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The Charlotte metropolitan area (also Metrolina, Metro Charlotte, or Charlotte USA) is a metropolitan area/region of Northmarker and Southmarker Carolina within and surrounding the city of Charlottemarker. Located in the Piedmont of the Southeastern United States, the Charlotte metropolitan area is well-known for its auto racing history (especially NASCAR) and is the United States' second largest banking and financial hub, behind New York Citymarker. It is also the Carolinas' largest manufacturing region. It is also the fifth largest metropolitan area in the Southeastern region of the United States, behind Atlanta , Miami marker, Washington, DC , and Tampa marker.

The Charlotte-Gastoniamarker-Concordmarker Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) is defined as five counties in North Carolina and one county in South Carolina. The population of the MSA was at 1,405,173 in the 2000 Census; 2005 estimates place the population at 1,521,278. At present, the Charlotte-Gastonia-Concord Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) is the 35th largest in the U.S and the city of Charlotte is the 18th largest city in the U.S.

The Charlotte-Gastonia-Salisburymarker Combined Statistical Area (CSA) is a regional population area including parts of North Carolina and South Carolina with a 2008 population of 2,574,787. The aforementioned MSA is the only metropolitan area (as defined since 2003) included in the CSA, but there are six included micropolitan areas: Albemarlemarker, Lincolntonmarker, Shelbymarker and Statesville-Mooresvillemarker in North Carolina and Lancastermarker and Chestermarker in South Carolina. Additionally, Catawba and Alexander Counties in North Carolina are sometimes counted in larger estimates of the Region's true size due to their close proximity to the Charlotte Metro. They are technically a part of the Hickorymarker-Lenoirmarker-Morgantonmarker Metropolitan Statistical Area (also known as The Unifour). Adding these two counties along with Chesterfield County, SC to the aforementioned Charlotte CSA would yield a Regional 2006 estimated population of 2,424,333.

Nicknames and regional identity

The regional area around the city was at one time called Metrolina, a term which has fallen out of widespread general use, though it is still maintains a presence and is used by the North Carolina Department of Transportation. The term does retain a marketing value, and is thus also used by many businesses in the area. Metrolina refers to the region that includes the cities of: Charlotte, Concordmarker, Gastoniamarker and Rock Hillmarker. The name Metrolina came into fashion when North Carolina's other two large metropolitan areas took on nicknames— the Triangle for Raleighmarker/Durhammarker/Chapel Hillmarker and the Triad for Greensboromarker/Winston-Salemmarker/High Pointmarker. The Triad now goes by the name Piedmont Triad to distinguish it from other tri-cities.

The term Charlotte USA is sometimes also used as the metro's name, though again in more official and professional circles than in general public usage. The term is championed by the Charlotte Regional Partnership, a non-profit organization made up of both private- and public-sector members from throughout the Charlotte metropolitan area.

Region J of the North Carolina Councils of Government, of which a majority of the Charlotte area municipalities and counties belong, uses the term Centralina in its body's name, Centralina Council of Governments. This term, however, is sparingly used among locals.



Official metropolitan areaThe Charlotte metropolitan area components include the 'Charlotte-Gastonia-Rock Hill MSA (Anson, Cabarrus, Gaston, Mecklenburg, Union & York Counties), along with the following micropolitan areas: Albemarle, Chester, Lancaster, Lincolnton, Salisbury, Shelby, and Statesville-Mooresville. The Combined Statistical Area includes all of those entities. Charlotte USA includes all the CSA counties along with Alexander and Catawba counties of North Carolina.(Census Bureau definition for CSA)

2008 Population Estimates

Anchor/principal city

Primary cities

Suburban towns and cities over 10,000 in population

(including county and 2005 census bureau population estimates)

Suburban towns and cities under 10,000 in population

(Including county and 2004 Census Bureau population estimates)

Unincorporated communities

(2000 census figures)


Mass transit

The Charlotte Area Transit System, or CATS, is the local public transit agency that operates bus service that serves Charlotte and its immediate suburban communities in both North and South Carolina. CATS is also operates a light rail line and is also building a commuter rail network as a supplement to its established bus transit throughout the region. Plans are for it to stretch initially to Mooresville, Pineville, Matthews, the University of North Carolina at Charlottemarker. Charlotte-Douglas International Airport will be connected to the system by streetcar.


The Charlotte region is also served by 3 major interstate highways, and their 2 spurs: I-85, I-77, I-40, I-277, and I-485. I-85 and I-77 intersect in North Charlottemarker, with the transcontinental I-40 passing across the northern portion of the region (linked to Charlottemarker and Gastonia via I-77 and the US 321 freeway). Other major freeways include Independence Boulevard (east Charlotte to I-277), a portion of US 321 between Hickory and Gastonia, the proposed Garden Parkway loop around Gastonia, and the proposed Monroe Connector and Monroe Bypass, each projected to cost over $1 billion per project.

Other important US highways in the region include: US 74 (east to Wilmington, west to Asheville and Chattanooga), US 52 (through the eastern part of the region), US 321 (through Chester, York, Gastonia, Dallas, Lincolnton and Hickory), US 601 (passing east of Charlotte) and US 70 (through Salisbury, Statesville and Hickory).

Primary state routes include NC/SC 49, NC 16 (which extends north to West Virginiamarker), NC 73, NC 150, NC 18, NC 24, NC 27, SC 9 and SC 5.


Charlotte Douglas International Airportmarker, the 16th busiest in the country. In April 2007, Charlotte was the fastest growing airport in the US. CLT went on to surpass its sister US Airways hub in Philadelphia as one of the 30 busiest airports in the world in terms of passenger traffic. A new terminal to the northwest of the center of the airport will be built in the near future, possibly as a Caribbean/Latin America international terminal. CLT is also supplemented by regional airports in Concordmarker, Gastoniamarker, Statesvillemarker, Monroemarker, and Hickorymarker in North Carolina, as well as Rock Hill, South Carolinamarker.

Higher education


Nature and geography

The foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains begin along the western edge of the region; the descent (the fall line) to the coastal plain begins along the eastern edge. Amid this varied topography, the Daniel Stowe Botanical Gardens and several state parks (Morrow Mountain, Crowders Mountain, South Mountains, Duke Power, Landsford Canal, Andrew Jackson) offer recreational possibilities, along with the Uwharrie National Forest just east and northeast of Albemarlemarker, and the Sumter National Forest at the southwest corner of the area. Kings Mountain National Military Parkmarker is partially located in York Countymarker and in Cherokee Countymarker near Blacksburg, South Carolinamarker.

Cultural attractions

Attractions in Charlotte include the Afro-American Cultural Center, Discovery Placemarker, Spirit Square, the soon to be built NASCAR Hall of Fame, the North Carolina Blumenthal Performing Arts Centermarker, Children's Theatre of Charlotte, The Mint Museums, the Charlotte Museum Of History, Levine Museum of the New South, and the Wing Haven Gardens. Soon the Betchler Art Museum and Knight Theater in Uptown Charlotte will open, expanding the art venues in Charlotte.

Other places of interest in the Charlotte suburbs include the Schiele Museum (in Gastonia), Carowindsmarker Theme Park (in Mecklenburg County, NC and York County, SC), Lowes Motor Speedwaymarker (in Concord), the Carolina Raptor Center (in Huntersville), Latta Plantation (in Huntersville), Historic Brattonsville (in McConnells), the North Carolina Transportation Museummarker (in Spencer), Fort Dobbs historical site (in Statesville), the Arts & Science Center of Catawba Valley/Millholland Planetarium (in Hickory) the Museum Of York County (in Rock Hill), James K. Polk historical site (in Pineville), , the Catawba Cultural Center (in York County), the Museum Of The Waxhaws (in Waxhaw), Glencairn Gardens (in Rock Hill), and the Reed Gold Mine (in Locust).


The Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre Charlottemarker is located in Charlotte in the University City community of Charlotte. The performing arts amphitheatre has hosted many popular music concerts. The U.S. National Whitewater Center, The U.S. National Whitewater Center (USNWC) is the world’s premier outdoor recreation and environmental education center. Alongside mountain-biking and running trails, a climbing center, and challenge course, the park’s unique feature is a multiple-channel, customized whitewater river for rafting and canoe/kayak enthusiasts of all abilities.

The USNWC is only 10 minutes from downtown Charlotte and provides over of woodlands along the scenic Catawba River. Olympic-caliber athletes, weekend warriors and casual observers share this world-class sports and training center.

Inspired by the successful Penrith Whitewater Stadiummarker built for the 2000 Olympics and the stadium built for the 2004 Athens Games, the USNWC is the world’s only multi-channel recirculating whitewater river. The USOC has designated the USNWC an official Olympic Training Site.


Regional-scale Shopping malls include SouthPark Mall, Northlake Mall, Eastland Mall (all in Charlotte), Carolina Place Mallmarker (Pineville), Rock Hill Galleria (Rock Hill), Westfield Shoppingtown Eastridge (Gastonia), Concord Millsmarker (Concord) and Valley Hills Mall (Hickory).

Other important malls in the area include Carolina Mall (Concord), Gaston Mall (Gastonia), Monroe Mall (Monroe), and Signal Hill Mall (Statesville).

Concord Mills is unique in that it does not feature the typical anchor stores found at the other mall; it focuses more on attracting outlet store tenants. As of 2006, the mall is the state's largest tourist attraction, visited by over 15 million annually.

Alongside enclosed malls and strip centers are several other shopping districts. Several downtowns can claim an abundance of shopping options, along with restaurants and other entertainment, and a few other specific districts have emerged: Central Avenue, especially in the Plaza-Midwoodmarker area; the NoDa area of North Charlotte; and the Arboretum in southeast Charlotte (geographically, south), to offer a handful of examples. Several of these areas are at the center of the area's growing immigrant business communities.


In addition to the Lowes Motor Speedway, there are plenty of other sports venues, including the Knights Castlemarker in Fort Mill (home of the Charlotte Knights, the Triple-A affiliate of the Chicago White Sox), Bank of America Stadiummarker (home of the NFL's Carolina Panthers), and Time Warner Cable Arenamarker (home of the NBA's Charlotte Bobcats, and the East Coast Hockey League's Charlotte Checkers). The Charlotte Eagles of the United Soccer Leagues call the area home, and the Kannapolis Intimidators and Hickory Crawdads are Single-A Minor-League Baseball teams located in this region.

Commerce and employment

Among the largest employers in the area (listed in order by number of local employees) are:

Companies with headquarters in the region include Bank of America, Belk, BellSouth Telecommunications, Bojangles', The Compass Group, Carolina Beverage Corporation Inc. (makers of Sun Drop and Cheerwine), Duke Energy, Family Dollar, Food Lion, Harris Teeter, Lance, Inc, LendingTree, Lowe's, Meineke Car Care Centers, Muzak, Nucor, Transbotics, Royal & SunAlliance (USA), Time Warner Cable (a business unit of Fortune 500 company Time Warner), and Wachovia.

Charlotte has gained fame as the second largest banking and finance center in the U.S., and the area's orientation towards emerging industries is seen in the success of the University Research Park (the 7th largest research park in the country) and the redevelopment of part of the Pillowtex site in Kannapolis as a biotech research facility featuring the participation of University of North Carolina at Charlottemarker, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hillmarker, Duke Universitymarker and North Carolina State Universitymarker.


Entrepreneur Jarrial Astor StokesArtist Romare Bearden, astronauts Charles Duke and Susan Helms, evangelist Billy Graham, musicians Earl Scruggs (Flatt & Scruggs), George Clinton (Parliament, Funkadelic), Fred Durst (Limp Bizkit), Prairie Prince (The Tubes, Todd Rundgren, Utopia), Blind Boy Fuller and Randy Travis, independent filmmakers Tim Kirkman (Loggerheads, Dear Jesse) and Ross McElwee (Bright Leaves, Sherman's March), actor Randolph Scott, actress Berlinda Tolbert (she played Jenny on the long-running, classic 70's sitcom "The Jeffersons"), political figures Sue Myrick, Harvey Gantt, Elizabeth Dole and Jesse Helms, U.S. presidents Andrew Jackson and James K. Polk, professional wrestling legend Ric Flair, Christian rapper and professional tennis champion Alex Glass and NASCAR driver Dale Earnhardt.

R&B singers Fantasia, Anthony Hamilton and K-Ci & JoJo of Jodeci. Novelist, playwright and screenwriter Carson McCullers was a Charlotte resident while writing her best known works. More recently, Reflections Studios in Charlotte played an important role in the emergent late-20th-century American musical underground - R.E.M., Pylon, Let's Active, Don Dixon and Charlotte's Fetchin Bones (among many others) all recorded influential and acclaimed albums there. Charlotte-based Ripete and Surfside Records maintain important catalogs of regional soul and beach music, and the area has also played a role in the history of gospel, bluegrass and country music. The Milestone, one of the first punk clubs in the South, is located in west Charlotte, and in the past hosted legendary appearances from the likes of R.E.M., Black Flag, Charlotte's Antiseen and many others.


A majority of the municipalities and counties in the North Carolina parts of the Charlotte metropolitan area belong to the Centralina Council of Governments. Cleveland County belongs to the Isothermal Planning and Development Commission and Alexander and Catawba counties belong to the Western Piedmont Council of Governments.

See also

External links


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