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Charlotte, North Carolina - History, Attractions, Things To See & Do

Updated on September 13, 2007
Lowe's Motor Speedway
Lowe's Motor Speedway

As the largest city in North Carolina, Charlotte has grown into the 20th largest city in America. Located in the southen Piedmont region of the state near the South Carolina border, Charlotte is the county seat of Mecklenburg County


This area was first settled in 1755 by Thomas Polk, who was the uncle of United States President James K. Polk. Polk and his fellow travelers built houses where two trading paths met between the Catawba and Yadkin Rivers. One of the paths was a section of the Great Wagon Road, and the other one was part of what is now Trade Street. The Great Wagon Road was the path used by Scotish, Irish, and German settlers to travel from Pennsylvania, Maryland, and Virginia to North Carolina.

In the years following Polk's settling, the area grew into the community known as "Charlotte Town." The official incorporation of the town was in 1768.

Both Charlotte and Mecklenburg County were named for Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz. She was the German-born wife of British King George III. This was the origin of the widely-known nickname "Queen City."

Both American and British armies established camps in the area during the Revolutionary War. After being driven away by the local resistence to British rule, General Cornwallis wrote that Charlotte was a "hornet's nest of rebellion." This led to another nickname of "Hornet's Nest."

Business & Economy:

After the Civil War, a growth spurt established the city as a railroad hub and as a center for processing cotton. Charlotte is a now a major American financial center, with the city's banking boom occurring in the 1970s and 1980s. Based on assets, Charlotte is now the second largest headquarters for banking in the country, trailing only New York City. Below are a few of the major companies that have headquarters in the Charlotte area:

  • Bank of America
  • Belk
  • Bojangles
  • Carlisle Companies
  • Continental Tire North America
  • Duke Energy
  • Family Dollar
  • Food Lion
  • Goodrich Corporation
  • Harris Teeter
  • Lance
  • Lowe's
  • Meineke Car Care
  • Muzak
  • Nucor
  • Sonic Automotive
  • SPX Corporation
  • Time Warner Cable
  • Wachovia

Charlotte is also the center of the universe for NASCAR teams, with most of the teams having offices and race shops in the area. Around 75% of NASCAR's employees and drivers are based within a couple of hours of Charlotte.

Area Colleges & Universities :

  • Belmont Abbey
  • Central Piedmont Community College
  • Charlotte School of Law
  • Davidson College
  • DeVry University
  • Gardner-Webb
  • Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary
  • ITT Technical Institute
  • Johnson & Wales University
  • Johnson C. Smith University
  • Kings College
  • Pfeiffer University
  • Queens University
  • Reformed Theological Seminary -- Charlotte
  • Southern Evangelical Seminary
  • Strayer University
  • The Art Institutes
  • University of North Carolina at Charlotte
  • University of Phoenix
  • Winthrop

Area Attractions / Things To See & Do:

  • Belmont Abbey College and Basilica
  • Billy Graham Library
  • Blumenthal Performing Arts Centre
  • Carolinas Aviation Museum
  • Carowinds
  • Charlotte Museum of History
  • Children's Theatre of Charlotte
  • Concord Mills
  • Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden
  • Discovery Place
  • Historic Latta Plantation
  • Historic Rosedale Plantation
  • Historic Rural Hill Farm
  • ImaginOn
  • Levine Museum of the New South
  • Lowe's Motor Speedway
  • Mint Museums
  • North Carolina Auto Racing Hall of Fame
  • Reed Gold Mine
  • U.S. National Whitewater Center
  • University of North Carolina at Charlotte
  • Botanical Gardens
  • Wing Haven Gardens & Bird Sanctuary

Charlotte will also be the home of the NASCAR Hall of Fame, which is expected to be completed in 2009.


  • Carolina Panthers - NFL
  • Charlotte Bobcats - NBA
  • Charlotte Checkers - Minor League Ice Hockey
  • Charlotte Knights - MLB Minor League (AAA) Affiliate of the Chicago White Sox
  • Charlotte Eagles - Division of Missionary Athletes International (United Soccer League)
  • Charlotte Lady Eagles - Division of Missionary Athletes International (United Soccer League)

Interesting Fact :

In 1788 Conrad Reed found a shiny 17-pound rock in Cabarrus County, North Carolina. The rock was used for several years as a doorstop. Then, they discovered it was gold. From this discovery, gold mining spread into nearby counties and states. Many veins of gold were found in the area in the 1800s and into the early 1900s. The Charlotte Mint was founded in 1837 for minting gold found in this region. During its peak, gold mining was second only to farming in the South. North Carolina led the country in gold production until 1848, when it was overtaken by the California Gold Rush.


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    • MayberryNC profile image

      MayberryNC 9 years ago

      Thanks...Do you go to the races? I haven't been in a long time.

      I haven't been to the gardens myself. Here is the address for it at UNCC:

      9201 University City Blvd.

    • profile image

      Charlotte Contractors 9 years ago

      That's some neat information! Where's Botanical Gardens, and what did you like most about it? I like Lowe's Motor Speedway a lot... cool picture you have up there!