Shelby is a city in and the county seat of Cleveland County, North Carolina, United States. It lies near the western edge of the Charlotte combined statistical area. The population was 20,323 at the 2010 census. Shelby is located in between Charlotte and Asheville, and has become a noted tourism and wedding destination in Western North Carolina. A moderate climate, affordable living, and growing need for industrial employees attract relocators to the area.
The area was originally inhabited by Catawba and Cherokee peoples and was later settled between around 1760. The city was chartered in 1843 and named after Colonel Isaac Shelby, a hero of the battle of Kings Mountain (1780) during the American Revolution. Shelby was agricultural until the railways in the 1870s stimulated Shelby's development. Textiles later became its chief industry during the 1920s when production of cotton in Cleveland County rose from 8,000 to 80,000 bales a year. Cotton production peaked in 1948 with Cleveland County producing 83,549 bales, making it North Carolina's premier cotton county.