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

Updated on October 19, 2007
State Capitol Building
State Capitol Building

When Raleigh is mentioned, many fans of The Andy Griffith Show automatically think of it as being the place where Barney Fife vacations in a corner room at the YMCA. Raleigh also happens to be the capital of North Carolina and the county seat of Wake County. Raleigh is the second largest city in the state, trailing only Charlotte. The Raleigh area, along with nearby Durham and Chapel Hill, comprise what is know as The Triangle area.


Raleigh was officially established as the state capital in 1792, near the geographical center of the state. It was named for Sir Walter Raleigh, the sponsor of the Colony of Roanoke, also known as the Lost Colony. It is now the Fort Raleigh National Historic Site.

The origin of Raleigh can be traced to a purchase of land from an early settler, Joel Lane. Wake County was established when a courthouse and jail were constructed near his residence. His home was a popular stop among travelers passing through the region. This small settlement was known as Wake Courthouse or Bloomsbury. It was the predecessor of the town of Raleigh. The beginning of the sustained maturation of Raleigh took place when street car lines were added in the 1920s. The establishment of the Research Triangle Park in the 1950s was a major catalyst in the city's growth. Spanning 7,000 acres, Research Triangle Park is one of the world's largest and most prestigious research centers. IBM was also a major player in the development of the area.

Business & Economy:

The business and industrial components of the Raleigh area include apparel, electrical, electronics, food processing and distribution, paper products, pharmaceuticals, and telecommunications.

Below are some of the companies that are based or have major operations in Raleigh:

  • Cisco Carquest
  • First Citizens Bank
  • Golden Corral
  • IBM
  • Martin Marietta
  • Nortel Networks
  • Progress Energy
  • RBC Centura
  • Red Hat
  • Siemens

Area Colleges & Universities:

The Raleigh area is rich in educational opportunities. In addition to the schools listed below, it is a short commute to Duke University and North Carolina Central University in Durham, and the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill.

  • Meredith College
  • North Carolina State University
  • Peace College
  • Shaw University
  • Southeastern Baptist Seminary
  • St. Augustines's College
  • Wake Technical College

Area Attractions / Things To See & Do:

  • Artspace
  • Historic Oak View County Park
  • Historic Oakwood
  • J.C. Raulsten Arboretum at N.C. State University
  • N.C. Executive Mansion
  • N.C. Museum of Art
  • N.C. Museum of History
  • N.C. Museum of Natural Sciences
  • N.C. Solar Center
  • N.C. Sports Hall of Fame
  • N.C. State Capitol
  • N.C. State Centennial Campus
  • N.C. State Fair
  • N.C. Symphony
  • Progress Energy Center for the Performing Arts
  • Pullen Park
  • Raleigh City Museum
  • Ray Price Legends of Harley Drag Racing Museum
  • Research Triangle Park
  • State Farmers Market
  • State Legislative Building
  • Walnut Creek Pavilion

Area Sports:

  • Carolina Cobras - Raleigh, NC (Arena League Football)
  • Carolina Mudcats - Zebulon, NC (AA Minor League Baseball Affiliate of MLB Florida Marlins)
  • Carolina Rollergirls - Raleigh, NC (Women's Flat Track Derby Association)
  • Carolina Hurricanes - Raleigh, NC (NHL)
  • Duke University - Durham, NC (ACC Athletics)
  • Durham Bills - Durham, NC (AAA Minor League Baseball Affiliate of MLB Tampa Bay Devil Rays)
  • North Carolina State University - Raleigh, NC (ACC Athletics)
  • North Carolina Tigers - Raleigh, NC (Australian Rules Football)
  • University of North Carolina Athletics - Chapel Hill, NC (ACC Athletics)

Interesting Facts:

  • The J.C. Raulsten Arboretum at N.C. State University has over 6,000 varieties of plants from 55 countries.
  • President Franklin D. Roosevelt called the N.C. Executive Mansion "the most beautiful governor's mansion {interior} in America."


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    • MayberryNC profile image

      MayberryNC 9 years ago

      Thanks, Dori...You have some fine hubs also!

    • fortunerep profile image

      fortunerep 9 years ago from North Carolina

      Another North Carolianian!! Great Hub!


    • brad4l profile image

      brad4l 9 years ago from USA

      Great List! I really like Umstead Park too. It has some really great walking trails. You can access it in carry at the end of Harison or off of Highway 70.