Charlotte, North Carolina

Charlotte, North Carolina


According to ehuacom, Charlotte is a city in the US state of North Carolina. It is the largest city in the state and has a population of 880,000. The metropolitan area has 2,701,000 inhabitants (2021) and extends into South Carolina.

According to mcat-test-centers, Charlotte is located on the South Carolina border in southwestern North Carolina. Some of Charlotte’s suburbs are located in South Carolina. The city is located in Mecklenburg County. The city has relatively few real suburbs, most residential areas outside Charlotte are not separate places, but are under the administration of the counties.

Charlotte has a fairly large business center, including the headquarters of the Bank of America. However, the city is otherwise very suburban in character, it is considered the most suburban conurbation in the United States, mainly because 51% of the inhabitants of the region live in exurban areas with a very low population density. [1] The older neighborhoods around the center are also suburban in character, which is because the city started to grow late. Charlotte had 134,000 inhabitants in 1950, compared to about 800,000 inhabitants in 2015. The Catawba River flows along the west side of Charlotte, which is dammed up with reservoirs. The city is wooded, although the forests are not as dense as around Atlanta or Raleigh, for example. The landscape is otherwise quite flat, Charlotte is approximately 200 meters above sea level. The urban area gradually changes into rural areas, without a clear dividing line. The urban area on the periphery is rather fragmented, so that the built-up area measures approximately 70 by 70 kilometres, which is quite large for a regional population of approximately 2.5 million. Along some axes, such as the Catawba River, I-77, I-85, and US 74, suburbs extend farther from the city.

Charlotte Airport is located in the west of the city. In the south of Charlotte there is a large business park, with a corridor of industry and companies between the center and the south of Charlotte. Elsewhere in the city there are also industrial estates scattered around. Northeast of Charlotte is the Charlotte Motor Speedway. The economy of Charlotte is mainly based on services, especially the financial sector is large, Charlotte is often referred to as the largest financial center of the United States outside of New York. The logistics sector is rapidly increasing in importance.

Road network

Charlotte’s highway network.

Charlotte is at an intersection of major thoroughfares such as I-77 and I-85. In addition, the city has a relatively small motorway network given the size of the conurbation. Charlotte’s ring road is formed by I-485, a 108-kilometer ring road. I-277 forms a small ring road around the center of town. In addition to the highway network, there are a number of major thoroughfares in the city. There is also a relatively small public transport system, consisting of buses and a light rail.

List of freeways

name length* first opening last opening AADT 2016
Bill Lee Freeway 100 km 1968 1975 174.000
Interstate 85 80 km 1960 1965 182.000
Belk Freeway 7 km 1970 1987 132.000
Beltway 108 km 1990 2015 147.000
Independence Boulevard 6 km 1950 198x 107.000
Monroe Expressway 26 km 2018 2018

* length within the urban area


When the construction of Interstate Highways started in 1956, Charlotte was a relatively insignificant town with 100,000 inhabitants. Interstate 77 was originally not included in the 1956 plan, which was added to the planned network later. Given the limited size of the city at the time, a ring road was not planned either. The first freeway to open in Charlotte was Interstate 85, which opened on September 9, 1958. At the time, I-85 passed quite far outside of downtown, barely serving Charlotte. In 1965 this highway was extended west along Gastonia and east to Greensboro in 1973. In 1968, the first section of I-77 opened from the South Carolina border to downtown Charlotte. In 1973 and 1975, the highway was extended further north out of town, providing Charlotte with two through highways. At the same time, the urban area began to increase significantly in population. Around 1970 the city had 250,000 inhabitants and in 1980 this had grown to 315,000 inhabitants. In 1990 this grew to about 400,000 inhabitants and it became clear that Charlotte needed more highways. I-277 was built around downtown at that time and was completed in 1987.

Charlotte’s I-485 beltway was begun in 1989, the first section of which opened on the south side of the city in 1990. During the next 10 years, construction was difficult, and small pieces were opened. In those 10 years, however, the population increased by 150,000 to 540,000 inhabitants, after which more urgency went to the I-485. Beginning in 2003, longer stretches were opened, and in 2008 the last section opened on the northwest side of Charlotte. In view of rapid population growth, I-485 has been constructed with 2×4 lanes in some sections, except for the older section on the south side. When the I-485 was almost finished, the population in 2010 was 730,000 inhabitants and had an agglomeration of 1.7 million inhabitants. Unlike in older cities in the northeast, Charlotte has not experienced suburbanization in the sense that people moved from the center to the suburbs. The entire city has grown at the seams since the 1980s and at the same time, villages around Charlotte have been expanded into full-fledged suburbs, but this was not at the expense of Charlotte herself. Because the city has relatively new housing, unlike in the northeastern United States where much of the housing stock in the central cities is 70 or more years old, there was no urge in Charlotte to leave the city for the suburbs..

In 2015, the last section of the Interstate 485 beltway opened to traffic. In 2018, the Monroe Expressway opened as a bypass of US 74 around the eastern suburbs, providing Charlotte with a proper approach road from the east for the first time. In 2018, express lanes also opened on I-77 from Charlotte to the northern suburbs.

Traffic intensities

I-77 and I-85 through Charlotte largely count between 100,000 and 150,000 vehicles per day. The busiest point is I-77 north of downtown with 180,000 vehicles per day. On the I-485 ring road, the intensity varies from 40,000 to 120,000 vehicles per day.


Because the city has few highways, the pressure on the underlying road network is quite great. Traffic jams are a regular occurrence, although long traffic jams are not that frequent, usually getting stuck at a number of bottlenecks, such as the I-77/I-485 south of downtown, and the roads leading to the center, especially the US 74.

Charlotte, North Carolina