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History of Charlotte, North Carolina

Updated: Aug 13, 2022

Despite looking like a pristine city, Charlotte is rich in history. The roots of the city existed way back before the American Revolution in the Old South. Charlotte began as a railroad junction and later transformed into a cotton mill hub as the New South emerged after the Civil War. Many believed that the city was named after the wife of King George III, Queen Sophia Charlotte, to gain the king's favor and the surrounding county, Mecklenburg, was named after the birthplace of Queen Charlotte in Germany. The memory of Queen Charlotte lives on the town that carries her name and thus today's city of Charlotte is famed as "The Queen City". Charlotte is now one of the largest banking centers in America and one of the fastest-growing metropolitan areas in the nation.

Charlotte's city is set in the middle of the Piedmont region in North Carolina, a wide merged rolling hills that stretch south and north from Georgia to Virginia between the flat coastal plain to the east and the Blue Ridge Mountains towards the west. The city was only inhabited by Catawba Indians until the 1950s. The initial pair of settlers of today's city limits appeared in 1753. Located two miles from the city center, a plaque marks the spot of the family cabin of Thomas Spratt near Crescent Avenue and Providence Road's corner. Almost at the same time, Thomas Polk came and constructed his home closer to the Square. More settlers arrived slowly clustering between Irwin Creek and Sugar Creek. The settlement location was an accident since Charlotte was mostly an area where two Indian trails intersect between good farmland regions.

Mecklenburg County detached from Anson County in 1762. Some of the communities of the little crossroad that scattered over the area desired to be the county seat, however, Charlotte earned the honor after a fight headed by Thomas Polk and in 1768, Charlotte was incorporated. Commissioners were ordered to lay off 100 acres where houses would be built. Grid-iron streets are laid out by an anonymous surveyor and the county courthouse was established at the intersection of the Trade and Tryon streets. The courthouse guaranteed the position of Charlotte as the county's main trading city.

As stated in tradition, a set of county leaders subscribed to the Mecklenburg Declaration of Independence on May 20, 1775, declaring themselves untied from England over a year before the identical steps of the Continental Congress in Philadelphia. In commemoration of the affair, Trade and Tryon streets are named Independence Square. Mecklenburg County participated in an agricultural revolution shortly after the Revolutionary War to shape the South's urban development.

Two events elevated Charlotte out of its trivial spot on the plantation economy. The events were the 1799's discovery of gold and the 1852's beginning of the railroad. These new incitations ensured the growth of Charlotte as a trading town. The city became the trade center of the first gold production region in America as the gold discoveries set the first gold rush of the United States and spread to neighboring countries in South and North Carolina. The importance of the city increased as they began to established rail tracks in the 1850s and Charlotte grew as an excellent region for trade and industry.

Charlotte continues to prosper as a distribution center. Over 700 traveling salesmen reside in the city by 1920 and by 1940, the population of the city soared over 100,000. The reinvention pace of Charlotte started to expedite in the late 20th century. From being a backcountry farm community prior to the Civil War and New South's regional textile center of the early decades, the city has now emerged to secure a spot on the national stage.

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