Downtown Gastonia
Downtown Gastonia
Flag of Gastonia
Official seal of Gastonia
Official logo of Gastonia
Spindle City
"Great Place. Great People. Great Promise."
Gastonia is located in North Carolina
Gastonia is located in the United States
Coordinates: 35°14′57″N 81°11′08″W / 35.24917°N 81.18556°W / 35.24917; -81.18556
CountryUnited States
StateNorth Carolina
Named forWilliam Gaston
 • TypeCouncil–manager[1]
 • MayorRichard Franks (R)[2]
 • Total52.22 sq mi (135.24 km2)
 • Land51.99 sq mi (134.65 km2)
 • Water0.23 sq mi (0.59 km2)  0.44%
Elevation738 ft (225 m)
 • Total80,411
 • Estimate 
 • Density1,546.66/sq mi (597.17/km2)
 • Urban
176,897 (US: 208th)[5]
 • Urban density1,420.0/sq mi (548.2/km2)
Time zoneUTC−5 (EST)
 • Summer (DST)UTC−4 (EDT)
ZIP codes
Area code(s)704, 980
FIPS code37-25580[6]
GNIS feature ID2403684[4]

Gastonia is the most populous city in and county seat of Gaston County, North Carolina, United States. It is the second-largest satellite city of the Charlotte area, behind Concord. The population was 80,411 in the 2020 census, up from 71,741 in 2010.[7][8] Gastonia is the 13th-most populous city in North Carolina. It is part of the Charlotte-Concord-Gastonia, NC-SC Metropolitan Statistical Area, which is part of the Charlotte-Concord, NC-SC Combined Statistical Area.[9]

The city is a historic center for textile manufacturing and was the site of the Loray Mill Strike of 1929, which became a key event in the labor movement. While manufacturing remains important to the local economy, the city also has well-developed healthcare, education, and government sectors.


Gastonia is named for William Gaston, a jurist and United States Representative from North Carolina.[10]

Child labor at Loray Mill in Gastonia, 1908. Photo by Lewis Hine.

The Loray Mill strike occurred in Gastonia in 1929. The role of organizers for Communist Party-affiliated National Textile Workers Union (NTWU) alienated religious leaders in Gastonia, who denounced the organizers' ideology, undermining support for the strike.[11] The strike collapsed after the death of Gastonia's police chief, Orville Alderholt, led to a murder trial of several militants including NTWU chief organizer Fred Beal.[12] Beal was convicted in the killing but fled to the Soviet Union. The strike largely failed in attaining its goals of better working conditions and wages, and the American labor movement was never able to gain a foothold among textile workers in Gastonia. The strike, however, became for a while an international cause célèbre, figuring in several novels published in the 1930s.

National Register of Historic Places

Citizens National Bank in Downtown Gastonia
Intersection on East Franklin Street

The City Hospital-Gaston Memorial Hospital, Craig Farmstead, Downtown Gastonia Historic District, First National Bank Building, Gaston County Courthouse, Gastonia High School, David Jenkins House, Loray Mill Historic District, Robinson-Gardner Building, Third National Bank Building, and William J. Wilson House are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.[13][14]


Interactive map of Gastonia

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 52.22 square miles (135.2 km2), of which 51.99 square miles (134.7 km2) is land and 0.23 square miles (0.60 km2) (0.44%) is water.[3] Gastonia occupies 14% of the total area of Gaston County. Gastonia is approximately 21 miles (34 km) west of Charlotte, 22 miles (35 km) east of Shelby, and 37 miles (60 km) south of Hickory.


Historical population
2023 (est.)83,942[8]4.4%
U.S. Decennial Census[15]


2020 census

Gastonia, North Carolina – Racial and ethnic composition
Note: the U.S. census treats Hispanic/Latino as an ethnic category. This table excludes Latinos from the racial categories and assigns them to a separate category. Hispanics/Latinos may be of any race.
Race / Ethnicity (NH = Non-Hispanic) Pop 2000[16] Pop 2010[17] Pop 2020[18] % 2000 % 2010 % 2020
White alone (NH) 44,615 42,614 40,855 67.32% 59.40% 50.81%
Black or African American alone (NH) 16,520 19,661 24,334 24.93% 27.41% 30.26%
Native American or Alaska Native alone (NH) 118 201 216 0.18% 0.28% 0.27%
Asian alone (NH) 765 956 1,389 1.15% 1.33% 1.73%
Pacific Islander alone (NH) 13 7 17 0.02% 0.01% 0.02%
Other race alone (NH) 67 145 329 0.10% 0.20% 0.41%
Mixed race or Multiracial (NH) 566 1,256 3,100 0.85% 1.75% 3.86%
Hispanic or Latino (any race) 3,613 6,901 10,171 5.45% 9.62% 12.65%
Total 66,277 74,741 80,411 100.00% 100.00% 100.00%

As of the 2020 census, there were 80,411 people, 27,796 households, and 18,361 families residing in the city.

2010 census

At the 2010 census,[19] there were 71,741 people, 27,770 households, and 18,599 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,420.6 inhabitants per square mile (548.5/km2). There were 31,238 housing units at an average density of 618.6 per square mile (238.8/km2). The racial composition of the city was 62.8% White, 27.5% Black or African American, 2.0% Asian, 0.4% Native American, 5.2% some other race, and 3.0% two or more races. 9.7% of the population were Hispanic or Latino American of any race.[20]

As of the 2010 census, there were 27,770 households, out of which 34.7% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 42.5% were headed by married couples living together, 19.0% had a female householder with no husband present, and 33.0% were non-families. 27.1% of all households were made up of individuals, and 9.7% were someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.52, and the average family size was 3.05.[20]

In the city, the population was spread out, with 24.7% under the age of 18, 8.9% from 18 to 24, 26.5% from 25 to 44, 26.3% from 45 to 64, and 13.6% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 38.0 years. For every 100 females, there were 89.6 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 85.6 males.[20]

In 2011 the estimated median income for a household in the city was $36,881, and the median income for a family was $44,576. Male full-time workers had a median income of $38,151 versus $29,590 for females. The per capita income for the city was $19,277. 20.9% of the population and 18.3% of families were below the poverty line. 32.5% of those under the age of 18 and 6.9% of those 65 and older were living below the poverty line.[21]


Offense Gastonia (2009) per 100,000 people[22]
Murder 5 7.2
Rape 28 38.8
Robbery 220 118.1
Assault 345 854.6
Burglary 1,059 831.6
Theft 3,187 3,383.9
Arson 35 14.4


Many shutdowns and job losses have plagued Gastonia over the past decade. Gastonia maintains a relatively strong manufacturing workforce, but many workers are laid off and many more are facing job losses. The city had an unemployment rate of 7.9% as of 2010; 12,536 of the 71,341 residents lived and worked in the city, with a daytime population change of +10,610. The city is the international corporate headquarters for textile company Parkdale Mills, the number one manufacturer of spun yarn in the world.[23] The company also operated two production facilities in Gastonia and several in surrounding communities. Parkdale, like many other companies, has closed plants and moved production to other countries.

Other manufacturers in Gastonia include Wix Filtration Corp., Freightliner Trucks, Stabilus, Curtiss-Wright Controls Engineered Systems and Radici Group. Other major employers include the City of Gastonia and Gaston County governments, the Gaston County Schools system, CaroMont Regional Medical Center, and retailers Walmart and Advance Auto Parts, with two and six stores (plus a distribution center) respectively.[24]

Arts and culture

Storefronts on West Main Avenue

Gastonia and the surrounding areas feature several notable attractions.

The Schiele Museum of Natural History features a number of permanent exhibits, including the Hall of North Carolina Natural History and the Henry Hall of the American Indian.[25] The museum is also home to the James H. Lynn Planetarium, the only planetarium in the Charlotte area.[26]

The Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden is located just southeast of the city in Belmont on NC 279.

The U.S. National Whitewater Center (on the Catawba River) is located east of the city in neighboring Mecklenburg County.

Crowders Mountain State Park is located west of the city, near Kings Mountain. The park offers a number of hiking trails, as well as campgrounds, picnic areas, rock climbing, and fishing.[27]


Eastridge Mall, located at exit 20 on North New Hope Road, is the only indoor regional mall in the area. The mall is home to two anchors and over 80 specialty stores, a full-service food court and other services.

Downtown Gastonia Historic District has undergone a revitalization with many locally owned businesses. This has created a unique atmosphere of local shopping experiences with events centered around the community.

There are also a few more shopping centers across the city with other well-known national and local retailers.


The Gastonia Baseball Club of the Atlantic League of Professional Baseball, a partner of Major League Baseball, began to play in 2024 at CaroMont Health Park, which is part of the Franklin Urban Sports and Entertainment (FUSE) District. The Gastonia Honey Hunters, also in the Atlantic League, played there from 2021 to 2023. Before the Honey Hunters' arrival, the Gastonia Grizzlies, a Coastal Plain League summer collegiate wood-bat team, played at Sims Legion Park from 2002 to 2020.

Gastonia was home to minor league baseball, hosting the Gastonia Cardinals. The Cardinals played as members of the Class D level 1938 North Carolina State League and the Tar Heel League in 1939 and 1940, winning the 1939 league championship. Decades later, a second Cardinals team played from 1977 to 1982 as members of the Class A level Western Carolinas League and South Atlantic League, winning the 1977 league championship.[28] The Cardinals teams hosted home games from 1938 to 1940 at the Gastonia High School Stadium[29] and Sims Legion Park.[30]

The Gastonia Gargoyles play rugby at Gaston County's North Belmont Park. The team is part of the Carolinas Geographical Union (CGU) and plays Division IV men's social rugby. The club plays in the fall (August - November) and spring (Feb - May) seasons. The club also hosts an annual rugby 7's tournament in Clover, South Carolina, during the Clover Scottish Games on the first or second Saturday in June.

Gastonia's two roller derby teams are the G*Force (senior team) and Mini*Gs (junior team). Bouts take place at Kate's Skating Rink on Hudson Blvd.[31]


Gastonia City Hall (James B. Garland Municipal Business Center)

Law enforcement

The city is served by the Gastonia Police Department, the Gaston County Police Department, and the Gaston County Sheriff's Office.

Fire and rescue

The Gastonia Fire Department consists of eight fire house spread throughout the communities within the City limits. The Gastonia Fire Department maintains 130 full-time firefighters working 3- to 24-hour shifts. The Life Safety division has a Fire Marshal and four inspectors, the Administration consists of the Fire Chief, Deputy Chief, Assistant Chief, Training Chief, and two Administrative assistants. Gaston County EMS (GEMS) is the county ambulance service.



All public K–12 schools in Gaston County, including the city of Gastonia, are part of the Gaston County Schools (GCS). GCS operates schools at the elementary, middle, and high school levels.

There are four public high schools in Gastonia: Ashbrook High School, Forestview High School, Hunter Huss High School, and Highland School of Technology. Students from outlying parts of Gastonia also attend Stuart W. Cramer High School, North Gaston High School, and Bessemer City High School.

Private schools are also available in the city. Gaston Day School, Gaston Christian School are among various private schools offered in the Gastonia area.

Gastonia also has a charter school, Piedmont Community Charter School, that serves K–12 grade students. Currently the school has an Elementary campus along with a Secondary campus. A new High School campus is presently under construction. The new campus is set to open for the 2020–2021 school year.[32]

College and university

Although there are no colleges or universities within the city limits of Gastonia, higher education is well represented in the greater Gastonia area. Gaston County is home to Belmont Abbey College (Belmont; four-year) and Gaston College (Dallas, Lincolnton (Lincoln County), and Belmont; two-year).


The Gaston County Public Library has three locations in the city.[33]



The Gaston Gazette is Gastonia's main newspaper. It is published daily, and covers Gastonia city, Gaston County, and surrounding areas. The Charlotte Observer (North Carolina's largest newspaper) is also available, citywide.


Gastonia is served by numerous FM and AM radio stations, mainly based in nearby Charlotte. The city has one licensed AM station: WGNC 1450 AM; it has two licensed FM stations: WGNC 101.1FM and WBAV 101.9 FM.



Highways and major city thoroughfares

Interstate 85 (I-85) links Gastonia directly with Charlotte, Greensboro, Durham, and Petersburg/Richmond (to the northeast) and Spartanburg, Greenville, Atlanta and Montgomery (to the southwest). Gastonia's transportation network is supplemented by one additional freeway (US 321), the freeway portion of which directly connects Gastonia with transcontinental I-40 and the city of Hickory, 35 miles (56 km) north of Gastonia.

Gastonia is also served by three federal highways: US 29, US 74 (US 29 and US 74 follow the same route through the city), and US 321. US 29 parallels I-85 through the Carolinas, while US 74 provides direct east–west links to Charlotte and Wilmington (east), and Asheville and Cherokee (to the west). US 321 links Gastonia to central South Carolina and the Blue Ridge Mountains in northwest North Carolina. State highways include: NC 7, NC 274, NC 275 and NC 279.

Franklin Boulevard, Garrison Boulevard, Hudson Boulevard and Ozark/Long/Airline/Gaston Avenues are major east–west city thoroughfares. New Hope Road, Chester Street/York Road, and Marietta Street/Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Way, are major north–south city thoroughfares.

Bus (local)

Gastonia Transit (GT) is Gastonia's city transit provider. The bus service operates on a fixed-route system covering most of the city and stops are clearly visible around town. Buses run Monday-Saturday, and transfer downtown Gastonia at the Bradley Station. Regular fare is $1.00, transfers are free.

Bus (regional)

Charlotte Area Transit System (CATS) is Gastonia's commuter provider to Charlotte. The Gastonia Express (Route 85X) offers Monday-Friday bus service to/from uptown Charlotte, via the Bradley Station. One-way fare to/from uptown Charlotte is $4.40; transfer is free when transferring to any other CATS services.

Bus (national)

Greyhound Lines serves the city. Alongside Gastonia Transit, Greyhound utilizes downtown's Bradley Station.

Rail (Amtrak)

Gastonia Amtrak station

Amtrak's Crescent (trains 19, 20) connects Gastonia (GAS) with the cities of (to the north) New York, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Washington, and Charlotte, and (to the south) Atlanta, Birmingham, and New Orleans. The unmanned Amtrak station is situated at 350 Hancock Street.


General service: Gastonia Municipal Airport (AKH) handles most of the city's private air service needs. It is located in the southeast part of the city on Gaston Day School Road, off NC 274 (Union Road).

Commercial service: Charlotte/Douglas International Airport (CLT) provides the city with a major domestic/international gateway and is located 18 miles (29 km) east, in Charlotte. American Airlines has the airline's second largest hub operation at Charlotte.

Notable people

Sister cities

Gastonia has two sister cities:

Gotha was Gastonia's first sister city in 1994. Santiago de Surco became an official partner in March 2004. Mayor Jennie Stultz visited Gotha in 2007. In December 2007, the mayor of Santiago de Surco visited for the annual lighting of the Christmas tree in the Rotary Pavilion. He was invited to light the tree along with one of the city's councilmen.

See also


  1. ^ "City of Gastonia - City Manager". City of Gastonia. Retrieved December 19, 2019.
  2. ^ "Walker E. Reid III, Gastonia mayor, dies. The 'spirit to serve' drove him". Yahoo Finance. December 1, 2023. Retrieved January 15, 2024.
  3. ^ a b "ArcGIS REST Services Directory". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved September 20, 2022.
  4. ^ a b U.S. Geological Survey Geographic Names Information System: Gastonia, North Carolina
  5. ^ United States Census Bureau (December 29, 2022). "2020 Census Qualifying Urban Areas and Final Criteria Clarifications". Federal Register.
  6. ^ "U.S. Census website". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved May 14, 2011.
  7. ^ "Explore Census Data". Retrieved August 4, 2022.
  8. ^ a b "QuickFacts: Gastonia city, North Carolina". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved May 16, 2024.
  9. ^ "Charlotte-Concord, NC-SC Combined Statistical Area" (PDF). January 2012. Retrieved May 18, 2023.
  10. ^ Gannett, Henry (1905). The Origin of Certain Place Names in the United States. Govt. Print. Off. pp. 135.
  11. ^ Pope, Liston (1965). Millhands and Preachers: A Study of Gastonia (5th ed.). New Haven: Yale University Press. ISBN 978-0300001822.
  12. ^ Salmond, John A. Gastonia 1929: The Story of the Loray Mill Strike, (Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina Press, 1995)
  13. ^ "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. July 9, 2010.
  14. ^ "National Register of Historic Places Listings". Weekly List of Actions Taken on Properties:12/05/11 through 12/09/11. National Park Service. December 16, 2011.
  15. ^ "Census of Population and Housing". Retrieved June 4, 2015.
  16. ^ "P004: Hispanic or Latino, and Not Hispanic or Latino by Race – 2000: DEC Summary File 1 – Gastonia city, North Carolina". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved January 26, 2024.
  17. ^ "P2: Hispanic or Latino, and Not Hispanic or Latino by Race – 2010: DEC Redistricting Data (PL 94-171) – Gastonia city, North Carolina". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved January 26, 2024.
  18. ^ "P2: Hispanic or Latino, and Not Hispanic or Latino by Race – 2020: DEC Redistricting Data (PL 94-171) – Gastonia city, North Carolina". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved January 26, 2024.
  19. ^ "Community Facts". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved May 21, 2020.
  20. ^ a b c "Profile of General Population and Housing Characteristics: 2010 Demographic Profile Data (DP-1): Gastonia city, North Carolina". American FactFinder. U.S. Census Bureau. Archived from the original on February 12, 2020. Retrieved March 26, 2013.
  21. ^ "Selected Economic Characteristics: 2011 American Community Survey 1-Year Estimates (DP03): Gastonia city, North Carolina". American FactFinder. U.S. Census Bureau. Archived from the original on February 12, 2020. Retrieved March 26, 2013.
  22. ^ "Gastonia, North Carolina (NC) profile: population, maps, real estate, averages, homes, statistics, relocation, travel, jobs, hospitals, schools, crime, moving, houses, news, sex offenders".
  23. ^ "About Parkdale Mills".
  24. ^ "Gaston County Employers - 4th Quarter 2007" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on September 10, 2008. Retrieved July 29, 2008. Source: NC Employment Security Commission, Labor Market Information, Top 10 Manufacturing and Nonmanufacturing Employers for each NC county.
  25. ^ "Permanent Galleries". The Schiele Museum of Natural History. Archived from the original on June 5, 2012. Retrieved June 15, 2012.
  26. ^ "James H. Lynn Planetarium". The Schiele Museum of Natural History. Archived from the original on June 9, 2012. Retrieved June 15, 2012.
  27. ^ "Crowders Mountain State Park".
  28. ^ Johnson, Lloyd; Wolff, Miles, eds. (2007). The Encyclopedia of Minor League Baseball (Third ed.). Baseball America. ISBN 978-1932391176.
  29. ^ "Gastonia High School Stadium in Gastonia, NC minor league baseball history and teams on". Stats Crew.
  30. ^ "Sims Legion Park in Gastonia, NC minor league baseball history and teams on". Stats Crew.
  31. ^ "G*Force Presents Roller Derby". June 9, 2014. Archived from the original on July 14, 2014.
  32. ^ "Piedmont Community Charter School".
  33. ^ "Gaston County Public Library". Gaston county Public Library. Retrieved January 23, 2014.
  34. ^ Joe "The Juggernaut" Pacheco. Retrieved October 13, 2020.
  35. ^ Pells, Eddie. (May 28, 2016). Patience pays off for Gastonia’s Michal Smolen Archived August 15, 2021, at the Wayback Machine. Gaston Gazette. Retrieved August 15, 2021.
  36. ^ a b "Interactive City Directory". Sister Cities International. Archived from the original on March 12, 2014. Retrieved March 11, 2014.