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15 interesting facts about the City of Oaks

How well do you know Raleigh? We’re bringing you some fun facts about the city and its history. If you’re a trivia master (or local enthusiast), give this a try.

Raleigh's skyline lit up at night.

True or False: Raleigh is the greatest city.

Photo by RALtoday

Did you know that Raleigh was named after Sir Walter Raleigh or that we are also called the City of Oaks?

Nah, just kidding. If you know us, you know we’re here for the deep cuts — and there’s plenty of interesting factoids to go around. As connoisseurs of the quirky and unconventional, we put together a list of Raleigh’s history, oddest characteristics, and more. Maybe you’ve lived here your whole life and know some of this, or maybe you’ll learn something new.

Either way, test your local knowledge with these 15 interesting facts.

1. Pullen Park is the oldest public park in NC, the 5th oldest operating amusement park in the US, and the 16th oldest in the world. Bonus: The park’s carousel celebrated 100 years of operation in 2020.

2. The Raleigh area has the most live music venues concentrated here than anywhere else in the state and is looking to up the ante with a new state-of-the-art concert venue coming to Downtown South.

3. The NC Museum of Natural Sciences is the largest natural science museum in the Southeastern US with artifacts spanning over 14,000 years. With over 1 million visitors a year, it’s also the state’s most visited museum.

4. Founded in 1865, we are home to Shaw University, the first historically black university in the South. Notable alumni include civil rights activist Ella Baker and James E. Shepard, the founder of what is now NC Central University in Durham.

5. The NC Symphony, founded in 1932, was the first state-supported symphony in the US.

6. The Roman Catholic Holy Name of Jesus Cathedral — located at 715 Nazareth St. — cost $46 million to build in 2015 and is the fifth-largest cathedral in the US.

7. Raleigh is neighbors to the largest Hindu temple in North America, located Cary. The gateway tower at the Sri Venkateswara Temple of North Carolina stands at 87 feet tall.

8. In 1956, the NCMA became the first state funded art museum in the country. Bonus: Check out the new reimagined People’s Collection for the people of North Carolina.

9. Raleigh, also known as the “Smithsonian of the South,” can brag that it’s home to more than 40 free historic attractions and museums.

10. It is believed that Andrew Johnson, the 17th president of the US, was born in Raleigh. His house was relocated to Mordecai Historic Park along with the Allen Kitchen, Badger-Iredell Law Office, and St. Mark’s Chapel to preserve the buildings and to give Mordecai Historic Park a “village-like” feel.

11. We are one of 450 cities across the US to proudly fly a city flag. Bonus: The City of Raleigh flag is uniquely double sided, meaning the front and back designs are different.

12. The Raleigh Beer Garden has held the Guinness World Record title for “Most Beers on Tap” since 2015. The number? 397 beers on tap.

13. Our state vegetable is the sweet potato. Psst... next time you have a craving, pick up a sweet potato pie from the Slice Pie Company.

14. George Joseph Laurer — born in Raleigh in 1925 — helped create the Universal Product Code system during his time at IBM at Research Triangle Park.

15. During the American Civil War, Raleigh served as a Confederate headquarters until April 13, 1865, when Union troops under William Tecumseh Sherman occupied the City without resistance.

Your turn. Think you can get one over on us? Let us know your favorite local trivia tidbit and you just might make it into the newsletter.

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