FIPS 55-3 Code
US National Archive Codes
Coordinates Latitude: 35.2270869 Longitude: -80.8431267
Demographics & Economic Data
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The Catawba 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 no 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.The European-American 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 (granduncle 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 and Catawba rivers.
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.
Nicknamed the "Queen City", like its county a few years earlier, Charlotte was named in honor of German princess Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz, who had become the Queen Consort of Great Britain and Ireland in 1761, seven years before the town's incorporation. A second nickname derives from the American Revolutionary War, when British commander General Charles Cornwallis, 1st Marquess Cornwallis occupied the city but was driven out by hostile residents. He wrote that Charlotte was "a hornet's nest of rebellion", leading to the nickname "The Hornet's Nest".Within decades of Polk's settling, the area grew to become "Charlotte Town", incorporating in 1768. 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 Town, 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, Methodist, Episcopalian, Lutheran, 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
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 an urban ascent that eventually overtook older city rivals along the Piedmont Crescent.
In the 1920 census, Charlotte lost its title as the state's largest city to Winston-Salem, which with a population of 48,395 had 2,077 more people than Charlotte. However, Charlotte regained its status several years later.The city's modern-day banking industry achieved prominence in the 1970s and 1980s, largely under the leadership of financier Hugh McColl. McColl transformed North Carolina National Bank (NCNB) into a formidable national player that through aggressive acquisitions became known as NationsBank, eventually merging with BankAmerica to become Bank of America. First Union, later Wachovia in 2001, experienced similar growth before it was acquired by San Francisco-based Wells Fargo in 2008. Measured by control of assets, Charlotte became the second largest banking headquarters in the United States, after New York City.On September 22, 1989, the city took a direct hit from Hurricane Hugo. With sustained winds of 69 mph (111 km/h) and gusts of 87 mph (140 km/h) in some locations, 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.
In August 2015 and in September 2016, the city experienced several days of protests related to the police shootings of Jonathan Ferrell and Keith Scott.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 305.4 square miles (791 km2), of which 304.8 square miles (789 km2) is land and 0.6 square miles (1.6 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. Biddleville, 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, Middle-Easterners, and Hispanics. North Tryon and the Sugar Creek area include several Asian American communities. NoDa (North Davidson), north of Uptown, is an emerging center for arts and entertainment. Myers Park, Dilworth, and Eastover are home to some of Charlotte's oldest and largest houses, on tree-lined boulevards, with Freedom Park nearby.
The SouthPark 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 and Waxhaw in Union County. Ballantyne, 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 8 basketball courts, 2 horseshoe pits, 6 baseball fields, 5 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.
Climate and environment
Charlotte, like much of the Piedmont region of the southeastern United States, has a humid subtropical climate (Köppen Cfa), 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. Winters are short and generally cool, with a January daily average of 40.1 °F (4.5 °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. April is the driest month, with an average of 3.04 inches (7.7 cm) of precipitation. Summers are hot and humid, with a daily average in July of 78.5 °F (25.8 °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 on 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. 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 41.6 inches (1,060 mm) of precipitation annually, which is somewhat evenly distributed throughout the year, although summer is slightly wetter; annual precipitation has historically ranged from 26.23 in (666 mm) in 2001 to 68.44 in (1,738 mm) in 1884. In addition, there is an average of 4.3 inches (10.9 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 as recently as 2011–12 to 22.6 in (57 cm) in 1959–60. These storms can have a major impact on the area, as they often pull tree limbs down onto power lines and make driving hazardous.
The most recent U.S. Census estimate (2014, released in May 2015) showed 809,958 residents living within Charlotte's city limits and 1,012,539 in Mecklenburg County. The combined statistical area, or trade area, of Charlotte–Concord–Gastonia, NC–SC had a population of 2,537,990. Figures from the more comprehensive 2010 census show Charlotte's population density to be 2,457 per square mile (948.7/km²). There are 319,918 housing units at an average density of 1,074.6 per square mile (414.9/km²).
According to the 2010 United States Census, the racial composition of Charlotte was 45.1% White or Caucasian, 35.0% Black or African American, 13.1% Hispanic or Latin American, 5.0% Asian, 0.5% Native American, 0.1% Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander, 6.8% some other race, and 2.7% two or more races.
In 1970, the Census Bureau reported Charlotte's population as 30.2% Black and 68.9% White.The median income for a household in the city is $48,670, and the median income for a family is $59,452. Males have a median income of $38,767 versus $29,218 for females. The per capita income for the city is $29,825. The percentage of the population living at or below the poverty line is 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 are living below the poverty line.
Charlotte has historically been a Protestant city. It is the birthplace of Billy Graham, and is also the historic seat of Southern Presbyterianism, but the changing demographics of the city's increasing population have brought scores of new denominations and faiths. The Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, Wycliffe Bible Translators' JAARS Center, SIM Missions Organization, and The Christian Research Institute make their homes in the Charlotte general area. In total, Charlotte proper has over 700 places of worship.
The Presbyterian Church (USA) is now the fourth largest denomination in Charlotte, with 68,000 members and 206 congregations. The second largest Presbyterian denomination, the Presbyterian Church in America has 43 churches and 12,000 members, followed by the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church with 63 churches and 9,500 members.The Baptist Peace Fellowship of North America is headquartered in Charlotte, and both Reformed Theological Seminary and Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary have campuses there; more recently, the Religious Studies academic departments of Charlotte's local colleges and universities have also grown considerably.
The Advent Christian Church is headquartered in Charlotte.
The Western North Carolina Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church is headquartered in Charlotte.
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's Cathedral of Saint Patrick is the seat of the bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Charlotte. The Traditional Latin Mass is offered by the Society of St. Pius X at St. Anthony Catholic Church in nearby Mount Holly. The Traditional Latin Mass is also offered at St. Ann, Charlotte, a church under the jurisdiction of the Roman Catholic Bishop of Charlotte. St. Matthew Parish, located in the Ballantyne neighborhood, is the largest Catholic parish with over 30,000 parishioners.The Greek Orthodox Church's cathedral for North Carolina, Holy Trinity Cathedral, is located in Charlotte.
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.Most African Americans in Charlotte are Baptists affiliated with the National Baptist Convention, the largest predominantly African American denomination in the United States. African American Methodists are largely affiliated with either the African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church, headquartered in Charlotte, or the African Methodist Episcopal Church. African American Pentecostals are represented by several organizations such as the United House of Prayer for All People, Church of God in Christ, and the United Holy Church of America.
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 (2.50%), Lutherans (1.30%), Episcopalians (1.20%), Latter-Day Saints (0.84%), and other Christian (8.87%) churches, including the Eastern Orthodox and non-denominational congregations. Judaism (0.57%) is the second largest religion after Christianity, followed by Eastern religions (0.34%) and Islam (0.32%).
Charlotte has become a major U.S. financial center with the second-most banking assets after New York City The nation's second largest financial institution by total assets, Bank of America, calls the city home. 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's East Coast headquarters are located in Charlotte.Charlotte has seven Fortune 500 companies in its metropolitan area. Listed in order of their rank, they are: Bank of America, Lowe's, Honeywell, Duke Energy, Nucor (steel producer), Sonic Automotive and Sealed Air. The Charlotte area includes a diverse range of businesses, including foodstuffs such as Harris Teeter, Snyder's-Lance, Carolina Foods Inc, Bojangles', Food Lion, Compass Group USA, and Coca-Cola Bottling Co. Consolidated (Charlotte being the nation's second largest Coca-Cola bottler); 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.Charlotte is the major center in the U.S. motorsports industry, housing multiple offices of NASCAR, the NASCAR Hall of Fame, and Charlotte Motor Speedway in Concord. Approximately 75% of the NASCAR industry's race teams, employees and drivers are based nearby. The large presence of the racing technology industry and the newly built NHRA dragstrip, zMAX Dragway at Concord, are influencing other top professional drag racers to move their shops to Charlotte as well.
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, Babcock & Wilcox, 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 area.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.
Bechtler Museum of Modern Art
Billy Graham Library
Carolinas Aviation Museum
Charlotte-Mecklenburg Fire Education Center and Museum
Charlotte Nature Museum in Freedom Park
Charlotte Trolley Museum in Historic South End
Discovery Place KIDS-Huntersville
Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Arts + Culture
Historic Rosedale Plantation
Levine Museum of the New South
The Light Factory
McColl Center for Visual Art
NASCAR Hall of Fame
Second Ward Alumni House Museum
Wells Fargo History Museum
Charlotte Museum of History
Actor's Theatre of Charlotte
Amos' Southend Music Hall
Blumenthal Performing Arts Center
Charlotte Symphony Orchestra
North Carolina Music Factory
The Robot Johnson Show
Citizens of the Universe
Carolina Renaissance Festival
Festivals and special 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 an award-winning 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. It includes various national musical acts hosted at the avidxchange music factory located in Uptown.
The CIAA Basketball Tournament is an annual five-day event in March that draws over 100,000 alumni, fans, and spectators and carries a $50 million impact. The event will be moving to Baltimore in 2021.Charlotte Pride is an annual LGBT event held in August that draws nearly 150,000 revelers and spectators. It is the largest LGBT event in North Carolina.
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.Charlotte is also served by the Sea Life Charlotte-Concord Aquarium in the nearby city of Concord. The aquarium is 30,000 square feet in size, and is part of the Concord Mills mall. The aquarium opened on February 20, 2014.
Charlotte is home to two major professional sports franchises: the Carolina Panthers of the National Football League (NFL) and the Charlotte Hornets of the National Basketball Association (NBA). 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 original Hornets NBA franchise was established in 1988 as an expansion team, but it relocated to New Orleans, Louisiana 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 in 2013. 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. Charlotte is represented in ice hockey and baseball at the 'AAA' professional level by the Charlotte Checkers and the Charlotte Knights. The Carolina Panthers were established by Jerry Richardson and several partners, mostly local business owners. In fall 2017, Jerry Richardson put the franchise up for sale, and in May 2018, billionaire businessman David Tepper purchased the team.
Law, government and politics
Charlotte has a council-manager form of government. The mayor and city council are elected every two years, with no term limits. The mayor is ex officio 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. The current mayor is Vi Lyles, a Democrat elected in 2017.Patrick Cannon, 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 comprises 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.
Charlotte is split between two congressional districts on the federal level. The southeastern portion is part of the 9th District, which is currently vacant. Most of the city is in the 12th District, represented by Democrat Alma Adams.
Charlotte was selected in 2011 to host the 2012 Democratic National Convention, which was held at the Spectrum Center. It began September 4, 2012, and ended on September 6, 2012.  In 2018, Charlotte was chosen to host the Republican National Convention in August 2020.
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-two 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.
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.
Colleges and universities
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 Davidson, North Carolina, Davidson College is ranked in the top ten nationally among liberal arts colleges, according to U.S. News & World Report. Additional colleges in the area include Belmont Abbey College in the suburb of Belmont, 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.
Central Piedmont Community College is the largest community college in the Carolinas, with more than 70,000 students each year and 6 campuses throughout the Charlotte-Mecklenburg region. CPCC is part of the statewide North Carolina Community College 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.
Pfeiffer University has a satellite campus in Charlotte. Wake Forest University, with its main campus in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, also operates a satellite campus of its Babcock Graduate School of Management in the Uptown area. The Connecticut School of Broadcasting, DeVry University, and ECPI University all have branches in Charlotte. The Universal Technical Institute has the NASCAR Technical Institute in nearby Mooresville, serving the Charlotte area. Montreat College (Charlotte) maintains a School of Professional and Adult Studies in the city. Additionally, Union Presbyterian Seminary has a non-residential campus offering the Master of Arts in Christian Education, and the Master of Divinity in Charlotte near the Beverley Woods area.
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.
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, Huntersville, Cornelius and Davidson. All locations provide free access to Internet-enabled computers and WiFi, and a library card from one location is accepted at all 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 has one major daily newspaper, The Charlotte Observer. It boasts the largest circulation in North and South Carolina, although circulation has been steadily decreasing over the past 15 years.
Charlotte is the 24th largest radio market in the nation, according to Arbitron. While major groups like Entercom, iHeartMedia, and Radio One have stations serving Charlotte, several smaller groups also own and operate stations in the area.
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 affiliate WBTV 3 (the oldest television station in the Carolinas), ABC affiliate WSOC-TV 9, NBC affiliate WCNC-TV 36, CW affiliate WCCB 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.
Other stations serving the Charlotte market include Fox owned-and-operated station WJZY 46 in Belmont, UNC-TV/PBS member station WUNG-TV 58 in Concord, independent station WAXN-TV 64 (a sister to WSOC-TV) in Kannapolis, and two stations in Rock Hill, South Carolina: MyNetworkTV owned-and-operated station WMYT-TV 55 (a sister to WJZY) and PBS member station WNSC-TV 30. Additionally, INSP is headquartered in nearby Indian Land, South Carolina.
Cable television customers are served by Spectrum, which offers a localized feed of Raleigh-based Spectrum News North Carolina.
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 program. 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 Charlotte Area Transit System (CATS) is the agency responsible for operating mass transit in Charlotte and Mecklenburg County. CATS operates light rail transit, historical trolleys, express shuttles, and bus services serving Charlotte and its immediate suburbs. The LYNX light rail system comprises a 9.6‑mile line north–south line known as the Blue Line, which saw 2025 ridership projections (18,500) exceeded after its first year of service. Bus ridership continues to grow (66% since 1998). The 2030 Transit Corridor System Plan looks to supplement established bus service with light rail and commuter rail lines as a part of the LYNX system.
In 2011, the city of Charlotte and CATS staff conducted public forums to present the final Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) and gather public input from residents, property owners, and business owners located in northeast Charlotte, which is where the LYNX light rail was extended from uptown Charlotte to the UNC‑Charlotte campus. This portion of the LYNX light rail was opened on March 16, 2018 to the public.
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 and I-77, intersecting near the city's center. The latter highway also connects to the population centers of the Rust Belt.
Charlotte's beltway, 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. Upon completion, 485 will have 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 is the sixth busiest airport in both the U.S. and the world overall as measured by traffic (aircraft movements). It is served by many domestic and international airlines including Air Canada, Volaris, and Lufthansa. 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 Raleigh, Durham, and Greensboro with three daily round trips.Charlotte is also served by both Greyhound and low-cost curbside carrier Megabus.
The city is planning a new centralized downtown multimodal station called the Gateway Station, at the site of the Greyhound station. It is expected to house Amtrak, Greyhound and the future LYNX Red Line.
Sister Cities International has designated nine sister cities of Charlotte:
Charlotte has also been known to have a sister city agreement with Port-au-Prince in Ouest, Haiti, although its status may now be inactive.
Heavy growth in the past 20 years has made Charlotte one of the South's largest and most successful cities. In many ways, the city is still trying to catch up to its own growth; visitors often comment that it seems understated in terms of culture and development. However, it is changing at a breathtaking speed. A very rapid influx of population and business investment has given it one of the most dynamic urban areas in the region.
Charlotte Info Center, 330 S Tryon St and 200 E Seventh St in Uptown, plus a third location inside the airport, ☎ +1 704 333-1887 ext 235, toll-free: +1-800-231-4636. Brochures, souvenirs, and advice are available for first-time visitors and long-time residents. Along with the public library, this is the best place to go if you are looking for a concentrated source of information about the city. It is worth checking out the brochures for self-guided walking and driving tours.
Charlotte's earliest settlers were Presbyterians of Scots-Irish descent who built a small courthouse, marketplace and village at the intersection of ancient Native American trading paths (the actual intersection is the Square formed by Trade and Tryon Streets) during the middle of the 18th Century. Both Charlotte and Mecklenburg County were named in honor of the Germanic wife of King George III of England. In addition, the main thoroughfare (Tryon St.) was named in tribute to the English Governor of the day. The establishment of a courthouse made Charlotte the seat of Mecklenburg County, and it was known for little more in its early days.
Charlotte's early residents were fiercely independent, in accordance with their rural Protestant heritage. The city was known as a hotbed of separatism well before the American Revolution, culminating in the Mecklenburg Declaration of Independence (signed a year before the American equivalent). The Square was the site of a minor skirmish with Cornwallis' army, which led to the city's characterization as a "hornet's nest" of rebellion. Nevertheless, the city remained a relatively obscure village, and was dubbed a "trifling place" by visiting President George Washington.
The first signs of economic prosperity came to Charlotte with the discovery of a huge gold nugget at the site of modern-day Reed's Gold Mine. This triggered the United States' first gold rush, and dotted Mecklenburg County with gold mines. The mines contributed low-grade gold to the city's street-paving program, which led to the joke that the streets were literally paved with gold in Charlotte. Eventually the city earned the establishment of a U.S. Mint for currency production on modern-day Mint St. Perhaps most importantly, the city positioned itself as a railroad hub. With several lines intersecting in Charlotte, the city became a major destination for farmers wishing to distribute their tobacco and cotton crops nationwide. These events presaged Charlotte's future as a city of commerce and distribution.
Charlotte was mostly spared the wide-scale destruction of the Civil War. The city contributed troops to the Confederate effort, many of whom are buried in the Confederate graveyard at modern-day Elmwood Cemetery. Curiously, landlocked Charlotte briefly became the home to the Confederate Naval Yard near the end of the war, as a result of its railroad connections. Also, the city was host to the final full meeting of the Confederate Cabinet, and Jefferson Davis was standing on Tryon St when informed of Lincoln's assassination (Davis' widow later retired to Charlotte). Generally, though, Charlotte was fortunate to play a relatively minor role in the devastating conflict. Its main casualty was the loss of the Mint, which was shut down for obvious reasons by the Union government.
Charlotte has been noted as one of the South's most resilient cities in the wake of the Civil War. Having been spared the widespread destruction of cities such as Atlanta and Columbia, Charlotte was relatively free of obligations to rebuild infrastructure. It jumped quickly onto the "New South" bandwagon, increasing its ties to the railroads and mill industry. Some of the major mills established here after the War are still standing, and have mostly been converted into modern businesses and condominiums. Perhaps most importantly, Charlotte was a site of heavy financial investment by "carpetbaggers" (northern transplants who were eyed with suspicion or outright hostility). These upstart banks were the predecessors to Charlotte's modern banking giants.
At the turn of the century, Charlotte was still a small town despite its favorable position. But by the 1950s, it had exploded into the largest city in the Carolinas. Aggressive businessmen transformed the city into a financial juggernaut, and the distribution industry made a smooth transition from the railroad-dominated 19th century into the automotive 20th century. As the local textile and furniture industries faltered, Charlotte invested its energy into finance and transportation, enabling it to avoid the depressions suffered in many other Carolinas cities. By the 1970s, the city was into a full-scale economic boom. The population skyrocketed with immigration from around the USA and foreign countries. The city skyline began to transform as office towers sprouted on an almost yearly basis, and the suburbs pushed farther toward the county borders. By the end of the century, Charlotte had been transformed from mill town into metropolis.
It could be said that Charlotte's greatest struggle is with its own identity. The city remains tied to its roots as a giant of finance and transportation, but has diversified as it has grown. The rapid growth of the late-20th century led to the unfortunate demolition of much of the city's historical infrastructure, giving Uptown a glittering feeling of newness despite its 250-year history. The city continues to focus on the development of its core, despite the explosion of suburban communities out of Mecklenburg County and into surrounding towns. One thing is definite, though: all indications are that the city will continue to grow for the foreseeable future, making it one of the United States' most prominent metro areas in the next decade.
The city is full of "transplants" from New England, the Midwest, and the Mid-Atlantic region, and a considerable immigrant population. Nevertheless, the city still has a sizeable population of locals who can remember when the city was still a medium-sized town centered around railroad distribution. Like most Southern cities, Charlotte has a large African-American population. Also, it has a significant community of Asian descent, and a very rapidly growing Hispanic population. What was once a white-and-black city has become increasingly colorful with each passing decade.
Charlotte's physical arrangement reflects the growth trends of the 20th Century. Like most Southern American cities, it is "sprawled" over a relatively wide area for its size. Most of the city is suburban in nature, and most of those suburbs are less than 50 years old although some nearby towns such as Mint Hill date back well into the 1700s. These suburbs are encircled by I-485.
However, unlike many of its peers, Charlotte has a very dense urban core that functions as an axis for its business and cultural life. The center of the city is therefore the primary destination for tourists and business travelers.
What is often lost in this arrangement is a diverse, colorful ring of "inner suburbs" that lie in the zone between the core and the new suburban development. Most of Charlotte's unique neighborhoods lie in this ring, as well as most of the city's "underground" activity. As a result, these areas have a highly local flavor and are just beginning to be discovered by tourists.
The temperature ranges throughout the year from about 12 °F (-11 °C) in the winter to 98 °F (37 °C) in the summer. On average, a summer high is about 90 °F (32 °C) and a winter low is about 32 °F (0 °C). Charlotte receives 43.52 in (1105.3 mm) of precipitation annually, most of which is in the form of rain (though there is some snow and ice in the winter). Charlotte is not as well equipped for snow and ice as more northerly cities; significant accumulations of snow (more than 2 cm) or ice on the roads can disrupt activity city-wide. Usually, this includes the closing of local businesses and schools, and happens about one to three times a year on average. Charlotte's inland location usually protects it from being hit directly from Atlantic hurricanes (the most recent exception being Hurricane Hugo in 1989), though it often receives heavy rains due to passing tropical systems.
1 Charlotte Douglas International Airport (CLT IATA) (on the west side of town near Billy Graham Parkway). The airport is the second-largest hub for Oneworld member American Airlines. American Airlines serves over 120 domestic destinations from Charlotte/Douglas and over 35 international destinations, including Rome, London, Paris, Frankfurt, Dublin, Madrid, and Mexico City, among many others. The airport also receives domestic flights from Delta, United, JetBlue, Southwest, Frontier, and ViaAir. Lufthansa, aligned with Star Alliance, is the only foreign transoceanic carrier, with service to Munich. Air Canada has service to Toronto. Though the airport has diversified somewhat in the past few years, American Airlines domestic flights are still its primary source of traffic. Due to this dominance by a single carrier, finding fare bargains can be a challenge. Passengers flying on American will arrive and depart from Concourse B, C, D, or E. Lufthansa passengers will arrive and depart from Concourse D, the airport's international concourse. All other airlines arrive and depart from Concourse A. All concourses connect through the Atrium however, so passengers of any airline may clear security at any security checkpoint.
Don't worry if you get hungry at CLT – the airport is home to many restaurants and shops. While many of the restaurants are decently priced, the shops are not - charging upwards of $2 for a Coke.
For those who need to remain connected, free WiFi is available at the Bank of America Business centers in the central concourse. The center has electrical outlets, comfy chairs, and several restaurants nearby. Throughout the airport free WiFi is available. Connect to the SSID CLTNET.
A special bus line called Sprinter (CATS Route 5) runs regularly between the airport and Uptown. A one-way ticket costs $2.20. Two additional routes connect the airport with Northlake Mall (Route 590) and LYNX Blue Line Archdale Station (Route 591).
Taxis charge a flat $25 rate for a trip from the airport to Uptown (for one or two passengers; additional charges apply for groups).
The Amtrak station is on North Tryon near Dalton, on bus route 11 (North Tryon). Charlotte is the southern end of the Carolinian and Piedmont lines, which head north to Raleigh, with the Carolinian continuing to New York City. It's also a stop along the Crescent between New York City and Atlanta and New Orleans, however this train passes through Charlotte very late at night. The neighborhood of the train station is relatively seedy. Though you will be safe in and around the station, it is not a good idea to "wing it" once you arrive. Try to pre-arrange travel from the station to your next destination; walking is not recommended. A #11 bus meets each arriving Carolinian and Piedmont train to take passengers to Uptown.
The interstate highways through Charlotte are Interstates 85 (northeast-southwest) and 77 (north-south). I-85 takes you to Burlington and Greensboro. N.C. 74 is also a primary route into the city, and links with I-277.
Greyhound. The station is just northwest of Uptown and is served by buses 1 (Mount Holly), 8 (Tuckaseegee), 34 (Freedom Dr), and 7 (Beatties Ford).
Megabus. Service from Atlanta, Athens, Durham, Richmond, and Washington, D.C. Buses arrive and depart along Whitton St between Dewitt Ln and South Blvd, near the Scaleybark LYNX station. Fares from $1 and up.
Uptown is very dense, and almost all attractions in that part of town are easily reached by walking. However, only a few other districts (such as NoDa and Dilworth) are truly pedestrian-friendly. Outer districts, such as Ballantyne and University City, are pedestrian-unfriendly areas. If you must walk, give some thought to the weather; summer days in the South are quite hot and it is easy to get dehydrated.
Uptown is laid out in a grid, with numbered streets running east-west with few exceptions. Streets running north-south have proper names. Charlotte's outer suburbs are often difficult to navigate. Most roads are built according to the natural lay of the land; once you leave the I-277 loop, you are likely to find it increasingly difficult to predict the direction (and often, the name) of the road you are traveling on. Therefore, it is a good idea to make certain your directions are specific and trustworthy before venturing into an unknown area. Otherwise, you will likely find yourself relying on the (usually) friendly natives for directions back to your starting point.
I-485 is Charlotte's major outer loop.
Similarly, I-277 is very useful when moving quickly around the center city. However, one side of the "loop" is actually I-77, which interchanges with I-277 in two places. It is easy to misread the signs and end up moving farther along I-77 rather than circling back onto I-277. When using the loop, be sure to follow signs for "Downtown" in order to stay on the correct path.
Secondary roads in Charlotte are notoriously difficult to navigate. In particular, visitors and residents alike are often befuddled by frequent name changes in the roads. To make matters worse, many roads in the city share similar names. Also, very few of the city's roads are based on a grid or similarly organized system; most of the roads outside the city core are winding avenues that follow the natural features of the land.
The city can be a delight to explore by car, but visitors are strongly advised to pick up a free map or purchase a road map upon arrival. A GPS unit with the most current updates can, of course, make travel in and around Charlotte immensely more enjoyable.
By public transit
Available to any part of Charlotte. There are several prominent companies, and unlike larger cities the design of the vehicles is not uniform. However, a taxi is always recognizable by a sign on the roof of the car. If the taxi is vacant, the sign will be lit up; if it has a passenger, the sign will be off. It is customary to give a tip to cab drivers, especially if they help you with luggage or other items. It is usually a good idea to inquire about the fare before boarding if you are planning to make a longer trip; Charlotte's sprawled-out nature can lead to high fares for trips outside the center city.
Cab fares in Charlotte are regulated by the city, and are consistent for all companies. The "drop charge" (pickup rate) is $2.50, and each 1/5th mile is $0.50. During weekday rush hours (7-9AM and 4-6PM), you will also be charged $0.50 for every minute spent in stopped traffic. For a direct one-way trip to or from the airport, the rate is a flat $25. You can save money by sharing a cab with a companion, but be aware that there is a $2 charge for each person after 2.
By light rail
LYNX Blue Line is a light rail service that travels in a roughly north-south direction on 18.9 miles of track to 26 stations across Charlotte. The northern terminus is on the campus of the UNC Charlotte. The line travels to Uptown with stops at the Charlotte Transportation Center, Arena, and Convention Center. The line continues to the southern terminus adjacent to the intersection of South Blvd and I-485. Frequency varies from 7–15 minutes on weekdays to 20–30 minutes on weekends. [http://charlottenc.gov/cats/fares/fares-passes/Pages/default.aspx Fares are $2.20 for a one-way ticket (discounts for seniors and youth) and $6.60 for a day pass. Service transfers to local buses are free and must be used within 90 minutes. Additional fares may be applied when transferring to a higher fare service.
Charlotte Area Transit System (CATS) operates transit service throughout the Charlotte area. Most bus routes start at the teal-roofed Transportation Center in Uptown (across the street from the Time Warner Cable Arena) and go toward the suburbs like spokes on a wheel (roughly). Though they are generally clean and safe, they are usually not the most efficient way to get around the city. Bus fare is $2.20 one-way, $6.60 for a day pass. Allow 45 minutes for a one-leg trip, 2 hours for a two-leg trip. Bus transfers can be used on the LYNX light rail and are valid for an hour and 45 minutes after issue. Colorfully-painted buses in the suburbs connect neighborhoods to primary routes.
CityLYNX Gold Line is a streetcar system that operates on Trade and Elizabeth Streets between the districts of Uptown and Elizabeth. There are 6 stops beginning at the central bus and train depot known as Charlotte Transportation Center (CTC) and ending near Hawthorne and Elizabeth Streets, near Presbyterian Hospital. Streetcars generally run every 15-20 minutes depending on the time of day. Service is available 7 days per week although hours may be limited depending on the day. There is no charge to ride the CityLynx, therefore no ticket or transfers are needed. Future phases of expansion will add more stops and eventually require a fare payment for its use.
Some parts of Charlotte are very friendly to cyclists, especially the south-central area around Myers Park and Dilworth, but be aware that most of the city is not friendly toward bikers. The city of Charlotte website provides an interactive map of the suggested street routes and greenways. It is a good idea to research in advance to identify streets with designated bike lanes on the right-hand side of the road. Bicycles are subject to the same traffic laws as cars. Helmets are recommended but not required for adults.
Charlotte B-Cycle. Bike-sharing program with nearly two dozen stations primarily in Uptown, Southend, and Elizabeth. $8/24 hours.
Dockless Bike Share. The city has authorized dockless bike-sharing companies ofo, LimeBike, MoBike, and Spin provide bikes around the metro area throughout 2018.
Charlotte with children - itinerary for travellers with children
There are numerous museums and historic sites scattered throughout the city, especially in and near Uptown. A "museum district" has arisen on Tryon Street on the south side of Uptown. The highlights of this district are the Mint Museum of Art and the Bechtler Museum of Modern Art, both housed in stunning buildings and holding impressive collections of modern and contemporary art. Nearby, adjacent to the convention center, is the new NASCAR Hall of Fame, a slick museum with plenty of interactive exhibits and race cars on view. The north side of Uptown is home to two of the city's best museums, Discovery Place, an acclaimed children's and science museum, and the Levine Museum of the New South, which has a fantastic collection of historical artifacts and displays illustrating the history of the South since the Civil War.
Other museums in the Charlotte area include the James K Polk Historic Site in Pineville south of Charlotte, the Carolinas Aviation Museum, and The Charlotte Museum of History in East Charlotte.
Carolinas Aviation Museum, 4108 Airport Dr (at Charlotte-Douglas International Airport), ☎ +1 704 359-8442. Tu-Sa 10AM-5PM, Su 1PM-5PM. This is a big attraction for aviation fanatics. This museum features a wide variety of resources including historic and restored airplanes (most notably the "Miracle on the Hudson" plane), air shows and a library (by research request only). Because it is at Charlotte-Douglas, it is the only attraction in the city that can be reached by airplane. If you want to meet people working on restoring the airplanes, come on a Tuesday or Thursday. (It is also a great place to watch takeoffs and landings at the airport.)
The Charlotte Museum of History, 3500 Shamrock Drive, ☎ +1 704 568-1774. Tu-Sa 11AM–5PM. The Charlotte Museum of History is dedicated to the preservation and interpretation of the history of Charlotte and Mecklenburg County. It also the steward of a number of historical sites in the area including the oldest standing house Mecklenburg County. Adults $10, Children $7.
1 Bojangles' Coliseum, 2700 E Independence Blvd, ☎ +1 704 372-3600. Historic domed arena in southeast Charlotte on NC-74. Once the largest concrete free-standing dome in the world, it has played host to Elvis, Jimi Hendrix and many sporting events. It is used for community events, conventions and smaller musical acts. It used to be known as Cricket Arena and Independence Arena.
Memorial Stadium, 310 N Kings Dr, ☎ +1 704 353-0200. Adjacent to the CPCC campus south of Uptown, with a spectacular skyline view. Generally used for smaller events such as high school and college football games and band competitions. The Charlotte Independence of the United Soccer League play there.
PNC Music Pavilion, 707 Pavilion Boulevard, ☎ +1 704 549-5555. This is the venue for big shows in Charlotte. You can get on the lawn for cheaper than seating under the canopy, but you may not be able to see the performers except on the huge big screen.
2 Spectrum Center, 333 E Trade St., ☎ +1 704 688-9000. This venue is in Uptown and is home to the Charlotte Hornets. Popularly known as "The Hive", it hosts musical and sports-related shows each year. Formerly known as Charlotte Bobcats Arena and Time Warner Cable Arena.
Ballantyne Village Theatre, 14815 John J. Delaney Dr, ☎ +1 704 369-5101. Brand-new theater in the southern suburb of Ballantyne. Noted for its bold decision to show independent films on only 4 screens, despite being part of the landmark Ballantyne Village shopping center. Pitches its product as a "luxury" experience with fine dining and other amenities nearby.
Regal Manor Twin, 609 Providence Rd, ☎ +1 704 334-2727. The quintessential independent theater in Charlotte, and the oldest cinema that is still in operation. There are only two screens, and parking is limited, but this is generally the place to find that indie that you can't find anywhere else in the region.
There are several major theaters and a few fringe groups scattered throughout the city, especially in and near Uptown.
The Children's Theatre of Charlotte, 300 E 7th St, ☎ +1 704 973-2800. M-Th 9AM-9PM, F-Sa 9AM-6PM, Su 1PM-6PM. For weekend evening performances ImaginOn re-opens one hour prior to performance time. Box Office hours M-F 10AM-5PM, and one hour prior to all performances for walk-up guests (box office phones are not answered on weekends). Founded in 1948, it has been opening young minds to the wonders of live theater for over half a century. Annually, it reaches more than 320,000 young people and families from preschool to late teens, with four program areas: MainStage productions; Tarradiddle Players, the professional touring company; and Community Involvement Program. Ticket prices vary.
Actor's Theatre of Charlotte, 650 E Stonewall St, ☎ +1 704 342-2251. M-Th 9AM-9PM, F-Sa 9AM-6PM, Su 1PM-6PM. Highly awarded professional theater in existence since 1989. Diverse dramas and musicals fill the seasons here and no production fails. Besides their main stage productions, the theater is home to a late night series called 650 which are usually free, otherwise- ticket prices vary.
Theatre Charlotte, 501 Queens Rd, ☎ +1 704 376-3777. M-Th 9AM-6PM, F-Sa 9AM-4PM, closed Su. With a production history dating from 1927, is Charlotte's oldest arts organization as well as the oldest continually producing community theater in the state.
Charlotte Comedy Theatre, ☎ +1 704 467-7681. M-Sa 8PM-midnight. The only strictly comedy venue in Charlotte. Made of up of Charlotte's most notorious improvisers, founded and directed by a 13-year Chicago improv veteran.
Blumenthal and Spirit Square, 130 N. Tryon St, ☎ +1 704 372-1000. M-Th 9AM-9PM, F-Sa 9AM-6PM, Su 1PM-6PM. The Performing Arts Center has three performance spaces: the 2,100-seat Belk Theater; the 434-seat Booth Playhouse, and the Stage Door Theater which seats 150. The Center presents the Broadway Lights Series, featuring national touring Broadway productions and a wide range of special attractions. Home to the seasons of the Charlotte Symphony Orchestra, Opera Carolina, North Carolina Dance Theatre, Carolina Voices, the Carolinas Concert Association, ArtsTeach, Community School of the Arts, and the Light Factory.
UNC Charlotte Theatre and Dance, ☎ +1 704 687-3625. M-Th 9AM-6PM, F-Sa 9AM-4PM. Performs several times throughout the year.
Central Piedmont Community College Theatre, ☎ +1 704 330-6534. M-Th 9AM-6PM, F-Sa 9AM-4PM. Performs several times throughout the year and has a professional summer series.
Collaborative Arts Theatre, ☎ +1 704 625-1288. M-Th 6PM-midnight, F-Sa 9AM-6PM. Founded in 2006, this small award-winning professional theatre company produces contemporary plays in various locations and the Charlotte Shakespeare Festival, a popular annual free summer festival, which takes place outdoors at the Green Uptown and indoors at the McGlohon Theatre in Spirit Square.
Shakespeare Carolina. M-Th 6PM-midnight, F-Sa 9AM-6PM. Founded in 1997, they produce Shakespeare plays during the summer.
Citizens of the Universe, ☎ +1 704 449-9742. M-Th 6PM-midnight, F-Sa 9AM-6PM. COTU is one of two active fringe theaters in Charlotte. With no set season and no set theater, this company performs in the environment available to them. Hard to catch, this theater specializes in book/ film translations to stage.
Play!Play! Theatre. M-Th 6PM-midnight, F-Sa 9AM-6PM. Active children's theatre. PlayPlay! creates plays specifically for children ages birth to age 3.
Zoos and aquariums
Sea Life Charlotte-Concord Aquarium, 8111 Concord Mills Blvd, Concord, NC, toll-free: +1-866-229-1573.
1 Carowinds. is most likely one of Charlotte's top attractions. This 398-acre amusement park that sits on the state line between southwest Charlotte and Fort Mill in South Carolina opened in March 1973. This amusement park claims to be the thriller of the southeast with 13 roller coasters and 7 water rides. The entrance is just across the state line on Interstate 77 at exit 90.
Professional sports are one of Charlotte's most popular forms of entertainment. Though its roots are primarily in stock car racing, the city offers something for fans of nearly every kind of sport. In particular, its success in the NFL and NBA have given it widespread exposure as a growing sports hub.
NASCAR events take place at Charlotte Motor Speedway, which is outside of Charlotte in Concord, North Carolina. Charlotte is the de facto hub of stock car racing in the U.S., with several NASCAR teams based in the city. 3 NASCAR Sprint Cup races take place each season, including the All-Star Race and the Coca-Cola 600. Additionally, Charlotte is the home for the NASCAR Hall of Fame and headquarters, which is near the Convention Center in Uptown. Each year Charlotte hosts "Speed Street", a large festival featuring various racing-themed attractions and a long list of musical guests.
The Carolina Panthers is the city's American Football franchise. Games are played at Bank of America Stadium. The city has had a somewhat turbulent National Basketball Association history. The Hornets were founded in 1988, and enjoyed great popularity for over a decade until the owner and the city had a huge falling-out, which ended in a nasty divorce and the team leaving for New Orleans in 2002. Two years later, the city was awarded a new NBA franchise, the Bobcats. After the New Orleans team renamed itself the Pelicans in 2013, the Bobcats reclaimed the Hornets name in 2014, and also got ownership of the history of the 1988–2002 Hornets. These events take place in Uptown.
Minor league sports include the Charlotte Knights (AAA baseball) who play in BB&T Ballpark, one exit past Carowinds. The Charlotte Checkers ice hockey team play in Uptown and is cheap fun (Charlotte was the first city south of Baltimore to host professional hockey and has had a team for most of the last 50 years). The Carolina Speed is the fourth professional indoor football team to be based in Charlotte, with games taking place in East Charlotte. The city also hosts the Charlotte Hounds, a major league lacrosse team. The Charlotte Independence soccer team play near uptown. Charlotte Rugby Football Club, which play northwest of Uptown, and Charlotte Roller Girls, with games in Elizabeth complete a vast list of professional, minor league and club sports to enjoy in the city.
The immediate Charlotte area also has two NCAA Division I sports programs, one in the city and one in the outlying county. The Charlotte 49ers, representing the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, compete in nine men's sports and eight women's sports as members of Conference USA. Davidson College, in the nearby town of the same name, hosts the Davidson Wildcats, which compete in 11 men's sports and 10 women's sports, mostly in the Atlantic 10 Conference (though the football team plays in the second-level FCS in the Pioneer Football League).
Charlotte has been noted for its "green" appearance, due to its extensive tree canopy and abundance of parks. See the individual district pages for listings of major city parks.
Outdoor adventurers may revel in the pleasures offered at the U.S. National Whitewater Center including mountain biking and whitewater rafting. As well as hiking and rock climbing opportunities at Crowders Mountain State Park in nearby Kings Mountain, North Carolina and zip-lining tours at Canaan Zip-line tours in Rock Hill.
Charlotte is home to many amazing venues for music, as well as many famous rappers and soul singers, like Fantasia Barrino, and the comeback band Jodeci. Here are the best places to see live music.
AvidXChange Music Factory, 1000 NC Music Factory Blvd (GPS users: Enter in 1000 NC Music Factory Blvd, then follow signs to the Music Factory), ☎ +1 704-916-8970, e-mail: [email protected] AvidXChange Music Factory is a campus of a wide variety of musical venues. It hosts large acts at the outdoor Charlotte Metro Amphitheater. More intimate indoor venues include The Fillmore and The Underground. AvidXChange is a large promoter in the city and brings in nationally touring acts. The campus also contains restaurants and bars.
Neighborhood Theatre, 511 E 36th Street, ☎ +1 704 942-7997, e-mail: [email protected] Neighborhood Theatre underwent restoration in 1997 and was converted into a live performance venue. Neighborhood Theatre is a live music venue hosting local and national acts.
The Evening Muse, 3227 N Davidson St, ☎ +1 704 376-3737. In the NoDa district, the Evening Muse is noted for its variety of music ranging from light folk to rockabilly, and open mic on Monday nights.
The Gold Standard Chorus. The Men's Barbershop Chorus, The Gold Standard Chorus, meets on Monday nights from 7:30PM - 10PM at Aldersgate Methodist Retirement Home.
The Milestone, 3400 Tuckaseegee Rd, ☎ +1 704 398-0472. Almost forgotten in Charlotte's mainstream entertainment scene, this veteran club has a shockingly prestigious music history—Nirvana, the Flaming Lips, and R.E.M. have all graced the stage here. Though the interior looks like something out of skid row, there is a well-cultivated hipster vibe at the Milestone that is virtually untouched anywhere else in the city. Mention this one in conversation to gauge a friend's true cool-factor.
Visulite Theatre, 1615 Elizabeth Ave. Charlotte's Premier Live Music Club. Hosts local and national music groups. It also hosts local events. Requires a membership which can be purchased before entering.
Golf is a major sport in the Carolinas, and is played nearly year-round due to the mild autumn and spring seasons. Several private, semi-private and country clubs courses are available. Quail Hollow Club hosts the PGA Tour's Wells Fargo Championship each Spring.
Driving Tours. Queen City Tours covers most of the center city and surrounding area. They offer different types of tour service for different group sizes. This tour shows Uptown, Dilworth and Myers Park.
Charlotte 101 Class and Tour. Central Piedmont Community College offers a quarterly combination classroom lecture and tour about the Queen City for 6 hours. Pre-registration required.
Heroes Convention. Named "America's favorite comic book convention", Heroes Con has been hosted in Charlotte for the past thirty years and is one of the nations largest and most important comic book conventions. It is held every June in the Charlotte Convention Center and lasts for three days.
CIAA Basketball Tournament. Will come to Charlotte in early March for the next several years. Historically-black colleges from across the country bring their teams, alums and fans to the center city for a week of games. and accompanying parties and conventions. Games are held at Spectrum Center. Other events take place throughout the city, including a festival along Tryon St.
St. Patrick's Day Parade. Is not on the scale of Boston or NYC, but always well-attended and a fun time to visit the Irish restaurants Uptown. The parade goes up Tryon St., and the best place to view is at the Square.
Southern Spring Home and Garden Show. Has brought designers and experts to the city for nearly 50 years. Held in March at the Merchandise Mart. $9 at the door, kids free.
The Thursday, Friday, and Saturday before Memorial Day, Speed Street brings half a million partiers to the center city for major musical acts and events related to the NASCAR All-Star Race. This event shuts down several major streets, and covers the entirety of Uptown with crowds after sundown. Parking is usually stretched to the limit, and hotels will be difficult to find. However, this is an excellent time for hard partiers to see the city at its most active.
Charlotte is not known as a horse-racing hub, but the Queen's Cup Steeplechase gives the city an event to call its own. It's about 45 minutes from the center city in Mineral Springs. Held in mid-April.
There is no better time to visit South End than during the Art and Soul of South End Festival in April. Several major events coincide to bring the district a variety of visual art, music and entertainment. Prices vary based on event, but most is free to attend.
PGA Quail Hollow Championship. Brings the world's best golfers to Quail Hollow Country Club for a weekend in April. As one would expect, there are plenty of wine-and-cheese events associated with the championship. as well as a noticeable upturn in Polo shirts at Uptown clubs.
Taste of Charlotte. Festival in June is far and away the best time to bring an appetite to the city. Tryon St. closes down for the weekend and many of the city's best restaurants are represented with samples of their signature dishes.
Fourth of July Fireworks Display has shifted locations several times lately, but is always somewhere in Uptown. This event draws nearly 100,000 visitors to the center city at once; be prepared to sit in gridlock, especially during the display when streets will come to a complete halt. Using public transit to park-and-ride from another district is recommended.
Also in July, comic book collectors meet for the annual Heroes Convention at the Convention Center.
Black Gay Pride Festival has made inroads as an annual festival in July.
Charlotte Pride is a more general gay-pride festival in August. It has moved to the Gateway Village area on the edge of Uptown. It has grown significantly since its inception.
September is one of the best times to visit the city. The city's Labor Day Parade along Tryon St is modest, but a well-established annual event. The month-long Charlotte Shout collaboration includes not only cultural festivals and events, but also a day of free admissions to important cultural locations. For over 40 years, Festival in the Park has transformed Freedom Park into a massive marketplace and fair. The new Charlotte Film Festival is a collaboration between the city's most prominent theaters in and around the center city. Also, the Yiasou Greek Festival (Sep 7-10, 2017) is a long-running tradition at Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church that draws a huge crowd for its mouth-watering food and unique shopping opportunities.
The Public Library of Charlotte hosts the Novello Festival of Reading in October. This series of readings and events brings well-known authors (such as Kurt Vonnegut, Ray Bradbury, Toni Morrison) to the city. Prices vary based on event, most of which are held at the Central Branch.
Scarowinds. Is the city's most unique Halloween event. The Carowinds theme park turns ghoulish after dark, with special decor and events. Though it's a bit pricey, it never draws complaints of overpricing. $29, no kids.
Carolina Renaissance Festival. Held in late Fall just outside the city in Huntersville. It is a family-friendly reenactment of Elizabethan times. Features a wide array of shopping and themed events. $15 for adults, $5 for children.
Southern Christmas Show. In late November is one of the region's biggest holiday shopping events. The Merchandise Mart on E Independence Blvd hosts the event. $8 at the door for adults, $3 for kids. $6 per car to park all day.
EclecFest. Is a fledgling November festival in NoDa, started by the owner of a local bookstore. A combination flea market and cultural festival, this event is a good way to get introduced to the stores and locals of NoDa. Parking is typically available on and around N. Davidson St.
Charlotte International Auto Show. Brings various dealers and buyers together in the Convention Center, usually in November. Adults $8, kids free.
Carrousel Thanksgiving Day Parade. Is one of the city's most beloved annual events. Televised regionally, this parade has run along Tryon St for half a century. A great time to visit.
Charlotte Collectible and Antique Show. Comes to Metrolina Expo on Statesville Rd. each December. The name says it all: shopping opportunities abound. $5, kids free.
For college football fans, the Belk Bowl is a chance to catch a great game as well as a football-themed festival. Teams from the South's two biggest college football conferences, the ACC and SEC, close out their seasons in Bank of America Stadium. Price varies year-to-year.
The major language is English, but the number of foreign-language establishments has begun to rise. In particular, Spanish-speaking shops and restaurants have become numerous on the city's east side. Also, there are a fair number of Asian establishments as well. There is a large shopping area called "Asian Corners", and a part of the east side nicknamed "little Hanoi". It is worth noting, however, that these areas make up a relatively small part of the English-dominated city.
Charlotte is a city that thrives on big business (specifically banking and is thus the second leading banking center in the country). Its most visible employers are Wells Fargo/Wachovia (the city's largest employer), Bank of America, Duke Energy, Nucor, Sonic Automotive, Continental Tire NA, SPX, Lowe's and Family Dollar. Though the Uptown area has the largest concentration of business offices, the entire metro area has sprouted office and industrial parks. In particular, the gleaming mid rises of SouthPark and Ballantyne are worth noting if you're in those areas. There are several Fortune 500 companies and is regularly listed as one of the U.S.'s fastest-growing business areas, as well as one of the best places to do business in the nation.
One of Charlotte's biggest weaknesses is the relative lack of retail shopping in the center city. Though this will change somewhat in the near future, you will generally have to venture into the suburbs to do your shopping. As with most American cities, most retail is in malls and shopping centers, though some areas (especially the inner suburbs) have stores along the streets.
Metropolitan Midtown, just outside the central business district, is the redevelopment of the former Charlottetown Mall.
Concord Mills is the largest shopping destination in the region. It's near the northeastern city line in Concord.
Carolina Place Mall (Pineville Mall) is a large mall near the southern city line in Pineville, convenient to the southern suburbs and stateline.
Northlake Mall is a newer mall in north Charlotte, convenient to the University area and Lake Norman. Northlake is arguably Charlotte's largest and most upscale mall, 10 mi north of Uptown.
SouthPark Mall is an upscale mall featuring national retailers along Sharon Road just south of Uptown.
Belgate features the first IKEA store in the Carolinas as well as numerous specialty stores.
Charlotte Premium Outlets is a new outlet center just off of I-485, southwest of Uptown.If you are looking to shop outside the commercial retail sector, try exploring some of the districts just outside the I-277 loop. In particular, the Dilworth and Plaza-Midwood areas are good places to visit unique, funky stores. East Blvd. (upscale) and Thomas St. (downscale) are both good places to find unusual items.
There are several market-style locations scattered across the city.
Center City Green Market, 200 E. 7th Street (between College Street & N Brevard Street). May-Sep: W 8AM - 4PM, Sa 8 AM-1 PM. Locally grown fresh fruits & produce in-season. Fresh seafood & flowers, jewelry and crafts.
The EclecFest market happens every second Saturday behind the Neighborhood Theater on N. Davidson St.
For the most part, Charlotte's culinary tastes are in line with the rest of the American South. Standards such as grits, sweet potatoes (yams), and greens are common in kitchens and restaurants. Southern food is typically high in fats and carbohydrates, so dieters should be careful to stick to higher-end restaurants that serve a more cosmopolitan fare. Otherwise, dig in and enjoy the richness of the Southern diet.
Many of Charlotte's older restaurants are owned by Greek families. Often, you will unexpectedly find Greek items on the menus of restaurants that otherwise serve American fare.
North Carolinians have long been fiercely competitive about their barbecue, and Charlotte's eateries reflect that heritage. Outsiders beware: Carolinas "barbeque" is chopped and sauced pork. The sauce will depend on which region it comes from (east or west), and it all works well as a sandwich (though you usually get to choose between sandwich or plate). Barbecue sandwiches are invariably served with slaw (either a vinegar-based red slaw, or a mayonnaise-based white slaw) on the meat, though it will be left out or on the side if you request. This is a local custom and one of the many things that makes Charlotte and more generally NC interesting.
"Carolinas style" hamburgers and hot dogs are typically served with mustard, chili, and cole slaw, though some restaurants will vary their toppings slightly to create a "signature".
Krispy Kreme Donuts is headquartered in nearby Winston-Salem, and their products are widely available. Also, Lance Snacks is based in Charlotte.
The dominant local grocery chains are Harris Teeter and Food Lion. While both began in North Carolina, and still have their headquarters in the state, they are now divisions of larger companies. Harris Teeter is a division of Cincinnati-based Kroger, and Food Lion is a division of the Dutch company Ahold Delhaize. Harris Teeter is relatively expensive but more upscale. Food Lion is a middle-class favorite, and usually has an extensive ethnic section. Other groceries include Bi-lo, Aldi, Lowes Foods, and Bloom (a high-tech spin off of Food Lion). The city is also dotted with dozens of ethnic groceries, especially Hispanic, Indian and Vietnamese. Check out Compare Foods stores dotted around the city.
The specialty grocery store scene is also growing, as Charlotte has three Trader Joe's stores, two Earth Fare stores and two Fresh Markets. These stores specialize in natural and organic foods. For something a little bit more local, try the Home Economist or the quaint Berrybrook Farms.
One spot particularly popular with locals is Amelie's French Bakery on North Davidson Street in NoDa. Amelie's is open 24/7 and has a wide selection of French pastries and baked goods, coffees and teas. There is also a satellite location Uptown.
Pinky's Westside Grill, 1600 W Morehead St, ☎ +1 704-332-0402. Roadside grill specializing in burgers and dogs.
Viva Chicken, 1617 Elizabeth Ave, ☎ +1 980-335-0176. Busy spot for Peruvian cuisine and rotisserie chicken?
Midnight Diner, 115 E Carson Blvd, ☎ +1 980-207-3641. Diner serving scratch-made comfort food 24/7.
Fig Tree, 1600 E 7th St, ☎ +1 704-332-3322. Upscale, creative continental fare.
Carpe Diem, 1535 Elizabeth Ave, ☎ +1 704-377-7976. New American fine dining in an art nouveau style.
Del Friscos, 4725 Piedmont Row Dr Ste 170, ☎ +1 704-552-5502. Outfitted restaurant specializing in seafood and steaks.
Liquor is available by the drink in the city of Charlotte. However, some smaller towns in the region prohibit liquor sales. If you plan to explore nearby counties, there is a chance you may encounter a "dry" area. Open containers of alcohol are never permitted on the street; if you order a beverage you must finish it before leaving the restaurant or bar. If you want to buy liquor by the bottle, you must do it at state-run ABC (Alcoholic Beverage Commission) stores, rather than at traditional liquor stores. Beer and wine are available for purchase at most markets, grocery stores and gas stations.
Cheerwine, a cherry-flavored soft drink, is a local favorite. Sundrop, available in a unique citrus blend and cherry-lemon, is based out of Gastonia and is a favorite among locals. R.C. Cola is also a "traditional" Southern soft drink.
If you are not from the American South, you may be surprised to see sweet iced tea is the predominant non-carbonated drink (and is arguably sweeter).
The city's nightlife is centered in Uptown, which is host to a wide variety of nightclubs. The largest concentration of clubs in the city is around College St. near its intersection with 5th St.; however, a quick check of local listings reveals plenty of alternatives for those who are seeking a more reserved atmosphere. See district listings for more details. There is also a large cluster of bars on Montford Dr. in Myers Park. These bars often run cooperative "bar crawl" events with one another.
If you are not driving or renting a car during your visit, it is highly advisable to try to find lodging near the center city (these can be found in the district articles). Otherwise you will be stuck paying cab and bus fares, and you will find it quite difficult to move around as freely as you'd like. Most of the city's large hotels are either uptown, near the airport, or in the University area. There are also some luxury hotels appearing in Ballantyne, and there are the typical options off the highways and interstate exits.
Below are listings for locations near the airport and Carowinds theme park as well as top listings for city districts.
Hyatt Place Charlotte Airport/Lake Pointe, 4119 S Stream Blvd, ☎ +1 704 357-8555, fax: +1 704 357-8555. Primarily a business hotel with relatively convenient access to the airport. Offers a complimentary airport shuttle and has rooms designed for business travelers. Fitness center, breakfast buffet, pool. $90.
Microtel Inns and Suites (Airport), 3412 S I-85 Service Rd, ☎ +1 704 398-9606. Good low-fare option for business travelers planning to fly into the city. Immediate access to I-85 lets you get about the city quickly. $50.
Hyatt House Charlotte Airport, 4920 S Tryon St, ☎ +1 704 525-2600. In the center of a Fortune 500 corridor, 3 mi from downtown and major convention centers.
La Quinta Inn and Suites, 4900 S Tryon St, ☎ +1 704 523-5599. From the hotel, you have a short drive to the airport and a straight shot through South End into Uptown. Fitness center, pool, hot tub. $50–$115.
Red Roof Inn, 3300 Queen City Dr, ☎ +1 704 392-2316. Nothing fancy, but cheaper than most hotels in the area. This is an economy chain, so the rooms are sparse but clean. Immediate access to the airport and surrounding amenities. $55.
Renaissance Suites, 2800 Coliseum Centre Dr, ☎ +1 704 357-1414.
Wingate South Atlantic, 4238 Business Center Dr, ☎ +1 704 395-3600, toll-free: +1-800-228-1000. $90.
MainStay Suites Extended Stay Hotel, 7926 Forest Pine Dr, ☎ +1 704 521-3232. Pet-friendly, cater towards people traveling for business, or for people just taking extended vacations.
Embassy Suites, 1917 Arsley Town Blvd, ☎ +1 704 970-5400. Contemporary suites in a sleek hotel offering a casual eatery, a pool & a gym, plus free breakfast.
Drury Suites Charlotte Northlake, 6920 Northlake Dr, Charlotte, NC 28216, ☎ +1 704 599-8882. Straightforward hotel with an indoor/outdoor pool & a gym, plus free breakfast & Wi-Fi.
Charlotte Marriott South Park, 2200 Rexford Rd, Charlotte, NC 28211, ☎ +1 704 364-8220. Refined property offering casual dining & 14 meeting rooms, plus an outdoor pool & an exercise room.
Renaissance Charlotte South Park, 5501 Carnegie Blvd, Charlotte, NC 28209, ☎ +1 704 501-2510. Sophisticated lodging with Southern fare & a bar, plus an indoor pool & a fitness center.
Hilton Charlotte University, 8629 J M Keynes Dr, Charlotte, NC 28262, ☎ +1 704 547-7444. Modern lakeside hotel with free WiFi & shuttle service, plus a restaurant & seasonal outdoor pool.
Sheraton Charlotte, 555 South McDowell St, S Tower, Charlotte, NC 28204, ☎ +1 704 372-4100. Contemporary property offering American dining & a bar, plus 2 pools & a fitness center.
Westin Charlotte, 601 S College St, Charlotte, NC 28202, ☎ +1 704 375-2600. Sleek hotel with earth-toned rooms & Southern dining, plus a 24/7 gym & an on-site Light Rail stop.
Omni Charlotte, 132 E Trade St, Charlotte, NC 28202, ☎ +1 704 377-0400. Chic rooms in a glass-fronted property offering regional dining, a cocktail bar & a rooftop pool.
The city of Charlotte has mandatory 10-digit dialing, so you must include the area code even on local calls. Charlotte has two area codes: 704 and 980.
There are some public pay phones scattered around the city, but they are becoming increasingly rare with the predominance of cell phones. It is not safe to assume you will be able to find a pay phone at any given time.
All ZIP codes in the city of Charlotte begin with 282. The central district's code is 28202.
Though Charlotte is by no means a dangerous city - in fact, crime rates are significantly lower there than in most other Southern U.S. cities -, it is still a big city, so don't let your guard all the way down. If you are uptown, the biggest worry is auto theft/break-in, which is hardly rampant. Violent crime is relatively rare in the central district, as well as the affluent southern side of town. The most dangerous areas are the west and east sides.
Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police (CMPD) almost always maintain a visible presence in crowded areas. If you have trouble, look for an officer. In some parts of the city the police are deployed on bikes as well as cars.
Charlotte is not a good allergy city, due to the abundance of flowering trees and greenspace.
Smog has become an increasing concern, as the city becomes more populated and in turn hosts more auto traffic. Local authorities monitor ozone levels and make public announcements when "vulnerable" groups (children, the elderly, etc.) are at risk. These announcements are carried on local television, radio, and newspapers.
North Carolina is known as "Tobacco Road", and cigarettes are almost ubiquitous in Charlotte. However, due to changing attitudes about smoking, North Carolina passed a law that went into effect in January 2010 banning smoking in all bars and restaurants in the state. It is still legal to smoke on the street, though you may want to be considerate of others if you are in a crowded area. Smoking is also permitted at most nightclubs provided they do not serve food. At concert venues (such as Bobcats Arena) there are outdoor decks for smokers.
In general, it is a good idea to be polite about smoking... whether you smoke or not. If you smoke, try to do it in an area in which others won't be bothered by it. If you are a non-smoker, be aware in advance of whether you will likely be bothered by smoke in a particular place. In North Carolina people tend to be much less sensitive to smoking than in other parts of the country, so you will likely be received with a bit of bewilderment if you make a scene about it.
Library branches are scattered across the city, and vary in size and function. Typically there are street signs nearby to direct you toward the nearest branch. Also, there are substantial libraries at each of the local universities.
Charlotte Observer. The Observer is the city's primary newspaper and its only daily periodical. It is standard for a newspaper in a medium-sized city. Politically it is often perceived as left-of-center, though the slant is not very strong and unlikely to be perceived by visitors. The Observer is widely available in stores and boxes, $0.50 ($1.50 Sunday).
Charlotte Weekly. Probably the most politically-neutral of the weeklies. The Weekly enjoys wide distribution, but seems to prefer a relatively low-key role in local reporting.
Charlotte Business Journal. Weekly edition devoted to reviewing the city's business climate. Its thorough reporting often "scoops" other sources, and the CBJ can make surprisingly interesting reading even for those uninterested in business affairs. Available primarily at bookstores and other newsstands, though boxes can be found on the street Uptown.
QNotes. The LGBT arts, entertainment and news publication based in Charlotte, N.C.
La Noticia. Spanish-language weekly newspaper. This has become the primary voice of the Hispanic community in Charlotte. It has no English-language edition, so its circulation is relatively confined to eastern Charlotte. Free.
Charlotte Post. African-American weekly that enjoys a devoted following but a relatively low circulation. Found mostly at institutions with a high percentage of black consumers, such as restaurants and churches on the west side. Free.
Mecklenburg Times. Focuses on the workings of County government, especially politics and business issues. In-depth review of court decisions and related issues.
Street & Smith's Sports Business Journal. Narrow, detailed coverage of the sports-business industry. Available primarily through newsstands and Uptown boxes. Weekly editions.
NASCAR Scene Daily. Part of Street & Smith's, but focuses only on NASCAR-related news. A weekly newspaper, despite its title.
Compared to large tourist destinations, Charlotte has a relatively small international population. Locals are usually quite friendly toward foreign visitors, especially those who can speak English. Speakers of other languages may find the language barrier more difficult to break than in "international" cities (though Spanish-speakers will likely have an easier time). It is recommended that international visitors keep their passport handy at all times.
International House, 322 Hawthorne Ln, ☎ +1 704 333-8099. International visitors to Charlotte are strongly encouraged to begin their visit at the International House. Though it is worth the trip south of Uptown to visit the historic neoclassical mansion and meet the friendly staff, the IH can also be very helpful for finding interpreters, translated documents, travel information, etc.
United States Citizenship and Immigration Services, 210 E Woodlawn Rd (Ste 138, Bldg 6). M-F 7:30AM-2PM.
Armenian Cultural Association of the Carolinas, +1 704 334-5353 x239.
Bosnian Organization, +1 704 921-9080.
Cambodian Community Association, +1 704 566-0155.
Chinese American Association, +1 704 593-0897.
Eritrean Community Organization, +1 704 563-9000.
Ethiopian Community, +1 704 343-6629.
Filipino-American Community, +1 704 541-5944.
Ghana National Association, +1 704 567-2510.
Haitian American Club of the Carolinas, +1 704 537-1785.
India Association of Charlotte, +1 704 948-7664.
Iranian Group, +1 704-321-3578.
Islamic Society of Greater Charlotte, +1 704 568-0907.
Japan-America Society of Charlotte, +1 704 687-2727.
Korean Association of Charlotte, +1 704 376-8820.
Laotian Cultural Center, 2208 Rowan Way, +1 704 393-3588.
Laos American Association of North Carolina, +1 704 393-7363.
Metrolina Phoenician Club, +1 704 846-2269.
Taiwanese-American Association of Greater Charlotte, +1 704 847-6340.
Vietnamese Community Association of Charlotte, +1 704 568-8744.
Germany (Honorary), 536 Viking Dr, ☎ +1 757 486-9167, fax: +1 757 486-9141, e-mail: [email protected]
Mexico (Honorary), 4424 Taggart Creek Rd, ☎ +1 704 394-2190.
Switzerland (Honorary), 12333 Old Prairie Road, ☎ +1 704 292-1041, e-mail: [email protected]
United Kingdom (Honorary), 301 S College St 9F, ☎ +1 704 383-3944.
Like most cities in the American South, Charlotte's communities have historically been centered around Protestant Christian churches (though this is changing as the city diversifies and urbanizes). A complete list of worship sites is impractical; below are listings which don't fit into a (as of yet) specified district so be sure to check out the district articles.
There are many foreign-language places of worship in the Charlotte area. For information about them, contact the International House at +1 704 333-8099.
Hindu Center of Charlotte,7400 City View Drive, +1 704 535-3440. A Hindu temple performing Hindu rituals and practices since 1982.
Wat Lao Buddharam, 1824 Toddville Rd, +1 704 597-5037. Laotian community of Buddhists in a relatively large temple grounds. Services are in Laotian.
Ash-shaheed Islamic Center, 2717 Tuckaseegee Rd, +1 704 394-6579. Primarily an African-American Islamic community on the city's west side.
Masjid Ali Shah Center, 1230 Beatties Ford Rd, ☎ +1 704 377-9010. Smaller community in western Charlotte.
Charlotte benefits from a highly centralized location in the Carolinas, giving visitors the option of driving to either the beach or the mountains if they choose. Cities within day-trip range include Asheville, Greensboro, Winston-Salem, Greenville, and the Raleigh/Durham area. If you are interested in seeing much smaller Southern towns, consider a short drive to Matthews, Davidson, Rock Hill or Huntersville; all are within 20 minutes' drive on the interstate.
Concord Mills - see Malls.
Charlotte Motor Speedway, just out of northern Charlotte in nearby Concord, off I-85. Home of near-constant racing events including NASCAR's All-Star race and the Coca-Cola 600. Occasional home of concerts and other special events. Among other special attractions, includes the opportunity to drive around the track or attend racing school.
Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden. In Belmont (just west of Charlotte), this is one of the most acclaimed attractions in the area. The natural beauty and serenity of the gardens make it a favorite for romantic day trips and family outings. Guided tours offered.
North Carolina Zoo. In Asheboro, about 60 miles northeast of Charlotte. The largest zoo in North Carolina, featuring over 200 species of animal and many more botanical species. Highlights include gorillas, elephants, lions and an aviary.
Reed Gold Mine. Pan for gold in the USA's first gold mine. Very kid-friendly and educational, besides being pretty fun. In Cabarrus County, about 45 minutes from Charlotte.
Schiele Museum of Natural History. A surprisingly high-quality museum in Gastonia, just west of Charlotte. Includes a planetarium, an aviary, and many special events and exhibits.
Southwest of Charlotte are the Catawba lands. See how this Native American tribe used to live and lives today.
South of Charlotte along Route 16, in Waxhaw, is the Mexico Museum. Items of cultural and historical interest include pottery, costumes, and photographs.
Carowinds. Large theme park with a focus on movies. Many roller coasters and other such attractions; coasters include The Afterburner, The Intimidator, and The Fury. Give strong consideration to eating beforehand, as concession prices are very high. Go south on I-77 and get off at the state line. Bring sunscreen as most of the park is unshaded.
Take I-85S to US-321N to Hickory for excellent furniture shopping at a host of furniture outlets. Two such are Hickory Furniture Mart (huge) and the Hickory Furniture Mall (quieter and less expensive).
Chimney Rock Park. Part of the highly scenic Blue Ridge Mountains in the Appalachian chain. One of the region's most visited parks, primarily because of its unusual rock formations and waterfalls.
Nantahala Outdoor Center. About 3–4 hours west of Charlotte in the heart of the Appalachians. Excellent whitewater rafting and tubing for all experience levels; the river runs particularly well after big rains. Also an excellent place to hike, bike, bird watch, etc.