How Charlotte, North Carolina, Became "Queen City"

Charlotte Again
Charlotte Again | © John Ashley/Flickr
Shawndra Russell

The Queen City has lived up to its long-established nickname since its founding in 1768 when America was still under British rule. Since King George III’s wife was named Queen Charlotte, the nickname came built in to the city’s identity. Even after America gained independence in 1776, Charlotte held on to its nickname because it fits this stately Southern gem, which the Ritz-Carlton Charlotte describes as being “apt, given the city’s majestic array of charm and style.”

As the 17th-largest city by population in the United States, Charlotte’s tall skyscrapers and stature as one of the financial center capitals of the world make her demand respect. But long before these buildings and banking giants put roots in Charlotte, the city had to fight for her nickname against a city from the north, Cincinnati, Ohio. Even though they didn’t adopt the nickname until 1819 – 51 years after Charlotte had coined the descriptor – Cincinnati tried to claim it as well because people had started calling it “The Queen of the West.”

Queen Charlotte

Yet, like Queens before her, the city of Charlotte fought and has won the right to retain this nickname. Sure, some Cincinnatians still refer to their city as such, but many believe that, if anything, Cincinnati should go by “The Queen of the West,” the full nickname cemented in history by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow in his poem “Catawba Wine.”

And like most good queens, Charlotte and Cincinnati have maintained this feud for centuries. One of the most recent spectacles of this long-standing rivalry occurred during the 2014 Cincinnati Bengals versus Charlotte’s Carolina Panthers NFL football game when the city’s mayors wagered that whichever team won would get to be the rightful owner to the nickname. However, the game ended in a tied score of 37-37, something that seldom happens in professional American football.

Cincinnati Paul Brown Stadium

Again, Charlotte had fought off a challenge to her nickname, proving once again that the title Queen City belongs to her. Its has two other lesser-known nicknames, one being The Hornet’s Nest, a moniker imposed on them by an angry British general during the Revolutionary War, which started just seven years after Charlotte was founded in 1768.

Charlotte has embraced that rebellious spirit and used the nickname for their NBA team. After stints away from their hometown, upon the team’s final return to Charlotte, people also started calling it Buzz City – those in the city’s burgeoning craft beverage scene probably like that one! Yet, many true blue Charlotteans will always consider Queen City as their favorite.

Culture Trips launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes places and communities so special.

Our immersive trips, led by Local Insiders, are once-in-a-lifetime experiences and an invitation to travel the world with like-minded explorers. Our Travel Experts are on hand to help you make perfect memories. All our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.

All our travel guides are curated by the Culture Trip team working in tandem with local experts. From unique experiences to essential tips on how to make the most of your future travels, we’ve got you covered.

Culture Trip Spring Sale

Save up to $1,656 on our unique small-group trips! Limited spots.

Edit article