Mecklenburg County, North Carolina

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Mecklenburg County, North Carolina
East Avenue Tabernacle.jpg
Flag of Mecklenburg County, North Carolina
Seal of Mecklenburg County, North Carolina
Map of North Carolina highlighting Mecklenburg County
Location in the U.S. state of North Carolina
Map of the United States highlighting North Carolina
North Carolina's location in the U.S.
Founded November 6, 1762
Named for Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz
Seat Charlotte
Largest city Charlotte
 • Total 546 sq mi (1,414 km2)
 • Land 524 sq mi (1,357 km2)
 • Water 22 sq mi (57 km2), 4.0%
Population (est.)
 • (2016) 1,054,835
 • Density 2,013.0/sq mi (777/km²)
Demonym(s) Mecklenburger
Congressional districts 9th, 12th
Time zone Eastern: UTC-5/-4

Mecklenburg County is a county located on the border in the southwestern part of the state of North Carolina, in the United States. As of the 2010 census, the population was 919,628. It increased to 1,034,070 as of the 2015 estimate, making it the most populous county in North Carolina and the first county in the Carolinas to surpass 1 million in population.[1] Its county seat and largest city is Charlotte.[2]

NOTE: To see information about the political body, the 'Mecklenburg County Commission' see this link: Mecklenburg County Commission.

Mecklenburg County is included in the Charlotte-Concord-Gastonia, NC-SC Metropolitan Statistical Area.

On September 12, 2013, the county welcomed its one millionth resident.[3]

Like its capital Charlotte, the county is named after Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz, queen of the United Kingdom, whose name is derived from the region of Mecklenburg in Germany, itself deriving its name from Mecklenburg Castle (Mecklenburg meaning "large castle" in Low German) in the village of Dorf Mecklenburg.


Mecklenburg County was formed in 1762 from the western part of Anson County, both in the Piedmont section of the state. It was named in commemoration of the marriage of King George III to Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz,[4] for whom the county seat Charlotte is named. Due to unsure boundaries, a large part of south and western Mecklenburg County extended into areas that would later form part of the state of South Carolina. In 1768, most of this area (the part of Mecklenburg County west of the Catawba River) was designated Tryon County, North Carolina.

Determining the final boundaries of these "western" areas between North and South Carolina was a decades-long process. As population increased in the area following the American Revolutionary War, in 1792 the northeastern part of Mecklenburg County was taken by the North Carolina legislature for Cabarrus County. Finally, in 1842 the southeastern part of Mecklenburg County was combined with the western part of Anson County to become Union County.

The Mecklenburg Declaration of Independence was allegedly signed on May 20, 1775; if the document is genuine, Mecklenburg County was the first part of the Thirteen Colonies to declare independence from Great Britain.[5] The "Mecklenburg Resolves" were adopted on May 31, 1775. Mecklenburg continues to celebrate the Meck Dec each year in May.[6] The Date of the Meck Dec is also listed on the Flag of North Carolina, represented by the date of May 20, 1775 as one of two dates on the flag of the old North State.

From 1945 to 1972, Mecklenburg County sterilized 403 people who were in the care of county facilities, far more than any other county in North Carolina. This was the result of a so-called "science" of genetic engineering called eugenics, based on mistaken ideas about the transmission of favorable characteristics through reproduction. Preventing certain populations from reproducing - those (generally poor and minority) then classified as feeble-minded, criminal, etc. was seen as beneficial for society. By this time, the eugenics movement had been discredited in most other parts of the United States.[7]

In 1971, Mecklenburg County was the site of an important case in the American civil rights movement. Swann v. Charlotte-Mecklenburg Board of Education (CMS) was a suit filed to force the integration of the public schools in Charlotte..[8]

In 1999, the Federal Courts effectively over-ruled the Swann decision and declared that the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Board of Education was 'Unitary' and were then prohibited by then US Federal Judge Robert Potter from using race to assign students to schools. In a case initially brought by William Capacchione, on behalf of his minor daughter,[9] CMS was sued for not allowing his daughter into a nearby (or neighborhood) school. Later in the case, additional plaintiffs, referred to as 'Grant intervenors' joined the Capacchione suit. On September 10, 1999[10] the US District Court for Western North Carolina rejected busing for desegregation purposes claiming that Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools had removed 'all vestiges of intentional discrimination'. While the Court had imposed busing as a temporary remedy in 1971 in the Swann case, it reversed the School Board's usage of it after all evidence of intentional discrimination were determined to be eliminated. This led the School Board to take the unusual position of petitioning the Court claiming that they were still discriminating and therefore should be allowed to continue to bus. The Court rejected the School Board's claim and CMS moved to a neighborhood schools model using magnets to entice voluntary diversity.


According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 546 square miles (1,410 km2), of which 524 square miles (1,360 km2) is land and 22 square miles (57 km2) (4.0%) is water.[11]

Adjacent counties[edit]


Historical population
Census Pop.
1790 11,395
1800 10,439 −8.4%
1810 14,272 36.7%
1820 16,895 18.4%
1830 20,073 18.8%
1840 18,273 −9.0%
1850 13,914 −23.9%
1860 17,374 24.9%
1870 24,299 39.9%
1880 34,175 40.6%
1890 42,673 24.9%
1900 55,268 29.5%
1910 67,031 21.3%
1920 80,695 20.4%
1930 127,971 58.6%
1940 151,826 18.6%
1950 197,052 29.8%
1960 272,111 38.1%
1970 354,656 30.3%
1980 404,270 14.0%
1990 511,433 26.5%
2000 695,454 36.0%
2010 919,628 32.2%
Est. 2016 1,054,835 [12] 14.7%
U.S. Decennial Census[13]
1790-1960[14] 1900-1990[15]
1990-2000[16] 2010-2013[1]
Population grew 2.5% per year from 1970 to 2008

As of the census[17] of 2000, there were 695,454 people, 273,416 households, and 174,986 families residing in the county. The population density was 1,322 people per square mile (510/km²). There were 292,780 housing units at an average density of 556 per square mile (215/km²). The racial makeup of the county was 64.02% White, 27.87% Black or African American, 0.35% Native American, 3.15% Asian, 0.05% Pacific Islander, 3.01% from other races, and 1.55% from two or more races. 6.45% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race .

There were 273,416 households out of which 32.10% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 47.70% were married couples living together, 12.40% had a female householder with no husband present, and 36.00% were non-families. 27.60% of all households were made up of individuals and 5.90% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.49 and the average family size was 3.06.

In the county, the population was spread out with 25.10% under the age of 18, 9.70% from 18 to 24, 36.40% from 25 to 44, 20.30% from 45 to 64, and 8.60% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 33 years. For every 100 females there were 96.50 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 93.60 males.

The median income for a household in the county was $50,579, and the median income for a family was $60,608. Males had a median income of $40,934 versus $30,100 for females. The per capita income for the county was $27,352. About 6.60% of families and 9.20% of the population were below the poverty line, including 11.50% of those under age 18 and 9.30% of those age 65 or over.

Law, government and politics[edit]

Mecklenburg County voted for Obama/Biden in the 2012 United States presidential election by 60.65 percent to Romney/Ryan 38.24 percent.[18]

Presidential Elections Results[19]
Year Republican Democratic Third Parties
2016 32.9% 155,518 62.3% 294,562 4.8% 22,777
2012 38.2% 171,668 60.7% 272,262 1.1% 4,970
2008 37.5% 153,848 61.8% 253,958 0.7% 3,011
2004 48.0% 155,084 51.6% 166,828 0.4% 1,190
2000 51.0% 134,068 48.3% 126,911 0.8% 2,057
1996 45.9% 97,719 48.6% 103,429 5.5% 11,697
1992 43.6% 99,496 42.5% 97,065 13.9% 31,814
1988 59.4% 106,236 40.2% 71,907 0.4% 653
1984 62.7% 106,754 37.1% 63,190 0.2% 393
1980 47.8% 68,384 46.8% 66,995 5.4% 7,679
1976 49.2% 61,715 50.4% 63,198 0.4% 486
1972 68.5% 77,546 29.8% 33,730 1.7% 1,900
1968 52.4% 56,325 28.9% 31,102 18.7% 20,070
1964 48.4% 46,589 51.6% 49,582
1960 55.1% 48,250 44.9% 39,362
1956 62.0% 44,469 38.0% 27,227
1952 57.3% 44,334 42.7% 33,044
1948 34.7% 11,518 43.3% 14,353 22.0% 7,314
1944 26.7% 9,434 73.3% 25,950
1940 19.6% 7,013 80.4% 28,768
1936 15.3% 4,709 84.8% 26,169
1932 21.3% 4,973 77.9% 18,167 0.8% 181
1928 55.4% 12,041 44.6% 9,690
1924 22.5% 2,572 73.7% 8,443 3.8% 437
1920 23.2% 3,421 76.8% 11,313
1916 21.8% 1,257 78.1% 4,508 0.1% 6
1912 5.9% 284 82.3% 3,967 11.8% 571

Mecklenburg County Government[edit]

Mecklenburg County is a member of the regional Centralina Council of Governments.

The County is governed by the Mecklenburg Board of County Commissioners (BOCC). The BOCC is a nine-member board made up of representatives from each of the six county districts and three at-large representatives elected by the entire county. This electoral structure favors candidates in the at-large positions who will be elected by the majority population of the county. Each District has a population of approximately 165,000 individuals. All seats are partisan and are for 2-year terms (elections occur in even years). The current chairman of the Mecklenburg BOCC is Ella B. Scarborough (D, At-large). The Current Vice-Chair is Jim Puckett(R, District 1).

Members of the Mecklenburg County Commission are required by North Carolina State law to choose a Chair and Vice-Chair once a year (at the first meeting of December). Historically, the individual elected was the 'top-vote-getter' which was one of three (3) at-large members. In 2014 this unofficial rule was changed by the Board to allow any member to serve as Chair or Vice-chair as long as they received support from 4 members plus their own vote.

The nine (9) members of the Board of County Commissioners are:

  • Ella Scarborough (D, At-Large - Chairman)
  • Trevor Fuller (D, At-Large)
  • Pat Cotham (D, At-Large)
  • Jim Puckett (R, District 1, Vice Chairman)
  • Vilma Leake (D, District 2)
  • George Dunlap (D, District 3)
  • Dumont Clarke (D, District 4)
  • Matthew Ridenhour (R, District 5)
  • Bill James (R, District 6)

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools (CMS)[edit]

The current Chairman of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg School board is Mary T. McCray (At-Large). The Vice Chair is Ericka Ellis-Stewart (At-Large). The members of the Board of Education are:

  • Mary T. McCray (At-Large - Chairman)
  • Elyse C. Dashew (At-Large - Vice Chair)
  • Ericka Ellis-Stewart (At-Large)
  • Rhonda Lennon (District 1)
  • Thelma Byers-Bailey (District 2)
  • Ruby M. Jones(District 3)
  • Tom Tate (District 4)
  • Eric C. Davis (District 5)
  • Paul Bailey (District 6)

The Charlotte-Mecklenburg School board is non-partisan, and staggered elections are held every two years (in odd years).


The residents of Mecklenburg County are provided emergency medical service by MEDIC, the Mecklenburg EMS Agency. All emergency ambulance service is provided by MEDIC. No other emergency transport companies are allowed to operate within Mecklenburg County. While MEDIC is a division of Mecklenburg County Government, a board guides and directs MEDIC that consists of members affiliated with Carolinas Medical Center (CMC), Novant Presbyterian Hospital and a swing vote provided by the Mecklenburg County Board of Commissioners. CMC and Novant are the two major medical institutions in Charlotte, North Carolina.


Data represents January 1990 to November 2009
Data represents January 1990 to November 2009

The major industries of Mecklenburg County are banking, manufacturing, and professional services, especially those supporting banking and medicine. Mecklenburg County is home to six Fortune 500 companies,[20] including 21st-ranked Bank of America.

Fortune 500 Companies with headquarters in Mecklenburg County

Name Industry Revenue Rank
1. Bank of America Banking $100.1 billion 21[21]
2. Duke Energy Utilities $19.6 billion 145[22]
3. Nucor Metals $19.4 billion 146[23]
4. Family Dollar Retail $9.3 billion 287[24]
5. Sonic Automotive Automotive Retailing $8.5 billion 307[25]
6. SPX Electronics $5.9 billion 431[26]

Wachovia, a former Fortune 500 Company had its headquarters in Charlotte until it was acquired by Wells Fargo for $15.1 billion. Wells Fargo maintains the majority of the former company's operations in Charlotte. The Federal Reserve approved the merger on October 12, 2008.[27]

Goodrich Corporation, a former Fortune 500 Company, had its headquarters in Charlotte until it was acquired by United Technologies Corporation for $18.4 billion. Charlotte is now the headquarters for UTC Aerospace Systems.[28]

Mecklenburg County's largest employer is Carolinas Healthcare System, with 26,283 employees. This is followed closely by Wells Fargo (20,000) and Bank of America (13,960).[29]


School system[edit]

The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools (CMS) serves the entire county; however, the State of North Carolina also has approved a number of charter schools in Mecklenburg County (independently operated schools financed with tax dollars).

Colleges and universities[edit]


The Public Library of Charlotte and Mecklenburg County serves residents of Mecklenburg County. Library cards from any branch can be used at all 20 locations. The library has an extensive collection (over 1.5 million items) of reference and popular materials including DVDs, books on CD, best sellers, downloadable media, and books.

The Billy Graham Library contains the papers and memorabilia related to the career of the well-known 20th century evangelist, Billy Graham.



The county's primary commercial aviation airport is Charlotte Douglas International Airport in Charlotte.

Intercity rail[edit]

With twenty-five freight trains a day, Mecklenburg is a freight railroad transportation center, largely due to its place on the NS main line between Washington and Atlanta and the large volumes of freight moving in and out of the county via truck.

Mecklenburg County is served daily by three Amtrak routes.

The Crescent train connects Charlotte with New York, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Washington, Charlottesville, and Greensboro to the north, and Atlanta, Birmingham and New Orleans to the south.

The Carolinian train connects Charlotte with New York, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Washington, Richmond, Raleigh, Durham and Greensboro.

The Piedmont train connects Charlotte with Raleigh, Durham and Greensboro.

The Amtrak station is located at 1914 North Tryon Street. A new centralized multimodal train station, Gateway Station, has been planned for the city. It is expected to house the future LYNX Purple Line, the new Greyhound bus station, and the Crescent line that passes through Uptown Charlotte.

Mecklenburg County is the proposed southern terminus for the initial segment of the Southeast High Speed Rail Corridor operating between Charlotte and Washington, D.C. Currently in conceptual design, the SEHSR would eventually run from Washington, D.C. to Macon, Georgia.

Light rail and mass transit[edit]

Light rail service in Mecklenburg County is provided by LYNX Rapid Transit Services. Currently a 9.6-mile (15.4 km) line running from Uptown to Pineville; build-out is expected to be complete by 2034.

Charlotte Area Transit System (CATS) bus service serves all of Mecklenburg County, including Charlotte, and the municipalities of Davidson, Huntersville, Cornelius, Matthews, Pineville, and Mint Hill.

The vintage Charlotte Trolley also operates in partnership with CATS. On July 14, 2015, the Goldrush Streetcar was revived to operate in Uptown after several decades of absence. The line runs from Trade Street, near Charlotte Transportation and Convention Center, to Elizabeth Avenue. In addition to several restaurants, this line also serves Central Piedmont Community College and Novant Health Presbyterian Hospital. The city is applying for a $50,000,000 Federal Transportation Grant, to gain funding to construct expansion of a line to serve Johnson C. Smith University to the West and East along Central Avenue.


Mecklenburg's manufacturing base, its central location on the Eastern Seaboard, and the intersection of two major interstates in the county have made it a hub for the trucking industry.

Major roadways[edit]

Arts and culture[edit]

Museums and libraries[edit]

Sports and entertainment[edit]

Music and performing arts venues[edit]

Amusement parks[edit]

Other attractions[edit]


Map of Mecklenburg County, North Carolina With Municipal and Township Labels
1923 Map of Mecklenburg County, North Carolina showing original Township boundaries

Mecklenburg County contains seven municipalities including the City of Charlotte and the towns of Cornelius, Davidson, and Huntersville (north of Charlotte); and the towns of Matthews, Mint Hill, and Pineville (south and southeast of Charlotte). Small portions of Stallings and Weddington are also in Mecklenburg County, though most of those towns are in Union County. Extraterritorial jurisdictions within the county are annexed by municipalities as soon as they reach sufficient concentrations.



Unincorporated communities[edit]


  • Berryhill
  • Charlotte
  • Clear Creek
  • Crab Orchard
  • Deweese
  • Huntersville
  • Lemley
  • Long Creek
  • Mallard Creek
  • Morning Star
  • Paw Creek
  • Pineville
  • Providence
  • Sharon (extinct)
  • Steele Creek

Notable people[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "State & County QuickFacts". United States Census Bureau. Archived from the original on July 14, 2011. Retrieved April 4, 2015. 
  2. ^ "Find a County". National Association of Counties. Retrieved 2011-06-07. 
  3. ^ [1]
  4. ^ Gannett, Henry (1905). The Origin of Certain Place Names in the United States. U.S. Government Printing Office. p. 204. 
  5. ^
  6. ^
  7. ^ Helms, Ann Doss and Tomlinson, Tommy (26 September 2011). "Wallace Kuralt's era of sterilization: Mecklenburg's impoverished had few, if any, rights in the '50s and '60s as he oversaw one of the most aggressive efforts to sterilize certain populations". Charlotte Observer. Archived from the original on 13 April 2012. Retrieved 10 December 2011. 
  8. ^ Green, Robert P. Jr. (2002). Historic US Court Cases: An Encyclopedia, Volume II Second Edition. Routledge. p. 666. ISBN 978-0-415-93756-6. 
  9. ^
  10. ^
  11. ^ "2010 Census Gazetteer Files". United States Census Bureau. August 22, 2012. Retrieved January 18, 2015. 
  12. ^ "Population and Housing Unit Estimates". Retrieved June 9, 2017. 
  13. ^ "U.S. Decennial Census". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved January 18, 2015. 
  14. ^ "Historical Census Browser". University of Virginia Library. Retrieved January 18, 2015. 
  15. ^ Forstall, Richard L., ed. (March 27, 1995). "Population of Counties by Decennial Census: 1900 to 1990". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved January 18, 2015. 
  16. ^ "Census 2000 PHC-T-4. Ranking Tables for Counties: 1990 and 2000" (PDF). United States Census Bureau. April 2, 2001. Retrieved January 18, 2015. 
  17. ^ "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2008-01-31. 
  18. ^
  19. ^
  20. ^ "Fortune 500 Companies". Charlotte Chamber Web Site. Retrieved 2013-07-15. 
  21. ^ Bank of America Corp. - Fortune 500 2013 - Fortune. Retrieved on 2013-08-25.
  22. ^ Duke Energy - Fortune 500 2013 - Fortune. Retrieved on 2013-08-25.
  23. ^ Nucor - Fortune 500 2013 - Fortune. Retrieved on 2013-08-25.
  24. ^ Family Dollar Stores - Fortune 500 2013 - Fortune. Retrieved on 2013-08-25.
  25. ^ Sonic Automotive - Fortune 500 2013 - Fortune. Retrieved on 2013-08-25.
  26. ^ SPX - Fortune 500 2013 - Fortune. Retrieved on 2013-08-25.
  27. ^ "FRB: Press Release--Approval of proposal by Wells Fargo & Company to acquire Wachovia Corporation". Federal Reserve Board. 2008-10-12. Retrieved 2008-10-12. 
  28. ^ United Technologies completes Goodrich acquisition
  29. ^ "Largest Employers". Charlotte Chamber Web Site. Retrieved 2008-10-21. 
  30. ^ a b c Who Was Who in America, Historical Volume, 1607-1896. Chicago: Marquis Who's Who. 1963. 
  31. ^

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 35°15′N 80°50′W / 35.25°N 80.83°W / 35.25; -80.83