FAQ City: The Rivalry Between Charlotte And Raleigh

Jul 17, 2018

How is the relationship between Charlotte and Raleigh? Are we good? Charlotte is North Carolina's largest city, while Raleigh is the state capitol. Seems like tensions between the two have been simmering on and off for decades.

The local press tends to keep the feud going, be it in newspaper columns or talk show tirades. For example, a Raleigh News and Observer columnist once described Charlotte as a "high rise truck stop just west of Monroe ... a souless sprawl of over-priced suburbs filled with people who pretend to like Charlotte, but who'd really rather be going to prom with her big sister, that slatternly Atlanta."

A Charlotte Observer columnist later fired back by calling Raleigh a suburb of Cary, where, simply, there's nothing to do save for "driving out to a cow pasture on the edge of town to watch professional Canadians skate around with curved sticks and beat each other up."

And then there's the ongoing power struggle between Charlotte city leaders and lawmakers in the Raleigh statehouse. Look no further than when Raleigh tried to wrestle control of the Charlotte airport or override the Charlotte city council with House Bill 2, a.k.a the "Bathroom Bill."

All this has WFAE listener Daniel De Graaf wondering, what started the feud anyway?  

Charlotte historian Jim Williams.
Credit Nick de la Canal/ WFAE

On this episode of FAQ City, we talk to local historian Jim Williams, who says the sour relationship dates back to at least the 1840s, when Charlotte wanted a railroad that Raleigh kept failing to deliver. And later, we travel to the state capitol to find out what the every day people of Raleigh think about Charlotte, and it's ... nicer than we expected?

Special thanks to local historian Jim Williams, and to John Hood of the John William Pope Foundation for sharing their insights.

And if you're hungry for more Raleigh-bashing, check out Fox 46's full seven-minute tirade against the state capitol, apparently in response to a resident of Raleigh who made a "Raleigh > Charlotte" t-shirt. Not sure if it makes us look better or worse.

John Hood
Credit Nick de la Canal/ WFAE

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