Asheville / Region

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In the last 100 years Asheville has undergone a tremendous transformation. From a sleepy town in the mountains, where patients cured tuberculosis, to a booming tourist attraction, Asheville’s transformation reached its peak in the 1920s, when streets were paved, high risers built, old buildings torn down and hills leveled to make room for grander structures. During that time Asheville became the third largest city in North Carolina just behind Charlotte and Wilmington.

But this building frenzy ended very abruptly with the stock market crash in 1929 and the following depression. Building projects were canceled and public life slowed down considerably.

The biggest blow to Asheville’s finances came on November 20, 1930, when eight local banks failed wiping out the fortunes of many families and businesses. The County’s towering debt-load of over $56 million, which it had accumulated to pay for infrastructure improvements and prestigious buildings, brought Asheville and the County almost to its knees.

Instead of defaulting on the debt or selling the buildings, the Commissioners wisely made the decision to pay the debt off over a 50-year period.

From the Great Depression to the 1980s growth in the region was slow. As public funds were scarce, many of Asheville’s buildings in the downtown area remained unaltered and were therefore preserved. Asheville now enjoys the most impressive collection of Art Deco style buildings in the U.S.

It was in the 1980s, when Asheville started to slowly re-emerge as a tourist destination. Asheville had become known to many artists, who established themselves in the city, attracting even more artists over the years, which led to the creation of the vibrant arts community we know today. In the last 30 years, Asheville developed into a lively, charming city, which many visitors loved so much that they adopted Asheville as their new home.

Asheville’s rise also got noticed nationally in the 2000s, when television, several magazines and newspapers ran articles about Asheville describing the city as one of the “Best Places to Reinvent your Life” or as one of the “10 Most Beautiful Places in America”.

Blue Ridge Mountains / Region

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One of the most well known regions in the Appalachian Mountains are the Blue Ridge Mountains. Stretching from Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina and Tennessee to Virginia, Maryland and Pennsylvania, the Blue Ridge Mountains touch 7 States and encompass an area 615 miles (990 km) long but only between 5 to 65 miles (8 to 105 km) wide.

The Blue Ridge Mountains form a relatively narrow ridge between the Piedmont in the east and the Valley and Ridge landform in the west, which is followed by the Appalachian Plateau.

Most unique to the Blue Ridge Mountains is their bluish color cast when seen from a distance. The blue tone comes from hydrocarbons, which trees release into the atmosphere giving the mountains their characteristic haze and distinctive color.

The Blue Ridge Mountains region counts two major national parks, the Shenandoah National Park in the north, and the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in the south. The region is also home to many state parks.

One of the nicest scenic roads in the United States is the Blue Ridge Parkway, which connects the Shenandoah National Park with the Great Smoky Mountains National Park through a 469-mile (755 km) long road.

The Blue Ridge Parkway meets the Skyline Drive, which is 109 miles (175 km) long and runs the entire length of the Shenandoah National Park mostly along the ridge of the mountains.

Generally, the Blue Ridge Mountains can be split into 6 regions:
- Shenandoah Region,
- Ridge Region,
- Plateau Region,
- Highlands Region,
- Pisgah Region and the
- Great Smoky Region.

Hendersonville / Region

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Southern hospitality, peaceful summer evenings, beautiful environment and a rich agricultural history are the attributes of the region surrounding Hendersonville.

Hendersonville’s history is closely tied to agriculture, which provided the primary livelihood of most of its residents during the 1800s and 1900s. Their major crops were corn, wheat, rye, grass, potatoes, cabbage and apples.

To this day, apples remain a significant contributor to the economy.

Since the 1940s every year always on the Labor Day weekend, Hendersonville hosts the Apple Festival with its famous Apple Parade.

Due to its elevated location, the Hendersonville/Flat Rock area was always a popular summer retreat for wealthy South Carolina planters and dwellers wishing to escape the intense summer heat, insects and diseases of the Low Country.

With the arrival of the railroad in 1879, the County and Hendersonville experienced a tremendous boost in the degree of urbanization and industrialization making it easier to travel and to ship products. During this “Golden Age” the city and the County prospered, creating new businesses and establishing a flourishing tourism industry.

Henderson County was only established in 1838 after splitting off parts of old Buncombe County (Asheville) and Rutherford County. After a fierce quarrel amongst the county commissioners about the location of the county seat and courthouse a popular vote decided on the present location of Hendersonville.

Henderson County and Hendersonville are named for Chief Justice of the State Supreme Court, Judge Leonard Henderson (1772-1833).

Charlotte / Region

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Charlotte was founded in 1768 and named in honor of German-born Sophia Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz. In 1761, just 7 years before the town’s incorporation, Sophia Charlotte became the wife of King George III of Great Britain and Ireland and Queen.

Charlotte had formed at the intersection of two important Native American trading paths. One path went north-south and was part of the Great Wagon Road, which was the primary route for the early settlement of the Southern States. The second path ran east-west. The Great Wagon Road became Tryon Street, named for William Tryon, a governor of North Carolina, while the east-west path became Trade Street. The intersection of both paths is known today as “Trade & Tryon” or “Independence Square” and is the highest point in Mecklenburg County.

After gold was found in 1799 east of the town, miners, engineers and metallurgists rushed to Charlotte. Two of the richest mines were just 2 miles from the town’s center. By 1835 production was so heavy that the U.S. Treasury decided to open a branch mint in Charlotte. The gold rush of the early 1800s largely ended by 1849, when gold was found in California. Still, the first gold rush in the United States was credited with the establishment of the first banks and of a major trading hub for miners from several counties, where they had their gold graded and smelted.

By the mid 1800s, Charlotte’s major revenue sources became tobacco and cotton and later after the Civil War with the arrival of the railroad the textile industry, which processed the cotton from the Southeast. Charlotte became a major railroad distribution hub and the largest city in the Carolinas.

In 1891, Charlotte introduced its first streetcar system. The first skyscraper was built in 1924, the 15-story, 266-feet Johnston Building, followed in 1926 by the 280-feet building at 112 Tryon Plaza, which had 22 stories. It was the tallest structure for the next 35 years until the slightly taller 299-feet building at 200 South Tryon Street was constructed in 1961.

With businesses expanding, so did banking. In 1998, Charlotte based NationsBank, which was the largest bank in terms of deposits, bought BankAmerica Corp. (number 3) in the largest bank acquisition in history at that time and took the name Bank of America. Banks like Bank of America and Wachovia, which is now part of Wells Fargo, have made Charlotte the second-largest banking center behind New York City.