Piedmont Crescent

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The Piedmont Crescent, also known as the Piedmont Urban Crescent, is a large, polycentric urbanized region in the U.S. state of North Carolina that forms the northern section of the rapidly developing I-85 Corridor megalopolis (also known as the "I-85 Boombelt" that extends from Atlanta to the Raleigh area [1]) in the southeastern United States. Residents commonly attribute the Crescent communities to the Indian Trading Path, established by indigenous peoples long before European contact.[2]

Forming the shape of a crescent, the region is located in the central Piedmont area of the state and stretches northeast from metropolitan Charlotte, through the Piedmont Triad cities of Greensboro and Winston-Salem at its center, to metropolitan Raleigh-Durham and the Research Triangle area at its eastern edge. The region has experienced sustained population and economic growth (acutely in the Charlotte and Raleigh areas) since the late 19th century, a trend that has accelerated. It is notable as the fourth largest manufacturing region in the country,[3] as well as an international center of banking and finance, textiles, biotech and high technology.

The region includes seven of North Carolina's eight largest cities and encompasses many smaller cities, towns and suburban areas, as well as the metropolitan centers of the Piedmont Triad, Research Triangle, and Charlotte Metropolitan Area. It is home to almost two-thirds of North Carolina's population. Nine major universities—Duke, NC State, UNC Chapel Hill, UNC Charlotte, Wake Forest, UNC-Greensboro, North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University, Elon University and High Point University —and three international airports (CLT, RDU and GSO), as well as the world-renowned Research Triangle Park, also are located in the region, whose three Combined Statistical Areas have a total population of about 6 million people (Charlotte, 2.62 million; Raleigh-Durham, 1.98 million; Greensboro, High Point, Winston-Salem, 1.66 million), together representing over 63% of the state's total population. [4]

The Piedmont Crescent name is thought to have been coined when the North Carolina Railroad company first laid tracks through the area in 1855-56. The railway, which was named the "Piedmont Crescent Railroad", brought extensive growth to the communities along its route. These evolved to comprise today's interlinked urbanized region. Although the freight and passenger rail corridor remains of critical importance, the region's Interstate 85 and Interstate 40 freeway system serves as its primary transportation link today.

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  1. ^ City of Greenville, SC Official City Website
  2. ^ Gladys Rebecca Dobbs, The Indian Trading Path and Colonial Settlement Development in the North Carolina Piedmont, PhD dissertation, 2006, University of North Carolina, p. iii, accessed 3 Apr 2010
  3. ^ Charlotte Chamber of Commerce: Charlotte, Center of the Nation's 4th Largest Manufacturing Region
  4. ^ Source: US Bureau of the Census, Annual Estimates of the Population Table CBSA-EST2007-02