As a youth Raleigh served (1569) as a volunteer in the Huguenot army in France. In 1572 he was listed as an undergraduate at Oxford, where he may have studied before going to France, and his name appears in the registry of the Middle Temple in 1575. In 1578, Raleigh and his brother Carew joined their half brother Sir Humphrey Gilbert in outfitting a heavily armed fleet, ostensibly for a "voyage of discovery." Storms and desertions soon ended the project. In 1580, Raleigh served in Ireland, suppressing the rebels in Munster.
When he returned to England in 1581, Raleigh immediately went to court and soon became a favorite of Queen Elizabeth I. Whether he placed his cloak in the mud for Queen Elizabeth I or not, it seems fairly certain that his personal charm had much to do with his friendship with her. As an important courtier he was granted (1583) a wine monopoly, was knighted (1585), and was given vast estates in Ireland. Made warden of the stanneries (the tin mines of Cornwall and Devon) in 1585, Raleigh exhibited a genuine talent for administration, but he had already alienated too many important people to achieve real political power. He was appointed captain of the queen's guard in 1587, an office significant because it required constant attendance on Elizabeth.
Raleigh conceived and organized the colonizing expeditions to America that ended tragically with the "lost colony" expeditions on Roanoke Island, N.C. He was later named a member of the commission for the defense against Spain, but it is doubtful that he participated in the naval operations against the Spanish Armada (1588). Probably because of his conflict with Robert Devereux, 2d earl of Essex, Elizabeth's new favorite, Raleigh left court in 1589. At Kilcolman Castle, Ireland, he became a close friend of Edmund Spenser, whose Faerie Queene, begun under the aegis of Sir Philip Sidney, was continued under Raleigh's patronage.
After the queen's quarrel with Essex over the earl's marriage, Raleigh returned to prominence at court and was granted (1592) an estate at Sherborne. Later that year he set out on a privateering expedition, but he was recalled by Elizabeth and imprisoned in the Tower of London when she learned of his secret marriage to Elizabeth Throckmorton, a maid of honor at court. Late in 1592, Raleigh's expedition returned to England with a richly loaded Portuguese carrack. Disputes broke out over the division of the spoils, and Raleigh was released to quell the disturbance, thereby winning his freedom.
Barred from the court, Raleigh sat in Parliament. He achieved great notoriety for his connection with the poetic group known as the "school of night." Led by Thomas Harriot and including Christopher Marlowe and George Chapman, the group's skeptical attitude and critical interpretation of Scripture won them a reputation for atheism.
In 1595, Raleigh embarked on an expedition with the adventurer-scholar Laurence Kemys to find the fabled city of El Dorado. They penetrated 300 mi (480 km) up the Orinoco River into the interior of Guiana, bringing home specimens containing gold. Raleigh published his Discovery of Guiana the following year. In 1596 he commanded a squadron in the English expedition against Cádiz.
Raleigh was made governor of Jersey in 1600, but his fortunes ebbed when he drifted apart from his former ally Robert Cecil (later earl of Salisbury) in the political tempest over Essex's treason and death. He met his downfall upon the accession (1603) of James I, who had been convinced by Raleigh's enemies that Raleigh was opposed to his succession. Many of Raleigh's offices and monopolies were taken away, and, on somewhat insufficient evidence, he was found guilty of intrigues with Spain against England and of participation in a plot to kill the king and enthrone Arabella Stuart. Saved from the block by a reprieve, Raleigh settled down in the Tower and devoted himself to literature and science. There he began his incomplete History of the World.
Raleigh was released in 1616 to make another voyage to the Orinoco in search of gold, but he was warned not to molest Spanish possessions or ships on pain of his life. The expedition failed, but Laurence Kemys captured a Spanish town. Raleigh returned to England, where the Spanish ambassador demanded his punishment. Failing in an attempt to escape to France, he was executed under the original sentence of treason passed many years before.
Raleigh was the author of a number of political essays and philosophical treatises, and of a body of poetry that was highly praised by his contemporaries. See his poems, ed. by A. Latham (1951). See also biographies by A. L. Rowse (1962, repr. 1975), S. J. Greenblatt (1973), R. Lacey (1974), and R. Trevelyan (2004); M. C. Bradbrook, The School of Night (1936, repr. 1965); J. Racin, Sir Walter Raleigh as Historian (1974).
The first capitol (built 1792-94) burned in 1831 and was replaced by the present building, completed in 1840. In the Civil War, Union general Sherman occupied the city on Apr. 14, 1865. Raleigh is the seat of North Carolina State Univ., Shaw Univ., Meredith College, St. Augustine's College, St. Mary's College, and Peace College. It has libraries, museums, an aboretum, a notable governor's mansion, and several 18th-century houses, including the birthplace of President Andrew Johnson, whose home is preserved as a historic site. The city is the site of an arts complex that includes the Raleigh Memorial Auditorium, A. J. Fletcher Opera Theater, and Meymandi Concert Hall, and is also the home to the National Hockey League's Carolina Hurricanes.
Raleigh (pronounced rah-lee) is the capital of the State of North Carolina and the county seat of Wake County, USA. Raleigh is known as the “City of Oaks” for its many oak trees. It is the second most populous city in North Carolina (after Charlotte). The estimated population on July 1, 2008 was 380,173. Since 2006, Raleigh's municipal population has surpassed those of Minneapolis, Tampa, Cincinnati, Pittsburgh, and St. Louis, and it is the 15th fastest growing city in the United States. Its population has grown by more than 100,000 since 2000, an increase of nearly 40%.
Raleigh, Durham, and Chapel Hill make up the three historically primary cities of the Research Triangle metropolitan region. The regional name "The Triangle" originated after the 1959 creation of the Research Triangle Park, located between the cities of Raleigh and Durham. The Research Triangle region encompasses the U.S. Census Bureau's Combined Statistical Area (CSA) of Raleigh-Durham-Cary in the central Piedmont region of North Carolina. The estimated population of the Raleigh-Durham-Cary CSA was 1,635,974 as of July 1, 2007, with the Raleigh-Cary Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) portion estimated at 1,047,629 residents.
Most of Raleigh is located within Wake County, with a very small portion extending into Durham County. The towns of Cary, Garner, Wake Forest, Apex, Holly Springs, Clayton, and Knightdale are some of Raleigh's primary nearby suburbs.
Raleigh was chosen as the site of a new state capital in 1788. It was officially established in 1792 as both the new county seat and the new state capital. The city was named in 1792 for Sir Walter Raleigh, sponsor of the Colony of Roanoke. The "Lost Colony" is commemorated at the Fort Raleigh National Historic Site on Roanoke Island, North Carolina.
The city's location was chosen, in part, for being within ten miles (16 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.
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. John Haywood was the first Intendant of Police.
In 1808 Andrew Johnson, the nation’s seventeenth 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 1831, a fire destroyed the State Capitol. Reconstruction began two years later with quarried granite 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 1858.
After the 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. After the Confederate calvary retreated west , the Union soldiers followed, leading to the nearby Battle of Morrisville. The city was spared significant destruction during the War, but due to the economic problems of the post-war period and Reconstruction, it grew little over the next several decades.
After the Civil War ended in 1865, African-Americans were able to be educated and became involved in local politics. With the help of the Freedmen's Bureau, many freedmen migrated from rural areas to Raleigh. Shaw University, the South's first African-American college, began classes in 1865 and was chartered in 1875. Shaw's 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. In 1869, the state legislature approved the nation’s first school for blind and deaf African Americans, located in Raleigh. And in 1874, the city's 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, which 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 seven years later, in 1887. The city's Rex Hospital opened in 189, housing the state's first nursing school. The Baptist women's college, now known as Meredith College, opened in 1891.
In 1900, the state legislature passed a new constitution, with voter registration rules that many felt disfranchised most blacks and many poor whites. Added to earlier statutory restrictions, the state succeeded in reducing black voting to zero by 1908. It was not until 1965 that most blacks in North Carolina would again be able to vote, sit on juries and serve in local offices.
In 1912, Bloomsbury Park opened, featuring a popular carosel ride that is still in operation today in Pullen Park.
From 1914-1917, an influenza epidemic killed 288 Raleigh citizens, and the state of North Carolina lost a total of 5,799 men in the World War I.
In 1922, WLAC signed on as the city's first radio station, but lasted only two years. WFBQ signed on in 1924, became WPTF in 1927, and is now Raleigh's oldest continuous radio broadcaster.
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.
During the difficult 1930s, 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. The Civilian Conservation Corps constructed the area now know as William B. Umstead State Park) from 1934 to 1937. In 1939, the 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 1956, WRAL-TV became the first local television station.
With the opening of the Research Triangle Park in 1957, Raleigh began to experience a population increase, resulting in a total city population of 100,000 by 1960.
Following passage of the federal Voting Rights Act of 1965, one of the main achievements of the Lyndon Johnson preseidency, political participation and voting by African Americans 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.
In 1991, two large skyscrapers in Raleigh were completed, First Union Capital Center and Two Hanover Plaza, along with the popular Walnut Creek Amphitheatre in Southeast Raleigh.
Also in 1996, Hurricane Fran struck the area, causing massive flooding and extensive structural damage.
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.
With the opening of parts of I-540 from 2005-2007, a new 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.
Raleigh operates under a council-manager government. The 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. 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.
Mayor Charles Meeker is a member of the Mayors Against Illegal Guns Coalition, a bi-partisan group with a stated goal of "making the public safer by getting illegal guns off the streets." The coalition is co-chaired by Boston Mayor Thomas Menino and New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg.
Raleigh averages a rate of 469.2 motor vehicle thefts per year per 100,000 residents, below the average rate of 528.4 motor vehicle thefts per year per 100,000 residents for all metropolitan areas in North Carolina.
According to the Uniform Crime Reports, crime in Raleigh has steadily decreased in recent years. In 2004, there were 580 reported incidents of violent crime and 3,768 reported incidents of property crime reported per 100,000 population. Nationally there were 466 violent crimes and 3,517 property crimes reported per 100,000 population, while U.S. cities with a population between 250,000 and 500,000 residents reported 978 violent crimes and 5,631 property crimes per 100,000 population, all well above Raleigh's reported rate.
Raleigh is located in the northeast central region of North Carolina, where the North American 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 three hours west of Atlantic Beach, North Carolina, by car and four hours east of the Great Smoky Mountains of the Appalachian range. The city is south of Richmond, Virginia; south of Washington, D.C.; and northeast of Charlotte, North Carolina.
Raleigh enjoys a temperate subtropical climate, with generally moderate temperatures during spring and autumn. Summers are typically warm to hot. Winters are cool to cold and wet with highs generally in the range of upper 40s to low 50s°F (8 to 11 °C) with lows in the mid 20s to low 30s°F (-4 to 0°C), although an occasional 60°F (15°C) or warmer winter day is not uncommon. The record low temperature recorded at the RDU Airport is -9°F set back in 1985(-22°C). Occasional single digit temperatures can be experience on any giving winter. Spring and autumn days usually reach the low/mid 70s°F (low 20s°C), with lows at night in the lower 50s°F (10 to 14°C). Summer daytime highs often reach mid to upper 80s to low 90s°F (29 to 35°C) with cooler nights between 65°F to 70°F. The region's rainiest months are July and August.
Raleigh receives an average of 7.0" of snow in winter. Freezing rain and sleet also occur most winters, and occasionally the area experiences a major damaging ice storm. The region also experiences occasional periods of drought, during which the city sometimes has restricted water use by residents.
Raleigh is divided into seven major geographic areas, each of which use a Raleigh address and a ZIP code that begins with the digits 276.
Old Raleigh ("Inside the Beltline") 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, as well as the North Carolina Museum of History, North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences, North Carolina State Capitol, Peace College, the Raleigh City Museum, Raleigh Convention Center, Shaw University, and Saint Augustine's College. The neighborhoods in Old Raleigh include Cameron Park, Boylan Heights, Country Club Hills, Coley Forest, Five Points, Glenwood-Brooklyn, Hayes Barton, Moore Square, Mordecai, Belvidere Park, Woodcrest, and Historic Oakwood.
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 New Hope, and Wilder's Grove. The area is bordered to the east by the town of Knightdale.
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.
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 Bedford, Bent Tree, Brentwood, Brookhaven, Crossgate, Falls River, North Ridge, Stonebridge, Stone Creek, Stonehenge, Wakefield, Windsor Forest, and Wood Valley. The area is served by a number of primary transportation corridors including Glenwood Avenue (U.S. Route 70), Wake Forest Road, Millbrook Road, Lynn Road, Six Forks Road, Spring Forest Road, Creedmoor Road, Leesville Road, and Strickland Road, as well as the Interstate-540 Expressway.
Midtown Raleigh, which used to be considered a part of North Raleigh, is a residential and commercial area just North of the I-440 Beltline. 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 the upcoming high-rise Soleil Center, as well as North Hills Park and part of the Raleigh Greenway System. 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 Lake Wheeler, Swift Creek, Riverbrooke, and Enchanted Oaks.
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, Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard, and New Bern Avenue. This area is very diverse, with new suburban developments to poor inner-city neighborhoods. Many of the older neighborhoods are historically African American and date back to the end of the Civil War. Primary neighborhoods include Chavis Heights, Raleigh Country Club, Southgate, 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.
As of the 2000 United States census, 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/sq mi (406.7/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 63.31% White, 27.80% African American, 0.36% Native American, 3.38% Asian, 0.04% Pacific Islander, 3.24% of other races, and 1.88% of two or more races. Residents who described themselves as Hispanic or Latino of any race represented 7.01% of the population.
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. 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, 13.8% 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 several professional arts organizations, including the North Carolina Symphony, the Opera Company of North Carolina, 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.
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 in the nearby city of Greensboro, while its home arena, Raleigh's RBC Center 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.
In addition to the Hurricanes, the Carolina Railhawks of the United Soccer Leagues play in suburban Cary to the west; the Carolina Mudcats, an AA minor-league baseball team, play in the city's eastern suburbs; 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 Arena Football League; the World League of American Football; the Raleigh Cougars of the United States Basketball League; and most recently, the Carolina Courage of the Women's United Soccer Association (in suburban Cary), which won that league's championship Founders Cup in 2002.
Raleigh is also home to the Carolina Rollergirls, an all-women flat-track roller derby team that is a competing member of the Women's Flat Track Derby Association (WFTDA). The Carolina Rollergirls compete at Dorton Arena at the North Carolina State Fairgrounds.
In addition, the Carolina ANZACs cricket and social group is based in the Raleigh area and participates in tournaments throughout the country as part of the Mid Atlantic Cricket Conference, a member league of the United States of America Cricket Association (USACA).
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 an impressive year-round collection that is open daily to the public without charge.
See NCDOT ByTrain for more information.
Raleigh city planners, in conjunction with other government agencies throughout the metropolitan area, currently are conducting a feasibility study on whether or not to construct a light rail and/or commuter rail system for the Research Triangle region. An attempt was made to gain support for such a proposal earlier in the decade, however in 2006 the TTA announced those plans had been placed on indefinite hold due to a lack of local funds and a recommended denial by the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) to Congress for matching federal funding. The Special Transit Advisory Commission (STAC) has proposed raising the local sales tax by a half cent to fund the project. The STAC estimates the population of the Triangle region will double in size over the next 20 to 25 years, and that rail transit is among the solutions to the inevitable continued increase in traffic volumes and congestion due to the region's burgeoning population growth and continuing sprawl.
Most public buses are equipped with bicycle racks, and some roads have dedicated bicycle-only lanes. Bicyclists and pedestrians also may use Raleigh's extensive greenway system, with paths and trails located throughout the city.
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