Raleigh is the capital of the state of North Carolina, the seat of Wake County in the United States. Raleigh is known as the "City of Oaks" for its many oak trees, which line the streets in the heart of the city. The city covers a land area of 142.8 square miles (370 km2). The U.S. Census Bureau estimated the city's population as 451,066 as of July 1, 2015. It is also one of the fastest-growing cities in the country. The city of Raleigh is named after Sir Walter Raleigh, who established the lost Roanoke Colony in present-day Dare County.
Raleigh is home to North Carolina State University and is part of the Research Triangle area, together with Durham (home of Duke University) and Chapel Hill (home of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill).
Raleigh is an early example in the United States of a planned city. It was chosen as the site of the state capital in 1788 and incorporated in 1792 as such. The city was originally laid out in a grid pattern with the North Carolina State Capitol in Union Square at the center. In the United States Civil War the city was spared from any significant battle, only falling in the closing days of the war, though it did not escape the economic hardships that plagued the rest of the American South during the Reconstruction Era. The twentieth century saw the opening of the Research Triangle Park in 1959, and with the jobs it created the region and city saw a large influx of population, making it one of the fastest growing communities in the United States by the early 21st century.
Raleigh is home to numerous cultural, educational, and historic sites. The Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts in Downtown Raleigh features three theater venues and serves as the home for the North Carolina Symphony and the Carolina Ballet. Coastal Credit Union Music Park at Walnut Creek is a large music amphitheater located in southeast Raleigh. Museums in Raleigh include the North Carolina Museum of Art in West Raleigh, as well as the North Carolina Museum of History and North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences located next to each other near the State Capitol in Downtown Raleigh. Several major universities and colleges call Raleigh home, including North Carolina State University, the largest public university in the state, and Shaw University, the first historically black university in the American South and site of the foundation of theStudent Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, an important civil rights organization of the 1960s. One U.S. president, Andrew Johnson, was born in Raleigh.