Why Is Charlotte, North Carolina, Called the "Queen City?"

Queen Charlotte Sophia
Wikimedia Commons

A jewel of the south, Charlotte, North Carolina is one of the largest city in the southeast of the United States, and a hub of museums, fantastic restaurants, parks, shopping, and sports teams. Visitors to the city, are likely to hear the term "Queen City" used to refer to this town. Which raises the questions—why exactly is Charlotte called the "Queen City"?

Many Queen Cities

There are about 30 cities in the United States that are nicknamed "the Queen City," including towns that are officially named "Queen City" in Iowa, Missouri, and Texas. However, while Ada, Oklahoma, is the "Queen City of the Chickasaw Nation" and Cincinnati, Ohio, was once nicknamed the "Queen City of the West," Charlotte's nickname is truly special.

It turns out that the source of the city's nickname, the name of the city itself, and the name of the county where Charlotte is located (Mecklenburg) all go back to the same source: Queen Charlotte Sophia of Mecklenburg-Strelitz in Germany. Interestingly, the city of Charlottesville, Virginia, can also be traced back to this queen.

Illustration of Why Charlotte, NC, is called the Queen City
TripSavvy / Andrea Hickey

The History of Charlotte

At the time of Charlotte's founding all the way back in 1768, there was a large group of people in this area called "loyalists," colonists who didn't necessarily want to separate and remained loyal to the British Crown. These transplants had settled in this area since it was the intersection of two Native American trading paths. (This is now the intersection of Trade and Tryon, right in the middle of Charlotte's Uptown).

Very quickly there were enough colonists, that they needed to build a courthouse and name the town. In an attempt to stay in "Mad King" George III's good graces, and keep a continuous supply of money, men, food, and more coming, the founders named the town "Charlotte Town" after his brand new wife, Queen Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz. That's where the city's name, nickname, and the name of its home country all originate.

Queen Charlotte would remain the Queen of Britain and Ireland for nearly 60 years, and was known as a philanthropist and supporter of the arts—she was an early patron of Mozart.

Despite the efforts of the Loyalists, Charlotte wouldn't find the king's favor. In fact, the city would soon find itself in the middle of the American Revolution. When the residents of this town learned about the battles of Lexington and Concord in Massachusetts, they drafted what is now known as The Mecklenburg Declaration of Independence, or the Mecklenburg Resolves.

Remembering the Past

Charlotte has a rich history steeped in the discovery of gold and the pride of Scots-Irish settlers. While many of the historic old buildings have made way to shining banks and other new structures, and their history is relegated to a small plaque, there are still fantastic ways to uncover the history of the city.

Whether you're a long-time resident or a newcomer to Charlotte, take the time to learn a little about the city you're in by visiting some of the amazing museums, like the Wells Fargo History Museum, or take the Liberty Walk tour, and discover 15 important sites in the evolution of the city.

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