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Charlotte

HistoryEdit See also: Timeline of Charlotte, North Carolina Mecklenburg County was initially part of Bath County (1696 to 1729) of New Hanover Precinct, which became New Hanover County in 1729. The western portion of New Hanover split into Bladen County in 1734, its western portion splitting into Anson County in 1750. Mecklenburg County formed from Anson County in 1762, with further apportionment in 1792, with Cabarrus County formed from Mecklenburg, and in 1842, with Union Countyformed from Mecklenburg's southeastern portion. These areas were all part of one of the original six judicial/military districts of North Carolina known as the Salisbury District.[10] The area that is now Charlotte was settled by people of European descent around 1755, when Thomas Spratt and his family settled near what is now the Elizabeth neighborhood.Thomas Polk (granduncle of U.S. President James K. Polk), who later married Thomas Spratt's daughter, built his house by the intersection of two Native American trading paths between the Yadkin and Catawba rivers.[11] One path ran north–south and was part of theGreat Wagon Road; the second path ran east–west along what is now Trade Street. Within decades of Polk's settling, the area grew to become "Charlotte Town", incorporating in 1768.[12] The crossroads, perched atop the Piedmont landscape, became the heart ofUptown Charlotte. In 1770, surveyors marked the streets in a grid pattern for future development. The east–west trading path became Trade Street, and the Great Wagon Road became Tryon Street, in honor of William Tryon, a royal governor of colonial North Carolina.[13] The intersection of Trade and Tryon—commonly known today as "Trade & Tryon", or simply "The Square"[11]—is more properly called "Independence Square".[14] While surveying the boundary between the Carolinas in 1772, William Moultrie stopped in Charlotte Town, whose five or six houses were "very ordinary built of logs".[15] In 1775, local leaders came together and signed the Mecklenburg Resolves, more popularly known as the Mecklenburg Declaration of Independence. While not a true declaration of independence from British rule, it is among the first such declarations that eventually led to the American Revolution. May 20, the traditional date of the signing of the declaration, is celebrated annually in Charlotte as "MecDec", with musket and cannon fire by reenactors in Independence Square. North Carolina's state flag and state seal also bear the date. After the American RevolutionEdit Charlotte is traditionally considered the home of Southern Presbyterianism, but in the 19th century, numerous churches, including Presbyterian, Baptist, Methodist, Episcopalian,Lutheran, and Roman Catholic formed, eventually giving Charlotte the nickname, "The City of Churches".[16] In 1799, in nearby Cabarrus County, 12-year-old Conrad Reed found a 17-pound rock, which his family used as a doorstop. Three years later, a jeweler determined it was nearly solid gold, paying the family a paltry $3.50.[17] The first documented gold find in the United States of any consequence set off the nation's first gold rush. Many veins of gold were found in the area throughout the 18th and early 19th century, leading to the 1837 founding of the Charlotte Mint. North Carolina was the chief producer of gold in the United States until the Sierra Nevada find in 1848,[18] although the volume mined in the Charlotte area was dwarfed by subsequent rushes. View of the Old Court House, Charlotte, 1888. Some groups still pan for gold occasionally in local streams and creeks. The Reed Gold Mine operated until 1912. The Charlotte Mint was active until 1861, when Confederateforces seized it at the outbreak of the Civil War. The mint was not reopened at the war's end, but the building, albeit in a different location, now houses the Mint Museum of Art. The city's first boom came after the Civil War, as a cotton processing center and a railroad hub. Charlotte's city population at the 1880 Census grew to 7,084.[19] WWI to presentEdit Population grew again during World War I, when the U.S. government established Camp Greene north of present-day Wilkinson Boulevard. Many soldiers and suppliers stayed after the war, launching an urban ascent that eventually overtook older city rivals along thePiedmont Crescent.[20] The city's modern-day banking industry achieved prominence in the 1970s and 1980s, largely under the leadership of financier Hugh McColl. McColl transformed North Carolina National Bank (NCNB) into a formidable national player that through aggressive acquisitions became known as NationsBank, eventually merging with BankAmerica to become Bank of America. Wachovia experienced similar growth, and was acquired by San Francisco-based Wells Fargo. Measured by control of assets, Charlotte is the second largest banking headquarters in the United States, after New York City.[21] On September 22, 1989, the city took a direct hit from Hurricane Hugo. With sustained winds of 69 mph (111 km/h) and gusts of 87 mph (140 km/h) in some locations,[22] Hugo caused massive property damage, destroyed 80,000 trees, and knocked out electrical power to most of the population. Residents were without power for weeks, schools were closed for a week or more, and cleanup took months. The city was caught unprepared; Charlotte is 200 miles (320 km) inland, and residents from coastal areas in both Carolinas often wait out hurricanes in Charlotte. In December 2002, Charlotte and much of central North Carolina were hit by an ice storm that resulted in more than 1.3 million people losing power.[23] During an abnormally cold December, many were without power for weeks. Much of the damage was caused byBradford pear trees, splitting apart under the weight of the ice.

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