Local Life and Lore in Raleigh

Blend right in with Raleigh natives with this help of this handy guide.

GEOGRAPHY

Research Triangle Park. Founded in 1959, Research Triangle Park, or known locally as "RTP," or "the park," is one of the nation's oldest research and development parks. Its 7,000 acres straddle Wake and Durham counties and takes the Triangle name because it sits between -- and feeds from -- the region's three major research institutions: N.C. State University in Raleigh, the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill and Duke University in Durham.

The Triangle. This term is used broadly to describe the region that includes Wake, Durham and Orange counties and is known for the main cities of Raleigh, Durham and Chapel Hill, plus the counties that have fed off those counties' growth.

Triad. This describes the three-city region to the west of the Triangle. The Triad is made up of Greensboro, Winston-Salem and High Point.

TRAFFIC-SPEAK

The Raleigh Beltline (Interstate 440, I-440). The Beltline is the interstate that rings around the older sections of Raleigh. It can be confusing because both the inner Beltline (clockwise) and the outer Beltline (counterclockwise), at different times, will travel north, south, east or west. They used to be described as the "inner loop" and outer" loop. But many residents have stopped in part because Interstate 540 -- which is to ring around a broader swath of the region, including the areas that have grown beyond Interstate 440 -- is known as the "Outer Loop," even though it's not an entire loop yet. Still with me?

LINGO AND ACRONYMS

  • Jones Street: Jones Street is where the state Legislature meets in downtown Raleigh. The street name is often used as a synonym for "in state government." For example: "She's a big shot on Jones Street."
  • Cary aka "C.A.R.Y.": Cary (pop. 127,640) is the growing Wake County town west of Raleigh. It has developed a reputation as a haven for newcomers from the north. Some natives joke that the town name is an acronym for "containment area for relocated Yankees."
  • I.T.B.: Acronym for "Inside the Beltline," refers to the area within Interstate 440, which rings around Raleigh. The area features some of the region's most established neighborhoods that have grown around downtown.
  • A.B.C.: Acronym for "Anybody but Carolina," often uttered by a backer of N.C. State University. It wishes victory -- by any school -- over its biggest rival, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, which is known simply as "Carolina."
  • Down East: The term describes a section of the state's coastal plains region to the east.
  • Blount Street: Pronounced as "BLUNT Street"
  • Fuquay-Varina: Wake County town is pronounced "FYOOK-way vuh-REE-na," but is often butchered by newcomers, much to the delight of locals, who are generally kind enough to offer the correct pronunciation.

GOOD TO KNOW

"Bless his/her heart." This phrase, when prefacing any insult, is meant to soften the blow and absolve the trash talker of any sin. Example: "Bless her heart, she spent hours making the worst pie ever."

Don't ask for barbecue sauce. Barbecue is deeply ingrained in Raleigh's culture. Indeed, the mascot of the city's only major-league sports team is a pig. Raleighites prefer their 'cue served in the eastern North Carolina tradition: Smoked pulled or chopped pork doused in vinegar and often topped with coleslaw. That's it. Adding Texas Pete hot sauce is allowed. After all, it was invented a couple hours west in Winston-Salem. But that city is close to western North Carolina barbecue country, where 'cue is served with a tomato-based sauce.

Free deck parking downtown after 7 p.m. Visitors to downtown Raleigh -- particularly those who live and work in the suburbs -- often complain about limited parking in downtown. What they often mean is: "I can't parallel park" or, for those who can, "I'm unwilling to walk a few blocks." The city owns several downtown parking decks that offer free parking on the weekends. During the week, the decks get trickier: If you park before 7 p.m., it's free only if you leave after 10 p.m. But if you park after 7 p.m., you can leave before 10 p.m. without dropping a dime.

College basketball. The Triangle region is known for its fierce, three-way college basketball rivalry. Duke University in Durham, the University of Chapel Hill and N.C. State University in Raleigh are all in the same NCAA athletic conference and are usually national contenders. If you're a newcomer to the Triangle and don't carry a degree from any of these schools, remain neutral despite efforts from colleagues and neighbors to favor a particular side.


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