In December 1770, Joel Lane successfully petitioned the North Carolina General Assembly to create a new county, resulting in the formation of Wake County. The county was formed from portions of Cumberland, Orange, and Johnston counties. The county gets its name from Margaret Wake Tryon, the wife of Governor William Tryon. The first county seat was Bloomsbury. Raleigh was chosen as the site of a new state capital in 1788. It was officially established in 1792 as both the new county seat and the new state capital. The city was named in 1792 for Sir Walter Raleigh, sponsor of the Colony of Roanoke. The “Lost Colony” is commemorated at the Fort Raleigh National Historic Site on Roanoke Island, North Carolina.
The city’s location was chosen, in part, for being within 11 miles (16 km) of Isaac Hunter’s Tavern, a popular tavern frequented by the state legislators. No known city or town existed previously on the chosen city site. Raleigh is one of the few cities in the United States that was planned and built specifically to serve as a state capital. Its original boundaries were formed by the downtown streets of North, East, West and South streets. It was planned to be laid out in an axial fashion, with four public squares and one central square.
Attractions and Activities
Museum of North Carolina Natural Sciences
Featuring an array of permanent and special exhibits, live programs and educational films that appeal to audiences of all ages, the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences encourages visitors to explore the natural world and their connections to it.
Museum of North Carolina History
Rotating exhibits focus on disparate subjects ranging from North Carolina’s role in the Civil War to its place in medical history to its feats of engineering (lest we not forget that Kitty Hawk, sight of the Wright Brothers famous flight, is located on North Carolina’s heralded Outer Banks). Semi-permanent exhibits include the interactive North Carolina Sports Hall of Fame where, at the touch of a button, you can watch historic moments in college and professional baseball, basketball and football. Admission is free.
Marbles Children’s Museum and IMAX Theater
Marbles Kids Museum inspires imagination, discovery and learning through extraordinary adventures in play and larger-than-life IMAX experiences.
Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts
Enjoy the nationally acclaimed Carolina Ballet, America ‘s next great orchestra (North Carolina Symphony) and the region’s top professional theater (North Carolina Theatre) and Broadway productions (Broadway Series South). All these larger art centers are bolstered by a thriving community of smaller galleries, events, collections and independent performances.
J.C. Raulston Arboretum
Over 8,000 trees, shrubs, and perennials are located in this nationally-acclaimed eight acre garden that is internationally recognized for having the most diverse collection of plants adapted for landscape use in the Southeastern United States.
Cameron Village Shopping District
Are you personally arty, or do you just like to purchase the results? This collection of shops specializing in North Carolinian-designed crafts welcomes everyone from pottery fans to antique collectors to home décoraficionados. Of course, no shopping center would be complete without access to the latest in designer clothing, handbags and shoes.
Red Hat Amphitheater
Downtown nightlife just got another exciting shot in the arm with the recent opening of Raleigh’s new boutique amphitheater. The venue on the southwest edge of downtown promises exciting entertainment bookings for a capacity crowd of 5,500 visitors to enjoy.
Parks and Recreation
The Raleigh Parks and Recreation Department actively encourages, provides, promotes and protects quality leisure, recreation and cultural opportunities, facilities and environments that are essential for the enhancement of the lives of its citizens.
City Government and Chamber of Commerce Guide
Contact information for the utilities for your new home.
Wake County Schools
Enrollment for the 2019-2020 school year was 161,900 students. With a total of 191 schools, Wake County is the largest school system in the state and the 14th largest in the nation. The student population has almost tripled since 1980. For more information, visit Wake County Public Schools.