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Charlotte, North Carolina, Lives Up to Its “Queenly” Status

By Jane Morse | Staff Writer | 01 June 2012
Rainbow over city (AP Images)

A rainbow crowns the skyline of Charlotte, North Carolina.

Washington — Delegates to the 2012 Democratic National Convention can expect to be treated royally when they arrive in North Carolina at the end of summer.

Settled in the 1740s and named after Queen Charlotte, the German-born wife of England’s King George III, the city of Charlotte, North Carolina, lives up to its nickname “Queen City” with beauty, riches and power.

Charlotte, located in the beautiful Piedmont region of the Carolinas, is just two hours east of the Appalachian Mountains and three hours west of the Atlantic Ocean.

The discovery of gold in 1799 made Charlotte the gold mining capital of the United States until the California Gold Rush began in 1848. In the 19th century, the cotton industry made Charlotte a leader in the production of textiles.

Railroads expanded the business activities of the city beginning in the 1860s. Charlotte remains a major distribution hub by rail, and the Charlotte Douglas International Airport serves more than 34 million passengers each year in addition to freight.

Manufacturing, health care and energy industries are important sectors of Charlotte’s economy. But Charlotte is known especially for its huge banking sector. More than $2.3 trillion in assets make it a financial hub second only to New York City. The headquarters building of Bank of America, the largest bank in the United States, incorporates a crown in its design in recognition of the city’s “queenly” status.

More than half of the American “Fortune 500 Companies” (the largest companies in the United States) have operations in the Charlotte metropolitan area. Charlotte is also attracting a growing number of international companies. Nearly 900 companies based outside the United States have facilities in the city.

Charlotte boasts many artistic, cultural and recreational opportunities. The newly completed $83 million Levine Cultural Campus houses many independent art galleries, theater companies, performing and visual arts spaces, and professional symphony and opera organizations.

The city also is home to many offices for the U.S. motor sports industry, notably the National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing (NASCAR). The 135,000-square-meter NASCAR Hall of Fame is located in Charlotte; it features interactive exhibits about the racing industry plus a state-of-the-art theater. For race car enthusiasts, there are 31 beautifully maintained automobiles spanning seven decades.

Visitors can experience car racing firsthand at a number of tracks near the city, including a new drag strip built for the National Hot Rod Association and the Charlotte Motor Speedway, which features automobile shows in addition to races.

With its many attractions and robust economy, it is not surprising that Charlotte attracts more than 50,000 new residents each year. It is now the 18th-largest city in the United States, according to the Charlotte Chamber of Commerce.

This year, Charlotte will host the Democratic National Convention during the week of September 3. On September 6, President Obama will accept the nomination of the Democratic Party to run for another term as president.

The more than 35,000 media, delegates and special guests anticipated to attend the convention are expected to generate an estimated $150 million for Charlotte and surrounding metropolitan areas, according to the Democratic National Committee.

Person waving flag over racing cars (AP Images)

A NASCAR race at Charlotte Motor Speedway