Charlotte metropolitan area

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Charlotte Metro
Charlotte–Concord–Gastonia, NC-SC Metropolitan Statistical Area
Uptown Charlotte Skyline
Counties most commonly associated with Metrolina are in dark red, counties often included are light red, and counties sometimes included are in orange. The NC/SC state line is shown in yellow.
Counties most commonly associated with Metrolina are in dark red, counties often included are light red, and counties sometimes included are in orange. The NC/SC state line is shown in yellow.
Country Flag of the United States.svg United States
State Flag of North Carolina.svg North Carolina
Flag of South Carolina.svg South Carolina
Principal cities  - Charlotte
 - Concord
 - Gastonia
 - Rock Hill
 • MSA 3,198 sq mi (8,280 km2)
 • Land 3,149 sq mi (8,160 km2)
 • Water 49 sq mi (130 km2)
Elevation 305-2,560 ft (93-780 m)
Population (2015 Census estimate)
 • Density 951.2/sq mi (3,672/km2)
 • Urban 1,249,442
 • Metro 2,426,363
 • CSA 2,537,990
Time zone EST
 • Summer (DST) EDT (UTC)
Zip Codes 280xx,281xx,282xx,286xx,297xx
Area code(s) 704,803,828,980

The Charlotte metropolitan area (also Metrolina, Charlotte Metro, or Charlotte USA) is a metropolitan area/region of North and South Carolina within and surrounding the city of Charlotte. Located in the Piedmont of the Southeastern United States, the Charlotte metropolitan area is well known for its auto racing history (especially NASCAR). The region is headquarters to 8 Fortune 500 and 7 Fortune 1000 companies including Bank of America, Duke Energy, Sealed Air Corporation, Nucor Steel, and Lowe's Home Improvement Stores. Additional headquarters include Harris Teeter, Food Lion, Cheerwine and Sundrop.[1] It is home to one of the world's busiest airports, Charlotte Douglas International Airport, and is also the Carolinas' largest manufacturing region.[2] The Charlotte MSA is the largest in the Carolinas, and the sixth largest metropolitan area in the Southeastern region of the United States behind Washington, D.C., Miami, Atlanta, Tampa, and Baltimore.

The Charlotte-Concord-Gastonia, NC-SC Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA)[3] is defined as seven counties in North Carolina and three counties in South Carolina. The population of the MSA was 2,426,363 according to 2015 Census estimates.[4] Charlotte is the 17th largest city and 22nd largest metro area in the United States. Charlotte is the 2nd largest city in the Southeast.

The Charlotte-Concord Combined Statistical Area (CSA)[5] is a regional population area including parts of North Carolina and South Carolina with a population of 2,442,504 according to the 2012 Census estimates.[6] The aforementioned MSA is the only metropolitan area (as defined since 2012) included in the CSA, but there are two included micropolitan areas: Albemarle and Shelby.

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 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, Concord, Gastonia and Rock Hill. The name Metrolina came into fashion when North Carolina's other two large metropolitan areas took on nicknames— the Triangle for Raleigh/Durham/Chapel Hill and the Triad for Greensboro/Winston-Salem/High Point. (The Triad now goes by the name Piedmont Triad to distinguish it from other tri-cities.)

The term Charlotte USA refers to the 16-county region, which includes 12 counties in North Carolina and 4 counties in South Carolina. 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 region. This organization represents one of seven officially designated economic development regions in North Carolina.[7]

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 used only sparingly among locals.



The official Charlotte metropolitan area includes the Charlotte-Concord-Gastonia MSA (Cabarrus, Chester, Gaston, Iredell, Lancaster, Lincoln, Mecklenburg, Rowan, Union and York counties). The Charlotte CSA includes all the MSA counties along with the following micropolitan areas: Albemarle and Shelby. (Census Bureau definition for CSA) [8]

The Charlotte Regional Partnership also identifies four additional counties to the what they refer to as the 'Charlotte Region'. Catawba and Alexander counties are currently part of the Hickory-Lenoir-Morganton Metropolitan Statistical Area or 'The Unifour', and Anson County was once part of the MSA and CSA, until it was removed in 2011.

The Charlotte Combined Statistical Area

County 2015 Estimate 2010 Census Change
Mecklenburg County 1,034,070 919,628 +12.44%
York County 251,195 226,073 +11.11%
Union County 222,742 201,292 +10.66%
Gaston County 213,442 206,086 +3.57%
Cabarrus County 196,762 178,011 +10.53%
Iredell County 169,866 159,437 +6.54%
Rowan County 139,142 138,428 +0.52%
Cleveland County 96,879 98,078 −1.22%
Lancaster County 85,842 76,652 +11.99%
Lincoln County 81,035 78,256 +3.55%
Stanly County 60,714 60,585 +0.21%
Chester County 32,267 33,140 −2.63%
Total 2,511,577 2,204,217 +13.94%
Charlotte Region

County 2015 Estimate 2010 Census Change
Catawba County 155,056 154,358 +0.45%
Chesterfield County 46,017 46,734 −1.53%
Alexander County 37,325 37,198 +0.34%
Anson County 25,759 26,948 −4.41%
Total for Alexander, Anson, Catawba, and Chesterfield counties 263,816 265,238 −0.54%
Total for entire Charlotte region 2,775,393 2,469,455 +12.39%

Largest cities and towns

Rank City / Town County 2014 Estimate 2010 Census Change
1 Charlotte Mecklenburg County 809,958 731,424 +10.74%
2 Concord Cabarrus County 85,560 79,066 +8.21%
3 Gastonia Gaston County 73,698 71,741 +2.73%
4 Rock Hill York County 69,967 66,154 +5.76%
5 Huntersville Mecklenburg County 51,567 46,773 +10.25%
6 Kannapolis Cabarrus County / Rowan County 45,245 42,625 +6.15%
7 Hickory Catawba County 40,143 40,010 +0.33%
8 Indian Trail Union County 36,360 33,518 +8.48%
9 Mooresville Iredell County 35,300 32,711 +7.91%
10 Monroe Union County 34,331 32,797 +4.68%
11 Salisbury Rowan County 33,710 33,662 +0.14%
12 Matthews Mecklenburg County 30,008 27,198 +10.33%
13 Cornelius Mecklenburg County 27,481 24,866 +10.52%
14 Statesville Iredell County 25,722 24,532 +4.85%
15 Mint Hill Mecklenburg County / Union County 25,076 22,722 +10.36%
16 Shelby Cleveland County 20,276 20,323 −0.23%
17 Albemarle Stanley County 15,976 15,903 +0.46%
18 Harrisburg Cabarrus County 14,132 11,526 +22.61%
19 Mount Holly Gaston County 14,016 13,656 +2.64%
20 Fort Mill York County 13,087 10,811 +21.05%
21 Newton Catawba County 13,005 12,968 +0.29%
22 Waxhaw Union County 12,750 9,859 +29.32%
23 Davidson Mecklenburg County / Iredell County 11,981 10,944 +9.48%
24 Lincolnton Lincoln County 10,732 10,486 +2.35%
25 Kings Mountain Cleveland County / Gaston County 10,644 10,296 +3.38%
26 Belmont Gaston County 10,456 10,076 +3.77%
27 Weddington Mecklenburg County / Union County 10,322 9,459 +9.12%

Suburban towns and cities under 10,000 in population

Unincorporated communities

Changes in house prices for the area are publicly tracked on a regular basis using the Case–Shiller index; the statistic is published by Standard & Poor's and is also a component of S&P's 20-city composite index of the value of the U.S. residential real estate market.


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 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 Charlotte. Charlotte-Douglas International Airport will be connected to the system by streetcar.


The Charlotte region is also served by 2 major interstate highways (I-85 and I-77), and their 2 spurs (I-277, and I-485). I-40 also passes through the center of Iredell County, which is the northern region of the Charlotte metro. 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 / 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 far 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 Virginia), NC 73, NC 150, NC 18, NC 24, NC 27, SC 9 and SC 5.


Charlotte Douglas International Airport is the main airport in the Charlotte area and the 11th busiest in the country. In April 2007, Charlotte was the fastest growing airport in the US.[9] The airport went on to surpass its sister US Airways hub in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania as one of the 30 busiest airports in the world in terms of passenger traffic.[citation needed] 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 Concord, Gastonia, Hickory, Monroe, Statesville, in North Carolina, as well as Rock Hill in South Carolina.

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 Garden 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 Albemarle, and the Sumter National Forest at the southwest corner of the area. Kings Mountain National Military Park is partially located in York County and in Cherokee County near Blacksburg, South Carolina.

Cultural attractions

Attractions in Charlotte include the Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Arts + Cultural, Discovery Place, Spirit Square, NASCAR Hall of Fame, the North Carolina Blumenthal Performing Arts Center, Children's Theatre of Charlotte, Actor's Theatre of Charlotte, Carolina Actors Studio Theatre, Theatre Charlotte, the Charlotte Museum of History, Levine Museum of the New South, the McGill Rose Garden, and the Wing Haven Gardens. The Bechtler Museum of Modern Art and the Mint Museum in Uptown Charlotte are expanding the art venues in Charlotte.

Other places of interest in the surrounding area include the Schiele Museum (in Gastonia), Carowinds Theme Park (in Mecklenburg County, North Carolina and York County, South Carolina), Charlotte Motor Speedway (in Concord), the Carolina Raptor Center (in Huntersville), Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden (in Belmont), Latta Plantation (in Huntersville), Brattonsville Historic District (in McConnells), the North Carolina Transportation Museum (in Spencer), Fort Dobbs historical site (in Statesville), Catawba County Firefighters Museum (in Conover), 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 PNC Music Pavilion is located in the University City area of Charlotte. The performing arts amphitheatre has hosted many popular music concerts. 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 roughly 400 acres (1.6 km2) 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 Stadium built for the 2000 Olympics and the stadium built for the 2004 Athens Games, the USNWC is the world's largest multi-channel recirculating whitewater river. The USOC has designated the USNWC an official Olympic Training Site.


SouthPark Mall is one of the Southern United States most upscale malls, including stores such as Louis Vuitton, Tiffany & Co., Burberry, Hermès, and American Girl.

Other large regional-scale Shopping malls include Northlake Mall, Carolina Place Mall, Concord Mills, Charlotte Premium Outlets (Exit 4, I-485), Phillips Place (across from SouthPark), RiverGate, Westfield Eastridge, Rock Hill Galleria, Plaza Fiesta, Carolina Mall, Monroe Crossing Mall, Signal Hill Mall, and Valley Hills Mall.

Concord Mills is unique in that it does not feature the typical anchor stores found at other malls; it focuses more on attracting outlet store tenants. The mall is 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-Midwood 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 Charlotte Motor Speedway, there are plenty of other sports venues, including the BB&T Ballpark (Charlotte) (home of the Charlotte Knights, the Triple-A affiliate of the Chicago White Sox), Bank of America Stadium (home of the NFL's Carolina Panthers), and Time Warner Cable Arena (home of the NBA's Charlotte Hornets, and the American 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:[10]

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, Chiquita Brands International Transbotics, Royal & SunAlliance (USA), SPX Corporation, Time Warner Cable (a business unit of Fortune 500 company Time Warner), and Wells Fargo.

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 Charlotte, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Duke University and North Carolina State University.


Artist 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, Randy Travis, and Scott Avett and Seth Avett of The Avett Brothers 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 legends Ric Flair and Ricky Steamboat, 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, Nirvana, The Minutemen, D.O.A., Bad Brains, 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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