City of Raleigh Profile
Raleigh is situated in the heart of the state’s Piedmont region, centered between the sandy Atlantic beaches and
the Great Smoky Mountains. The City is both the county seat of Wake County and the capital of North Carolina; it
covers an area of more than 144 square miles and has an estimated population of 448,635. Together with Chapel
Hill and Durham, Raleigh forms the Research Triangle Park, which was founded in 1959 as a model for research,
innovation, and economic development and is now the largest research park in the nation. The City is located in a
metropolitan area consisting of Wake, Durham, Orange, Franklin, Chatham and Johnston counties. The population
for this area is estimated to be 1.7 million.
The City was named for Sir Walter Raleigh, who was granted a charter by Queen
Elizabeth I in 1584 for land that is now North Carolina. In November 1776, North
Carolina representatives gathered in Halifax to write its first state constitution.
Raleigh’s site was originally chosen as the location of North Carolina’s state
capital in 1788, and it was officially established in 1792 as both the new county
seat and the new state capital. It is among the few cities in the United States that
was planned and built specifically to serve as a state capital and its original
boundaries were formed by North, East, West and South streets. The North
Carolina General Assembly first met in Raleigh in December 1794, and within one
month, the legislators officially granted the City a charter, with a board of seven
appointed commissioners (elected by the City after 1803) and an "Intendant of
Police" (which would eventually become the office of Mayor) to govern it.
The City has utilized a council-manager form of government since 1947. The
Mayor and two Council members are elected at-large, and the remaining five Council members are elected from
five districts within the City. The Mayor and Council members serve two-year terms and all have an equal vote. The
City Council sets policies, enacts ordinances and appoints the City Manager. The City Manager administers the
daily operations and programs of the City through the department heads, other staff members and employees.
The City provides a full range of governmental services, including police and fire protection, street construction and
maintenance, a comprehensive solid waste program, water and sanitary sewer services, and parks, recreation and
cultural services. Extended planning on the City’s infrastructure needs occurs on an ongoing basis.
The City is empowered to levy a property tax on both real and personal properties located within its boundaries. It
is also empowered by state statute to extend its corporate limits by annexation, which occurs periodically when
deemed appropriate by the governing council. The annual budget serves as the foundation of the City’s financial
planning and control.