As one of the key cities in the Charlotte metro area, Gastonia has experienced steady growth with a population change during the 1990s of more than 10 percent. Gastonia, more specifically Eastern Gastonia, is quickly developing into a hot-spot for development as part of Metro Charlotte, or Metrolina. Interstate 85 links Gastonia directly to this neighboring metropolitan region, creating accessible employment, education, recreation and entertainment opportunities for new residents.
In 2000, Gastonia was one of 10 communities to receive an All-America City Award for its development of Unity Place, a historic church building that now houses the town's United Arts Council's shows and performances plus regular services for St. Stephens AME Zion Church. The award is the oldest and most respected community recognition program in the nation and recognizes communities where citizens work together to identify and tackle community-wide challenges and achieve uncommon results.
Kings and Crowder Mountain State Park offers visitors an opportunity to gaze at rugged peaks and spectacular views. The peaks of the mountains rise over 800 feet and surround the local countryside populated by raptors that soar above in the wind currents. The park itself covers over 5,000 acres and is equipped with pathways that wind throughout the park, sheltered picnic areas, a fishing pier on the lake, as well as a visitor's center. This State Park is a well-known area for experienced rock climbers who are allowed to climb in designated areas, although the breathtaking scenery is enough to capture the attention of anyone.
The Schiele Museum of Natural History and Planetarium located within Gastonia is a perfect place for visitors of all ages. Within the museum, visitors can learn about the region's rocks and minerals, hills and rivers, plants and animals as displayed by its many exhibits. Other attractions include exhibits pertaining to the history of the Carolina's Piedmont region, visit prehistoric campsites and discover what a walk through the NASA International Space Station might resemble. Children may even find Smoky Bear marching about the premises.
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