Unlike its big-city competitor Charlotte, Raleigh has a sense of pride in its history. It has sat as the capital of North Carolina since 1789, when it was marked as the capital, and then permanently established in 1792. The original state capital was in New Bern, which sits in the coastal area of NC. Tryon Palace was the first governor’s residence. This stunning home can still be toured today. Raleigh was named after Sir Walter Raleigh. Raleigh, along with Chapel Hill and Durham, makes up an area known as the Triangle after the well-known Research Triangle Park. Today some 300,000 people call this metropolis home.
Here in Charlotte they would just as soon bulldoze over every historical property to make room for million dollar condos and sports stadiums. Visitors to Raleigh will enjoy strolling down streets where centuries-old buildings sit right along modern day skyscrapers. Many old buildings have been given new lives, such as the 1831 home of bank president William Polk that now is home to the State Employees Credit Union. There are old historical houses such as the Joel Lane House and the Mordecai Historical Park, and you can tour the lovely 1891 Executive Mansion, which is still occupied by the governor.
Also unlike Charlotte, Raleigh balances its sports attractions with venues for the whole family. Here you will find world-class museums, galleries, parks, and historical destinations. Raleigh also has its own theater company (the Burning Coal Theater Company) as well as a resident symphony, ballet, choir, and opera. Raleigh is also home to the world renowned hand bell choir, the Raleigh Ringers. Food fanatics and shoppers will be sure to find something here to fit every taste and budget.
Raleigh is very much a college town. NC State University as well as St. Augustine is here. The NC State Wolfpacks were of course led by Jim Valvano when they won the 1983 national championship. Later Jim went on to teach us the true meaning of being a champion when he bravely fought cancer. His foundation, the V Fountain, honors the late coach’s legacy and still raises money for cancer research. Two of the best women’s colleges, Meredith and Peace colleges, call Raleigh home. The oldest historical black college, Shaw University, draws students from all over. The Southeast Baptist Theological Seminary is one of the five largest seminaries in the country. Nearby are UNC-Chapel Hill and Duke University, which are amongst the top colleges in the world. All of the universities boast incredible campuses and may be toured.
If you are ever visiting you may notice plaques all over the state with tidbits of information. This mile marker program highlights historical places all over the state and gives brief information about the site. Some places are no longer in existence, while many others are still standing proudly. There are more than 1000 markers all over and there is even a website dedicated to the markers. Go to www.ncmarkers.com, where you can also order a book listing all the markers. Raleigh and the cities that make up Wake County are hopping with mile makers. There are over 100 in Wake County. Everywhere I went in Raleigh I found a mile marker.
One note: Raleigh is home to the very lovely Emily Proctor, who plays the smart and feisty Calleigh Duquesne on CSI Miami .
Whether you are in Raleigh for business or pleasure, Raleigh is a most welcoming hostess. You will find all the comforts and conveniences of the big city, yet a city that still retains that small city southern charm. No matter if you have a day here or a week, you will simply be amazed at all the marvelous things you can do in the southern capital city.