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.
CountryFlag of the United States.svg United States
StateFlag of North Carolina.svg North Carolina
Flag of South Carolina.svg South Carolina
Principal cities - Charlotte
 - Concord
 - Gastonia
 - Rock Hill
 • Metropolitan area3,198 sq mi (8,280 km2)
 • Land3,149 sq mi (8,160 km2)
 • Water49 sq mi (130 km2)
 • Urban
8,067 sq mi (20,890 km2)
 • Urban land7,927 sq mi (20,530 km2)
 • Urban water140 sq mi (400 km2)
305–2,560 ft (93–780 m)
 (2019 Census estimate)
 • Density951.2/sq mi (367.2/km2)
 • Metro
 • CSA
Time zoneEST
 • Summer (DST)EDT
Zip Codes
Area code(s)704,803,828,980

The Charlotte metropolitan area is a metropolitan area of North and South Carolina within and surrounding the city of Charlotte, North Carolina. Located in the Piedmont, it is the largest metropolitan area in the Carolinas, and the fifth largest in the Southeastern United States behind the Miami metropolitan area, Atlanta metropolitan area, Tampa Bay Area, and Orlando metropolitan area.

The Charlotte metropolitan area is well known for its auto racing history (especially NASCAR). The region is headquarters to eight Fortune 500 and seven Fortune 1000 companies including Bank of America, Truist Bank (BB&T and Suntrust Bank), Duke Energy, Honeywell, Sealed Air Corporation, Nucor Steel, and Lowe's Home Improvement Stores. Additional headquarters include Harris Teeter, Food Lion, Bojangles, Cheerwine and Sundrop.[1] It is home to one of the world's busiest airports,[citation needed] Charlotte Douglas International Airport, and is also the Carolinas' largest manufacturing region.[2]

The Charlotte–Concord–Gastonia 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 2,636,883 according to 2019 Census estimates.[4] Charlotte is the 16th 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 2,632,249 according to the 2018 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[edit]

The regional area around the city was at one time called Metrolina, a portmanteau of Metropolis and Carolina. The term 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/Cary/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.)

Charlotte is also sometimes referred to as the Queen City, or the Q.C.

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.


Historical populations
Census Pop.
Est. 20192,636,883[8]18.9%
U.S. Decennial Census[9]
1790–1960[10] 1900–1990[11]


The official Charlotte metropolitan area includes the Charlotte–Concord–Gastonia MSA (Cabarrus, Gaston, Iredell, Lincoln, Mecklenburg, Rowan, and Union counties in North Carolina; Chester, Lancaster and York counties in South Carolina). The Charlotte CSA includes all the MSA counties along with the following micropolitan areas in North Carolina: Albemarle (Stanly County) and Shelby (Cleveland County). (Census Bureau definition for CSA)[13]

The Charlotte Regional Partnership also identifies four additional counties to the what they refer to as the 'Charlotte Region'-Alexander, Anson and Catawba counties in North Carolina, and Chesterfield County, South Carolina. 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. Factoring in the Unifour, as well as Anson and Chesterfield counties, if one considers these regions to be part of the Charlotte area, as many in the area regard them as such, the population according to 2018 Census estimates, increases to 3,190,390. If this population was officially used, the Charlotte Area would become the 20th largest CSA, overtaking the St. Louis, Missouri area, and placing it behind Portland, Oregon.

The Charlotte Combined Statistical Area

County 2019 Estimate 2010 Census Change
Mecklenburg County 1,110,356 919,628 +20.74%
York County 280,979 226,073 +24.29%
Union County 239,859 201,292 +19.16%
Gaston County 224,529 206,086 +8.95%
Cabarrus County 216,453 178,011 +21.60%
Iredell County 181,806 159,437 +14.03%
Rowan County 142,088 138,428 +2.64%
Lancaster County 98,012 76,652 +27.87%
Cleveland County 97,947 98,078 −0.13%
Lincoln County 86,111 78,256 +10.04%
Stanly County 62,806 60,585 +3.67%
Chester County 32,244 33,140 −2.70%
Total 2,773,190 2,204,217 +25.81%
Charlotte Region

County 2019 Estimate 2010 Census Change
Catawba County 159,551 154,358 +3.36%
Chesterfield County 45,650 46,734 −2.32%
Alexander County 37,497 37,198 +0.80%
Anson County 24,877 26,948 −7.69%
Total for Alexander, Anson, Catawba, and Chesterfield counties 267,575 265,238 +0.88%
Total for entire Charlotte region 3,040,765 2,469,455 +23.14%

Largest cities and towns[edit]

Rank City / town County 2019 estimate 2010 Census Change
1 Charlotte Mecklenburg County 885,708 731,424 +21.09%
2 Concord Cabarrus County 96,341 79,066 +21.85%
3 Gastonia Gaston County 77,273 71,741 +7.71%
4 Rock Hill York County 75,048 66,154 +13.44%
5 Huntersville Mecklenburg County 58,098 46,773 +24.21%
6 Kannapolis Cabarrus County / Rowan County 50,841 42,625 +19.28%
7 Indian Trail Union County 40,252 33,518 +20.09%
8 Mooresville Iredell County 39,132 32,711 +19.63%
9 Monroe Union County 35,540 32,797 +8.36%
10 Salisbury Rowan County 33,988 33,662 +0.97%
11 Matthews Mecklenburg County 33,138 27,198 +21.84%
12 Cornelius Mecklenburg County 30,257 24,866 +21.68%
13 Mint Hill Mecklenburg County / Union County 27,617 22,722 +21.54%
14 Statesville Iredell County 27,528 24,532 +12.21%
15 Fort Mill York County 22,284 10,811 +106.12%
16 Shelby Cleveland County 20,026 20,323 −1.46%
17 Waxhaw Union County 17,147 9,859 +73.92%
18 Harrisburg Cabarrus County 16,576 11,526 +43.81%
19 Mount Holly Gaston County 16,257 13,656 +19.05%
20 Albemarle Stanly County 16,246 15,903 +2.16%
21 Stallings Union County 16,145 14,495 +11.38%
22 Davidson Mecklenburg County / Iredell County 13,054 10,944 +19.28%
23 Belmont Gaston County 12,558 10,076 +24.63%
24 Tega Cay York County 11,335 7,620 +48.75%
25 Lincolnton Lincoln County 11,200 10,486 +6.81%
26 Weddington Mecklenburg County / Union County 11,182 9,459 +18.22%
27 Kings Mountain Cleveland County / Gaston County 10,982 10,296 +6.66%

Cities and Towns: 5,000 to 10,000 in Population[edit]

Rank City / Town County 2018 Estimate 2010 Census Change
1 Wesley Chapel Union County 9,295 7,463 +24.55%
2 Lancaster Lancaster County 9,119 8,545 +6.72%
3 Pineville Mecklenburg County 9,028 7,479 +20.71%
4 York York County 8,412 7,736 +8.74%
5 Unionville Union County 7,195 5,929 +21.35%
6 Marvin Union County 6,792 5,579 +21.74%
7 Clover York County 6,519 5,094 +27.97%
8 Cherryville Gaston County 6,072 5,760 +5.42%
9 Bessemer City Gaston County 5,577 5,340 +4.44%
10 Chester Chester County 5,377 5,607 −4.10%

Suburban towns and cities under 5,000 in population[edit]

Unincorporated communities[edit]

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 the S&P 20-city composite index of the value of the U.S. residential real estate market.


Mass transit[edit]

The Charlotte Area Transit System (CATS) is the mass transit agency that operates local, express, bus rapid services that serves Charlotte and its immediate suburban communities in both North and South Carolina. CATS also operates light rail and streetcar lines. CATS is also building a commuter, light rail, streetcar network as a supplement to its established bus transit throughout the region. The LYNX Blue Line runs from Interstate 485, through SouthEnd, Uptown Charlotte, to the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. Plans are for it to stretch initially to Mooresville, Pineville, and Matthews. Charlotte-Douglas International Airport will be connected to the system by light rail.


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, and 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 6th busiest in the country. In April 2007, Charlotte was the fastest growing airport in the US.[14] 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[edit]


    • Piedmont Medical Center (Rock Hill)


Nature and geography[edit]

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[edit]

Fury 325 at Carowinds

Attractions in Charlotte include the Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Arts + Cultural, Carowinds theme park, 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), 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, Neiman Marcus, and American Girl. SouthPark mall is also the largest mall in the Carolinas and one of the most-profitable malls in the United States.

Other large regional-scale Shopping malls include Northlake Mall, Carolina Place Mall, Concord Mills, Charlotte Premium Outlets, 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.


Bank of America Stadium, home of the Carolina Panthers

In addition to Charlotte Motor Speedway, there are plenty of other sports venues, including the BB&T Ballpark (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 the MLS's Charlotte MLS team), and Spectrum Center (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.


Bank of America Corporate Center, the world headquarters for Bank of America
20 largest employers in the Charlotte metropolitan area (Q2 2019)
Name Industry Based in Number of employees
1. Atrium Health Health Care and Social Assistance Charlotte 35,700
2. Wells Fargo Finance and Insurance San Francisco 26,000
3. Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools Educational Services Mecklenburg County 18,495
4. Walmart Retail Trade Bentonville, Arkansas 16,100
5. Bank of America Finance and Insurance Charlotte 15,000
6. Novant Health Health Care and Social Assistance Winston-Salem, NC 12,172
7. American Airlines Transportation and Warehousing Dallas, Texas 11,000
8. Lowe's Retail Trade Mooresville, North Carolina 9,233
9. Food Lion Retail Trade Salisbury, North Carolina 8,465
10. Harris Teeter Retail Trade Matthews, North Carolina 8,239
11. Duke Energy Utilities Charlotte 7,700
12. Government of North Carolina Public Administration Raleigh, North Carolina 7,600
13. Compass Group Manufacturing Chertsey, England, UK 7,500
14. City of Charlotte Public Administration Charlotte 6,800
15. Mecklenburg County Government Public Administration Mecklenburg County 5,512
16. Union County Public Schools Educational Services Union County 5,427
17. U.S. Federal Government Public Administration Washington, D.C. 5,300
18. YMCA of Greater Charlotte Arts, Entertainment and Recreation Charlotte 4,436
19. CaroMont Health Healthcare Gastonia, North Carolina 4,223
20. AT&T Inc. Utilities Dallas, Texas 4,100

[15] [16]

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.

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.

Notable residents[edit]


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[edit]


  1. ^ "Host City Information". July 18, 2009. Archived from the original on July 2017.
  2. ^ Charlotte Chamber of Commerce: Manufacturing in the Region Archived September 29, 2007, at the Wayback Machine
  3. ^ "OMB Bulletin No. 03-04 Attachment" (PDF).
  4. ^
  5. ^ "U.S. Census Bureau CSAs".
  6. ^ Bureau, U.S. Census. "U.S. Census website". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2017-06-22.
  7. ^ Charlotte USA – Charlotte Regional Partnership Archived January 3, 2007, at the Wayback Machine
  8. ^ "Population and Housing Unit Estimates". Retrieved May 10, 2019.
  9. ^ "U.S. Decennial Census". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved May 18, 2014.
  10. ^ "Historical Census Browser". University of Virginia Library. Retrieved May 18, 2014.
  11. ^ "Population of Counties by Decennial Census: 1900 to 1990". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved May 18, 2014.
  12. ^ "Census 2000 PHC-T-4. Ranking Tables for Counties: 1990 and 2000" (PDF). United States Census Bureau. Retrieved May 18, 2014.
  13. ^ "Census Bureau CSA List".
  14. ^ "Fastest Growing". USA Today. 2007-04-19. Retrieved 2010-04-28.
  15. ^ "Major Employers in Charlotte Region - Charlotte Area Major Employers (Q2 2018)" (PDF). Charlotte Regional Business Alliance. Retrieved 25 August 2019.
  16. ^ Shapiro, Amy. "Charlotte's largest employers". Charlotte Business Journal. American City Business Journals. Retrieved 25 June 2020.

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 35°14′N 80°50′W / 35.23°N 80.84°W / 35.23; -80.84