Raleigh, North Carolina

"Raleigh" redirects here. For the city's namesake, see Walter Raleigh. For the bicycle company, see Raleigh Bicycle Company. For other uses, see Raleigh (disambiguation).
Raleigh, North Carolina
State capital
City of Raleigh


Nickname(s): "City of Oaks"

Location in Wake County and the state of North Carolina.

Location within the contiguous United States of America

Coordinates: 35°46′N 78°38′W / 35.767°N 78.633°W / 35.767; -78.633Coordinates: 35°46′N 78°38′W / 35.767°N 78.633°W / 35.767; -78.633[1]
Country  United States
State  North Carolina
Counties Wake, Durham
Chartered December 31, 1792
Named for Sir Walter Raleigh
  Type Council–Manager
  Mayor Nancy McFarlane (I)
  State capital 144.8 sq mi (375 km2)
  Land 142.8 sq mi (369 km2)
  Water 2.0 sq mi (2.5 km2)
Elevation 315 ft (96 m)
Population (2016 estimate)[3]
  State capital 538,066 (40th)
  Density 3,158.7/sq mi (1,170.04/km2)
  Urban 1,012,994
  MSA 1,337,331 (44th)
  CSA 2,117,103(29th)
Demonym(s) Raleighite, Raleighnesian
Time zone EST (UTC−05:00)
  Summer (DST) EDT (UTC−04:00)
ZIP code(s) 27511, 27518, 27529, 27545, 27560, 27587, 27591, 27601, 27603, 27604, 27605, 27606, 27607, 27608, 27609, 27610, 27612, 27613, 27614, 27615, 27616, 27617, 27703
Area code(s) 919, 984
FIPS code 37-55000[4]
GNIS feature ID 1024242[1]
Major airport RDU
Website raleighnc.gov

Raleigh (/ˈrɑːli/; RAH-lee)[5] is the capital of the state of North Carolina, the seat of Wake County in the United States. Raleigh is known as the "City of Oaks" for its many oak trees, which line the streets in the heart of the city.[6] The city covers a land area of 142.8 square miles (370 km2). The U.S. Census Bureau estimated the city's population as 451,066 as of July 1, 2015.[3] It is also one of the fastest-growing cities in the country.[7][8] The city of Raleigh is named after Sir Walter Raleigh, who established the lost Roanoke Colony in present-day Dare County.

Raleigh is home to North Carolina State University and is part of the Research Triangle area, together with Durham (home of Duke University) and Chapel Hill (home of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill). The "Triangle" nickname originated after the 1959 creation of the Research Triangle Park, located in Durham and Wake Counties, partway between the three cities and their universities. The Research Triangle region encompasses the U.S. Census Bureau's Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill Combined Statistical Area (CSA), which had an estimated population of 2,037,430 in 2013.[9] The Raleigh Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) had an estimated population of 1,214,516 in 2013.

Most of Raleigh is located within Wake County, with a very small portion extending into Durham County.[10] The towns of Cary, Morrisville, Garner, Clayton, Wake Forest, Apex, Holly Springs, Fuquay-Varina, Knightdale, Wendell, Zebulon, and Rolesville are some of Raleigh's primary nearby suburbs and satellite towns.

Raleigh is an early example in the United States of a planned city. It was chosen as the site of the state capital in 1788 and incorporated in 1792 as such. The city was originally laid out in a grid pattern with the North Carolina State Capitol in Union Square at the center. In the United States Civil War the city was spared from any significant battle, only falling in the closing days of the war, though it did not escape the economic hardships that plagued the rest of the American South during the Reconstruction Era. The twentieth century saw the opening of the Research Triangle Park in 1959, and with the jobs it created the region and city saw a large influx of population, making it one of the fastest growing communities in the United States by the early 21st century.

Raleigh is home to numerous cultural, educational, and historic sites. The Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts in Downtown Raleigh features three theater venues and serves as the home for the North Carolina Symphony and the Carolina Ballet. Coastal Credit Union Music Park at Walnut Creek is a large music amphitheater located in southeast Raleigh. Museums in Raleigh include the North Carolina Museum of Art in West Raleigh, as well as the North Carolina Museum of History and North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences located next to each other near the State Capitol in Downtown Raleigh. Several major universities and colleges call Raleigh home, including North Carolina State University, the largest public university in the state, and Shaw University, the first historically black university in the American South and site of the foundation of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, an important civil rights organization of the 1960s. One U.S. president, Andrew Johnson, was born in Raleigh.


Earlier capitals

Bath, the oldest town in North Carolina, was the first nominal capital from 1705 until 1722, when Edenton took over the role. The colony had no permanent institutions of government until the establishment at the new capital New Bern in 1743.

18th century

Plan for platting Raleigh by William Christmas, 1792

In December 1770, Joel Lane successfully petitioned the North Carolina General Assembly to create a new county. On January 5, 1771, the bill creating Wake County was passed in the General Assembly. The county was formed from portions of Cumberland, Orange, and Johnston counties. The county gets its name from Margaret Wake Tryon, the wife of Governor William Tryon. The first county seat was Bloomsbury.

New Bern, a port town 35 miles (56 km) from the Atlantic Ocean, was the largest city and the capital of North Carolina during the American Revolution. When the British Army laid siege to the city, governing from that location on the wide Neuse River became infeasible.[11]

Raleigh was chosen as the site of the new capital in 1788, as its central location protected it from attacks from the coast, and was officially established in 1792 as both county seat and state capital (incorporated on December 31, 1792 – charter granted January 21, 1795). The city was named for Sir Walter Raleigh, sponsor of Roanoke, the "lost colony" on Roanoke Island.[12]

The city's location was chosen, in part, for being within 11 mi (18 km) of Isaac Hunter's Tavern, a popular tavern frequented by the state legislators. No known city or town existed previously on the chosen city site. Raleigh is one of the few cities in the United States that was planned and built specifically to serve as a state capital. Its original boundaries were formed by the downtown streets of North, East, West and South streets.[13] The plan, a grid with two main axes meeting at a central square and an additional square in each corner, was based on Thomas Holme's 1682 plan for Philadelphia.[14]

The North Carolina General Assembly first met in Raleigh in December 1794, and quickly granted the city a charter, with a board of seven appointed commissioners (elected by the city after 1803) and an "Intendant of Police" (which would eventually become the office of Mayor) to govern it. In 1799, the N.C. Minerva and Raleigh Advertiser became the first newspaper published in Raleigh.[15] John Haywood was the first Intendant of Police.[16]

19th century

Raleigh, North Carolina in 1872

In 1808, Andrew Johnson, the nation's 17th President, was born at Casso's Inn in Raleigh. The city's first water supply network was completed in 1818, although due to system failures the project was abandoned. 1819 saw the arrival of Raleigh's first volunteer fire company, followed in 1821 by a full-time fire company.

In 1817, the Episcopal Diocese of North Carolina was established and headquartered in Raleigh.

In 1831, a fire destroyed the State Capitol. Two years later, reconstruction began with quarried gneiss being delivered by the first railroad in the state. Raleigh celebrated the completions of the new Capitol and new Raleigh & Gaston Railroad Company in 1840.

In 1853, the first State Fair was held near Raleigh. The first institution of higher learning in Raleigh, Peace College, was established in 1857. Raleigh's Historic Oakwood contains many houses from the 19th century that are still in good condition.

After the Civil War began, Governor Zebulon Baird Vance ordered the construction of breastworks around the city as protection from Union troops. During General Sherman's Carolinas Campaign, Raleigh was captured by Union cavalry under the command of General Hugh Judson Kilpatrick on April 13, 1865. As the Confederate cavalry retreated west, the Union soldiers followed, leading to the nearby Battle of Morrisville.[17] The city was spared significant destruction during the War, but due to the economic problems of the post-war period and Reconstruction, with a state economy based on agriculture, it grew little over the next several decades.

North Carolina State Capitol, c.1861. Governor David S. Reid is in the foreground.
North Carolina State Treasurers Office in State Capitol, c.1890s
Intersection of Fayetteville and Martin Streets, c.1908
Fayetteville Street during the 1910s. The North Carolina State Capitol can be seen in the background.
Construction of the Commercial National Bank building, c.1912
Martin Street business district, c.1915

After the Civil War ended in 1865, African Americans were emancipated. The Reconstruction legislature established public education for blacks and whites. Freedmen were often led by free blacks who had become educated before the war. With the help of the Freedmen's Bureau, many freedmen migrated from rural areas to Raleigh. It had a free black community and many freedmen wanted to get out from under white supervision in the rural areas.

Shaw University, the South's first African-American college, began classes in 1865 and was chartered in 1875. Its Estey Hall was the first building constructed for the higher education of black women, and Leonard Medical Center was the first four-year medical school in the country for African Americans.

In 1867, Episcopal clergy founded St. Augustine's College for the education of freedmen. The biracial Reconstruction legislature created new welfare institutions: in 1869, it approved the nation's first school for blind and deaf blacks, to be located in Raleigh. And in 1874, a Federal Building was constructed in Raleigh, the first federal government project in the South following the Civil War.

In 1880, the newspapers News and Observer combined to form The News & Observer. It remains Raleigh's primary daily newspaper. The North Carolina College of Agriculture and Mechanic Arts, now known as North Carolina State University, was founded as a land-grant college in 1887. The city's Rex Hospital opened in 1889 and included the state's first nursing school. The Baptist Women's College, now known as Meredith College, opened in 1891, and in 1898, The Academy of Music, a private music conservatory, was established.

In the late nineteenth century, two black Congressmen were elected from North Carolina's 2nd district, the last in 1898. George Henry White sought to promote civil rights for blacks and to challenge efforts by white Democrats to reduce black voting by new discriminatory laws. They were unsuccessful. In 1900, the state legislature passed a new constitution, with voter registration rules that disfranchised most blacks and many poor whites. The state succeeded in reducing black voting to zero by 1908. Loss of the ability to vote disqualified black men (and later women) from sitting on juries and serving in any office, local, state or federal. The rising black middle-class in Raleigh and other areas was politically silenced and shut out of local governance, and the Republican Party was no longer competitive. It was not until after federal civil rights legislation was passed in the mid-1960s that the majority of blacks in North Carolina would again be able to vote, sit on juries and serve in local offices. No African American was elected to Congress until 1992.

20th century

In 1912, Bloomsbury Park opened, featuring a popular carousel ride. Relocated to Pullen Park, the Pullen Park Carousel is still operating.

From 1914 to 1917, an influenza epidemic killed 288 Raleigh citizens.

In 1922, WLAC signed on as the city's first radio station, but lasted only two years. WFBQ signed on in 1924 and became WPTF in 1927. It is now Raleigh's oldest continuous radio broadcaster.

On December 12, 1924, The Roman Catholic Diocese of Raleigh was officially established by Pope Pius XI and the Sacred Heart Cathedral became the official seat of the diocese with William Joseph Hafey as its bishop.

The city's first airport, Curtiss-Wright Flying Field opened in 1929. That same year, the stock market crash resulted in six Raleigh banks closing.[18]

During the difficult 1930s of the Great Depression, government at all levels was integral to creating jobs. The city provided recreational and educational programs, and hired people for public works projects. In 1932, Raleigh Memorial Auditorium was dedicated. The North Carolina Symphony, founded the same year, performed in its new home. From 1934 to 1937, the federal Civilian Conservation Corps constructed the area now known as William B. Umstead State Park. In 1939, the State General Assembly chartered the Raleigh-Durham Aeronautical Authority to build a larger airport between Raleigh and Durham, with the first flight occurring in 1943.

In 1947, Raleigh citizens adopted a council-manager form of government, the current form.

The Dorton Arena, a 7,610-seat multi-purpose arena designed by Matthew Nowicki, was opened in 1952 on the grounds of the North Carolina State Fair. It was listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 1973.

Raleigh experienced significant damage from Hurricane Hazel in 1954.

In 1953, WNAO-TV, channel 28, became the city's first television station, though it folded in 1957.

With the opening of the Research Triangle Park in 1959, Raleigh began to experience a population increase, resulting in a total city population of 100,000 by 1960.[19] In 1960, the Census Bureau reported Raleigh's population as 76.4% white and 23.4% black.[20]

Following passage of the federal Voting Rights Act, one of the main achievements of the African-American Civil Rights Movement (1954–68) and the Lyndon B. Johnson presidency, political participation and voting by African Americans in Raleigh increased rapidly. In 1967, Clarence E. Lightner was elected to the City Council, and in 1973 became Raleigh's first African-American mayor.

In 1976, the Raleigh City and Wake County schools merged to become the Wake County Public School System, now the largest school system in the state and 19th largest in the country.

During the 1970s and 1980s, the I-440 beltline was constructed, easing traffic congestion and providing access to most major city roads.

The first Raleigh Convention Center (replaced in 2008) and Fayetteville Street Mall were both opened in 1977. Fayetteville Street was turned into a pedestrian-only street in an effort to help the then-ailing downtown area, but the plan was flawed and business declined for years to come. Fayetteville Street was reopened in 2007 as the main thoroughfare of Raleigh's downtown.[21]

The 1988 Raleigh tornado outbreak of November 28, 1988, was the most destructive of the seven tornadoes reported in Northeastern North Carolina and southeastern Virginia between 1:00 AM and 5:45 AM. The Raleigh tornado produced over $77 million in F4 damage, along with four fatalities (two in the city of Raleigh, and two in Nash County) and 154 injuries. The damage path from the storm was measured at 84 miles (135 km) long, and .5 miles (0.8 km) wide at times.[22]

In 1991, two large skyscrapers in Raleigh were completed, First Union Capitol Center and Two Hannover Square, along with the popular Coastal Credit Union Music Park at Walnut Creek in Southeast Raleigh.

In 1996, the Olympic Flame passed through Raleigh while on its way to the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta. Also in 1996, Hurricane Fran struck the area, causing massive flooding and extensive structural damage. In addition, WRAL-TV became the first High-Definition broadcast station in the world.

In 1997, the National Hockey League's Hartford Whalers announced their intention to move to Raleigh as the Carolina Hurricanes, becoming the city's first major league professional sports franchise.

In 1999, the Raleigh Entertainment and Sports Arena (later renamed the RBC Center and now called PNC Arena), opened to provide a home for the Hurricanes and the NC State Wolfpack men's basketball team, as well as an up-to-date major concert venue.[23]

21st century

In the first decade of the 21st century, Raleigh was featured prominently in a number of "Top 10 Lists", including those by Forbes, MSNBC and Money magazine, due to its quality of life and business climate.

In 2001, the Raleigh Memorial Auditorium complex was expanded with the addition of the Progress Energy Center for the Performing Arts, Meymandi Concert Hall, Fletcher Opera Theater, Kennedy Theatre, Betty Ray McCain Gallery and Lichtin Plaza.[24]

Fayetteville Street reopened to vehicular traffic in 2006. A variety of downtown building projects began around this time including the 34-story RBC Bank Tower, multiple condominium projects and several new restaurants. Additional skyscrapers are in the proposal/planning phase.

In 2006, the city's NHL franchise, the Carolina Hurricanes won the Stanley Cup, North Carolina's first and only professional sports championship.

With the opening of parts of I-540 from 2005 to 2007, a new 70-mile (110 km) loop around Wake County, traffic congestion eased somewhat in the North Raleigh area. Completion of the entire loop is expected to take another 15 years.

Government Center skyline

In 2008, the city's Fayetteville Street Historic District joined the National Register of Historic Places.

In September 2010, Raleigh hosted the inaugural Hopscotch Music Festival.

In January 2011, Raleigh hosted the National Hockey League All-Star Game.

In April 2011, a devastating EF-3 tornado hit Raleigh, and many other tornadoes touched down in the state (ultimately the largest, but not the strongest (1984 Carolinas tornado outbreak) outbreak to ever hit the state), killing 24 people. The tornado tracked northeast through parts of Downtown, East Central Raleigh and Northeast Raleigh and produced $115 million in damages in Wake County. There were 4 fatalities in the city.


Early-September 2006 photograph of Raleigh taken from the International Space Station (ISS)

According to the United States Census Bureau, Raleigh occupies a total area of 144.0 square miles (373.0 km2), of which 142.9 square miles (370.1 km2) is land and 1.1 square miles (2.8 km2), or 0.76%, is covered by water. The Neuse River flows through the northeast end of the city.

The Raleigh Trolley tour going through Downtown

Raleigh is located in the northeast central region of North Carolina, where the Piedmont and Atlantic Coastal Plain regions meet. This area is known as the "fall line" because it marks the elevation inland at which waterfalls begin to appear in creeks and rivers. As a result, most of Raleigh features gently rolling hills that slope eastward toward the state's flat coastal plain. Its central Piedmont location situates Raleigh about two hours west of Atlantic Beach, North Carolina, by car and four hours east of the Great Smoky Mountains. The city is 155 miles (249 km) south of Richmond, Virginia, 263 miles (423 km) south of Washington, D.C., and 150 miles (240 km) northeast of Charlotte, North Carolina.


Downtown Raleigh panorama, from 1909
Downtown Raleigh skyline seen from Dix Hill at the Dorothea Dix Hospital
Fayetteville Street in Downtown Raleigh

Raleigh is divided into several major geographic areas, each of which use a Raleigh address and a ZIP code that begins with the digits 276. PNC Plaza, formerly known as RBC Plaza, is the largest and tallest skyscraper in the city of Raleigh. The tower rises to a height of 538 feet (164 m), with a floor count of 34.


A view of the Warehouse District, just west of downtown

The downtown area is home to historic neighborhoods and buildings such as the Sir Walter Raleigh Hotel built in the early 20th century, the restored City Market, the Fayetteville Street downtown business district, which includes the PNC Plaza and Wells Fargo Capitol Center buildings, as well as the North Carolina Museum of History, North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences, North Carolina State Capitol, Peace College, the City of Raleigh Museum, Raleigh Convention Center, Shaw University, and St. Augustine's College. The neighborhoods in Old Raleigh include Cameron Park, Boylan Heights,[25] Country Club Hills, Coley Forest, Five Points, Budleigh, Glenwood-Brooklyn, Hayes Barton Historic District, Moore Square, Mordecai, Rosengarten Park, Belvidere Park, Woodcrest, and Historic Oakwood. In the 2000s, an effort by the Downtown Raleigh Alliance was made to separate this area of the city into five smaller districts: Fayetteville Street, Moore Square, Glenwood South, Warehouse (Raleigh), and Capital District (Raleigh). Some of the names have become common place among locals such as the Warehouse, Fayetteville Street, and Glenwood South Districts.

Midtown Raleigh

Solas Restaurant in the Glenwood South District of Raleigh

Midtown Raleigh is a residential and commercial area just North of the I-440 Beltline and is part of North Raleigh. It is roughly framed by Glenwood/Creedmoor Road to the West, Wake Forest Road to the East, and Millbrook Road to the North. It includes shopping centers such as North Hills and Crabtree Valley Mall. It also includes North Hills Park and part of the Raleigh Greenway System. The term was coined by the Greater Raleigh Chamber of Commerce, developer John Kane and planning director Mitchell Silver. The News & Observer newspaper started using the term for marketing purposes only.[26] The Midtown Raleigh Alliance was founded on July 25, 2011 as a way for community leaders to promote the area.[27]

East Raleigh

North Hills, an upscale neighborhood of Raleigh

East Raleigh is situated roughly from Capital Boulevard near the I-440 beltline to New Hope Road. Most of East Raleigh's development is along primary corridors such as U.S. 1 (Capital Boulevard), New Bern Avenue, Poole Road, Buffaloe Road, and New Hope Road. Neighborhoods in East Raleigh include Hedingham, Longview, Lockwood, Madonna Acres, New Hope, Thompson-Hunter and Wilder's Grove. The area is bordered to the east by the town of Knightdale.

West Raleigh

Dorton Arena in Raleigh, designed by Matthew Nowicki

West Raleigh lies along Hillsborough Street and Western Boulevard. The area is bordered to the west by suburban Cary. It is home to North Carolina State University, Meredith College, Pullen Park, Pullen Memorial Baptist Church, Cameron Village, Lake Johnson, the North Carolina Museum of Art and historic Saint Mary's School. Primary thoroughfares serving West Raleigh, in addition to Hillsborough Street, are Avent Ferry Road, Blue Ridge Road, and Western Boulevard. The PNC Arena is also located here adjacent to the North Carolina State Fairgrounds. These are located approximately 2 miles from Rex Hospital.

North Raleigh

North Raleigh is an expansive, diverse, and fast-growing suburban area of the city that is home to established neighborhoods to the south along with many newly built subdivisions and along its northern fringes. The area generally falls North of Millbrook Road. It is primarily suburban with large shopping areas. Primary neighborhoods and subdivisions in North Raleigh include Harrington Grove, Springdale, Dominion Park, Bedford, Bent Tree, Brentwood, Brier Creek, Brookhaven, Black Horse Run, Coachman's Trail, Crossgate, Crosswinds, Falls River, Hidden Valley, Lake Park, North Haven, North Ridge, Oakcroft, Shannon Woods, Six Forks Station, Springdale, Stonebridge, Stone Creek, Stonehenge, Summerfield, Valley Estates, Wakefield, Weathersfield, Windsor Forest, and Wood Valley. The area is served by a number of primary transportation corridors including Glenwood Avenue U.S. Route 70, Interstate 540, Wake Forest Road, Millbrook Road, Lynn Road, Six Forks Road, Spring Forest Road, Creedmoor Road, Leesville Road, Strickland Road, and North Hills Drive.

South Raleigh

South Raleigh is located along U.S. 401 south toward Fuquay-Varina and along US 70 into suburban Garner. This area is the least developed and least dense area of Raleigh (much of the area lies within the Swift Creek watershed district, where development regulations limit housing densities and construction). The area is bordered to the west by Cary, to the east by Garner, and to the southwest by Holly Springs. Neighborhoods in South Raleigh include Eagle Creek, Renaissance Park, Lake Wheeler, Swift Creek, Carolina Pines, Rhamkatte, Riverbrooke, and Enchanted Oaks.

Southeast Raleigh

Southeast Raleigh is bounded by downtown on the west, Garner on the southwest, and rural Wake County to the southeast. The area includes areas along Rock Quarry Road, Poole Road, and New Bern Avenue. Primary neighborhoods include Chastain, Chavis Heights, Raleigh Country Club, Southgate, Kingwood Forest, Rochester Heights, Emerald Village and Biltmore Hills. Time Warner Cable Music Pavilion (formerly Alltel Pavilion and Walnut Creek Amphitheatre) is one of the region's major outdoor concert venues and is located on Rock Quarry Road. Shaw University is located in this part of the city.


Snow in Raleigh on a morning in January 2007

Like much of the southeastern United States, Raleigh has a humid subtropical climate (Köppen Cfa), with four distinct seasons. Winters are short and generally cool, with a January daily average of 41.0 °F (5.0 °C). On average, there are 69 nights per year that drop to or below freezing, and only 2.7 days that fail to rise above freezing.[28] April is the driest month, with an average of 2.91 inches (73.9 mm) of precipitation. Precipitation is well distributed around the year, with a slight maximum between July and September; on average, July is the wettest month, owing to generally frequent, sometimes heavy, showers and thunderstorms. Summers are hot and humid, with a daily average in July of 80.0 °F (26.7 °C). There are 48 days per year with highs at or above 90 °F (32 °C).[28] Autumn is similar to spring overall but has fewer days of rainfall. Extremes in temperature have ranged from −9 °F (−23 °C) on January 21, 1985 up to 105 °F (41 °C), most recently on July 8, 2012.

Raleigh receives an average of 6.0 inches (15.2 cm) of snow in winter. Freezing rain and sleet also occur most winters, and occasionally the area experiences a major damaging ice storm. On January 24–25, 2000, Raleigh received its greatest snowfall from a single storm  20.3 inches (52 cm)  the Winter Storm of January 2000. Storms of this magnitude are generally the result of cold air damming that affects the city due to its proximity to the Appalachian Mountains. Winter storms have caused traffic problems in the past as well.

The region also experiences occasional periods of drought, during which the city sometimes has restricted water use by residents. During the late summer and early fall, Raleigh can experience hurricanes. In 1996, Hurricane Fran caused severe damage in the Raleigh area, mostly from falling trees. The most recent hurricane to have a considerable effect on the area was Isabel in 2003. Tornadoes also have on occasion affected the city of Raleigh most notably the November 28, 1988 tornado which occurred in the early morning hours and rated an F4 on the Fujita Tornado Scale and affected Northwestern portions of the city. Also the April 16, 2011 F3 Tornado which affected portions of downtown and North east Raleigh and the suburb of Holly Springs.

Despite the concerns of occasional drought that comes with the region, Raleigh and the state of North Carolina receive large amounts of rainfall throughout the year. Raleigh receives an average annual rainfall of 43.34 inches (110.1 cm), which is 4.2 inches (10.7 cm) more than the national average.[29]


Historical population
Census Pop.
Est. 2015451,066[32]11.7%
U.S. Decennial Census[33]
Racial composition 2010[34] 1990[35] 1970[35] 1950[35]
White 57.5% 69.2% 76.6% 72.7%
Non-Hispanic whites 53.3% 68.4% 76.4% n/a
Black or African American 29.3% 27.6% 22.7% 27.2%
Hispanic or Latino (of any race) 11.4% 1.4% 0.6% n/a
Asian 4.3% 2.5% 0.3% 0.1%

According to the 2010 Census, the racial composition of the city was:[36]

In addition, 7% of city residents were Hispanic or Latino Americans, of any race (5.9% Mexican, 1.1% Puerto Rican).

As of the 2000 United States census,[4] there were 276,093 persons (July 2008 estimate was 380,173) and 61,371 families residing in Raleigh. The population density was 2,409.2 people per square mile (930.2/km²). There were 120,699 housing units at an average density of 1,053.2 per square mile (406.7/km²). The racial composition of the city was: 63.31% White, 27.80% Black or African American, 7.01% Hispanic or Latino American, 3.38% Asian American, 0.36% Native American, 0.04% Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander, 3.24% some other race, and 1.88% two or more races.

There were 112,608 households in the city in 2000, of which 26.5% included children below the age of 18, 39.5% were composed of married couples living together, 11.4% reported a female householder with no husband present, and 45.5% classified themselves as nonfamily. Unmarried partners were present in 2.2% of households. In addition, 33.1% of all households were composed of individuals living alone, of which 6.2% was someone 65 years of age or older. The average household size in Raleigh was 2.30 persons, and the average family size was 2.97 persons.

Raleigh's population in 2000 was evenly distributed with 20.9% below the age of 18, 15.9% aged 18 to 24, 36.6% from 25 to 44, and 18.4% from 45 to 64. An estimated 8.3% of the population was 65 years of age or older, and the median age was 31 years. For every 100 females, there were 98.0 males; for every 100 females aged 18 or older, there were 96.6 males aged 18 or older.

The median household income in the city was $46,612 in 2000, and the median family income was $60,003. Males earned a median income of $39,248, versus $30,656 for females. The median per capita income for the city was $25,113, and an estimated 11.5% of the population and 7.1% of families were living below the poverty line. Of the total population, 18.8% of those below the age of 18, and 9.3% of those 65 and older, were living below the poverty line.


Raleigh is home to a wide variety of religious practitioners. As of 2013, 46.41% of people in Raleigh are affiliated with a religion. The predominant religion in Raleigh is Christianity, with the largest numbers of adherents being Roman Catholic (11.3%), Baptist (10.85%), and Methodist (7.08%). Others include Presbyterian (2.52%), Pentecostal (1.99%), Episcopalian (1.12%), Lutheran (1.06%), Latter-Day Saints (0.99%), and other Christian denominations (6.68%) including Eastern Orthodox, Coptic Orthodox, Jehovah's Witness, Christian Science, Christian Unitarianism, other Mainline Protestant groups, and non-denominational.[37]

The Roman Catholic Diocese of Raleigh, the Episcopal Diocese of North Carolina, the North Carolina Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church, and the New Hope Presbytery of the Presbyterian Church (USA)[38] are all headquartered in Raleigh.

Other religions including Hinduism, Buddhism, Bahá’í,[39] Druze, Taoism, and Shintoism[40] make up 1.31% of religious practitioners. Islam (1.14%) and Judaism (0.38%) are also practiced.[37]

In Wake County, 29% of the population are affiliated with the Southern Baptist Convention, 22% are affiliated with the Catholic Church, 17% are affiliated with the United Methodist Church, 6% are affiliated with the Presbyterian Church (USA), and 27% are religiously affiliated with other denominations, religions, or are not religiously affiliated.[41]


Red Hat headquarters

Raleigh's industrial base includes banking/financial services; electrical, medical, electronic and telecommunications equipment; clothing and apparel; food processing; paper products; and pharmaceuticals. Raleigh is part of North Carolina's Research Triangle, one of the country's largest and most successful research parks, and a major center in the United States for high-tech and biotech research, as well as advanced textile development.[42] The city is a major retail shipping point for eastern North Carolina and a wholesale distributing point for the grocery industry.[43]

Raleigh is number one on the 2015 Forbes List for being the best place for businesses and careers.[44] Companies based in Raleigh include BB&T Insurance Services, Capitol Broadcasting Company, Carquest, First Citizens BancShares, Golden Corral, Martin Marietta Materials, Red Hat, Waste Industries, and Lulu.

In April 2014 Steven P. Rosenthal of Northland Investment Corp. referred to Raleigh as "a real concentration of brain power. You have a lot of smart people living in the same place. That will drive the economy."[45]

Top employers

According to Raleigh's 2011 Comprehensive Annual Financial Report,[46] the top employers in the city are:

# Employer No. of employees
1 State of North Carolina 24,739
2 Wake County Public School System 17,572
3 North Carolina State University 7,730
4 WakeMed 7,607
5 Rex Hospital 4,800
6 Red Hat 4,500
7 Wake County 4,272
8 City of Raleigh 3,811
9 Progress Energy 2,500
10 First Citizens BancShares 1,703
11 Duke Raleigh Hospital 1,700

Cultural resources


The SECU Daily Planet, part of the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences Nature Research Center
Progress Energy Center for the Performing Arts, 2008

Performing arts

The Coastal Credit Union Music Park at Walnut Creek hosts major international touring acts. In 2011, the Downtown Raleigh Amphitheater opened (now sponsored as the Red Hat Amphitheater), which hosts numerous concerts primarily in the summer months. An additional amphitheater sits on the grounds of the North Carolina Museum of Art, which hosts a summer concert series and outdoor movies. Nearby Cary is home to the Koka Booth Amphitheatre which hosts additional summer concerts and outdoor movies, and serves as the venue for regularly scheduled outdoor concerts by the North Carolina Symphony based in Raleigh. During the North Carolina State Fair, Dorton Arena hosts headline acts. The private Lincoln Theatre is one of several clubs in downtown Raleigh that schedules many concerts throughout the year in multiple formats (rock, pop, country).

The Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts complex houses the Raleigh Memorial Auditorium, the Fletcher Opera Theater, the Kennedy Theatre, and the Meymandi Concert Hall. In 2008, a new theatre space, the Meymandi Theatre at the Murphey School, was opened in the restored auditorium of the historic Murphey School.[47] Theater performances are also offered at the Raleigh Little Theatre, Long View Center, Ira David Wood III Pullen Park Theatre, and Stewart and Thompson Theaters at North Carolina State University.

Raleigh is home to several professional arts organizations, including the North Carolina Symphony, the Opera Company of North Carolina, Theatre In The Park, Burning Coal Theatre Company, the North Carolina Theatre, Broadway Series South and the Carolina Ballet. The numerous local colleges and universities significantly add to the options available for viewing live performances.

Visual arts

North Carolina Museum of Art, occupying a large suburban campus on Blue Ridge Road near the North Carolina State Fairgrounds, maintains one of the premier public art collections located between Washington, D.C., and Atlanta. In addition to its extensive collections of American Art, European Art and ancient art, the museum recently has hosted major exhibitions featuring Auguste Rodin (in 2000) and Claude Monet (in 2006-07), each attracting more than 200,000 visitors.[48][49] Unlike most prominent public museums, the North Carolina Museum of Art acquired a large number of the works in its permanent collection through purchases with public funds. The museum's outdoor park is one of the largest such art parks in the country. The museum facility underwent a major expansion which greatly expanded the exhibit space that was completed in 2010. The 127,000 sf new expansion is designed by NYC architect Thomas Phifer and Partners.

Raleigh's downtown is also home to many local art galleries such as Art Space in City Market, Visual Art Exchange, and 311 Gallery, on Martin Street, and Bee Hive Studios on Hargett Street. CAM Raleigh is a downtown contemporary art museum, also on Martin Street, that serves to promote new artists and does not house a permanent collection. CAM Raleigh was designed by the award-winning architectural firm Brooks+Scarpa of Los Angeles.


Raleigh frequently receives national recognition for its quality of life and business climate. Some recent national rankings include:

Sports and leisure

Professional and major D1 college sports teams
Team League Venue (capacity) Attendance Since Titles
NC State Wolfpack NCAA football Carter-Finley Stadium (57,583) 53,178 1892 0
NC State Wolfpack NCAA men's basketball PNC Arena (18,700) 16,299 1911 2
NC State Wolfpack NCAA men's baseball Doak Field (3,000) 1,344 1903 0
Carolina Hurricanes National Hockey League PNC Arena (18,700) 17,558 1997 1
Carolina RailHawks North American Soccer League WakeMed Soccer Park (10,000) 4,700 2006 0
Carolina Mudcats Single-A (baseball) Five County Stadium (6,500) 3,354 1978 8
Raleigh Flyers[60] American Ultimate Disc League Wake Med Soccer Park / Cardinal Gibbons High School ? 2015 0


The National Hockey League's Carolina Hurricanes franchise moved to Raleigh in 1997 from Hartford, Connecticut (where it was known as the Hartford Whalers). The team played its first two seasons more than 60 miles away at Greensboro Coliseum while its home arena, Raleigh Entertainment and Sports Arena (later RBC Center and now PNC Arena), was under construction. The Hurricanes are the only major league (NFL, NHL, NBA, MLB) professional sports team in North Carolina to have won a championship, winning the Stanley Cup in 2006, over the Edmonton Oilers. The city played host to the 2011 NHL All-Star Game.

The PNC Arena in Raleigh

In addition to the Hurricanes, the Carolina RailHawks FC of the North American Soccer League play in suburban Cary to the west; the Carolina Mudcats, an Single-A minor-league baseball team, play in the city's eastern suburbs; the Raleigh Flyers of the American Ultimate Disc League play primarily at Cardinal Gibbons High School near the PNC Arena; and the Durham Bulls, the AAA minor-league baseball team made internationally famous by the movie Bull Durham, play in the neighboring city of Durham.

Several other professional sports leagues have had former franchises (now defunct) in Raleigh, including the Raleigh IceCaps of the ECHL (1991–1998); Carolina Cobras of the Arena Football League (2000–2004); the Raleigh–Durham Skyhawks of the World League of American Football (1991); the Raleigh Bullfrogs of the Global Basketball Association (1991–1992); the Raleigh Cougars of the United States Basketball League (1997–1999); and most recently, the Carolina Courage of the Women's United Soccer Association (2000–2001 in Chapel Hill, 2001–2003 in suburban Cary), which won that league's championship Founders Cup in 2002.

The Raleigh area has hosted the Professional Golfers' Association (PGA) Nationwide Tour Rex Hospital Open since 1994, with the current location of play at Raleigh's Wakefield Plantation. Nearby Prestonwood Country Club hosts the PGA SAS Championship every fall.


North Carolina State University is located in southwest Raleigh where the Wolfpack competes nationally in 24 intercollegiate varsity sports as a member of the Atlantic Coast Conference. The university's football team plays in Carter-Finley Stadium, the third largest football stadium in North Carolina, while the men's basketball team shares the PNC Arena with the Carolina Hurricanes hockey club. The Wolfpack women's basketball, volleyball, and gymnastics as well as men's wrestling events are held on campus at Reynolds Coliseum. The men's baseball team plays at Doak Field.


The North Carolina Tigers compete as an Australian Rules football club in the United States Australian Football League, in the Eastern Australian Football League.

Raleigh is also home to one of the Cheer Extreme All Stars gyms. In 2009 and again in 2010, Cheer Extreme Raleigh's Small Senior Level 5 Team were silver medalists at the Cheerleading Worlds Competition in Orlando, Florida, and in 2012 they received the bronze medal. Raleigh is also home to one of the Southeast's premier Hardcourt Bike Polo clubs.[61]

Because of the area's many billiards rooms, Raleigh is home to one of the largest amateur league franchises for playing pool, the Raleigh, Durham, Chapel Hill American Poolplayers Association. There are leagues available in formats for players of any skill level.


The Raleigh Parks and Recreation Department offers a wide variety of leisure opportunities at more than 150 sites throughout the city, which include: 8,100 acres (33 km2) of park land, 78 miles (126 km) of greenway, 22 community centers, a BMX championship-caliber race track, 112 tennis courts among 25 locations, 5 public lakes, and 8 public aquatic facilities. The J. C. Raulston Arboretum, an 8-acre (32,000 m²) arboretum and botanical garden in west Raleigh administered by North Carolina State University, maintains a year-round collection that is open daily to the public without charge.

Law and government

Historically, Raleigh voters have tended to elect conservative Democrats in local, state, and national elections, a holdover from their one-party system of the late 19th century.

City Council

Main article: Raleigh City Council

Raleigh operates under a council-manager government. Raleigh City Council consists of eight members; all seats, including the Mayor's, are open for election every two years. Five of the council seats are district representatives and two seats are citywide representatives elected at-large.


According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation's Uniform Crime Reports, in 2010 the Raleigh Police Department and other agencies in the city reported 1,740 incidents of violent crime and 12,995 incidents of property crime – far below both the national average and the North Carolina average. Of the violent crimes reported, 14 were murders, 99 were sexual assaults and 643 were robberies. Aggravated assault accounted for 984 of the total violent crimes. Property crimes included burglaries which accounted for 3,021, larcenies for 9,104 and arson for 63 of the total number of incidents.[63] Motor vehicle theft accounted for 870 incidents out of the total.[64]

Public safety

The Raleigh Fire Department provides fire protection throughout the city.[65] The North Carolina Correctional Institution for Women, the state's primary correctional facility housing female inmates is based in Raleigh.[66]


Estey Hall on the campus of Shaw University

As of 2011, Time ranked Raleigh as the third most educated city in the US based on the percentage of residents who held college degrees.[67] This statistic can most likely be credited to the presence of universities in and around Raleigh, as well as the presence of Research Triangle Park to the Northwest.

Higher education



Private, for profit

Primary and secondary education

Public schools

Public schools in Raleigh are operated by the Wake County Public School System. Observers have praised the Wake County Public School System for its innovative efforts to maintain a socially, economically and racial balanced system by using income as a prime factor in assigning students to schools.[69] Raleigh is home to three magnet high schools and three high schools offering the International Baccalaureate program. There are four early college high schools in Raleigh. Raleigh also has two alternative high schools.

Wake County Public high schools in Raleigh include:

Traditional schools
Magnet schools
Alternative schools
Early college schools

Charter schools

The State of North Carolina provides for a legislated number of charter schools. These schools are administered independently of the Wake County Public School System. Raleigh is currently home to 11 such charter schools:

Private and religion-based schools

Episcopal schools
Catholic secondary schools
Catholic primary schools



The RDU sign at the entrance of the airport

Raleigh-Durham International Airport


Raleigh-Durham International Airport, the region's primary airport and the second-largest in North Carolina, located northwest of downtown Raleigh via Interstate-40 between Raleigh and Durham, serves the city and greater Research Triangle metropolitan region, as well as much of eastern North Carolina. The airport offers service to more than 35 domestic and international destinations and serves approximately 10 million passengers a year.[70] The airport also offers facilities for cargo and general aviation. The airport authority tripled the size of its Terminal 2 (formerly Terminal C) in January 2011.

Public general-aviation airports

In addition to RDU, several smaller publicly owned general-aviation airports also operate in the metropolitan region:

Private airports

Several licensed private general-aviation airports operate in Raleigh's immediate suburban areas:

Freeways and primary designated routes

Interstate Highways

United States Highways

North Carolina Highways

Intercity rail

CAT bus on Hillsborough Street in Downtown Raleigh
Triangle Transit bus

Raleigh's train station is one of Amtrak's busiest stops in the Southern U.S.[72] The station is served by four passenger trains daily: the Silver Star, twice-daily Piedmont service, and the Carolinian.[73] Daily service is offered between Raleigh and:

Public transit

Public transportation in and around Raleigh is provided by Capital Area Transit (CAT),[74] which operates 33 fixed bus routes, including the R-Line[75] and the Wake-Forest Loop. Although there are 33 routes, some routes are designed to cover multiple other routes at times when they are not served. Depending on the time of the day, and the day of the week, the number of routes operating is between 5 and 29.

Raleigh is also served by Triangle Transit (known formerly as the Triangle Transit Authority, or TTA). Triangle Transit offers scheduled, fixed-route regional and commuter bus service between Raleigh and the region's other principal cities of Durham, Cary and Chapel Hill, as well as to and from the Raleigh-Durham International Airport, Research Triangle Park and several of the region's larger suburban communities. Triangle Transit also coordinates an extensive vanpool and rideshare program that serves the region's larger employers and commute destinations.

North Carolina State University also maintains its own transit system, the Wolfline, that provides zero-fare bus service to the general public along multiple routes serving the university's campuses in southwest Raleigh.

Government agencies throughout the Raleigh-Durham metropolitan area have struggled with determining the best means of providing fixed-rail transit service for the region.

From 1995 the cornerstone of Triangle Transit's long-term plan was a 28-mile rail corridor from northeast Raleigh, through downtown Raleigh, Cary, and Research Triangle Park, to Durham using DMU technology. There were proposals to extend this corridor 7 miles to Chapel Hill with light rail technology. However, in 2006 Triangle Transit deferred implementation indefinitely when the Federal Transit Administration declined to fund the program due to low ridership projections.

The region's two metropolitan planning organizations appointed a group of local citizens in 2007 to reexamine options for future transit development in light of Triangle Transit's problems. The Special Transit Advisory Commission (STAC) retained many of the provisions of Triangle Transit's original plan, but recommended adding new bus services and raising additional revenues by adding a new local half-cent sales tax to fund the project.[76]

Greyhound lines provides an inter-city bus service to Durham, Charlotte, Richmond, Washington, D.C., Atlanta, and other cities.

Bicycle and pedestrian


There are several newspapers and periodicals serving Raleigh:



Raleigh is part of the Raleigh-Durham-Fayetteville Designated Market Area, the 24th largest broadcast television market in the United States. The following stations are licensed to Raleigh and/or have significant operations and viewers in the city:


Raleigh is home to the Research Triangle Region bureau of the regional cable news channel News 14 Carolina.

Broadcast radio

Public and listener-supported


Notable people

Sister cities

Raleigh has several sister cities:[80][81]

See also


  1. Mean monthly maxima and minima (i.e. the expected highest and lowest temperature readings at any point during the year or given month) calculated based on data at said location from 1981 to 2010.
  2. Official records for Raleigh kept January 1887 to 17 May 1944 at downtown and at Raleigh Durham Int'l since 18 May 1944. For more information, see Threadex


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Further reading

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