November. Located near the intersection of Highway 73 and Poplar Tent Road, the Carolina Renaissance Festival is one of the largest renaissance themed events in the country. It features 11 stages of outdoor variety entertainment, a 22-acre village marketplace, an interactive circus, an arts and crafts fair, a jousting tournament, and a feast, all rolled into one non-stop, day-long family adventure.
The Yiasou Greek Festival is a Greek Festival. It began in 1978 and since then has become one of Charlotte's largest cultural events.
The Yiasou (the Greek word for Hello, Goodbye and Cheers) Greek Festival features Hellenic cultural exhibits, authentic Greek cuisine and homemade pastries, entertainment, live music and dancing, wine tastings, art, shopping and more.
Taste of Charlotte is a three-day festival offering samples from area restaurants, live entertainment and children's activities. Located on Tryon Street, Taste of Charlotte spans six city blocks from Stonewall to 5th Street.
Moo and Brew Fest is an annual craft beer and burger festival that is the largest in North Carolina, held each April and includes various national musical acts.
Breakaway Music Festival is a music festival which takes place at the NC Music Factory and consists of hip hop and electronic music artists and DJs.
is an annual comic book convention held in June at the Charlotte Convention Center. Founded in 1982, it is one of the oldest and largest independent comic book conventions in the United States.
Zoos and aquariums
Charlotte is "... the largest metropolitan area in the United States without a zoo".
The Charlotte Zoo initiative is a proposal to allocate 250 acres (101 ha) of natural North Carolina land to be dedicated to the zoological foundation, which was incorporated in 2008. On August 18, 2012, News Channel 14 says that the initiative is "... still a few years away" and the plot of land is "... just seven miles from the center of uptown". According to the news channel, "... the zoo will cost roughly $300 million, and will be completely privately-funded."
The Charlotte Observer references two other zoos, the Riverbanks Zoo and Garden
and the North Carolina Zoological Park as two "great zoos" that are accessible from the Charlotte-Mecklenberg area, both roughly more than 70 miles away.
The Charlotte Mecklenburg Library
serves the Charlotte area with a large collection (more than 1.5 million) of books, CDs and DVDs at 15 locations in the city of Charlotte, with branches in the surrounding towns of Matthews
, Mint Hill
. All locations provide free access to Internet-enabled computers and WiFi, and a library card from one location is accepted at all 20 locations.
Although the library's roots go back to the Charlotte Literary and Library Association,
founded on January 16, 1891,
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 for a library building, on the condition that the city of Charlotte donate a site and $2,500 per year for books and salaries,
and that the state grant a charter for the library. All conditions were met, and the Charlotte Carnegie Library opened in an 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 the opening of the Brevard Street Library for Negroes
, an independent library in Brooklyn, a historically black area of Charlotte, on the corner of Brevard and East Second Streets (now Martin Luther King Boulevard).
The Brevard Street Library was the first library for African Americans in the state of North Carolina,
and some sources say in the southeast.
The 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 and West Boulevard branches of the library system, as well as by Charlotte's African-American Cultural Center.
Charlotte is home to three major professional sports franchises
: the Carolina Panthers
of the National Football League (NFL
), the Charlotte Hornets
of the National Basketball Association (NBA
), and Charlotte FC
, a future team in Major League Soccer
The Panthers have been located in Charlotte since the team's creation in 1995, and the current Hornets franchise has been located in Charlotte since its creation in 2004. The Panthers play their home games in Bank of America Stadium
, while the Hornets play in the Spectrum Center
The Panthers have won six division titles from (1996, 2003, 2008, 2013, 2014, 2015) and two NFC championships in 2003 and 2015.
Carolina has reached the Super Bowl twice but has been unsuccessful in both losing to the New England Patriots
in Super Bowl XXXVIII
in 2004 and against the Denver Broncos
in Super Bowl 50
in 2016. The original Hornets NBA franchise was established in 1988 as an expansion team, but it relocated to New Orleans
in 2002 after animosity grew between the team's fans and principal owner George Shinn
The NBA quickly granted Charlotte an expansion franchise following the departure of the Hornets and the new franchise, the Charlotte Bobcats, began to play in 2004.
The team retook the Hornets name when the New Orleans-based team renamed itself the New Orleans Pelicans
The name change became official on May 20, 2014.
On the same day, the franchise reclaimed the history and records of the original 1988–2002 Hornets.
MLS awarded its expansion team to Charlotte in 2019 and it is set to begin play in 2022.
The city is also the home of the National Junior College Athletic Association
(NJCAA) headquarters. The NJCAA is the second-largest national intercollegiate athletic organization in the United States with over 500 member schools in 43 states.
The Big South Conference
is also headquartered in Charlotte. Founded in 1983, the Big South Conference has 11 member institutions with over 19 different sports and completes in the NCAA's Division I.
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
chair 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. Vi Lyles
, a Democrat elected in 2017
, became the 59th mayor of Charlotte, North Carolina. She is in her second term.
, a Democrat, was sworn in as mayor on December 2, 2013.
On March 26, 2014, Cannon was arrested on public corruption charges. Later the same day, he resigned as mayor.
Mayor Pro Temp Michael Barnes
served as Acting Mayor until April 7, when the City Council selected State Senator Dan Clodfelter
, also a Democrat, to serve the remainder of Cannon's term.
Former Mecklenburg County Commission chairwoman Jennifer Roberts
defeated Clodfelter in the 2015 Democratic primary and went on to win the general election, becoming the first Democratic woman to be elected to the post. She was ousted in the 2017 Democratic primary by Mayor Pro Tem Vi Lyles, who later defeated Republican City Councilman Kenny Smith in the general election to become Mayor of Charlotte.
Historically, voters have been friendly to moderates of both parties. However, in recent years, Charlotte has swung heavily to the Democrats. 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 has 11 members (7 from districts and 4 at-large
). Democrats control the council with a 9-to-2 advantage, winning all 4 of the at-large seats in the November 2013, 2015, and 2017 municipal elections. While the City Council is responsible for passing ordinances, the city's budget, and other policies, all decisions can be overridden by the North Carolina General Assembly
, since North Carolina municipalities do not have home rule
. While municipal powers have been broadly construed since the 1960s, the General Assembly still retains considerable authority over local matters.
The city's public school system, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools
, is the 2nd largest in North Carolina and 17th 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.
An estimated 144,000 students are taught in 164 separate elementary, middle, and high schools.
Charlotte is also home to many private and independent schools, including British School of Charlotte
, Charlotte Catholic High School
, Charlotte Christian School
, Charlotte Country Day School
, Charlotte Islamic Academy
, Charlotte Latin School
, Charlotte United Christian Academy
, Grace Academy
, Providence Day School
, Hickory Grove Christian School
, Northside Christian Academy
, Southlake Christian Academy
, and United Faith Christian Academy
Colleges and universities
The Student Union Quad of UNC Charlotte's main campus
Charlotte is home to a number of universities and colleges such as Central Piedmont Community College
, Johnson C. Smith University
, Johnson & Wales University
, Queens University of Charlotte
, and the University of North Carolina at Charlotte
Several notable colleges are located in the metropolitan suburbs. Located in nearby Davidson
, North Carolina is Davidson College
Additional colleges in the area include Belmont Abbey College
in the suburb of Belmont
, North Carolina, Gaston College
with its main campus in the suburb of Dallas, North Carolina
and Wingate University
in the suburb of Wingate
, North Carolina.
Also nearby are Winthrop University
, Clinton Junior College, York Technical College
in Rock Hill, South Carolina
, and Gardner-Webb University
in Boiling Springs, North Carolina
in the westernmost part of the Charlotte area
UNC Charlotte is the city's largest university. It is located in University City
, the northeastern portion of Charlotte, which is also home to University Research Park
, a 3,200 acres (13 km2
) research and corporate park. With more than 29,000 students, UNC Charlotte is the third largest university in the state system.
The Charlotte School of Law opened its doors in Charlotte in 2006 and was fully accredited by the American Bar Association in 2011. The law school offered the Juris Doctor
degree but the Bar association rescinded the accreditation in 2017. Charlotte School of Law, once the largest law school in the Carolinas, has ceased to operate.
The North Carolina Research Campus
, a 350-acre biotechnology
hub located northeast of Charlotte in the city of Kannapolis
, is a public-private venture including eight universities, one community college, the David H. Murdock Research Institute
(DHMRI), the U.S. Department of Agriculture
(USDA) and corporate entities that collaborate to advance the fields of human health, nutrition and agriculture. Partnering educational organizations include UNC Charlotte and Rowan-Cabarrus Community College
, from the Charlotte region, as well as Appalachian State University
, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
, Duke University
, University of North Carolina at Greensboro
, North Carolina A&T State University
, Shaw University
, North Carolina Central University
and North Carolina State University
The research campus is part of a larger effort by leaders in the Charlotte area to attract energy, health, and other knowledge-based industries that contribute to North Carolina's strength in biotechnology.
According to Nielsen Media Research
, Charlotte is the 22nd largest television market in the nation (as of the 2016–2017 season) and the largest in the state of North Carolina.
Major television stations located in Charlotte include CBS
3 (the oldest television station in the Carolinas), ABC
18, and PBS
member station WTVI
42. Two cable sports networks are also headquartered in Charlotte: the ESPN
-controlled SEC Network
and the regional Fox Sports Carolinas
In 2020, CNN
established a Charlotte bureau spearheaded by national correspondent Dianne Gallagher.
Emergency medical services
Emergency medical services for the city of Charlotte are provided by Mecklenburg EMS Agency (Medic). Medic received over 146,000 calls in 2017 and transported over 112,000 patients in Mecklenburg County.
The agency employs over 600 paramedics, EMTs, EMDs and admin staff.
In addition to dispatching MEDIC's EMS calls, the agency also dispatches all county fire calls outside of the city of Charlotte.
The Charlotte Fire Department
provides fire suppression, emergency medical services, public education, hazardous materials (HAZMAT) mitigation, technical rescues, and fire prevention and inspection with 1,164 personnel. Forty-three fire stations are strategically scattered throughout Charlotte to provide a reasonable response time to emergencies in the city limits.
Law enforcement and crime
The 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. 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.
The national average is 320.9 per 100,000 residents.
An average of 4,939 vehicles are stolen every year in Charlotte.
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.
However, the entire Charlotte-Gastonia Metropolitan Statistical Area ranked as 27th most dangerous out of 338 metro areas.
Charlotte has a municipal waste system consisting of trash pickup, water distribution, and waste treatment. There are five waste water treatment plants operated by Charlotte Water (previously Charlotte-Mecklenburg Utility Department).
Charlotte has a biosolids
Some Chester residents spoke out against the program on February 26, 2013.
Charlotte's sludge is handled, transported, and spread on farm fields in Chester by a company called Synagro, a wholly owned subsidiary of the Carlyle Group
Charlotte's sludge is of the "CLASS B" variety, which means it still contains detectable levels of pathogens.
The city of Charlotte has a lower than average percentage of households without a car. In 2015, 7.4 percent of Charlotte households lacked a car, and decreased to 6 percent in 2016. The national average was 8.7 percent in 2016. Charlotte averaged 1.65 cars per household in 2016, compared to a national average of 1.8.
The Blue Line's
Bland Street Station in Charlotte's SouthEnd neighborhood
The Charlotte Area Transit System
(CATS) is the agency responsible for operating mass transit in the Charlotte metropolitan area, carrying over 16 million riders annually. Established in 1999 and administered as a department of the City of Charlotte, CATS operates light rail
, express buses
, local buses
, and special bus services serving Charlotte and the surrounding area in addition to other programs such as vanpool
CATS' rail arm, LYNX Rapid Transit Services, comprises two lines as of fall 2020. The Blue Line is an 18.9‑mile line north–south light rail line running through South End
, Center City
, and University City
. The CityLYNX Gold Line
streetcar, Phase 1 of which opened in 2015, is under Phase 2 construction as of fall 2020. When completed, the Gold Line will link the Beatties Ford neighborhood through Uptown and then south and east to the Elizabeth neighborhood.
The LYNX Silver Line
, a light rail line in the pre-project development phase as of fall 2020, will link the southeastern suburbs of Matthews
, and Indian Trail
with Uptown Charlotte
and the future Charlotte Gateway Station before extending west to Charlotte Douglas International Airport
and across the Catawba River to Belmont
in Gaston County.
The bulk of CATS ridership is derived from its extensive bus network, which has its main hub at the Charlotte Transportation Center in Uptown, which also connects to the Blue and Gold lines. Other bus hubs are located at community transit centers in SouthPark, Eastland, and at Rosa Parks Place. CATS operates express buses to outlying parts of the city and some commuter bus to the northern suburbs in the Lake Norman area under the MetroRAPID umbrella.
A 2011 study by Walk Score
ranked Charlotte the 49th most walkable of the 50 largest cities in the United States.
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
, intersecting near the city's center. The latter highway also connects to the population centers of the Rust Belt
, designated I-485
and simply called "485" by local residents, has been under construction for over 20 years, but funding problems have slowed its progress. The final segment was finished in mid-2015.
I-485 has a total circumference of approximately 67 mi (108 km). Within the city, the I-277
loop freeway encircles Charlotte's uptown (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 U.S. 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 with the Uptown Charlotte skyline in the background
Charlotte Douglas International Airport
is the sixth-busiest airport in both the U.S. and the world overall as measured by traffic (aircraft movements).
The airport handled just over 50 million travellers in 2019, as well as many domestic and international carriers including Air Canada
, and Volaris
. It is a major hub for American Airlines
, having historically been a hub for its predecessors US Airways
and Piedmont Airlines
. Nonstop flights are available to many destinations across the United States, Canada, Central America, the Caribbean
, Europe, Mexico, and South America.
Charlotte is served daily by three Amtrak
routes with ten daily trips from a station on North Tryon Street, just outside downtown.
- The Crescent connects Charlotte with New York, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Washington, D.C.; Charlottesville, and Greensboro to the north, and Greenville, Atlanta, Birmingham, Meridian and New Orleans to the south. It arrives overnight once in each direction.
- The Carolinian connects Charlotte with New York; Philadelphia; Baltimore; Washington, D.C.; Richmond; Raleigh; Durham; and Greensboro. Charlotte is the southern terminus, with the northbound train leaving just before the morning rush and the southbound train arriving in the evening.
- The Piedmont, a regional companion of the Carolinian, connects Charlotte with Greensboro, Durham and Raleigh with three daily round trips. Charlotte is the southern terminus.
Charlotte is also served by both Greyhound
and low-cost curbside carrier Megabus
. Charlotte is a service stop for Greyhound routes running to Atlanta, Detroit, Jacksonville
, New York and Philadelphia. It is also a stop for buses running out of Megabus' hub in Atlanta, with connections to Megabus' northeastern routes out of New York.
The city is planning a new centralized downtown multimodal station called Gateway Station
. It is expected to house Amtrak, Greyhound and the future LYNX Red Line. It is under construction at the former site of the Greyhound station; Greyhound is currently operating from a temporary station nearby.
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