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Rwarky

North Carolina's Three largest metropolitian regions?

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For some time I have wandered why the Charlotte area, the Triad, and the Triangle are the states most population areas. How did these areas develop with so well without any large, natural bodies of water (noteably rivers) within the central cities?

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Railroad junctures and then later, the interstate highway system, were the catatylists of the exponential growth throughout the Urban Crescent.

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I think Jerseyman is right for the most part. Another part of it, is actually by chance.

The first main town in the Triad area was, I think, Salem. And that got settled pretty much by chance...the Moravians kinda just found the area. For a good long time, it was the largest town in that area. Washington even slept there. Greensboro was founded where the Guilford Courthouse was established---a major battle of the Revolution.

For the Triangle, it kinda started in multiple ways: Hillsborough was the state capital, but they built a new one at Raleigh. And the state, being one of the first to start a state university system, put that university at Chapel Hill. And from what I can gather...these picks were just land deals with little consideration for rivers, etc.

And like Jerseyman said...railroads. That's certainly was a main drive behind Durham---manufacturing (tobacco-related, of course) became big there because of its good logistics.

And I'm thinking that played a role with Charlotte---plus its position as the "Center" of the Carolinas.

So...it's a combo of many different things I guess.

But many towns did establish themselves in the traditional "city by the river/port" style---Wilmington, New Bern, etc...but after the invention of railroad, then the car, they went from being some of NC's main cities to mostly secondary ones.

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Hillsborough was the state capital, but they built a new one at Raleigh.

I thought it was New Bern not Hillsborough. After a little research I found that New Bern was the Capitol until 1795

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Greensboro is situated in a basin with very poor soil. It wasn't the best site for a city, but it was the center of Guilford County... so there it went. Growth came because it was the junction point for 6 railroad tracks.

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True. I think Wilmington and W-S were both NC's largest cities for quite a few years during the earlier half of last century and prior. The railroad was mentioned also - that's definitely what stunted Wilmington's growth. I wonder what the implications would have been if the railroad were extended to Wilmington? If it followed the path of I-40, would the town of Benson have developed into a major NC city being that it's at the intersection of I-40 and I-95? Would Wilmington be a city on the level of Baltimore, Jacksonville (FL), or even Boston?

I think Jerseyman is right for the most part. Another part of it, is actually by chance.

The first main town in the Triad area was, I think, Salem. And that got settled pretty much by chance...the Moravians kinda just found the area. For a good long time, it was the largest town in that area. Washington even slept there. Greensboro was founded where the Guilford Courthouse was established---a major battle of the Revolution.

For the Triangle, it kinda started in multiple ways: Hillsborough was the state capital, but they built a new one at Raleigh. And the state, being one of the first to start a state university system, put that university at Chapel Hill. And from what I can gather...these picks were just land deals with little consideration for rivers, etc.

And like Jerseyman said...railroads. That's certainly was a main drive behind Durham---manufacturing (tobacco-related, of course) became big there because of its good logistics.

And I'm thinking that played a role with Charlotte---plus its position as the "Center" of the Carolinas.

So...it's a combo of many different things I guess.

But many towns did establish themselves in the traditional "city by the river/port" style---Wilmington, New Bern, etc...but after the invention of railroad, then the car, they went from being some of NC's main cities to mostly secondary ones.

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The first main town in the Triad area was, I think, Salem. And that got settled pretty much by chance...the Moravians kinda just found the area.

The Moravians had quite an outlined plan for the tract of land they were settling in NW NC, and had done quite a bit of surveying when they decided to start settling present day Forsyth County. With their practice then of asking the "lot" to approve critical decisions, it could have been interesting where Salem could have been founded (maybe instead of next to downtown further south towards Davidson Co., near the Friedburg area?)

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I remember hearing when I lived in Hillsborough that it was the capital of NC during the confederacy or something. I may be wrong though.

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The railroad was indeed the biggest factor in the groth of the cities along the piedmont cresant. Just think if a major us river went through NC and through Raleigh, Greensboro and Charlotte. Those cities would be FAR bigger than they are today. River cities saw major growth in the 1700s-1800s Before the train was invented, shipping material down the rivers were the best method of transporting goods so naturally cities along these rivers became hubs.

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I thought it was New Bern not Hillsborough. After a little research I found that New Bern was the Capitol until 1795

I had thought New Bern was the colonial capital. Tryon Palace was the royal colonial governor's residence.

Then about the time of the Revolution, it was Hillsborough. State created the new capital, at Raleigh, in like the late 1790s to early 1800s.

Hillsborough wasn't the capital for long...most of its tenure was spent as they were trying plan and lay out Raleigh.

It's hard to get a clear answer---I've found conflicting info in my search. :wacko:

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I had thought New Bern was the colonial capital. Tryon Palace was the royal colonial governor's residence.

Then about the time of the Revolution, it was Hillsborough. State created the new capital, at Raleigh, in like the late 1790s to early 1800s.

Hillsborough wasn't the capital for long...most of its tenure was spent as they were trying plan and lay out Raleigh.

It's hard to get a clear answer---I've found conflicting info in my search. :wacko:

I have found nothing stating that Hillsborough ever was the State Capital and many documents saying that New Bern was till 1795. I would love to find out more though. This is something new that I have never heard before.

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According to The Way We Lived in North Carolina by Joe A Mobley, in the mid to late 1700's Hillsborough was considered the "Capital of the Backcountry" It was a very busy town, but it was never the official Capital of North Carolina. Hillsborough become the defacto home of the Regulator movement which unsuccusfully tried to unseat Governor Tryon.

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It's interesting that there no city in NC was of a significant size prior to WWII, although the railroads helped in transport of goods and people. Later the interstates (85 & 40 as the backbone) really helped those areas prosper during the 70s through today.

Charlotte due to manufacturing, distribution, and later banking; Winston-Salem & Durham big tobacco; Greensboro: manufacturing, insurance; High Point: furniture; Raleigh: state capital and later proximity to RTP/universities

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It's interesting that there no city in NC was of a significant size prior to WWII, although the railroads helped in transport of goods and people. Later the interstates (85 & 40 as the backbone) really helped those areas prosper during the 70s through today.

Charlotte due to manufacturing, distribution, and later banking; Winston-Salem & Durham big tobacco; Greensboro: manufacturing, insurance; High Point: furniture; Raleigh: state capital and later proximity to RTP/universities

Wilmington used to have more than 100,000 people in it, but it declined (I'm guessing) during the industrial revolution.

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^ ILM's current pop is it's greatest number, has never been close to 100K until now. ILM was NC's largest city from 1840 until 1910, when it was supplanted by Charlotte. At that time their pops were around 25K each (roughly, don't have exact stats around me), and until recently was a relatively slow grower. It is neat to think that it may finally become that a thriving port city (150 years late).

I believe at least one cause of NC's stunted early development was due to it's lack of navigable rivers, which also made ILM as a port at the mouth of he Cape Fear not so useful to inland cities. The railroads solved some of this problem, but we did not truly see growth until the automobile became established at which point it took over all other forms of transportation in importance. I am not totally sure of that, hopefully you guys here will know more.

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The railroad was indeed the biggest factor in the groth of the cities along the piedmont cresant. Just think if a major us river went through NC and through Raleigh, Greensboro and Charlotte. Those cities would be FAR bigger than they are today.

It's possible, but it's also possible that they could also be in the state that inland river cities like Cincinatti, Louisville, and Memphis are in today--not exactly declining, but not exactly booming either.

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A huge influence in Charlotte's history is Camp Greene that doubled the population of the city in just a few years. It was a military training camp during World War I. Many of the soldiers that were based there ended up staying in Charlotte even after the Camp was closed down after the war.

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I have found nothing stating that Hillsborough ever was the State Capital and many documents saying that New Bern was till 1795. I would love to find out more though. This is something new that I have never heard before.

Hillsborough was the NC capital briefly before it was moved to Raleigh. RaleighRob was right about New Bern being the colonial capital. I learned all of this in the NC History curriculum growing up right here in Raleigh in public schools.

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I think Wilmington was also the state's largest city at one time too

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My theory is that when the textile mills move to upstate SC and foothills of NC in the late 1800/early 1900s, they needed a central place, especially for business but more than anything, banking, so Charlotte grew. For the Triad, after Buck Duke let go of American Tobacco and RJ Reynolds was released from under AT, the triad became the tobacco capital along with more mfg jobs, so therefore the Triad grew.

For the triangle, it was the state capital and many universities rose from there and then when the Dukes came through with money for Trinity college, it created a force of 3 major universities with many other colleges in the area which later grew into tech and phrama.

You still see reminents today of the old economy

Just my theory.

But places like Denver and Pheonix get the looks of fairly big cities but if NC had one big city in the middle, it would be roughly 5M people, the size of Pheonix.

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Another reason that most of the Southern areas are growing is because they have (mostly) pro-business growth attitudes. Most of the Southern cities and towns adopted pro-business, pro-capitalist policies after the Civil War to speed reconstruction, and have not (for the most part) looked back since. As previously noted, when the Southern cities and towns began to really develop, there was no need for rivers aside from drinking needs, because the new highway developments, airports, and railroads made it possible for cities and towns to grow without depending on a river to ship goods and people long distances. Charlotte, for example is thought of as a "new" American city, because when you drive through it, everything looks brand new. The truth is, it is one of the nation's OLDEST cities, and is nearly a century older than Atlanta. Since the mid-20th century it has been growing rapidly, creating the illusion it is a young city. This applies to a large number of Southern cities, such as Atlanta, Raleigh, Jacksonville, etc. They are much older than they appear. They just grew slowly compared to thier northern counterparts until relatively recently. It used to be the northern cities and states that pursued pro-business policies, but beginning in the early twentieth century they began to move toward more restrictive policies and more socialist/welfare programs which harms competitiveness. They are the ones growing slowly now, and the southern cities have adopted thier old pro-business stance. The biggest exception is the Washington metro, which is still growing at a quick pace (around 20% each decade).

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Another reason that most of the Southern areas are growing is because they have (mostly) pro-business growth attitudes. Most of the Southern cities and towns adopted pro-business, pro-capitalist policies after the Civil War to speed reconstruction, and have not (for the most part) looked back since.

Actually, large swaths of the South stagnated badly after the war - African-Americans fled north in huge numbers; to the industrial meccas, and also due to the upsurge in racial violence, especially in the earlt decades of the 20th century. Many old-south cities - like Charleston, Wilmington and Savannah (which were all major cities nationally) - lost some of their economic reasons for existance, as agriculture boomed in the Mississippi valley, Northern economies industrialized, and slavery came to an end.

Smaller cities away from the coast - Atlanta, Charlotte, Nashville, Columbia - were poised to grow, as they were much smaller, and regionally fairly insignificant (in size) compared to coastal cities until after the war. The Great Depression did have an effect - Asheville doubled in size (to 50,000+) between 1920 and 1930; it took Asheville more than 40 years to grow by another 10,000 people.

Shifts in the national economy after WW2, and the gradual but accelerating move away from Jim Crow legislation gradually brought the South onto the national stage as a potential growth area. Some of this is perceptual - Birmingham's image during the 1950s and 1960s was not so attractive; by contrast, business leaders in Charlotte (lde by the Belk family and businesses) sought a voluntary, if discreetly orchestrated - desegregation of the professional and economic life of the city - such a move would "look good" at a time when attention was focused on the region, such a move was viewed as being good for business, and such a move was viewed as being oriented towards future trends in growth and business. A similar - if arising from different social phenomena (broadening the economy in the eastern part of NC; little-developed, even around Raleigh) - example of forward though would be the creation of RTP, which in 1959 was widely viewed as wildly ambitious, at best.

The opening in the Southern economy in the wake of the Civil Rights act seems pivotal - it's not true everywhere in the South, but - at the risk of overgeneralization, it strikes me that the cities that were most open to complex or dynamic racial environments, in combination with friendly tax/business structures (not one or the other, but a mix of both) were most successful in making the new changes work for them - several Carolinas cities that had previously been backwaters, Nashville, Atlanta, the NoVa area, perhaps some of the military towns.

As for largest NC cities -

New Bern until 1840

Wilmington 1840-1910

Charlotte 1910-

2nd Largest has been::

Fayetteville 1820-1830

Wilmington 1830-1840

Fayetteville 1840-1850

New Bern 1850-1870

Raleigh 1870-1900

Charlotte 1900-1910

Wilmington 1910-1930

Winston-Salem 1930-1960

Greensboro 1960-1990

Raleigh 1990-

All of those cities, along with Asheville (1900-1910) and Durham (1940-1950) have at times also been the #3...

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I'm pretty sure Winston-Salem was the largest city for part of the Teens and Twenties before Charlotte overtook it and remained the largest.

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Raleigh overtook Greensboro in 1985 when they were both around 185,000-/+. Unless something seriously dramatic happens. Raleigh will be #2 for another 40-50 years. Heck in 2030 this place is projected to be 600,000+.

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Another reason that most of the Southern areas are growing is because they have (mostly) pro-business growth attitudes. Most of the Southern cities and towns adopted pro-business, pro-capitalist policies after the Civil War to speed reconstruction, and have not (for the most part) looked back since. As previously noted, when the Southern cities and towns began to really develop, there was no need for rivers aside from drinking needs, because the new highway developments, airports, and railroads made it possible for cities and towns to grow without depending on a river to ship goods and people long distances. Charlotte, for example is thought of as a "new" American city, because when you drive through it, everything looks brand new. The truth is, it is one of the nation's OLDEST cities, and is nearly a century older than Atlanta. Since the mid-20th century it has been growing rapidly, creating the illusion it is a young city. This applies to a large number of Southern cities, such as Atlanta, Raleigh, Jacksonville, etc. They are much older than they appear. They just grew slowly compared to thier northern counterparts until relatively recently. It used to be the northern cities and states that pursued pro-business policies, but beginning in the early twentieth century they began to move toward more restrictive policies and more socialist/welfare programs which harms competitiveness. They are the ones growing slowly now, and the southern cities have adopted thier old pro-business stance. The biggest exception is the Washington metro, which is still growing at a quick pace (around 20% each decade).

I don't consider the Washington, D.C. area southern.

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