Mecklenburg County
Flag of Mecklenburg County
Official seal of Mecklenburg County
Nickname: 
Meck County
Map of North Carolina highlighting Mecklenburg County
Location within the U.S. state of North Carolina
Map of the United States highlighting North Carolina
North Carolina's location within the U.S.
Coordinates: 35°14′49″N 80°50′02″W / 35.246862°N 80.833832°W / 35.246862; -80.833832
Country United States
State North Carolina
FoundedDecember 11, 1762
Named forCharlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz
SeatCharlotte
Largest communityCharlotte
Area
 • Total546.09 sq mi (1,414.4 km2)
 • Land523.61 sq mi (1,356.1 km2)
 • Water22.48 sq mi (58.2 km2)  4.12%
Population
 (2020)
 • Total1,115,482
 • Estimate 
(2022)
1,145,392
 • Density2,130.37/sq mi (822.54/km2)
DemonymMecklenburger
Time zoneUTC−5 (Eastern)
 • Summer (DST)UTC−4 (EDT)
Congressional districts12th, 14th
Websitewww.mecknc.gov

Mecklenburg County (/ˈmɛklənˌbɜːrɡ/) is a county located in the southwestern region of the state of North Carolina, in the United States. As of the 2020 census, the population was 1,115,482,[1] making it the second-most populous county in North Carolina (after Wake County) and the first county in the Carolinas to surpass one million in population.[2] Its county seat is Charlotte, the state's largest community.[3]

Mecklenburg County is the central county of the Charlotte-Concord-Gastonia, NC-SC Metropolitan Statistical Area. On September 12, 2013, it was estimated the county surpassed one million residents.[4]

Like its seat, the county is named after Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz, Queen of the United Kingdom (1761–1818), whose name is derived from the region of Mecklenburg in Germany. It was named for Mecklenburg Castle (Mecklenburg meaning "large castle" in Low German) in the village of Dorf Mecklenburg.

History

Mecklenburg County was formed by English colonists 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,[5] 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 form Union County.

The Mecklenburg Declaration of Independence was allegedly signed on May 20, 1775, and if the document is genuine, Mecklenburg County was the first part of the Thirteen Colonies to declare independence from Great Britain.[6] The "Mecklenburg Resolves" were adopted on May 31, 1775. Mecklenburg continues to celebrate the declaration each year in May,[7] the date of which is included on the flag of North Carolina.

The first gold rush in the United States, the Carolina Gold Rush, began after a 12-year-old boy named Conrad Reed discovered a gold nugget in a stream in neighboring Cabarrus County. Many miners and merchants began settling in the county during that time. The first United States branch mint was established in 1837 in Charlotte and continued operations until 1913.[8] The original building was moved from its original site and redeveloped as a museum.

In 1917, during World War I, Camp Greene was established west of Charlotte as an army training camp. In 1919, after the end of WWI, it was decommissioned.[9] Around the 1930s and 1940s, the population began to rapidly increase. During this time, Carolinas Medical Center and Charlotte College (now the University of North Carolina at Charlotte) were built.[10][11][12] Lake Norman was also completed in 1964, after a five-year construction period.

In the mid-20th century, the county continued to see rapid growth. Many new government buildings were constructed, and Charlotte Douglas International Airport was expanded in 1954. By 1960, a quarter million people were living in the county, with the population reaching half a million by 1990.[8] An unsuccessful attempt to form a consolidated city-county government was tried in 1971, but was voted down by residents.[13] The metropolitan statistical area now includes 6 counties in both North Carolina and South Carolina with a combined population of 2,660,329 in 2020.[10][14]

In mid-2020, the county was the site of the 2020 Colonial Pipeline oil spill, wherein about 2,000,000 U.S. gal (7,600,000 L) of gasoline leaked from the Colonial Pipeline in the Oehler Nature Preserve near Huntersville. It is one of the largest gasoline spills in U.S. history, and cleanup efforts are expected to last for several years.

Geography

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 546.09 square miles (1,414.4 km2), of which 523.61 square miles (1,356.1 km2) is land and 22.48 square miles (58.2 km2) (4.12%) is water.[15]

State and local protected areas/sites

Nature preserves in Charlotte:[25]

Major water bodies

Adjacent counties

Demographics

Historical population
CensusPop.Note
179011,395
180010,439−8.4%
181014,27236.7%
182016,89518.4%
183020,07318.8%
184018,273−9.0%
185013,914−23.9%
186017,37424.9%
187024,29939.9%
188034,17540.6%
189042,67324.9%
190055,26829.5%
191067,03121.3%
192080,69520.4%
1930127,97158.6%
1940151,82618.6%
1950197,05229.8%
1960272,11138.1%
1970354,65630.3%
1980404,27014.0%
1990511,43326.5%
2000695,45436.0%
2010919,62832.2%
20201,115,48221.3%
2022 (est.)1,145,392[1]2.7%
U.S. Decennial Census[26]
1790–1960[27] 1900–1990[28]
1990–2000[29] 2010–2020[1]
Population grew 2.5% per year from 1970 to 2008

2020 census

Mecklenburg County racial composition[30]
Race Number Percentage
White (non-Hispanic) 498,683 44.71%
Black or African American (non-Hispanic) 324,832 29.12%
Native American 2,730 0.24%
Asian 71,583 6.42%
Pacific Islander 531 0.05%
Other/Mixed 47,201 4.23%
Hispanic or Latino 169,922 15.23%

As of the 2020 census], there were 1,115,482 people, 426,313 households, and 254,759 families residing in the county.

2000 census

At the 2000 census,[31] 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 people/km2). There were 292,780 housing units at an average density of 556 units per square mile (215 units/km2). The racial makeup of the county was 64.02% White, 27.87% Black or African American, 0.35% American Indian/Alaska Native, 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 and government

Mecklenburg County is a member of the regional Centralina Council of Governments.[32]

The county is governed by the Mecklenburg Board of County Commissioners (BOCC). The BOCC is a nine-member board made up of representatives elected from six single-member districts, and three at-large representatives elected by the entire county. This electoral structure favors at-large candidates who appeal to 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 George Dunlap (D, District 3). The Current Vice-chair is Elaine Powell (D, 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', typically one of three 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 members of the Board of County Commissioners are:[33]

Politics

While trending Republican in presidential elections from 1952 to 1992, since 2004 Mecklenburg voters have strongly trended Democratic, particularly in federal and statewide elections. The expansion of the financial and business communities since the late 20th century attracted many newcomers from other areas of the country, with more diverse voting patterns. Republicans retain some strength in local races. The more ethnically diverse core and northern sections of Charlotte trend Democratic, while wealthier and whiter suburban areas to the south of the city lean more Republican.[35]

Economy

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 ten Fortune 1000 companies.[36]

Fortune 1,000 companies
with headquarters in Mecklenburg County
Name Industry 2019 Revenue Rank
1. Bank of America Banking $110.6 billion 25[37]
2. Nucor Metals $25.1 billion 120[37]
3. Duke Energy Utilities $24.1 billion 126[37]
4. Sonic Automotive Automotive retailing $10.0 billion 316[37]
5. Brighthouse Financial Insurance $9.0 billion 342[37]
6. Sealed Air Conglomerate $4.7 billion 555[37]
7. Coca-Cola Consolidated Food Processing $4.7 billion 563[37]
8. JELD-WEN Holding Building Products $4.3 billion 590[37]
9. Albemarle Chemicals $3.4 billion 702[37]
10. SPX Electronics $2.1 billion 962[37]

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.[38]

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.[39]

20 largest employers in Mecklenburg County, by number of employees in region (Q2 2018)[40]
Name Industry Number of employees
1. Atrium Health Health Care and Social Assistance 35,700
2. Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools Educational Services 18,495
3. Bank of America Finance and Insurance 15,000
4. American Airlines Transportation and Warehousing 11,000
5. Harris Teeter Retail Trade 8,239
6. Duke Energy Utilities 7,900
7. City of Charlotte Public Administration 6,800
8. Mecklenburg County Government Public Administration 5,512
9. YMCA of Greater Charlotte Arts, Entertainment and Recreation 4,436
10. Carowinds Arts, Entertainment and Recreation 4,100
11. University of North Carolina at Charlotte Educational Services 4,000
11. United States Postal Service Transportation and Warehousing 4,000
11. TIAA Finance and Insurance 4,000
14. LPL Financial Finance and Insurance 2,850
15. Central Piedmont Community College Educational Services 2,700
16. Belk Retail Trade 2,300
17. DMSI Transportation and Warehousing 2,175
18. IBM Professional Services 2,100
19. Robert Half International Administrative and Support Services 2,000
19. Allstate Insurance Finance and Insurance 2,000

Transportation

Air

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

Intercity rail

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 southwest.

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

Light rail service in Mecklenburg County is provided by LYNX Rapid Transit Services. Currently, the 19-mile (31 km) Lynx Blue Line runs from University of North Carolina at Charlotte, through Uptown Charlotte, to Pineville; build-out is expected to be complete by 2034. The CityLynx Gold Line, a 1.5-mile (2.4 km) streetcar line runs from Sunnyside Avenue, in Plaza-Midwood, through Uptown Charlotte, stopping at the Charlotte Transportation Center and future Charlotte Gateway Station, before continuing to French Street in Biddleville (Charlotte neighborhood), near the campus of Johnson C. Smith University.

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 Lynx Silver Line is a proposed 29-mile (47 km) east-west light rail line that would connect the outlying cities and towns of Belmont, Matthews, Stallings and Indian Trail to Uptown Charlotte and the Charlotte Douglas International Airport.[41][42] Originally setup as two separate projects known as the Southeast Corridor and West Corridor, they were merged in 2019 by the Metropolitan Transit Commission.[43] The tentative opening date in 2037.[44]

Freight

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. Also located in the county is the Inland Port of Charlotte, which is a major rail corridor for CSX rail lines.

Major highways

Education

School system

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

Current

Former

Libraries

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.

Healthcare

Two major healthcare providers exist within Mecklenburg County, Atrium Health, and Novant Health. The two healthcare systems combined offer 14 emergency departments throughout Mecklenburg County, including a psychiatric emergency department[45] and two children's emergency departments. Two hospitals in the region offer trauma services with one level I trauma center[46] and one level III.[47] Atrium Health, legally Charlotte-Mecklenburg Hospital Authority, is the public hospital authority of the county.[48]

The residents of Mecklenburg County are provided emergency medical service by MEDIC, the Mecklenburg EMS Agency.[49] All emergency ambulance service is provided by MEDIC. No other emergency transport companies are allowed to operate within Mecklenburg County. In the fiscal year 2022, MEDIC responded to over 160,000 calls for service and transported over 107,000 patients.[50] While MEDIC is a division of Mecklenburg County Government, a board guides and directs MEDIC that consists of members affiliated with Atrium Health, Novant Health and a swing vote provided by the Mecklenburg County Board of Commissioners. Atrium and Novant are the two major medical institutions in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Arts and culture

Museums and libraries

Sports and entertainment

Music and performing arts venues

Amusement parks

Other attractions

Communities

Map of Mecklenburg County with municipal and township labels

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 is 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. Townships are administrative divisions of unincorporated county land and do not have any government function.

City

Towns

Unincorporated communities

Townships

Notable people

See also

References

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