Charlotte vs. Denver: How the cities stack up

View of uptown Charlotte skyline from atop Mosaic Village at Johnson C. Smith University.
View of uptown Charlotte skyline from atop Mosaic Village at Johnson C. Smith University.

In Super Bowl 50, the key matchup will be between the Denver Broncos’ veteran quarterback Peyton Manning and the Carolina Panthers’ upstart Cam Newton.

But if you’re comparing the cities, the Panthers’ hometown of Charlotte would be the long-timer, founded in 1768, and Denver would be the youngster, launched in 1858. Charlotte also has a bigger population than its younger rival.

Here’s a tale of the tape between the two opposing cities – some serious, some not so serious. Charlotte has the biggest company. Denver gets more snow. Charlotte has the warmer temperatures. We’ll leave the brownie debate up to you.


Charlotte: 809,958 (17th biggest U.S. city)

Denver: 663,862 (21st)

Square miles

Charlotte: 297.68

Denver: 153

Biggest company

Charlotte: Bank of America ($95.5 billion in revenue)

Denver: Arrow Electronics ($22.7 billion)

Homegrown restaurant chains

Charlotte: Bojangles’, Salsarita’s

Denver: Chipotle, Smashburger, Noodles & Company

Fortune 500 companies*

Charlotte: 8**

Denver: 9


Charlotte: 50 percent white, 35 percent black, 13.1 percent Hispanic

Denver: 68.9 percent white, 10.2 percent black, 31.8 percent Hispanic

Highest point

Charlotte: 890 feet

Denver: 5,280 feet

Legalized recreational drugs

Charlotte: None

Denver: Marijuana

Celebrated local brownies

Charlotte: Amelie’s salted caramel

Denver: Sweet Grass Kitchen brownie bites. “Fresh-baked cannibis edibles,” according to the food website Munchies.

Origin story

Charlotte: Named for the Queen of England, the city gained a reputation and another nickname when a British force led by General Cornwallis attacked Charlotte during the Revolutionary War. He called Charlotte “a veritable nest of hornets” after dogged attacks by local American rebels.

Denver: Founded as a frontier mining camp, there were originally three separate towns with separate names near the site. Denver’s website describes how they settled on the final name: “In 1859, the other names were dropped in return for a barrel of whiskey to be shared by all. Fittingly enough, the first permanent structure in Denver was a saloon.”

Annual average high temperature

Charlotte: 70.8 degrees

Denver: 64 degrees

Annual snowfall

Charlotte: 4.3 inches

Denver: 53.5 inches

Best-known beer

Charlotte: NoDa Brewing’s Hop, Drop n’ Roll (Winner of 2014 World Beer Cup Gold)

Denver: Coors

Airport rank in the U.S.

Charlotte: 8th busiest (44.3 million passengers a year)

Denver: 5th (53.5 million)

Worst airport dustup

Charlotte: City vs. legislature airport battle (The N.C. General Assembly’s attempt to take control of the airport from Charlotte City Council resulted in more than $1 million worth of legal bills and a commission with no power to run Charlotte Douglas.)

Denver: Automated baggage system (Long delays and engineering problems led to $560 million in cost overruns, and the system never worked properly.)

Median household income

Charlotte: $53,274

Denver: $51,800

Violent crime rate (per 100,000 residents)*

Charlotte: 392

Denver: 331

Population with at least a bachelor’s degree

Charlotte: 40.7 percent

Denver: 43.7 percent

Weirdest regional food specialty

Charlotte: Livermush (pig liver and cornmeal)

Denver: Rocky Mountain oysters (made from certain part of bull, sheep or pig anatomy)

Biggest pastor scandal

Charlotte: Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker (Jim Bakker resigned in 1987 from PTL Ministries, which he founded with his wife, following a sex scandal, and served almost five years in prison after the Observer’s reporting on financial excesses at PTL led to federal charges.)

Denver: Ted Haggard (The Colorado Springs pastor was fired in 2006 from the New Life Church he founded after a male prostitute accused Haggard of paying for sex acts.)

Major natural disaster

Charlotte: Hurricane Hugo in 1989

Denver: Blizzard of 1913 (45.7 inches of snow)

Major league sports teams

Charlotte: 2 (Panthers, Hornets)

Denver: 4 (Broncos, Nuggets, Avalanche, Rockies)

Sources: Fortune, Charlotte Chamber, recent U.S. Census data, FBI Unified Crime Report, Vice, Airports Council International, Brad Panovich blog.

* metro area

** includes Family Dollar, which was acquired in 2015.

Staff writer Gavin Off contributed