History of Raleigh
Raleigh is one of the few cities that has been planned and built specifically to serve the purpose of the state capital. In 1770, a petition was made to the North Carolina General Assembly to create a new county. The petition was successful and the new county was created from parts of orange, Johnston and Cumberland counties and named Wake. Raleigh was one of the sites in the county that seemed ideal for the state capital. During the American Revolutionary War, the capital of North Carolina was New Bern, but its location was not suitable. Raleigh officially became the county seat and the state capital in 1792, named after Sir Walter Raleigh, the sponsor of the “lost colony” of Roanoke.
In 1808, the seventeenth American president, Andrew Johnson, was born in Raleigh. The city got its water supply network in 1818 and in 1821 it got its first full-time fire brigade. The State Capitol was destroyed by fire in 1831 and the new one was completed in 1840, together with Raleigh & Gaston Railroad Company.
The city was mostly spared of destruction during the Civil War, however, due to economic difficulties after the war it did not experience significant growth over the next decades.
African Americans were emancipated after the war and males were able to vote just like the whites. Shaw University, the first black college in the South, was chartered in 1875. In late 19th century, two African American Congressmen were elected from the state’s 2nd District. However, the White Democrats invested a lot of effort to disfranchise blacks and poor whites and the consequent loss of ability to vote disqualified many blacks and women who were already in state or federal office. It was only after the 1960s, when the civil rights legislation was passed, that most blacks in the state were able to vote again or to serve in local offices. The first African American was elected to Congress only on 1992.
In the first half of the century, Raleigh was struck by an influenza epidemic that killed 288 people and the city also suffered significantly during the Great Depression. Still, many of the city’s important structures were built in the 1930s, such as North Carolina Symphony and Raleigh Memorial Auditorium. In 1988, a tornado struck Raleigh, causing more than $77 million in damage and injuring more than 150 people. Another devastating tornado hit in 2011, killing 24 people.
Geaography and Climate
Raleigh occupies an area of 115.6 square miles. The city lies in the northeast central section of North Carolina, at a point where Atlantic Coastal Plain meets North American Piedmont region. This section of the land is defined as “fall line” (where waterfalls start appearing on rivers and creeks) and most of the city consists of rolling hills. Raleigh is located at a two-hour drive from the Atlantic Coast and a four-hour drive from the Great Smoky Mountains.
The climate in Raleigh is humid subtropical. Spring and autumn is moderate in the city but the summers are hot. Winter is mild and wet, rarely very cold. The area around Raleigh is susceptible to drought, which is why water use for residents is sometimes restricted, especially during summer.
The city can roughly be divided into two main sections: Downtown or Old Raleigh, also known as “Inside the Beltline” or ITB, and the Outer Beltline, consisting of several neighborhoods, the most important being Midtown, Uptown, East, West, North, Northeast, South and Southeast Raleigh.
Population of Raleigh
In 2010, the racial makeup in the city was 57.5% White, 29.3% Black or African American, 11.3% Hispanic or Latino, 4.3% Asian, 0.5% Native American, 0.1% Pacific Islander, 1.4% some other race and 2.6% two or more races.
The median household income in 2000 was $46,612 and the per capita income was $25,113.
The government (state, federal and local) is the largest employer in Raleigh. Other significant economic sectors in the city include banking and financial services, manufacturing of medical, electronic and electrical equipment, textile and apparel, paper products, pharmaceuticals and food processing. Along with Durham and Chapel Hill, Raleigh is one of the centers in North Carolina Research Triangle, one of the best research centers in the States and a major international center for biotechnology and high-tech research.
Some of the large companies based in Raleigh include Carquest, Capitol Broadcasting Company, Golden Corral, First Citizens BancShares, Red Hat and Martin Marietta Materials.
Based on the number of residents with college degrees, Raleigh was the third most educated city in the USA in 2011. In addition to the institutions affiliated with the Research Triangle Park, some of the major institutions of higher education in and around the city include North Carolina State University, Wake Technical Community College, Meredith College, Shaw University, St. Augustine’s College, William Peace University, ECPI College of Technology, Strayer University, Skema Business School and Campbell University Norman Adrian Wiggins School of Law.
Culture and Institutions
Important museums in the city include North Carolina museum of Art, North Carolina Museum of History, Raleigh City Museum, Mordecai House, Joel Lane House, Montfort Hall and Pope House Museum.
Major venues in Raleigh include Time Warner Cable Music Pavillion, Progress Energy Center for Performing Arts, Dorton Arena Long View Center and several others. Arts organizations include North Carolina Symphony, North Carolina Theatre, Carolina Ballet and Theatre in the Park.
The only major league professional sports team in Raleigh is the NHL’s Carolina Hurricanes, who moved from Hartford, Connecticut, in 1997.
Raleigh is served by the second-largest airport in North Carolina, the Raleigh-Durham International Airport, with 10 million passengers each year and more than 35 domestic and international destinations.
Major highways include I-40, I-440, I-540, U.S. Routes 1, 64, 70, 264 and 401 and North Carolina Routes 54, 50 and 98.
Raleigh has one of the busiest Amtrak stations in the South, with four passenger trains daily on three of the company’s lines (Carolinian, Silver Star and Piedmont). Intercity buses are provided by Greyhound. Public transportation in Raleigh and the surrounding towns is provided by the Capital Area Transit. The city also has a number of bicycle routes.