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Gastonia is the largest city and county seat of Gaston County, North Carolina, United States. It is also the second largest satellite city of the Charlotte area, behind Concord. The population was 71,741 at the 2010 Census. Gastonia is the 13th largest city in North Carolina. It is part of the Charlotte metropolitan area, officially designated the Charlotte Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA). Gastonia has experienced steady growth, with a population increase between 2000 and 2010 of nearly 8.2%, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
Gastonia is named for William Gaston, member of the North Carolina Supreme Court.
The City Hospital-Gaston Memorial Hospital, Craig Farmstead, Downtown Gastonia Historic District, First National Bank Building, Gaston County Courthouse, Gastonia High School, David Jenkins House, Loray Mill Historic District, Robinson-Gardner Building, Third National Bank Building, and William J. Wilson House are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
The Loray Mill strike of 1929 in Gastonia, was one of the most notable strikes in the labor history of the United States. Though largely unsuccessful in attaining its goals of better working conditions and wages, the strike was considered very successful in a lasting way; it caused an immense controversy which gave the labor movement momentum, propelling the movement in its national development.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 50.7 square miles (131.4 km2), of which 50.5 square miles (130.8 km2) is land and 0.23 square miles (0.6 km2), or 0.45%, is water. Gastonia occupies 14% of the total area of Gaston County.
As of 2010, there were 71,741 people, 27,770 households, and 18,599 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,420.6 people per square mile (548.5/km²). There were 31,238 housing units at an average density of 618.6 per square mile (238.8/km²). The racial composition of the city was 63.0% White, 27.8% Black or African American, 1.3% Asian, 0.4% Native American, 5.2% some other race, and 2.2% two or more races. 9.6% of the population were Hispanic or Latino American of any race.
As of the 2010 census, there were 27,770 households, out of which 34.7% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 42.5% were headed by married couples living together, 19.0% had a female householder with no husband present, and 33.0% were non-families. 27.1% of all households were made up of individuals, and 9.7% were someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.52, and the average family size was 3.05.
In the city, the population was spread out with 24.7% under the age of 18, 8.9% from 18 to 24, 26.5% from 25 to 44, 26.3% from 45 to 64, and 13.6% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 38.0 years. For every 100 females there were 89.6 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 85.6 males.
In 2011 the estimated median income for a household in the city was $36,881, and the median income for a family was $44,576. Male full-time workers had a median income of $38,151 versus $29,590 for females. The per capita income for the city was $19,277. 20.9% of the population and 18.3% of families were below the poverty line. 32.5% of those under the age of 18 and 6.9% of those 65 and older were living below the poverty line.
Many shutdowns and job losses have plagued Gastonia over the past decade. Gastonia maintains a relatively strong manufacturing workforce, but many workers are laid off and many more are facing job losses. The city had an unemployment rate of 7.9% as of 2010; 12,536 of the 71,341 residents lived and worked in the city, with a daytime population change of +10,610. The city is the international corporate headquarters for textile company Parkdale Mills, the number one manufacturer of spun yarn in the world. The company also operated two production facilities in Gastonia and several in surrounding communities. Parkdale, like many other companies, has closed plants and moved production to other countries.
Other manufacturers in Gastonia include Wix Filtration Corp., Freightliner LLC, Stabilus, Curtiss-Wright Controls Engineered Systems and Radici Group. Other major employers include the City of Gastonia and Gaston County governments, the Gaston County Schools system, CaroMont Regional Medical Center, and retailers Walmart and Advance Auto Parts, with two and six stores (plus a distribution center) respectively.
Gastonia and the surrounding areas feature several notable attractions.
The Schiele Museum of Natural History features a number of permanent exhibits, including the Hall of North Carolina Natural History and the Henry Hall of the American Indian. The museum is also home to the James H. Lynn Planetarium, the only planetarium in the Charlotte area.
The Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden is located just southeast of the city in Belmont on NC 279.
The U.S. National Whitewater Center (on the Catawba River) is located east of the city in neighboring Mecklenburg County.
Crowders Mountain State Park is located west of the city, near Kings Mountain. The park offers a number of hiking trails, as well as campgrounds, picnic areas, rock climbing, and fishing.
Eastridge Mall, located at exit 20 on North New Hope Road, is the only indoor regional mall in the area; it is anchored by Belk, Dillard's, and JCPenney. The mall is also home to over 80 specialty stores including Victoria's Secret, Aeropostale, PacSun, Footlocker, Hibbet Sports, Claires, Charlotte Russe, New York & Co., Best Buy Mobile, Radio Shack, Hat Fanatic, Encore by Shoe Department, a full-service food court, Red Lobster and other services.
Franklin Square, a series of strip centers, is divided into three Phases. Phase I features a Wal-Mart, Best Buy, Ross Dress for Less, and Michaels. Phase II is home to Lowe's Home Improvement Warehouse and Sam's Club. Phase III is where Kohl's, Old Navy, Books-A-Million, Gander Mountain, Shoe Carnival, Pier 1 Imports, PetSmart and a 14-screen movie theater are located.
Downtown Gastonia Historic District has undergone a revitalization with locally owned businesses Including Webb Custom Kitchen, Gaston Pour House, Owl and Ivy, Java House, The Hive, Sleepy Poet, Artisans Harvest and many others. Thus creating unique and local shopping experiences with events centered around the community.
There are also a few more shopping centers across the city with other well-known national and local retailers.
The Gastonia Grizzlies play baseball at Sims Legion Park. The team is part of the Coastal Plain League (CPL) featuring players at the collegiate level. The season runs from the end of May to August.
The Gastonia Gargoyles play rugby at Gaston County's North Belmont Park. The team is part of the Carolinas Geographical Union (CGU) and plays Division IV men's social rugby. The club plays in the fall (August - November) and spring (Feb - May) seasons. The club also hosts an annual rugby 7's tournament in Clover, South Carolina, during the Clover Scottish Games on the first or second Saturday in June.
Gastonia's two roller derby teams are the G*Force (senior team) and Mini*Gs (junior team). Bouts take place at Kate's Skating Rink on Hudson Blvd.
The city is served by the Gastonia Police Department, the Gaston County Police Department, and the Gaston County Sheriff's Office.
The Gastonia Fire Department consists of eight fire house spread throughout the communities within the City limits. The Gastonia Fire Department maintains 130 full-time firefighters working 3-24 hour shifts. The Life Safety division has a Fire Marshal and four inspectors, the Administration consists of the Fire Chief, Deputy Chief, Assistant Chief, Training Chief, and two Administrative assistants. Gaston County EMS (GEMS) is the county ambulance service.
All public K–12 schools in Gaston County, including the city of Gastonia, are part of the Gaston County Schools (GCS). GCS operates schools at the elementary, middle, and high school levels.
There are four public high schools in Gastonia: Ashbrook High School, Forestview High School, Hunter Huss High School, and Highland School of Technology. Students from outlying parts of Gastonia also attend Stuart W. Cramer High School, North Gaston High School, and Bessemer City High School.
Private schools are also available in the city. Gaston Day School, Gaston Christian School are among various private schools offered in the Gastonia area.
Gastonia also has a charter school, Piedmont Community Charter School, that serves K–12 grade students.
Although there are no colleges or universities within the city limits of Gastonia, higher education is well represented in the greater Gastonia area. Gaston County is home to Belmont Abbey College (Belmont; four-year) and Gaston College (Dallas, Lincolnton (Lincoln County), and Belmont; two-year).
The Gaston County Public Library has three locations in the city.
The Gaston Gazette is Gastonia's main newspaper. It is published daily, and covers Gastonia city, Gaston County, and surrounding areas. The Charlotte Observer (North Carolina's largest newspaper) is also available, citywide.
Gastonia has no broadcast television stations licensed in the city, but is served by network affiliates and independent stations broadcasting from nearby Charlotte. The Gaston County Schools and Gaston College share an education channel that broadcasts on Spectrum Channel 21. Cable television service in Gastonia is provided primarily by Spectrum (formerly Time Warner Cable).
Gastonia is served by numerous FM and AM radio stations, mainly based in nearby Charlotte. The city has one licensed AM station: WGNC 1450 AM; it has two licensed FM station: WGNC 101.1FM and WBAV 101.9 FM.
Interstate 85 (I-85) links Gastonia directly with Charlotte, Greensboro, Durham, and Petersburg/Richmond (to the northeast) and Spartanburg, Greenville, Atlanta and Montgomery (to the southwest). Gastonia's transportation network is supplemented by one additional freeway (US 321), the freeway portion of which directly connects Gastonia with transcontinental I-40 and the city of Hickory, North Carolina, 35 miles (56 km) north of Gastonia.
Gastonia is also served by three federal highways: US 29, US 74 (US 29 and 74 follow same route through city), and US 321. US 29 parallels I-85 through the Carolinas, while US 74 provides direct east-west links to Charlotte and Wilmington (east), and Asheville and Cherokee (to the west). US 321 links Gastonia to central South Carolina and the Blue Ridge Mountains in northwest North Carolina. State highways include: NC 7, NC 274, NC 275 and NC 279.
Franklin Boulevard, Garrison Boulevard, Hudson Boulevard and Ozark/Long/Airline/Gaston Avenues are major east-west city thoroughfares. New Hope Road, Chester Street/York Road, and Marietta Street/Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Way, are major north-south city thoroughfares.
Gastonia Transit (GT) is Gastonia's city transit provider. The bus service operates on a fixed-route system covering most of the city and stops are clearly visible around town. Buses run Monday-Saturday, and transfer downtown Gastonia at the Bradley Station. Regular fare is $1.00, transfers are free.
Charlotte Area Transit System (CATS) is Gastonia's commuter provider to Charlotte. The Gastonia Express (Route 85X) offers Monday-Friday bus service to/from uptown Charlotte, via the Bradley Station. One-way fare to/from uptown Charlotte is $4.40; transfer is free when transferring to any other CATS services.
Amtrak's Crescent (trains 19, 20) connects Gastonia (GAS) with the cities of (to the north) New York, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Washington, and Charlotte, and (to the south) Atlanta, Birmingham, and New Orleans. The unmanned Amtrak station is situated at 350 Hancock Street.
General service: Gastonia Municipal Airport (AKH) handles most of the city's private air service needs. It is located in the southeast part of the city on Gaston Day School Road, off NC 274 (Union Road).
Commercial service: Charlotte/Douglas International Airport (CLT) provides the city with a major domestic/international gateway and is located 18 miles (29 km) east, in Charlotte. American Airlines has the airline's second largest hub operation at Charlotte.
Gastonia has two sister cities:
Gotha was Gastonia's first sister city in 1994. Santiago de Surco became an official partner in March 2004. Mayor Jennie Stultz visited Gotha in 2007. In December 2007, the mayor of Santiago de Surco visited for the annual lighting of the Christmas tree in the Rotary Pavilion. He was invited to light the tree along with one of the city's councilmen.
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